'Deadpan, subversive, quietly anarchic, disarmingly heart-sore and sweet-sour music' BBC Radio 3 (Kate Molleson)
Oliver Leith is composer and artist based in London. His “curiously addictive” music (The Guardian) has been performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Trio Catch, members of the Philharmonia Orchestra, Ives Ensemble, Apartment House and Royal Northern Sinfonia. Pieces have been heard at the Liszt Academy (Budapest), Festival d’Aix en Provence, the Darmstädter Ferienkurse, Heidelberg Festival and Leeds Lieder.
Commissioned and recorded by 12 Ensemble, Leith’s Honey Siren for twelve strings (2020) was lauded as ‘expertly constructed… mesmeric’ by Gramophone and went on to win an Ivor Novello award. The piece has since been performed by the Manchester Camerata, however performances planned by the LA Philharmonic (at Walt Disney Hall and London’s Barbican) were put on hold due to the pandemic. Leith’s other accolades include a 2016 British Composer Award for A Day at The Spa, premiered by Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet, and the 2014 RPS Composer Prize.
Large-scale pieces include Taxa (composed in 2013 and recently revived by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Ilan Volkov), and Dream Horse for soprano, bass, and chamber orchestra (a commission from the 2018 Tanglewood Festival, conducted by Thomas Adès). Over the 2016/17 season, members of the London Symphony Orchestra premiered 664 love songs to cure heartache and Sexton Blakes, two works for instrumental ensembles and video.
Balloon for ensemble of nine players was premiered in 2018 by the London Sinfonietta and features on an all-Leith release from Another Timbre, with Richard Baker conducting Explore Ensemble. good day good day bad day bad day, a 45-minute work for keyboards and percussion composed in 2018 for George Barton and Siwan Rhys, is also available on Another Timbre. Other recordings include Hand Coloured with Loré Lixenberg and the London Sinfonietta (NMC), Aisha Orazbayeva playing Blurry Wake Song (SN Variations) and Uh huh, Yeah – described as a ‘miniature masterpiece’ by The Times – with the Hermes Experiment (Delphian).
Autumn will see Me Hollywood presented at Transit Festival and November Music, a performance of Honey Siren by Royal Welsh String Soloists and Manchester Collective, as well as the world premiere of The Big House with the Ruisi Quartet at Wigmore Hall. Leith is currently the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Doctoral Composer-in-Residence at the Royal Opera House.