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In the last 35 years Kevin Volans has worked with quartets: Kronos,

Smith Quartet, Duke Quartet, Arditti Quartet, pianists: Barry Douglas,

Marc-André Hamelin, Peter Donohoe, Jill Richards, conductors: Michael

Tilson Thomas, Marek Janowski, Alan Buribayev, Yan Pascal Tortelier,

orchestras: the San Francisco Symphony, BBC Symphony, Bayerische

Rundfunk Symphonieorchester, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, BBC

Singers, percussionists: Robyn Schulkowsky, Jonny Axelsson, SISU and

many others, as well as dance companies like Siobhan Davies, Shobana

Jeyasingh, White Oak, Jonathan Burrows and artists: William Kentridge,

Juergen Partenheimer, Jose-Manuel Ballester.

Principal performances in the last years include the National Centre for the

Performing Arts, Beijing, the Berliner Musikfest,Vienna State Opera,

the Salzburger Festspiele, the Lincoln Center NY, Dokumenta Kassel,

the Pompidou Centre Paris, Concertgebouw Amsterdam,

Kunstmuseum Bonn, the Chicago Institute of Fine Arts, the

Edinburgh Festival, the Barbican, South Bank, Wigmore Hall, London

and several times in the BBC Proms.

He was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and studied at the

University of the Witwatersrand with later with Karlheinz Stockhausen

and Mauricio Kagel in Cologne. He moved to Ireland in 1986 and has

been an Irish citizen since 1994. He lives in Co. Cork.

After a productive collaboration with the Kronos quartet in the 1980s his

work, principally in the field of chamber and orchestral music, has been

regularly performed worldwide. The Kronos discs, White Man Sleeps and

Pieces of Africa broke all records for string quartet disc sales.

In 1997 the BBC Music Magazine listed him as one of the 50 most

important living composers and he was described by the Village Voice

(New York) as “one of the most original and unpredictable voices on the


In 1999 the South Bank in London hosted a 50th birthday celebration of

his work and for his 60th the Wigmore Hall in London organised a “Kevin

Volans Day” of concerts. Subsequent to this latter event he was given the

Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for the best chamber work

performed in Britain in 2009. He has been the featured composer in

several European festivals of contemporary music and he was the

featured composer in Prague in November 2017. 2017 saw 9 world premieres

of his work.

In 2019 birthday concerts of his work were held in London (Wigmore Hall), Johannesburg, and Rome.

He has taught many of Ireland’s distinguished young composers: Deirdre

Gribben, Elaine Agnew, Deirdre MacKay, Jennifer Walshe, Andrew

Hamilton, Jonathan Nangle, Juergen Simpson, Simon O’Connor, and a

number of others, as well as several international, award-winning

composers outside Ireland.

There are some 48 CDs and videos featuring his music currently available.

His work is performed regularly worldwide.

Download a longer biography