Friday 20 September 2019

Oliver Leith to be Guildhall School and Royal Opera's fourth Doctoral Composer-in-Residence

Oliver Leith (Photo © Anton Lukoszevieze)
Oliver Leith (Photo © Anton Lukoszevieze)
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Opera House have announced that the fourth Doctoral Composer-in-Residence will be Oliver Leith. Created in 2013, the collaboration between the Guildhall School and the Royal Opera is one of the first examples of an opera house and a conservatoire joining forces to offer a composer-in-residence studentship leading to a doctoral degree. Oliver Leith will be in residence over the period 2019 to 2022, during which time he will research and write a major work, to be staged by the Royal Opera at the end of the period.

Leith’s forthcoming opera will explore how to create a theatrical world in opera, through the shifts between diegetic and non-diegetic sounds (sounds audible to actors versus sounds meant only for the audience) a convention regularly used in film to support the creation of mood and atmosphere. Interested in composing in ways which explore visual (rather than textual) stimulus, Leith will take inspiration from moments in cinema that have made a particularly strong impression on him.

The current Doctoral Composer-in-Residence is Matt Rogers, and his opera She Described it to Death will premiere at the Linbury Theatre on 17 July 2020. The inaugural Doctoral Composer-in-Residence was Philip Venables and his opera 4.48 Psychosis [see my review], which premiered in May 2016, has won numerous awards including the UK Theatre Award for Achievement in Opera (2016), the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Large-Scale Composition (2017) and the British Composer Award for Stage Work (2017). It was also nominated for the Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production (2017) and the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Best Opera (2017).

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