February 7: Benjamin Dwyer

Professor, Middlesex University, London

Benjamin Dwyer is a prolific composer, a virtuoso guitarist and an innovative researcher, whose work extends from a broad base in performance and artistic practice. Dwyer is an elected member of Aosdána, the Irish government-sponsored academy of creative artists that honours those whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, London (ARAM), an honour bestowed upon those former students deemed to have made ‘a significant contribution to the music profession’. Benjamin Dwyer is Professor of Music at Middlesex University’s School of Media and Performing Arts. Dwyer’s compositions have been performed internationally. He has been the featured composer at the Musica Nova Festival 2008 in São Paulo, the Bienalle of Contemporary Music of Riberão Preto 2009, the National Concert Hall’s Composers’ Choice and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra’s Horizons series. In recent years, he has completed a number of large-scale works, some of which were conceived in response to or in collaboration with artists from other disciplines. These include Scenes from Crow, his work based on the Crow poems of Ted Hughes, and Umbilical, his re-working of the Oedipus myth for Baroque violin, double-bass, harpsichord, tape, and Butoh dancer. Most recently, he was commissioned by violist Garth Knox and pianist Therese Fahy for new solo works. Dwyer’s critical writing on music draws upon his perspective as an arts practitioner in performance and composition, as well as his experience curating and critically engaging with contemporary music via his directorship of Ireland’s MUSIC21 series, which saw the world and Irish premieres of numerous important works. His book on Irish composer John Buckley, Constellations: The Life and Music of John Buckley, was published in 2011 (Carysfort Press). His chapter “Transformational Ostinati in György Ligeti’s Sonatas for Solo Cello and Solo Viola” appears in György Ligeti: Of Strange Sounds and Foreign Lands (Boydell & Brewer, 2011), which was shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Prize. His current book projects include a monograph on Benjamin Britten’s guitar music, an edited collection of essays by international artists who have responded to Ted Hughes’s Crow poems, and a book of interviews with contemporary Irish composers.