KEVIN VOLANS, born in South Africa in 1949, has lived in Ireland since 1986. He graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in 1972, followed by post-graduate study at the University of Aberdeen. From 1973 until 1981 he lived in Cologne where he was a pupil of Karlheinz Stockhausen at the Musikhochschule and later his teaching assistant (1975-76). He also studied with Mauricio Kagel (music theater), Aloys Kontarsky (piano), and electronic music (1976-1980). During this time Volans worked as a freelance composer, where, before moving on to his African-based pieces, his work was associated with the so-called New Simplicity. His other activities included four field trips recording African music on behalf of the West German Radio (WDR Köln), writing many programs for the WDR, Belgian Radio, and the Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany), and co-editing Feedback Papers with Johannes Fritsch. From 1982 to 1984 Volans taught composition at the University of Natal, Durban, where he was awarded a doctorate in music in 1985. In 1984 and 1986 he was on the board of professors of the Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music. In 1988, he served on the jury of the International Computer Music Conference (Cologne). He was composer-in-residence at Queen’s University, Belfast from 1986 through 1989, and at Princeton University, New Jersey in 1992.
Recent performances of Volans’ works have been at the Berliner Festwoche, the Salzburg Festival, Lincoln Center, Next Wave Festival (New York), New Music America (Miami), Interlink Festival (Tokyo), World Music Days (Bonn), Belfast Festival, Adelaide Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, the Turin Opera House, and the Vienna State Opera. In 1996 he was the featured composer in the Netherlands Wind Ensemble’s New Year’s Day live television broadcast from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
Volans’ recent commissions include music for “Sound on Film” for BBC2; a piece for the Swedish percussionist Jonny Axelsson; a cello concerto for Bayerischer Rundfunk; a new dance piece for the Frankfurt Ballet, with Jonathan Burrows, choreographer; a two-piano piece for Double Edge (New York); a piano concerto for Peter Donohoe and the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, and music for “Blue Yellow,” a short dance film for Sylvie Guillem.