Michael Wolters

Professor in Composition

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
0121 331 6909

Michael Wolters (born 1971 in Mönchengladbach, Germany) has maintained the position of an “other” in the world of contemporary music with works that queer traditional concert and performance situations. He has written music for traditional ensembles like Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and prefers to challenge conventional set-ups and rituals.

This has resulted in pieces with unusual instrumentations (like his twelve-minute-long opera The Voyage, produced with theatre company Stan's Cafe for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad written for mezzo-soprano, eleven recorders and double bass), performances in unusual places (wahnsinnig wichtig on ice took place on and around an ice rink while product placement was set in a supermarket) or projects of unusual duration (his Spring Symphony: The Joy of Life, lasting 17 seconds in total is the shortest symphony in the world while the performance of Wir sehen uns morgen wieder lasted for a month).

He strongly believes that the idea of a work is the driving element in the creation of an art work, informing the concept and all artistic decisions.

One of the major influences on his music was the work of American performance artist Laurie Anderson in the 1980s. He especially admires Anderson's ability to use multiple artistic genres to create highly effective and moving performance situations, where – in her typical postmodern way – she tells stories while highlighting the fact that she is telling stories. Interdisciplinarity is key to his approach with the understanding that a contemporary artist has every form of expression at their disposal. His conceptually driven works include music, theatre, performance and live art, visual art and written word and are usually situated somewhere between all those things.

He co-founded and worked with the collectives New Guide to Opera (2004-2012) and Difficult Listening (2017-)

He studied Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen, Germany and Composition at the University of Huddersfield (BA, MA) and the University of Birmingham (PhD).

His teachers include Christopher Fox and Heiner Goebbels. He joined the composition department at RBC in 2004, became Deputy Head of Composition in 2009 and Associate Professor in Composition in 2015. He is course leader on the interdisciplinary MMus in Experimental Performance, which he set up in 2019.

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