Originally from Grantham, Lincolnshire, Oliver read music at Clare College, Cambridge before continuing his studies with a Master of Arts at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Here, he was supported by Help Musicians UK and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust. Oliver currently holds the position of Artist Fellow at the Guildhall School.
Oliver was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, enjoying two years as their principal clarinettist. He has played across the country with orchestras and chamber ensembles including the Philharmonia Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Britten-Pears Orchestra, and Haffner Wind Ensemble.
As a concerto soloist, Oliver has performed in and around Grantham, Cambridge and London, and in October 2014 stepped in with one week’s notice to give an unconducted performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Bristol Ensemble. Oliver gave his Barbican solo debut in February 2014, performing Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Hymnos, and returned in April to perform Bartok’s Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano.
Oliver is part of The Hermes Experiment, a contemporary quartet consisting of harp, clarinet, soprano and double bass, who are committed to changing perceptions and increasing the accessibility of contemporary music. With The Hermes Experiment, Oliver has toured to France, performing at the Lâ Aura des Arts Festival, and to Leicester after the ensemble were nominated UK Young Artists for 2014-15.
In addition to teaching both privately and at City University London, Oliver writes for Interlude.hk, a Hong Kong based music journal, and is the administrator for Apollo Music Projects, a charity which brings live classical music to children who might not otherwise experience it.
What do you love about classical music?
The fact that it forces you to listen. The more active an experience you make listening, the more you gain from it – if classical music is being piped over an intercom, simply washing past your ears as background noise, you know you’re not getting the most out of it. You wouldn’t watch a play and be talking on your phone, you wouldn’t look at a great painting in a darkened room, because that way you’re not giving it a chance: you’re restricting its potential. Many people think classical music “isn’t for them”; it’s for everybody, you just have to open your ears and let it in.
What’s on your playlist right now?
Jason Mraz (no particular album – I love them all), Norah Jones’ Feels Like Home, and an album of Anne Queffélec playing Ravel’s piano works – I’m going through an obsession with Jeux d’Eau at the moment.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.
I know every capital city of every country of the world! I’m working on flags.