Show Calendar

Oliver Coates on the importance of technology

Oliver Coates1

Oliver Coates is one of today’s most sought after contemporary cellists. Having travelled all over the world to play his music, he has also collaborated with the likes of Massive Attack and Radiohead. 

He graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with the highest grade in the history of the institution. He has gone on to be awarded many a musical accolade and on Wednesday 20 September he comes to ACCA for an evening of music and visuals. 

We spoke to Oliver about the development of his work…

 Do different venues affect how you play or what you play?

Yes massively - the shape and size of the room, I like to see a picture of it before the day, and also to find out how the audience will be configured in relation to the performance area.

 How important is collaboration to any piece of work?

I guess music doesn’t exist without collaboration at all, because listening activates it, so I feel a performer is collaborating with the audience. Also a dialogue or a tension with another human spirals into an network of association and detail based upon multiple lives.

 How did you get involved with Laurence Lek?

We met online through a mutual appreciate of the music and art we were making. We later found out we went to the same school at the same time for a year when we were much younger. It’s like a polyphony his first person movement and the music I play.

You studied at Royal Academy of Music…was it a very traditional education? Were you able to explore music in the digital age?

CD’s and computers existed before I was born so I’ve always been able to explore music in the digital age. I studied classical music and cello playing mostly at the RAM but it’s also where I first heard some pretty avant garde stuff, like Nono and Kagal and the European 20th century hardcore stuff.

 How did you get involved with Brighton Digital Festival?

Not really sure and yet I’ve been looking forward to this show for a long time.

How important is technology now when it comes to art and music?

I’m a bit unusual maybe but I think a cello or a piano or a pencil is a piece of technology. A piece of software or a lighting desk is another instrument, which you need to learn and figure out how to do good stuff with. Digital processes are well handy because so much information can be tracked, saved and stored. I adjust curves and tweak sounds in my laptop all the time, I think I do it as much as my left hand micro-adjusts the pitch on the cello, measuring of millimetres which I’ve been doing since I was a child. The balance between being free with technological possibility, or the sophistication of an endless craft, and somehow having the discipline to limit yourself to a single set of variables and focus on making something of quality is the most important thing.

We are really looking forward to welcoming Oliver Coates with visuals from Laurence Lek at 8pm Wednesday 20 September. 

Vicki Bennett, best known for her audio-visual collages, will also be playing on this night. She is recognised as an influential and pioneering figure in the still growing area of sampling, appropriation and cutting up found footage and archives. 

We have attached a video for you as well to get an idea of the work Oliver produces.

Visit our what’s on page for tickets. 


Our first year on film

The Autumn season at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts is now upon us. To celebrate, we have rounded up the best bits of our first year to get you in the mood for things to come this season. 

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