Oliver Coates, 2015. Image © Oliver Coates. Photographer: Gaelle Beri.

Oliver Coates


Oliver Coates is a cellist, composer and producer based in London. In the past year he has performed solo shows in China, Russia, Brazil, Egypt and Australia, and made his New York debut at Le Poisson Rouge. He was the winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award 2011 and is an Artist in Residence at the Southbank Centre. He has released records on Prah Recordings and Slip, and collaborates with the London Contemporary Orchestra, Jonny Greenwood (on the scores for The Master and There Will Be Blood), Mica Levi (on the score for Under the Skin) and the visual artist Lawrence Lek (on the award-winning video piece Unreal Estate). With Lek, he has recently presented the world premiere of a new work, QE3, at the Glasgow International festival. His new LP, Upstepping, came out on Prah in May, and he has programmed the Southbank Centre’s DEEP∞MINIMALISM festival taking place in June. In the autumn he will release a collaborative record with Mica Levi on Slip/Warp.

At the core of the programme, Coates will perform a piece by the 20th-century German conceptual artist Hanne Darboven. He says, “Darboven’s Opus 17a consists of 40 minutes of tonal arpeggios moving across the most resonant regions of the cello. The physical labour pours into constant patterning. Over time the viewer / listener becomes aware of detail. The attack, decay, tempo fluctuations, dynamic and timbre all come into sharp focus.

“I think of an arpeggiator setting on a synth being left on for 40 minutes. Then the subtle dancing of tones and their partials have an unpredictable life of their own. What the mind chooses to focus on varies – it may even be that the visual rotation in my arm movement will become primary, or an awareness of other people’s listening.”

Performing as part of a double bill with Grasscut.