Benjamin Dwyer

(b. 1965)
Benjamin Dwyer
Tommie Miller

“In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained.” (Georges Braque)

As a prolific composer, a virtuoso guitarist and an innovative researcher, Benjamin Dwyer's creative and critical work extends from a broad base in performance and artistic practice. His compositions have been performed internationally, and he has been the featured composer at numerous festivals including Musica Nova 2008 in São Paulo, the Bienalle of Contemporary Music of Riberão Preto 2009, the National Concert Hall's Composers' Choice and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra's Horizons series. In recent years, he has completed a number of large-scale works, some of which were conceived in response to or in collaboration with artists from other disciplines. These include Scenes from Crow (a mixed chamber work based on the Crow poems of Ted Hughes), Umbilical, his re-working of the Oedipus myth for Baroque violin, double-bass, harpsichord, tape, and Butoh dancer, Rajas, Sattva Tamas (Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra), Concerto No. 2 for Guitar and Orchestra, composed for the renowned Brazilian guitarist Fabio Zanon, and his monumental Twelve Études for guitar, described by Zanon as the ‘culmination of an entire guitar epoch’.

Dwyer has given concerts worldwide and has appeared as soloist with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Neubrandenburg Philharmonic Orchestra (Germany), the Santos Symphony Orchestra (Brazil), VOX21, the Vogler String Quartet (Germany) and the Callino String Quartet (UK). He is a recipient of the prestigious Villa-Lobos Centenary Medal and the McNamara Gold Medal for Excellence. His most recent CD (with the Callino Quartet), Irish Guitar Works, was released in 2012 on the El Cortijo label.

Dwyer's writing on music draws upon his perspective as an arts practitioner in performance and composition, as well as his experience curating and critically engaging with contemporary music via his twenty-year directorship of the MUSIC21 series in Dublin, which saw the world and Irish premieres of numerous important works. His book on Irish composer John Buckley, Constellations: The Life and Music of John Buckley, was published in 2011 (Carysfort Press). His chapter "Transformational Ostinati in György Ligeti's Sonatas for Solo Cello and Solo Viola" appears in György Ligeti: Of Strange Sounds and Foreign Lands (Boydell & Brewer, 2011), which was shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Prize.

Dwyer is an elected member of Aosdána, and he was recently made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, London (ARAM). He has earned a PhD in Composition from Queen's University (Belfast), an MMus in Performance from the Royal Academy of Music (London), and a BMus (Hons) from Trinity College (Dublin). Dwyer is Professor of Music at Middlesex University’s School of Media and Performing Arts.