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Sebastian Black


Born: 1996


Sebastian is an Aotearoa New Zealand-British musician composer who was born in 1996 in Colchester, UK. He recently completed a Masters in composition with Sir George Benjamin at King's College London, for which he received a high distinction. He graduated in 2017 from the University of Oxford with a first-class degree in Music. While at Oxford, he received composition tuition from Robert Saxton and academic supervision from Jonathan Cross. Previously he studied at Chetham’s School of Music, studying composition with Jeremy Pike, and privately with Joseph Phibbs.

His music has been commissioned by Aldeburgh Music, the BBC, the University of Cambridge, the Mahler Foundation, and New Music North West. In 2010, aged 14, he won the BBC Young Composers’ Competition—one of the youngest ever winners. In the same year his piece Kollaps, for clarinet and electronics (2010), was premiered by Jordan Black at the Royal Albert Hall, London. This was followed by Five Lorca Settings (Jesus College, Cambridge, 2011), Notturno (Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 2012), and Narcissus (Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester, 2013). More recent works have included a song cycle, Chrysalis (Christ Church, Oxford, 2015, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2016), a chamber opera, The Sun (the premiere of which he conducted at Christ Church, Oxford, in 2016), and a work for large orchestra, Idyll-Cortège (Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, 2017).

He has been taught by a number of leading leading contemporary composers, including Charlotte Bray, Oliver Knussen, Joanna McGregor, Colin Matthews, David Matthews, Anna Meredith, Rebecca Saunders, Sasha Siem, and Bent Sørensen. In the autumn of 2017, he studied tabla at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi, India.

Sebastian also performs regularly as a pianist. In 2016, he was invited to play at the memorial concert for Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at St John’s Smith Square, London, in which he performed the Five Pieces for Piano Op. 2. He also enjoyed working in 2016 with Rebecca Saunders on a performance of her Duo. He has also enjoyed curating concerts and festivals, most notably the Christ Church Music Weekend, a festival of chamber music, recitals and poetry reading, with music ranging from Philippe de Vitry to Jörg Widmann.

Reflecting his strong interest in contemporary music, his academic work has focused on analyses of the music of Hans Abrahamsen, George Benjamin, Unsuk Chin, and Oliver Knussen. He is also a regular contributor to India’s only Western Classical-music magazine, Serenade. Forthcoming projects include a new work commissioned by the Mahler Foundation for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra to be toured across Europe by the Orchestra for the Earth.

Composed (7)


for baritone and piano, 10m


for clarinet and violin, 5m

Five Studies

for two oboes, 10m

Grand Pas de Cinq

for five players, 5m

I Heard Nothing But The Roaring Sea

for solo baritone, 6m


for chamber orchestra, 6m

The Mosaique of the Aire

for soprano and ensemble, 15m