Each week, the OUMS newsletter features an interview with someone who positively contributes to the Oxford music scene. For our first interview of 2024 and of the new term, we sat down with oboist, composer and OUSE Assistant Conductor Louis Benneyworth to ask him about his busy musical life!
Oboist, Conductor and Composer
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Louis, a first year muso at Catz, lover of all things artsy, and serial tea drinker. I play the Oboe (mostly, and sometimes the Sax and Piano), and love conducting and composing. I’ve really enjoyed playing with OUWO, assistant-conducting OUSE and singing with Somerville College Choir, as well as leading the (bonkers, and new) Catz Orchestra! When not making noise, I love swimming, spending time with friends (often doing random and wonderful things) and cooking.
What are you working on at the moment?
At time of writing, my prelims composition (it doesn’t write itself), but I’m really excited for next term. We’re doing some fab things with OUSE with links to the Alternative Canon Project, and I feel really lucky to also be assisting Hannah von Wiehler with OrchestraVox’s performance of Erwatung (Schoenberg) and La Voix Humaine (Poulenc). Along with that, there’s Varsity with OUWO, St John Passion and a premiere of one of my works with Somerville Choir. I’m also really looking forward to giving the first ever Catz Orchestra concert, and hopefully doing some more chamber music (which I haven’t really ever done, but would love to do more of!). Other than that, I’m hoping there will be unexpected and spontaneous things around the corner to get stuck in to!
What has your favourite musical experience been at Oxford so far?
Not technically in Oxford, but the Somerville Choir tour to India has quickly become a core memory - the most incredible opportunities and experiences, with a particular highlight being helping to lead a session with the Magic Bus Foundation. In a completely different way, one of my favourite musical experiences was sat outside the Sheldonian with a friend having just played a concert, listening to the final movement of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd symphony (played by the Oxford Philharmonic) - a potentially insignificant moment in life, but one I’ll always remember.
Where can you see yourself going in the future?
I’ve always wanted to do something within the field of music - it gives me the biggest emotional ‘kick’ and is definitely a source of great comfort and happiness. What that may be, time will tell, I guess. Since I was about five I have loved the idea of conducting/composing professionally, but also am a huge believer in increasing the scope for musical opportunity, and so would similarly love to work in an educational/outreach capacity. I guess time will run its course and there will be an outcome at some stage, but for now I’m hoping that I’m lucky enough to make music my life.
Give a music recommendation
Tough one - my playlists are a bit jumbled...
‘Slip’ by Shubh Saran,
‘Dappled Light’ by Luke Howard/Jess Gillam,
and Lūcija Garūta’s Piano Concerto.
…I know that’s three - sorry!