OLIVER
MANN

OLIVER
MANN

Oliver Mann is something of an anomaly in the music world. Working across various musical strands and languages, the Melbourne bass‑baritone's output is defined by its adherence to the classical canon as much as its re-imagining. While steadily building a reputation and career within an operatic context - including various roles with Opera Australia and the Victorian Opera - it's the coalescence between Mann's classical work and wider musical expressions that make his oeuvre so intriguing. His wanderings into arcane folk and experimental song‑writing craft - which have brought about two acclaimed full-length albums, Oliver Mann Sings (2005) and The Possum Wakes at Night (2008, Preservation Records), and international tours - are cues to his artistry as much as his growing classical repertoire.

Oliver Mann is something of an anomaly in the music world. Working across various musical strands and languages, the Melbourne bass-baritone's output is defined by its adherence to the classical canon as much as its re-imagining. While steadily building a reputation and career within an operatic context - including various roles with Opera Australia and the Victorian Opera - it's the coalescence between Mann's classical work and wider musical expressions that make his oeuvre so intriguing.

The joys of the physical - or as he puts it "almost athletic" - act of singing may well have been Mann's guide since acquiring a Bachelor of Music (voice) from Monash University in 2003 (where he won the Horace Keats Memorial Prize for vocal excellence) and making his professional debut singing Agamemnon in La Belle Hélène for Melbourne's Lyric Opera (2009), but it is by no means the extent of his creative practice. His wanderings into arcane folk and experimental song-writing craft are cues to his artistry as much as his recent roles as Pan in The Fight between Phoebus and Pan (Victorian Opera) and the Second Priest and the Second Armed Man in The Magic Flute (Victorian Opera).

That Mann originally gained a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Creative Writing comes as little surprise when spending time with his wealth of solo material as a songwriter and musician. He describes his musical practice as that of "finding the spaces between" and "ploughing his own little patch of the garden" and this is telling. By applying formal classical training and technique to more laterally minded song-craft and composition, he subverts them both. While his work in opera is buried in the canon, his songwriterly pursuits - which utilise voice, guitar, harmonica and ambient field recording and production touches - avoid the genre piece. Where the creative vigour and inspiration he draws from his own song-writing and live performance re-energises his commitment and love of the art of singing, his discipline as an operatic bass-baritone irrevocably shapes and informs his creative practice as a songwriter.

His albums, Oliver Mann Sings (2005) and The Possum Wakes at Night (2008, Preservation Records), and 7" Rock n Roll Series (2009-2011) - not to mention his international touring and live performances - have established Mann as one of the most unique contemporary songwriters currently gracing the stage. In recent years, he has played alongside anyone from Joanna Newsom (US), Bowerbirds (US), Deolinda (Portugal) and Nicola Ratti (Italy), to Sarah Blasko, The Middle East, Holly Throsby, Darren Hanlon, Mick Turner and Grand Salvo, while in 2011 he was a resident artist as part of the National Gallery of Victoria's Art After Dark series.

But one gets that feeling that it's only the beginning for Mann, who describes the act of singing as a stratum between the intellectual pursuit of writing and the joyous physicality of dance. In 2012, he will perform in several Victorian Opera productions, including the part of Antonio in The Marriage of Figaro and Keeper of the Madhouse in The Rake's Progress, and cover the role of Kromow in Opera Australia's 2012 season of The Merry Widow.

Indeed, while his output and his acclaim grows within both of his chosen musical paths, so does his inspiration. In Mann's "little patch of the garden", no creative pursuit exists in a vacuum.

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NEW ALBUM 2013
SLOW BARK

SLOW BARK

© Oliver Mann 2013