Kevin Volans was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne. He now is an Irish citizen.
In 1979 after research trips to South Africa, he began a series of pieces based on African composition techniques, which occupied him for the next 10 years.
After a productive collaboration with the Kronos quartet in the 1980s his work, principally in the field of chamber and orchestral music, has been regularly performed worldwide.
In 1997 the BBC Music Magazine listed him as one of the 50 most important living composers and he was described by the Village Voice as “one of the most original and unpredictable voices on the planet”.
Latterly, he has turned his attention to writing for orchestra and as well as collaborating with visual artists. Principal performances in the last years include the Berliner Musikfest, Vienna State Opera, Lincoln Center New York, Conzertgebouw Amsterdam, Pompidou Centre Paris and the BBC Proms.