Opus 1: Getting to know... Elliot Teo - Britten Sinfonia - News & Blog

Opus 1: Getting to know… Elliot Teo

Originally from Singapore, Elliot Teo is in the final year of his undergraduate studies at conservatoire. He enjoys collaborating with his partner, who’s also a pianist, and writing music concerning the behaviours of plants. Find out more here:

    • What are you looking forward to about being part of Opus 1?

    I can’t wait to be surrounded by the diversity of new works and sounds during the upcoming workshop sessions – I find myself learning so much more from other people’s music than I do my own!

    • Who has been your biggest musical influence so far?

    Dmitri Shostakovich has been my musical hero since I was 14, and his music and life have always inspired me to be true to myself and never give up on what I love or believe in.


    • What inspires you to compose?

    I love other forms of art – painting, sculpture, architecture, dance – and I get visual cues from them, which then inspire musical gestures, colours, textures, or rhythms. The world of plants has also been a recent interest of mine, and a lot of music I’ve written lately is informed by how plants grow, live, and ‘behave’.


    • How did you get into composition?

    I was 13 when I first decided to be a composer, albeit as a hobby on the side. All of my classmates at the time were quite advanced as musicians – most of them were at ABRSM grade 8 level – and I, being only grade 3 at the time, felt that the one way I could get into their ranks would be to start writing music instead!


    • What is your favourite instrument to compose for?

    I have two. The first is my own instrument, the piano. It’s practical, since I can immediately test out what I’ve written for it, but it’s also capable of producing a wealth of different textures based on how you ‘choreograph’ your fingers to interact with the keys.

    The other instrument I absolutely love is the cello, and I was drawn to it by its immense range, richness in tone, and the sheer variety of timbres it can produce – one could say it’s many instruments in one!


    • Why do you think creating new music is important?

    I feel that the classical music scene should always present itself to be dynamic, exciting, bold, innovative and in touch with the times. Composing and performing new music is therefore of vital importance, since it puts audiences in touch with music that is current, relevant to them, and written by living, breathing composers who are much less distant from them, compared to composers who are no longer with us.

    • If you could write a brand new piece for anyone in the world, who would you choose?

    I would definitely write a new work for my partner, who happens to be a fabulous pianist! In fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing – I’ve currently got a set of piano miniatures in the works, with her in mind!


    • What is the hardest thing about being a composer?

    Finding times for regular eye breaks away from the computer (most of our work is done in front of a screen)! On a more serious note, I’d say the hardest thing would be finding a reason or creative impetus to start a piece. Usually, once I find an overarching theme or source of inspiration to base a piece on, the structure and thematic materials seem to come more naturally after that.

    • What’s your biggest compositional ambition?

    I would really like to write an opera someday. For me, opera is a meeting point for many different artistic minds, and the thought of collaborating not only with instrumentalists and singers, but also writers, theatre specialists and possibly dancers sounds really exciting to me.

    • What 3 pieces of music would you have to have on your desert island?

    The first piece would be Shostakovich’s second piano concerto – that was the piece that got me hooked on my musical hero!

    Secondly, I’d also choose Rachmaninov’s second symphony. My late mother was very fond of Rachmaninov’s works, especially the third movement of this symphony, and so I’d like to have this piece to remind me of her. Also, it’s a great piece filled with tons of good tunes!

    Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor for piano four hands is the final piece on my list. It was the first piece I played together with my partner, and it’ll bring back lots of fond memories of her while I wait to be rescued!

    • What is the best snack?

    Blue cheese and ginger biscuits (and a glass of white wine to go with if I’m not driving!)


You can discover some of Elliot’s work for yourself on his Soundcloud.

Click here to meet the rest of our 2022 Opus 1 cohort

Click here to meet our previous Opus 1 composers