Yannis Kyriakides was born in Limassol, Cyprus in 1969, emigrated to Britain in 1975, and has been living in the Netherlands since 1992. He currently lives in Amsterdam with his wife and two sons.
From a young age Kyriakides was immersed in music, learning to play the violin, piano, and singing as a chorister in the English choral tradition. He composed his first pieces at the age of eight, that were performed by his choir and school orchestra. He received a music scholarship to continue his studies at a specialised secondary school. At eighteen he travelled for a year in Greece and the Middle East, studying Eastern traditional music, and learning the Ud. He continued his education with musicology studies at the University of York and later composition with Louis Andriessen and Dick Raaijmakers at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.
As a composer and sound artist, Kyriakides looks for ways of creating new forms and hybrids of media that problematize the act of listening. The question as to what music is actually communicating is a recurring theme in his work and he is often drawn to the relation between perception, emotion, and language and how that defines our experience of sound. In recent years, his work has been exploring different relations between words and music, both in concert compositions and installations, through the use of systems of encoding information into sound, synthesizing voices, and projecting text to music. The latter work has led to about 30 music text films that play on the idea of imagined or inner voice.
Kyriakides has written over a hundred and twenty compositions, comprising mostly of music theatre, multimedia, and electro-acoustic works for chamber groups and large ensembles. His works have been performed worldwide at many prominent music festivals, and by many leading contemporary music ensembles. Frequent collaborators have included ASKO | Schoenberg Ensemble, musikFabrik, Ensemble MAE, Seattle Chamber Players, Slagwerk Den Haag, Icebreaker Ensemble, Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble and Champ d’Action, as well as individual commissions for Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, Kronos Quartet, Calefax Reed Quintet, Silbersee, Ergon Ensemble and many others.
His opera, ‘An Ocean of Rain‘, opened the Aldeburgh Music Festival in 2008. He has been featured composer at both Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2007 and November Music 2011. His sound installation work has been shown in places such as at MuHKA, (Antwerp), Pompidou Centre (Paris) and at the Venice Biennale in 2011.
As an electronic musician he works with the ensemble MAZE, dedicated to performing music that challenges the idea of fixed form and a fixed listening perspective. He also performs regularly as a duo with electric guitarist Andy Moor (The Ex), with whom and together with Isabelle Vigier, he founded and runs the music label, UNSOUNDS, focusing on new electronic music, sound art and improvisation. Since 2006, he has been teaching composition at the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag, where he also runs an analogue electronic ensemble with the students called KhZ kollektiv.
In 2000, he won the International Gaudeamus Composition prize for his composition ‘a conSPIracy cantata‘. The CD, ‘Wordless‘, received an honorary mention in the Prix Ars Electronica 2006, and his recent CD, ‘Antichamber‘, won a 2011 French Qwartz Electronic music award. Other prizes include the Dutch Toonzetters prize for best composition of 2010 for ‘Paramyth‘, the Willem Pijper Prize for ‘Dreams of the Blind‘, and the International Rostrum of Composers Prize 2014 for ‘Words and Song Without Words‘.