© Hoshiko Hiromi    

Born in Cyprus in 1971, composer Vassos Nicolaou studied at the Academies of Music in Cologne and Frankfurt, the Paris Conservatory and IRCAM, working with York Höller, Theodore Antoniou, Marco Stroppa, Marc-André Dalbavie, Philippe Leroux and Beat Furrer. He has also participated in master-classes at Centre Acanthes, International Eötvös Institute and Aldeburgh with Louis Andriessen, Tristan Murail, Jonathan Harvey, Peter Eötvös, Zsolt Nagy and Brian Ferneyhough.

Vassos Nicolaou has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships from institutions such as the German Academy Villa Massimo in Rome (Rome Prize), International Ensemble Modern Academy (Frankfurt), Herrenhaus Edenkoben (upon recommendation of Peter Eötvös), Athens Megaron, the Weimar Academy of Music – (Franz Lizst Fellowship) and the Cité des Arts in Paris. In 2005 he was awarded the “Bernd Alois Zimmermann Prize” from the City of Cologne. In 2007 a jury which included Pierre Boulez and Wolfgang Rihm selected Nicolaou for the prestigious “Giga-Hertz-Special-Award for Electronic Music” and for the following two seasons he was a composing fellow at ZKM in Karlsruhe.  In 2008 he was awarded the Tremplin commission by the reading panel of  IRCAM and the Ensemble intercontemporain. In 2009 he was composer-in-research at IRCAM and creator-in-residence at the Tokyo Wonder Site.

 Ranging from solo instrumental pieces to large orchestral works, Nicolaou´s compositions have been performed by some of the world’s leading ensembles: 

In 2003 Kimata, commissioned by The Pharos Foundation, was premiered by the London Sinfonietta. In 2007 Lie(a)n and Rituals were premiered by the International Ensemble Modern Academy and in 2008 Redshift and Recent by the Ensemble Modern.

The Ensemble intercontemporain premiered Réflexions in 2004 and Navigate for large ensemble and live electronics in 2009 at the Centre Pompidou, followed by Anima in February of 2010. In 2008 his work Orbit was performed at IRCAM by Dimitri Vassilakis during the celebrations for the Institute’s 30 years.  In 2009 IRCAM  commissioned  Otemo with live electronics that has been performed by the renowned vibraphonist Daniel Ciampolini at the Musée d´Orsay.

Following  the premiere of his Five Piano Etudes given by Tamara Stefanovich in 2008, the Klavier-Festival Ruhr has commissioned new series of piano pieces for its 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2017 seasons performed by Stefanovich and Pierre-Laurent Aimard.

 Ensemble Modern commissioned Vertices for bassoon and live electronics for its 30th anniversary concert performed by Johannes Schwarz at the Alte Oper Frankfurt in January 2011. Commissioned by the WDR (West German Radio), Nodes (2008) was premiered by the Ensemble Dissonart and an additional work - IDEX - was commissioned for the Witten Festival in 2011 and performed by the Ensemble Modern under Johannes Kalitzke. 

In 2011 two scenes from Timeshift, winner of the Fonds Experimentelles Musiktheater - NRW KULTURsekretariat,  were premiered at the Münster Opera. In 2012 the Ensemble musikFabrik and the Helsinki Chamber Choir commissioned and premiered  Farbenmaschinen for ensemble and Ison for 16 voices respectively. In 2013 the Noh-singer Ryoko Aoki premiered the short music theater piece Macbeth 5.1. in Tokyo.

In 2015 the Ensemble Modern premiered Diffusion under Sian Edwards at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, Trio Savasa recorded Erinyes and the Philharmonic Orchestra Cottbus under Evan Christ, premiered  Wechselströme and Stretti.  

Upcoming projects include Feuer for cello and electronics for Isang Enders - production of the EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO Freiburg, a trio for the Ensemble Modern and a work for piano for Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich.

Nicolaou has collaborated also among others with Peter Eötvös, Emilio Pomarico, Beat Furrer, Franck Ollu, James Wood, Jonathan Stockhammer, Diego Masson, Michael Linville, Susanne Blumenthal,  Jean Deroyer, Kasper de Roo, Jonas Olsson, Paulo Alvares, Marios Nicolaou, Norrbotten Neo, Tana Quartet, Kreutzer Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble in New York, Ensemble Ergon,  Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble and the New World Symphony Percussion Consort at the New World Center in Miami. 

He has been leading award winning workshops (including the prestigious YEAH! Young EARopean Award 2013 and Echo Klassik 2016) for composition with the Klavier-Festival Ruhr in cooperation with the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen and the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln.