Marios Joannou Elia

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Marios Joannou Elia
Born (1978-06-19) 19 June 1978 (age 38)
Origin Paphos, Cyprus
Genres contemporary music, multimedia
Occupation(s) Composer, artistic director, lecturer
Years active 1998–present

Marios Joannou Elia (born 19 June 1978), is a Cypriot composer[1] and artistic director. He was the youngest director in the history of the European Capital of Culture (2013–15).[2] He is ambassador in tourism of the Republic of Cyprus.[3]


Elia studied composition with Adriana Hölszky at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts Mozarteum, Salzburg. Further composition studies led him to Klaus Huber at the University of Music in Basel. He worked with artists like Bogusław Schaeffer and Michael Finnissy, as well as Georges Aperghis, Helmut Lachenmann and Karlheinz Stockhausen. He also studied musicology[4] at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Southampton (2010).[5]


From 2003 to 2006 he was artistic and scientific fellow in the composition department at Mozarteum.

Elia was the artistic director of the Multimedia-Event "autosymphonic"[6] in Mannheim (2019–12) and "Ulmer Oratorium" in Ulm (2013–15).[7]

Elia's compositional work comprises pieces from a wide range of genres and instrumentation from musical based plays to opera/music theatre and multimedia, instrumental and vocal works also with the inclusion of electronic media and an expansion of the musical material through unusual acoustic and visual elements.

His stage works have been produced by the Staatsoper Hannover, the Staatsoper Stuttgart, the Macedonian National Opera and ballet, the Theatre Rampe Stuttgart etc.

International orchestras and Ensembles like the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg, SWR Vocal Ensemble Stuttgart, German Radio Philharmonic Saarbruecken-Kaiserslautern, Stuttgart State Orchestra, Sinfonietta of the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, Ensemble Modern, Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, Austrian Ensemble for Contemporary Music, Children's Choir of the Stuttgart State Opera, Netherlands Accordion Orchestra etc. have premiered his music.

Concert Halls and Festivals such as the Berlin Philharmonic and Warsaw Philharmonic, the Festpielhaus Hellerau in Dresden, the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh, the Muziekgebouw aan't IJ Amsterdam, the Millenáris Theatrum Budapest or the Ars Electronica Linz have presented Elia's Music.

Die Jagd[edit]

Elia composed several operas and musical theatre works. His last opera, "The Hunt", commissioned by the Staatsoper Stuttgart is composed for four singers, three actors, hunting chorus, two choruses, 20 recorded voices, instrumental ensemble into two groups, car sextet and electronics (2008). The work was premiered by the Stuttgart State Opera, in coproduction with the Theater Rampe Stuttgart.


For the 125th birthday of the automobile, Elia composed the open-air multimedia symphony "autosymphonic", commissioned by the city of Mannheim. The one-hour-long symphony is scored for 265 musicians: for symphony orchestra, 81 cars and 120 percussionists, choir, children's choir, pop band, vocal ensemble, percussion octet, live electronics and a 360-degree sound system. There were 17 conductors involved in the performance. The premiere took place at the central square of Mannheim, Friedrichsplatz, and attracted an audience of 20,000 people [10]. Horst Hamann created the visual staging of the symphony.

After a ten-month 'car-casting', Elia created the world's first car orchestra. The 81 cars of all eras and types were played by 120 pupils as 'instruments'.

Event culture[edit]

The work of Elia comprises compositions of different genres and instrumentations for the opera as well as for concert halls and goes up to visionary projects and concepts for complex and large-scale cultural events. A number of his works have been specifically designed for special occasions and celebrations, like the choral work "Aquanauts" (premiered in the gardens of the Salzburg Mirabell Palace, 2007) or the media opera "The Journey of G. Mastorna" (premiered in the Airport Salzburg during the "Mozart Year 2006") .

Pop music[edit]

Elia composed the fourth part of "autosymphonic" for symphony orchestra, choir, percussion quintet and the singers and rappers of the German pop band Söhne Mannheims and Xavier Naidoo. The title of the song is called "The Dream" [aka "The Automobile" or "500 horses"].

Compositions (selection)[edit]

  • Abschied, for soprano, tenor, choir, violoncello I-II, guitar solo and guitar orchestra (2016). Composed for Mozarteum University of Salzburg
  • Salz and Pfeffer, for guitar quartet (2016)
  • Ulmer Oratorium, open air oratorio for 400 musicians (10 soloists, philharmonic orchestra, brass orchestra, 7 choirs, bell orchestra, various percussion ensembles, construction workshop ensemble, electronics) (2013–14). Composed for Ulm Minster
  • Autosymphonic, open air multimedia symphony for 290 musicians (symphony orchestra, choir, children's choir, car orchestra, 120 percussionists and percussion octet, pop band, electronics) (2010–11). Composed for the City of Mannheim
  • Man and Machine, for choir (2010–11)
  • Im Auto über Land, for children's choir (2010)
  • Autotrio, for three cars, 14 percussionists and electronics (2009)
  • Vertumnus, for electronic music and interactive shadow play (2009)
  • Airdance, for robotic orchestra (2009), Ars Electronica
  • Nichts. Als Wiederholung, opera in 10 scenes for 7 soloists, choir, percussion sextet and chamber orchestra (2008–09)
  • Die Jagd, opera in 16 scenes for 7 soloists, youth choir, speaking choir, chamber orchestra, auto sextet, electronics (2008), Staatsoper Stuttgart
  • Elpis, for accordion orchestra (2008)
  • Dornen, for large rchestra (2007/09)
  • Akanthai, for chamber orchestra (2007)
  • Staubzucker, for guitar quartet (2007)
  • En Plo, for contrabass clarinet, double bass, electronics and loudspeaker orchestra (2007)
  • Thalatta, Thalatta!, for mandolin and ensemble (2007)
  • Aquanauten, for vocal ensemble (2007)
  • Der Flötenzauberflöte, opera (2006)
  • Die Reise des G. Mastorna, opera (2006). Composed for Salzburg Airport
  • Versteckspiel, for quintet (2006)
  • Kinderspiel, for soprano, mezzo-soprano and ensemble (2006)
  • C Story, for mixed western and non-western instruments (2006)
  • Spiegel:Eye for instrumental ensemble, 11 loudspeakers and live electronics (2006)
  • Der Wegweiser, for sinfonietta (2005)
  • Drei Löffel Zucker im Meer, für vocal ensemble (2005)
  • Tempus Tantum Nostrum Est, for vocal ensemble and motorbikes Harley Davidson (2005)
  • Debate, for ensemble (2005)
  • As time goes by, Zeitoper (2005), Staatsoper Hannover
  • Tessera, for recorder duet und double bass trio (2004)
  • Holy Bread, for string quartet (violin solo and string trio) (2004)
  • Whiteblack, for baritone and ensemble (2003/05)
  • Strophes, for 11 singers, instrumental ensemble, loudspeaker ensemble and electronics (2003/04). Composed for the Transparent Factory
  • With a Pair of Scissors and a Thousand Threads, for violin and one guitarist simultaneously performing on two guitars (2002), Cambridge University


Marios Joannou Elia, Mannheim 2011

The Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture in Vienna honoured him with a special Grant Award as the best student at Mozarteum during the academic year 2001/02. Furthermore, he was honoured with the Academic Excellence Award from the Chancellor of Mozarteum. He also received numerous awards from such institutions as the A.G. Leventis Foundation Paris, the European Centre for the Arts Hellerau in Dresden, the Hinrichsen Foundation London, the Academy of Arts Berlin, the Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria, the Allianz Cultural Foundation Munich, the Art-Foundation Baden-Württemberg, the Otto-Mauer-Fonds in Vienna, the Academy Schloss Solitude and the Republic of Cyprus.

The premiere of "With a Pair of Scissors and Thousand Threads" by the Cambridge University New Music Society (2002) was among the first international successes he achieved. Another early success was the performance of "Antidoron" (Holy Bread) for electronically amplified string quartet: First Prize at the Lutosławski Award international composition competition in Warsaw (2004). The premiere followed in the Warsaw Philharmonic with the Rubinstein Quartet.

Subsequently Elia was awarded a number of international composition prizes: First Prize at the Edison Denisov competition in Moscow, First Prize and PWM Edition's Special Prize at the Kazimierz Serocki competition in Warsaw, First Prize "Recherche" awarded by the Mozarteum Salzburg, the Klangspuren Festival Schwaz Tyrol and the ensemble recherche Freiburg, the Patronize Award of the BMW Musica Viva and the Bavarian Radio in Munich, the HofKlang First Prize of the Society for Arts and Critics Leipzig etc.

In 2007 he was awarded the Theodor-Koerner-Fonds Composition Prize and lauded by the Austrian Federal President in Vienna. In 2009 he was awarded the Achievement Award by the Minister of Culture in Cyprus. In 2010 he was voted "Artist of the Year" in Cyprus and elected President of the "New Works" Music Festival in Southampton.

The album "Staubzucker" (released 2015) wins 3 Gold Medals at the Global Music Awards 2016 in California – in the categories Classical Contemporary, Album, Creativity and Originality.