Michael Wolters has maintained an outsider position in the world of contemporary music with works which deconstruct and question the traditional concert situation or which are designed for performance outside the concert hall. He has written music for traditional ensembles like Birmingham Contemporary Music Group but prefers to challenge conventional set-ups and concert rituals. This has resulted in pieces with unusual instrumentations (like his twelve-minute-long opera The Voyage, produced with theatre company Stan's Cafe for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad written for mezzo-soprano, eleven recorders and double bass), performances in unusual places (wahnsinnig wichtig on ice took place on and around an ice rink) or projects of unusual duration (his Spring Symphony: The Joy of Life is the shortest symphony in the world and lasts around 17 seconds while the performance of Wir sehen uns morgen wieder lasted for a month). He strongly believes that the idea of a work is the single most important element in the creation of an art work. It informs the concept and drives all artistic decisions. One of the major influences on his music was the work of American performance artist Laurie Anderson in the 1980s. He especially admires Anderson's ability to use multiple artistic genres to create highly effective and moving performance situations, where – in her typical postmodern way – she tells stories while highlighting the fact that she is telling stories.
Michael Wolters was born in 1971 in Mönchengladbach, Germany and grew up in Niederkrüchten, a small German village on the Dutch border. After working as a care worker in a children's home and a runner at several theatres in Germany and Scarborough he studied Applied Theatre Studies at Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany and Composition at the University of Huddersfield (BA, MA) and the University of Birmingham (PhD). His teachers include Christopher Fox, Heiner Goebbels, Patric Standford and Vic Hoyland.
His works have been performed at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the ISCM World Music Days in Manchester, Spitalfields Festival, the Barbican Centre, Birmingham Symphony Hall, the Purcell Room, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Tate Liverpool and various other concert halls, festivals, supermarkets, art galleries, shoe shops, theatres, banks, opera houses, in cafes, on beaches, on ice rinks, in cinemas, on the radio, on TV; in Europe, Russia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada.
Since 2009 he has been Deputy Head of Composition at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where he runs the Masters in Experimental Performance.