Pauline Oliveros

“Through Pauline Oliveros and Deep Listening I finally know what harmony is ... It’s about the pleasure of making music.” – John Cage (1989)

The composer, performer and philanthropist Pauline Oliveros (1932 – 2016) was one of the most important pioneers of electronic music. Her album “Deep Listening” (1988) is considered a milestone of spatial sound art. Oliveros studied at the University of Houston from 1949 to 1952, at San Francisco State College from 1954 to 1956 and took private lessons with Robert Erickson. Beginning in 1961, she worked with Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Ramón Sender, and Morton Subotnick at the San Francisco Tape Music Center. In addition to orchestral works and works with chamber music instrumentation, she composed sound patterns for mixed choir (1961) and multimedia works, such as a piece for electronically alienated piano, tape and lighting effects, and a play for 15 actors, film and projections, tape and live sound material. From 1967 to 1981 she was director of the Center for Music Experiment at the University of California, San Diego. In 1985, she established the Pauline Oliveros Foundation in Kingston, New York. With the foundation’s “Deep Listening” programme and the Deep Listening Band, she created a connection between meditation and music. The “Deep Listening Pieces” as well as the earlier “Sonic Meditations” introduced the concept of incorporating all existing ambient sounds into a musical performance. To make this a pleasant experience requires focused concentration, practiced musicians and strong improvisational skills, which are the hallmarks of Oliveros’ form of expression. She recorded the album “Deep Listening” with the Deep Listening Band in 1988. Her numerous awards include the Gaudeamus International Composers Award (1962), the SEAMUS Lifetime Achievement Award (1999), the Giga-Hertz Prize for Electronic Music from ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien (2013) and the John Cage Award from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts (2013). In 2017, the artist’s works were presented posthumously at documenta 14. Today, the Center For Deep Listening continues the work of the Deep Listening Institute.

As of January 2023

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