Monday, June 22, 2009
Pauline Oliveros-One Righteous Babe!
In 1989, Tom Torriglia – formerly of the band Those Darn Accordions and now a member of Bella Ciao – established the month of June as Accordion Awareness Month.
I thought it would be fun to try to make a post about accordions every day this month. So somewhere searching for cool music I stumbled on Pauline Oliveros and it's been really cool to find out about her music and life's work.
Oliveros is an accordionist and composer who was a central figure in the development of post-war electronic art music.
Oliveros was a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960s, and served as its director. She has taught music at Mills College, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Oliveros has written books, formulated new music theories and investigated new ways to focus attention on music including her concepts of "Deep Listening" and "sonic awareness".
"Through Pauline Oliveros and Deep Listening I finally know what harmony is....
It's about the pleasure of making music." John Cage 1989
Pauline Oliveros, composer, performer and humanitarian is an important pioneer in American Music. Acclaimed internationally, for four decades she has explored sound -- forging new ground for herself and others.
Through improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching and meditation she has created a body of work with such breadth of vision that it profoundly effects those who experience it and eludes many who try to write about it. "On some level, music, sound consciousness and religion are all one, and she would seem to be very close to that level." John Rockwell Oliveros has been honored with awards, grants and concerts internationally. Whether performing at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in an underground cavern, or in the studios of West German Radio, Oliveros' commitment to interaction with the moment is unchanged. She can make the sound of a sweeping siren into another instrument of the ensemble.
Through Deep Listening Pieces and earlier Sonic Meditations Oliveros introduced the concept of incorporating all environmental sounds into musical performance. To make a pleasurable experience of this requires focused concentration, skilled musicianship and strong improvisational skills, which are the hallmarks of Oliveros' form. In performance Oliveros uses an accordion which has been re-tuned in two different systems of her just intonation in addition to electronics to alter the sound of the accordion and to explore the individual characteristics of each room. (Tuning Chart)
Pauline Oliveros has built a loyal following through her concerts, recordings, publications and musical compositions that she has written for soloists and ensembles in music, dance, theater and interarts companies. She has also provided leadership within the music community from her early years as the first Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (formerly the Tape Music Center at Mills), director of the Center for Music Experiment during her 14 year tenure as professor of music at the University of California at San Diego to acting in an advisory capacity for organizations such as The National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council for the Arts, and many private foundations. She now serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Darius Milhaud Composer in Residence at Mills College. Oliveros has been vocal about representing the needs of individual artists, about the need for diversity and experimentation in the arts, and promoting cooperation and good will among people.
Columbia University School of the Arts has announced its plans to honor composer Pauline Oliveros with the William Schuman Award, a major recognition given periodically over the past twenty-eight years. According to the school's dean, Carol Becker, Oliveros is "a truly adventurous artist, who has contributed so much to redefining the boundaries and potentialities of contemporary music."
Named for its first recipient William Schuman, the award, in the form of a direct, unrestricted grant of $50,000, is one of the largest to an American composer. In the language of the gift establishing the prize, the purpose of the William Schuman Award is "to recognize the lifetime achievement of an American composer whose works have been widely performed and generally acknowledged to be of lasting significance." Previous winners have included Schuman, David Diamond, Gunther Schuller, Milton Babbitt, Hugo Weisgall, Steve Reich, and, most recently in 2006, John Zorn.
Columbia University's Miller Theatre will host an awards ceremony and concert in honor of Oliveros on Saturday, March 27, 2010. (info here from Wikipedia and Oliveros web site)