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Pauline Oliveros

Lives in Kingston, NY

Born 1932, Houston, TX

Composer, Performer, Educator

My concern is to expand my consciousness through my listening. My music comes out of my listening, keeps me fascinated with sounds and places. Most recently I composed Tower Ring for Ann Hamilton's Tower, situated on the Oliver Ranch in Sonoma County, CA. She created the eight-story Tower for the performance. I listened to the Tower and it called for a large gong, many voices and instruments.

The gong was suspended from the top of the Tower and could rise from the bottom reflecting pool to the open-air top. The gong became the conductor of the eight sections of the piece. Each section began with the Tower-enhanced sound of the gong with a new quality at each new level and a different instrumentalist at each level. The chorus also moved from a cluster at the bottom level to a line stretching four levels then eight levels around the double helix stairway and finally to a cluster at the top singing into the open air. Gong and chorus descended together for the ending with the chorus quality changing dramatically from the open air to the acoustical reflections within the Tower-a great swelling of sound and feeling.

Each performance space is a listening challenge. The listening informs the music to be made so that space/time and music interact, interchange and open new relationships between audience, performers and music. Through listening inclusively as well as exclusively in balance I hope to expand the range of my consciousness in music and in life.

1957 B.A., San Francisco State College

Professor of Practice, Arts Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

1996 - 2001 Milhaud Professor, Music Department, Mills College

1967 - 1981 Professor of Music, Music Department, University of California at San Diego


2011 Tower Ring

2010 Olas, Sobre Las Olas, Estamos Ensemble

2009 Sound Light Migrations, for accordion

2009 Sudophonia, for sudophone orchestra, for John Richard

2007 Oliveros/Masaoka (Deep Listening, CD)

2007 Pea(ce) Soup (Liquid Architecture, CD)

1998 Primordial/Lift for ensemble

1986 Dear.John: A Canon on the Name of Cage

1985 The Well and The Gentle, with Relache, The Ensemble for Contemporary Music (Hat Art, CD)

1982 Horse Sings From Cloud and Rattlesnake Mountain (Lovely Music, Ltd, CD)

1970 Sonic Meditations

1966 I of IV


2009 Oracle Bones Mirror Dreams, in collaboration with IONE, phonoFEMME Festival, Vienna, AU

2005 70 Chords for Terry: A Meditation on String Theory, Kronos Quartet, Pacific Rim Festival, Santa Cruz, CA

2002 Sound Geometries, for Chamber Orchestra, Expanded Instrument System (EIS) and multi-channel sound, Musiques Nouvelles, Brussells, Belgium

2001 Io and Her and the Trouble with Him, written and directed by IONE, Union Theater, Madison, WI

2000 Lunar Opera: Deep Listening For Tunes, Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors, New York, NY

1997 Four Meditations for Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Castle, Czech Republic

1993 Njinga the Queen King: Return of a Warrior, written and directed by IONE, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY

1969 In Memoriam Nikola Tesla, Cosmic Engineer, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY


2010 Honorary Doctor of Arts, DeMontfort University, Leicester, UK

2009 William Schuman Award for Lifetime Achievement, Columbia University

2008 Artist of the Year Diploma, presented by the Mayor of Saldes, Macaners Accordion Festival, Saldes, Spain

1999 SEAMUS Award for Lifetime Achievement for Pioneering Work in Electro Acoustic Music

Year Awarded 2012
Category John Cage Award
oliveros4.jpg Pauline Oliveros, photo by Aimee Friberg
oliveros3.jpg Pauline Oliveros, photo by Aimee Friberg