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Pauline Oliveros

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Avant-garde composer Pauline Oliveros pioneered the concept of Deep Listening, an aesthetic based upon principles of improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching, and meditation designed to inspire both trained and untrained performers to practice the art of listening and responding to environmental conditions in solo and ensemble situations. Born in Houston, Texas on May 20, 1932, Oliveros received her first musical instruction from her mother and grandmother -- equally inspired by the sounds of nature, she committed to pursuing a career in music early in life, studying composition at San Francisco State College in the early '50s and playing French horn in an improvisational group that also included pianist Terry Riley. Later recognized primarily for her prowess on the accordion, she served as the first director of the Tape Music Center at Mills College in the mid-'60s, followed by a 14-year teaching stint at the University of California at San Diego, which ended when she relocated to Kingston, New York in 1981. In the intervening years, Oliveros established herself among the most original thinkers in contemporary music, known initially for the "Sonic Meditations," her earliest attempts at absorbing environmental sounds into the musical process. The same concept was at the heart of the Deep Listening series, a collection of 30 pieces composed between 1971 and 1990. During the mid-'80s, she established the Pauline Oliveros Foundation, which spread the Deep Listening gospel through recordings, lectures, and retreats. Oliveros died in her sleep at home in Kingston on November 24, 2016; she was 84 years old. ~ Jason Ankeny

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