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Pauline Oliveros

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Biography

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 during the early '50s and playing french horn in an improvisational group which also included pianist Terry Riley. Later recognized primarily for her prowess on the accordion, during the mid-'60s she served as the first director of the Tape Music Center at Mills College, followed by a 14-year teaching stint at the University of California at San Diego which concluded upon her relocation 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 also established the Pauline Oliveros Foundation, which spread the Deep Listening gospel through recordings, lectures and retreats.

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