When Pauline Oliveros was a kid in Texas, back around World War II, she was given a musical instrument.
Apparently nobody told the young Oliveros that the accordion isn’t considered “serious” – you never see one with an orchestra, or that girls weren’t supposed to write serious music.
(Pauline) (accordion music)
So Oliveros studied composition. She believed that you can't have sound without silence, or vice versa. By 1965, she was a well-known musical maverick. In 1970, she made a splash in the New York Times, with an essay titled “Don’t Call Them ‘Lady’ Composers.”She’s been experimenting ever since. She delights in combining her accordion with other sounds, like foghorns and bells from the coast of Maine.
More recently, her music has turned meditative. Here’s a piece she recorded in a huge, dark underground cistern.
Oliveros has been gleefully stirring things up for so long that she’s now a venerated musical revolutionary, traveling from university to university – last week London, this week Sacramento. I asked her how it feels.
Oliveros realizes that people still find her music unorthodox -- even weird. She’s been hearing this for longer than most of us have been alive. All she asks is that you approach her work with an open mind.
Pauline Oliveros will deliver a keynote address at Noon on Thursday, November 1 in the Music Recital Hall. She performs at 8 p.m. Thursday night during the Gala concert (broadcast on KXPR 88.9). She also performs at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 2 in the Music Recital Hall. All events are free.