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Deep Listening: The Story of Pauline Oliveros
A film by Daniel Weintraub
Thursday, July 11, 2024 at 7 PM
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center {120 College Street}
Free and open to all

Join us for a screening of Deep Listening, a new documentary film project on the life and work of American icon Pauline Oliveros.

“Deep Listening: The Story of Pauline Oliveros” tells the story of the iconic composer, performer, teacher, philosopher, technological innovator and humanitarian, Pauline Oliveros. She was one of the world’s original electronic musicians, one of the only women amongst notable post-war American composers, a master accordion player, a teacher and mentor to musicians, a gateway to music and sound for non-musicians and a technical innovator who helped develop everything from tools that allow musicians to play together while in different countries to software that enables those with severe disabilities to create beautiful music. On the vanguard of contemporary American music for six decades, her story illuminates the pathway to how we got where we are and where the future will take us in the worlds of music, the philosophy of sound, and the art of listening.

Produced in collaboration with executive producer IONE, Oliveros’ partner in life and work, and the Ministry of Maat, Inc., the film combines rare archival footage, live performances, and unreleased music with appearances by Terry Riley, Anna Halprin, lone, Linda Montano, Laurie Anderson, Thurston Moore, Alvin Lucier, Claire Chase, Miya Masaoka, Morton Subotnick, Tony Martin, Ramon Sender and many more ground- breaking artists.

Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016) composer, performer, humanitarian, was an important pioneer in American Music. Acclaimed internationally, for six decades she explored sound-forging new ground for herself and others. Through improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching and meditation she created a body of work with such a breadth of vision that it profoundly effects those who experience it and eludes many who try to write about it.

Oliveros was honored with many awards, including four honorary doctorates, grants and concerts internationally. Whether performing at the John F. Kennedy Centre in Washington DC, in an underground Cistern, or in the studios of a West German radio station, Oliveros’ commitment to interaction with the moment was unchanged. Through Deep Listening Pieces and earlier Sonic Meditations, Oliveros introduced the concept of incorporating all environmental sounds into musical performance. She spoke of this as “playing the space,” playing with whatever space she performed in as another instrument. As she said, “Listening to space changes the space, and changing the space changes listening.” In playing this way, she applied focused concentration, skilled musicianship, and strong improvisational skills, all of which were hallmarks of her performances.

She built a loyal following through her extensive teaching, concerts, recordings, publications, and musical compositions that she wrote for soloists and ensembles in music, dance, theater, and inter-arts companies. She also provided leadership within the music community by acting in an advisory capacity for organizations such as The National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, and many private foundations. She served as Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Darius Milhaud Composer in Residence at Mills College.

Oliveros was 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. She founded the Deep Listening Institute, formerly Pauline Oliveros Foundation, and now Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Deep Listening is listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what you are doing. Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of nature, or one’s own thoughts as well as musical sounds. Deep Listening represents a heightened state of awareness and connects to all that there is. As a composer I make my music through Deep Listening.

– Pauline Oliveros

“Weintraub makes use of an archive of rare photographs, home movies, hand-drawn scores and signal flow diagrams, excerpts of unheard music, and rare footage from live performances, to assemble an impression of Oliveros that is charmingly funny, wise and profoundly real but without disturbing her essential mystery.”

“Weintraub’s film, which largely allows Oliveros herself to tell her story and explain her discoveries and ideas through recorded interviews that are peppered with commentary from her peers (Riley, Morton Subotnick) and disciples (Thurston Moore), is never at odds with the central tenets of the Deep Listening ethos. In fact, it leaves the viewer not only wanting to explore her music further, but to pay more attention to the sounds around them—something the composer no doubt would have appreciated.”

– Peter Aaaron, Chronogram

Previous Film Screenings at BMCM+AC