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Sunday, September 11, 2011

John Oliver explains the spirit behind his 9/11 composition Give Us Peace.

After reading this Nation of Change article, I felt a need to explain the reasoning behind my own 9/11 musical composition.

I just want to clarify, for those who may not know, that the CBC commissioned a piece from me to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It is called "Give Us Peace." It is a work composed entirely of sampled and prerecorded sounds (an electroacoustic work). I created the work to memorialize those who lost their lives on that day. But I believed that these attacks were a criminal act and should be investigated. I never believed that these events could justify the declaration by the United States of war against any country. As I began to read about the science behind what happened at the World Trade Center, I became suspicious of the entire event. Nothing to date has convinced me that the World Trade Center buildings fell because they were hit by aircraft. Building 7 was not hit by any aircraft at all, but it fell to the ground in a controlled demolition on that day. So for those who disapprove of any work of art that considers anything to do with 9/11 and are suspicious of the motivation of the creators of such work, I simply want to clarify that my creation of the musical composition "Give Us Peace" was a genuine attempt to comfort those who feel injured in body or spirit by the events of that day.

You can listen to an excerpt from the piece here. Some may find the opening of the piece disturbing. (An association with Edvard Munch's panting The Scream is appropriate.) I certainly found the events themselves disturbing, as I did most of the ideas and actions that emerged in United States foreign policy during the year after the events.

Friday, April 29, 2011

BP daily dose

British        monarchy

Iraqi        cradle

Tar        nicotine

Fish        net

Take        all

© Copyright 2010 John Oliver

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pumpin Oil premiere set for this Friday February 25th in Long Island City

What a crazy world! We're all so connected through computers these days. In October 2009 I received an email message from an ensemble whose email list I had signed onto that said:

Dear Friend,

We are thingNY, a collective of composer-instrumentalists based in New York City. On Saturday, December 19, 2009, we will be presenting a concert called SPAM, based on responses we get to this very email. Congratulations! If you're reading this email, you've been selected to write us some music - even if you've never written music before. It could be a few words, a notated score, a set of instructions, a drawing, a video of your dog, your favorite photo of Leonard Nimoy, or anything else you can imagine. It could even be something that takes a second or two to perform. 

I thought "that's a cool idea" and promptly forgot about it. Then a reminder message came two days before the deadline and I just sat down and created CLIMATE CHANGE in a matter of 6 hours. And sure enough, thingNY selected and performed the piece. (It went on to be performed again by thingNY, and more recently by the Swedish group ARS NOVA.)

So when the second call came for SPAM V. 2.0, I just sat down and created another theatrical piece, this time called PUMPIN' OIL. You can imagine what that's about…

Creative minds the world over are coming up with great events and find unique ways of generating new music and programming. Kudos to thingNY for inspiring composers of all ages from around the world to contribute to this cabaret-style event. 

Date: 2011-02-25
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center 
31-10 Thomson Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101 US
(718) 482-5151

Monday, January 17, 2011

B.C. Chinese Music Ensemble & Nu:BC Collective announce Chinese and Canadian commissions

I'm involved in this great cultural collaboration between China and Canada. Here's the press release announcing the project…

Arts Partners in Creative Development

Workshops / Concert

B.C. Chinese Music Ensemble / Nu:BC Collective

The BC Chinese Music Association (BCCMA) and B.C. Chinese Ensemble (BCCME) in partnership with Nu:BC Collective and the UBC School of Music were awarded an Arts Partners In Creative Development Project < Future Heritage : Intercultural Innovations > . The BCCME / Nu:BC ensemble combines 16 of Canada’s most talented Chinese and new music performers, and will present 3 workshops and a gala concert with world premieres of newly commissioned works by six (6) exceptional composers. Three (3) Canadian and three (3) Chinese composers explore new styles of Chinese and Western musical culture in one ensemble conducted by Ray Zhuo.

The collaboration with Canadian / Chinese composers creates a unique and innovative instrumental style reflecting contemporary Canadian culture while the combination of the BCCME and NU:BC demonstrates the equality of the two musical cultures. The composers from China : Jian-Ping Tang of Central Conservatory of Music, Ning Wang of China Conservatory of Music, Cheng-Long Zhuo of the Shanghai Musicians Association will bring to Vancouver an enormous amount of exposure to the top echelons of Chinese musical life. Their musical styles combine abstract and highly expressive emotions, built solidly on Chinese classical / traditional music skills. Simultaneously the three renowned Canadian composers : Dorothy Chang of UBC, John Oliver and Owen Underhill of SFU share their talent and imagination joining Western contemporary with Chinese musical essence.

The theme of “ Succession , Innovation , Amalgamation , Delimitation and Artistic Conception ” celebrates the skill, knowledge and ability to communicate between cultures. Through listening to each other at the deepest artistic levels and showcasing the artistic equality of the performers, instruments and musical thoughts, we are laying the foundations for a new level of musical and intercultural innovation. The whole process from workshop to performance will be documented and edited into a bilingual DVD for educational purposes and will be deposited into music libraries across Canada and China. Come and take part in creating the musical heritage of the future !

Colorful Forest : Cheng-Long Zhuo / Ensemble
Slender Gold : Owen Underhill / Ensemble
Tsu-ur Song : Ning Wang / cello, bass, suona, dizi - Concerto Grosso
Four Gardens : Dorothy Chang / Ensemble
Goddess of Luo River : Jian-Ping Tang / flute/zheng - Double Concerto
The Bridge : John Oliver / viola, sanxian, percussion - Triple Concerto

Feb 15-16 , 2011 2:00-4:30 pm Feb 17 , 2011 1:30-4:00 pm :
3 workshops with all six composers in attendance
Gessler Hall - UBC School of Music and open for UBC music students

Date : Feb 18, 2011 Friday 8:00 pm
Place : Roy Barnett Recital Hall, UBC School of Music
Tickets : $30 / $20 *( * senior/student )
Ticket information : Tel. 604-327-8807 , E-mail : , web :
Media Contact : Mark Armanini, Tel. 604-739-8047, E-mail :