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Resonance Gathering

by (artist) Pauline Oliveros, IONE & Christopher Willes

producer Public Recordings

designed by Jeremy McCormick

performed by (orchestra, band, ensemble) Claire Harvie & Anne Bourne

Art Metropole
Initial publish date
Jun 2023
General, Art & Politics
  • Audio

    Publish Date
    Jun 2023
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Resonance Gathering is a double LP and book that documents a large-scale performance project on the music of composer Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016) that occurred in Canada between 2017-2019. The project gathered nineteen interdisciplinary performers to interpret Oliveros’s score To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of Their Desperation (1970)—a work for sound and light that was written in response to the anxiety and political unrest of 1968 in America. Organized by multidisciplinary artist Christopher Willes and the collective Public Recordings, the ensemble included artists from dance, theatre, music, and visual arts, all performing together as musicians in a series of open rehearsals at various community spaces in Tkaronto—Toronto.

The project concluded with a final performance of Oliveros’s piece in Council Chambers Toronto City Hall. The local political situation at the time had become unexpectedly tense: in the midst of an election the provincial conservative government redrew ward boundaries and reduced council membership almost in half. The context brought a new resonance to Oliveros’ score, which proposes a self-governing system for group music making. And so the performance took place between empty councillors’ desks, among the spectres of representational politics, in a room where debates and decisions about togetherness have tangible consequences.

Resonance Gathering extends this project into a publication. The LP opens with a new sound poem by IONE (artist and Oliveros’ spouse) that was recorded in their home in Kingston New York in 2021. Part guided meditation, part dream, the fifty one lines of text and silences evoke the passage of time between 1970-2021. Side B/C/D share a lush, 45 minute recording of the City Hall performance, captured in a multi-channel format that subtly moves the listener into ghostly spaces throughout the ensemble. The release also includes a 64pg book with writing, a previously unpublished text by Oliveros, photography by Claire Harvie, and a Flexi Disc with a listening score that invites new listening experiments.

To Valerie... marked an important shift in Oliveros’s work, away from traditional composition and towards sonic-somatic practices that explore how listening can transform one’s sense of self and others. Deep Listening, as she would later call it, can bring out “resonant connections that lie beyond the surface of our consciousness and help us change [...] and grow.” Revisiting the piece fifty years after its premiere, this release explores how Oliveros’s ideas and music continue to resonate with our time.

Half of the proceeds from this publication will be donated to the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Pauline Oliveros’s career spanned over fifty years of boundary dissolving music making, and she is widely regarded as a central figure in the development of 20th century America avant garde music. A recipient of the 2012 John Cage award from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts, Oliveros was Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, and Darius Milhaud Artist-in-Residence at Mills College. Oliveros’ life as a composer, performer and humanitarian was about opening her own and others’ sensibilities to the universe and facets of sounds.

Since the 1960’s she has influenced American music profoundly through her work with improvisation, meditation, electronic music, myth and ritual. Pauline Oliveros was the founder of “Deep Listening,” a practice that joins bodywork, sonic meditations, and interactive performance, as well as listening to the sounds of daily life, nature, one’s own thoughts, imagination, and dreams. It cultivates a heightened awareness of the sonic environment, both external and internal, and promotes experimentation, improvisation, collaboration, playfulness, and other creative skills vital to personal and community growth. Oliveros is founder of Deep Listening Institute, formerly Pauline Oliveros Foundation, now the Center For Deep Listening at Rensselaer.

IONE is an author/playwright / director and an improvising text-sound artist. In addition to multiple performances internationally, she has created numerous large music theater works with her creative partner and spouse, the composer Pauline Oliveros. IONE’s memoir, Pride of Family; Four Generations of American Women of Color, was a New York Times Notable Book on its publication. She was Artistic Director of Deep Listening Institute, Ltd for 15 years and is currently a Deep Listening Consultant at the Center for Deep Listening, Troy, NY. As Founding Director of M.o.M., Inc. (The Ministry of Maåt), in Kingston, NY since 1997, IONE conducts workshops and seminars throughout the world, encouraging a vibrant international community of writers, visual artists, and musicians.

IONE received the 2019 Arts Mid Hudson Individual Artists Award and a Certificate of Merit from the General Assembly of the State of New York. IONE’s most recent opera TOUCH, with composer Karen Power, premiered at Irish National Opera in 2021. Christopher Willes is an interdisciplinary artist, musician/composer, researcher and dramaturg based in Toronto and Montreal. His projects focus on the subject and practice of listening, and are often generated through long term collaborative processes that blur the lines between art making, learning, performance, publication, curation, and research. From large scale site-specific concerts, to one-on-one sound performances, exhibitions, and community arts projects, his practice moves between artistic forms and communities. Between 2017-2019 he produced and curated the experimental performance series Quiet Concerts and a sound arts workshop for youth at Toronto Public Library. And with Public Recordings he developed What’s Collective?, an artistic exchange project about collective art practices. His work has been presented across Canada, in the USA and Europe at places like the Music Gallery, The PuSh Festival, Fierce Festival, MOCA Toronto, Take Me Somewhere, OFFTA and elsewhere. Notable associations in music include Canadian avant-pop weirdos Bernice, percussionist Germaine Liu, saxophonist Karen Ng, Toronto’s Rat Drifting, and Montreal based musician/artist Adam Kinner. Christopher has also worked as a sound-designer and dramaturg in dance and theatre for over a decade. And since 2014 he has been an Associate Artist and Producer with Public Recordings. He studied Music at the University of Toronto, and received a Masters of Fine Arts (music/sound) from Bard College, where he learned from artists such as Ellen Fullman, Bill Dietz, Marina Rosenfeld, Bob Bielecki, Terre Thaemlitz and Matana Roberts. He is a Chalmers Arts Fellow (Canada), a MacDowell Fellow (USA), and an affiliated researcher at the Milieux Institute (Montreal).

Public Recordings is an artist-led collective based in Toronto Since 2003 the company has developed and shared groundbreaking performance projects and research in Canada and abroad. Interdisciplinary, process oriented, and experimental in nature, the projects that the company develops explore hypotheses about group work using dance, theatre, music, publication and other collective gestures. Public Recordings has shared work across Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia. The organization is led by its Associate Artists, who manage resources collectively, direct the company’s projects, and help collaborators develop new ones.