As an electronic musician, Oliver writes and performs music for live instruments with synthesizers and audio processing, as well as works for "fixed media". In recent years, Oliver works in duos with poets, singers, and instrumentalists, transforming their sound in real-time to create dream-like soundscapes. Since 2022, Oliver has worked closely with composer/performer Douglas Schmidt to create two “symphonies”, and, together with François Houle they have formed an electroacoustic trio called Squid in Chains.
Oliver was a founding member of G.E.M.S. (Group of the Electronic Music Studio) in 1983, and was active with the ensemble as composer, performer, and conductor, until 1987. From 1991 to 1993, Oliver played MIDI guitar with the Vancouver group MORE (with Sergio Barroso, Lori Freedman, and Peter Hannan). Since the 1990s, Oliver has been developing repertoire for his own performance project involving guitars, computers and synthesizers. In the fall of 1997 he performed the Body Electric Festival (Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria) and released a CD Icicle Blue Avalanche on the earsay label, which he co-founded in the same year with composer/pianist Andrew Czink and designer Tanya Petreman for the promotion of new music. A highlight of his work was a Portrait Concert of his electroacoustic music hosted by the Réseau des art médiatiques in Montreal during their Akousma2 Festival, December 2005, where Oliver performed live to 28 loudspeakers. This project was released on a surround DVD-audio disc titled Time is Dust on the earsay label in 2012.
During the 2010-11 season, Oliver performed as guitarist and electronic musician for several projects for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, including a time-stretching project to introduce Vancouver Symphony Orchestra New Music audiences to Luca Francesconi's Etymo for soprano, orchestra and surround sound, as well as electric guitar soundscapes for Scott Good's Shock Therapy Variations, and a performance of John Cage's Ryoangi for trombone and computer.
Marina Hasselberg, cello; John Oliver, electronics. Live at the Western Front as part of the SONIC BOOM Festival, a presentation of Vancouver Pro Musica, March 18, 2017
with Renée Sarojini Saklikar, poet. 2014. Live at the Laura C. Muir Theatre, Dougals College, New Westminster, Canada
Site updated 2023-09-09