Olivia Block

Photo: Peter B. Kaars

Photo: Peter B. Kaars

Olivia Block creates electroacoustic sound compositions for performance, recordings, installations, cinema, orchestra and chamber music concerts. 

Block draws upon a wide array of techniques and aural textures to create her studio compositions. She often combines field recordings, chamber instruments and electronic textures, creating mysterious and vivid electroacoustic sound pieces. In addition to her compositions for solo recordings and performances, Block creates multimedia works for sound and video. Block also writes scores for large ensemble, string quartet, and orchestra. 

Her solo performances include partially improvised pieces for electronics and amplified objects, presented in a slow and deliberate gestural style that Steve Smith of the New York Times described recently as having “palpable sensations of volition and emotional involvement.” Block also performs original pieces for inside piano. 

Block’s work reflects her interests in site specificity, ethnographic sound and listening practices, found materials including recordings and texts, sound for cinema, and additional themes. 

Block has performed, premiered and exhibited her work throughout Europe, America, and Japan in tours in festivals including Incubate (Tilburg), Festival del Bosque Germinal (Mexico City), Sonic Light (Amsterdam), Kontraste (Krems), Dissonanze (Rome), Archipel (Geneva), Angelica (Bologna), Sunoni per il Popolo (Montreal), and many others. Additionally, she has presented work at the ICA (London), MCA (Chicago), La Biennale di Venezia 52nd International Festival of Contemporary Music, The Kitchen (NYC), ISSUE Project Room and Experimental Intermedia  (Brooklyn). 

She has completed residencies and premiered works at Mills College of Music, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The Berklee College of Music. Block has presented talks at additional universities in film, music, media arts, and anthropology departments, including Yale University, University of Chicago, and Indiana University. 

Block has created sound installations for public sites and exhibition spaces including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the library at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, the Lincoln Conservatory Fern Room in Chicago, and at the “Echoes Through the Mountains” exhibit at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.  

Her 2013 LP/download release, Karren (Sedimental, 2013) has been chosen as “Best of 2014″ by The Wire, Pitchfork, and Artforum, among other publications. She was selected as a 2014 “Person of the Year” in the Chicago Reader. Aberration of Light, her latest solo release, is now available on NNA tapes. She is currently working on a large public sound installation to premiere during the Chicago Architecture Biennial, featuring sounds from Harry Bertoia's Sonambient sculptures.