1999: Oswald is currently fabricating aparanthesi,a one note electroacousmatic composition, entailing some research in the perception of sonic morphs. He just composed a Concerto for Wired Conductor and Orchestra, which premiered at Boston Symphony Hall in May. He, along with mLab cohort Phil Strong, designed the soundtrack and system for Stress,an eight-screen movie by Bruce Mau, showing at the Museum of Technology in Vienna this past summer. A new piece entitled Oswald's First Piano Concerto by Tchaikovsky, (as suggested by Michael Snow)was recently premiered in Vancouver by Paul Plimley and the CBC orchestra. Plimley and Oswald are also featured playing improvised solos and duets on a new 3-CD set, along with Cecil Taylor and Marilyn Crispell, on the Victo label. For the past year he has been creating a database of photo portraits for a series of Moving Stills. One of his plunderphonie video/photo collages was shown at the Royal Festival Hall Hayward Gallery in London last year and was immediately sold as a gift to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1999 Oswald composed a score for the National Ballet of Canada for orchestra, robot piano and the disembodied singing voice of Glenn Gould.
Of recent works, he wrote, directed and produced a radio play in four interwoven languages (Brazilian, Dutch, English & German); wrote animated & scored Homonymy (for chamber ensemble & cinema); scored the stage version of the silent movie classic Metropolis; produced the soundtrack album to the gay porn feature Hustler White;as well as appearing as himself in John Greyson's feature film Un©ut and Craig Baldwin's Sonic Outlaws and he was the subject of one of Moses Znaimer's television documentaries The Originals.
Other recent activities include: a sonic motorcade in Brasilia; and a dance composition for 22 choreographers (including Bill T.Jones, Margie Gillis, James Kudelka & Holly Small); plus commissions from the Lyon Opera Ballet, Dutch National Radio, Change of Heart, SMCQ and Radio Canada. Other works are in the active repertoire of the Kronos Quartet (they've played his Spectre over 300 times worldwide, & another commission, Mach almost as often), the Culberg Ballet Sweden, the Monaco Ballet, The Deutsche Opera Ballet Berlin, The Modern Quartet, the Penderecki Quartet, and others. In the past year his recorded scores have been used in productions for radio, stage, concert, television, film, Hollywood movies, computer media and video.
In 1990, Oswald's most notorious recording, plunderphonic, was destroyed by prudes in the Recording Industry representing Michael Jackson. He has since released recordings on Elektra, Avant, ReR Megacorp, Blast First, & Swell, featuring transformations of the music and performances of Stravinsky, Metallica, James Brown, György Ligeti, Dolly Parton & many others. The first disc of his Grateful Dead production GrayFolded was selected as the #1 international recording of the decade by the Toronto Sun. In the same year his album of improvised music, Acoustics was a #1 critic's selection in Coda magazine. The GrayFolded package, completed this year has been selected for best of the year lists in Rolling Stone, The New York Times and many other publications. A recent press run of a retrospective CD box/book set of plunderphonic pieces sold out in two days.
Oswald is Director of Research at MysteryLaboratory in Canada, and Musical Director of the North American Experience. He is the 3rd recipient of the Freddie Stone Award ('93) for "musical integrity, innovation, and a long-term contribution to the Canadian music world;" and Eye Weekly's '94 year end report anointed him a "God-like being". The Montreal Mirror says "John Oswald is probably Canada's most important composer-musician," and the London Observer has called him "the maddest man on the planet".