Josiah Wolf Oberholtzer is a composer and researcher, born in Boston in 1984.
In Zaira (2014), Josiah Wolf Oberholtzer placed two identifiable sounding objects in his healthier world of rummaging and rooting: a bang-bang-bang pulsation and a tremolo piano harmony, the only real echoes of what most of us know as music. With the aid of a conductor mapping out beats and gestures we were given some sense of where we humans have been.
His music has been played in the US, Germany and Israel. Recent works include Plague Water, a quartet for Ensemble Nikel, and the Calvino-inspired Invisible Cities series: Invisible Cities (i): Zaira, an octet for Ensemble Mosaik, the viola duet Invisible Cities (ii): Armilla for Elizabeth Weisser and John Pickford Richards, and Invisible Cities (iii): Ersilia, for chamber orchestra, written for Ensemble Dal Niente, In 2011, Ensemble Kaleidosop commissioned Aurora, a 22-voice string orchestra piece for a festival commemorating the 10th anniversary of the death of Iannis Xenakis. He has also composed numerous large-scale multi-channel works for Harvard University’s HYDRA 40-channel speaker orchestra.
His research interests range over live electronics, algorithmic composition, music-informatics and audio analysis. He is one of the lead architects of Abjad, a Python API for formalized score control. Abjad provides a powerful object-oriented interface to the LilyPond music typesetting engine, has facilitated all of his acoustic compositions since 2009, and is used by composers world-wide.
He also works as a sound designer, helping other composers realize the electronic aspects of their compositions. He has collaborated extensively with Sabrina Schroeder on her Stircrazer series, which combines traditional instruments like pianos and bass drums with massive bass-shaker transducers to create hypnotizing heavy drones. He also engineered the live-electronic setups for Stefan Prins’ widely-performed Generation Kill and Piano Hero II, integrating video game controllers and live video capture with instrumental performers.
In 2015, he received a doctorate in music composition from Harvard University, where he studied with Hans Tutschku and Chaya Czernowin. He has also attended the Summer Akademy at Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, and previously completed a Bachelors of Music at Oberlin Conservatory in 2006, where he studied with Lewis Nielson and Randolph Coleman.