Obituary: Tanglewood Festival Chorus’ Founder John Oliver Dies At 78

By Francisco Salazar

John Oliver, who founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival Chorus in 1970, and remained its sole conductor until his retirement in August 2015, has died.

Oliver died on April 11, 2018 at the Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, following a long illness, at age 78.

Born to Marie and Frank Oliver on June 4, 1939, in Teaneck, N.J, Oliver dedicated his life to music, preparing the TFC for more than 1,000 performances, including appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Tanglewood, Carnegie Hall, and on tour in Europe and the Far East, as well as with visiting orchestras and as a solo ensemble.

He was awarded the BSO’s Tanglewood Medal when he stepped down in 2015 and received the newly created lifetime title of Founder and Conductor Laureate of the TFC. In 2016 and 2017, he held the Tanglewood Music Center’s Donald and Laurie Peck Master Teacher Chair.

Aside from his work with the TFC, he held posts as conductor of the Framingham Choral Society, as a member of the faculty and director of the chorus at Boston University, and for many years on the faculty of MIT, where he was a lecturer and then senior lecturer in music.

In honor of Oliver’s dedication to Tanglewood, a concert will be scheduled to celebrate his career.