Ted Oliver was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was introduced to music early, learning simple melodies on the piano and the trumpet and singing in the Raleigh Boychoir (where, to a possibly misplaced sense of pride, he remained a descant until his departure in fifth grade). After picking up a few more instruments in middle and high school, he shifted his focus to composition, first pursuing contemporary songwriting and later approaching more traditional, classical forms. In his senior year of high school, his brass band arrangement of his choral piece In Terra Pax was premiered by the six-time NABBA champion Triangle Youth Brass Band. It was later performed by the same group at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
Ted earned his Bachelor of Music degree in composition from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, studying with Lawrence Dillon and Kenneth Frazelle. Though he developed a particular interest in writing for chamber brass, his "Dreamcatcher" for full orchestra won the 2011 Mary Starling Composer Competition and was premiered by the Winston-Salem Symphony later that year. His first brass quintet was performed by the Southeast Chamber Brass at the 2012 International Trumpet Guild conference in Columbus, Georgia. He also scored several short films while at UNCSA, including the Portland Art Institute's Mummy Business.
Ted earned his Master of Music degree in composition from the University of Kansas, studying with James Barnes and Kip Haaheim. For a time, he shifted his attention to electronic music, both fixed and live, and his efforts earned him the 2013 Edward B. Matilla Award for Most Outstanding Electronic Music Composer. His graduate recital concluded with a culmination of his efforts in electronics, an interactive piece in which six volunteers from the audience used non-traditional interfaces such as Wii remotes and cell phones to control the music. Ted remained an active performer throughout his time at KU, playing the euphonium in the KU Wind Ensemble and the KU Tuba Euphonium Consort. He traveled with KU Wind Ensemble to Carnegie Hall in March 2013 and with the Thunder All-Star Tuba Euphonium Ensemble to the International Tuba Euphonium Conference in Bloomington, Indiana, in May 2014.
Ted has created music beds for corporate videos that range from subtle padding to emotionally charged scores with evolving motives. He has also contributed instrumental accompaniment tracks and rhythmic aptitute exercises to the Diamond Piano Method. He continues to pursue formal composition, independent songwriting, and electronic music production, and he is currently based in the Boston area.