For Her 80th, Pauline Oliveros Recreates Iconic Cistern Sounds at EMPAC May 10 [Berkshire on Stage]

Pauline Oliveros

Pauline Oliveros

She is amazing. As composer and musician Pauline Oliveros turns 80 she celebrates the event by literally giving her many admirers a gift of music. Read on for the details. It is both a major project and a fascinating life story which ends with music and sound that would make John Cage proud.

In 1988, musicians Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster and Panaiotis, with audio engineer Albert Swanson, descended underground into a 14-ft. deep cistern in the Pacific Northwest and created “Deep Listening,” an iconic recording released by New Albion (1989) that developed an underground following.

The Fort Worden Cistern, since renamed the Dan Harpole Cistern, is a cavernous cylinder built in 1907 on a former Army base in Port Townsend, WA. The cistern is 186 feet in diameter, made of reinforced concrete, with more pillars per square yard than a skyscraper. It was built to hold two million gallons of water and to withstand bombing. As an acoustic space, it was remarkable for its smooth frequency response, lack of distinct echoes and most notably, a long reverberation of 45 seconds at low frequencies.

“Our dream after that first experience recording in the cistern was to take the cistern into the concert hall,” says Oliveros, celebrated forerunner of electronic music and founder of the Deep Listening Institute. “Now 24 years later, Deep Listening Band is very excited to have that dream come true.”

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