For Her 80th, Pauline Oliveros Recreates Iconic Cistern Sounds at EMPAC May 10

Pauline Oliveros, "Deep Listening"

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.”

In two public performances, cistern software developed by Jonas Braasch, Director of the Communication Acoustics and Aural Architecture Research Laboratory (CA^3 RL) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and his team, will simulate the acoustics of the cistern as the Deep Listening Band recreates the sonic environment for New York audiences in two performances: Troy, NY (May 10), and New York City (June 17). On May 10, guests are also invited to view the process of Pauline Oliveros and Jonas Braasch as they set up for the evening performance.

Because the cistern is not well suited as a live concert venue—it is only accessible by a small manhole—even a few audience members would significantly reduce the characteristic reverberation time—new technology will simulate the cistern acoustics.

“The goal of the simulation was to bring the cistern to a larger audience so people can experience this iconic space live in its full immersion, explains Braasch. “Live concerts with a sizable audience are not possible in the real cistern because of accessibility and the fact that many people would absorb the characteristic sound of this unique space.”

The Celebration and Concert at EMPAC – Free DVD’s and a piece of cake!

In celebration of Oliveros’ 80th birthday, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is hosting an exceptional concert on May 10 that will feature a digital simulation of the acoustics within the cistern, made possible with software developed by Rensselaer professor and acoustic architect Jonas Braasch. This event will feature a reception with nine birthday cakes, and every member of the audience will receive a free copy of the new DVD with the video of the joint concert by Oliveros and Cecil Taylor at the opening festival of EMPAC in 2008.

Here’s how it will be done:
• An electroacoustic system with 32 loudspeakers will simulate the sound of the cistern in EMPAC’s concert hall and the Winter Garden.
• Multi-channel impulse responses of the cistern (the echo footprint) will be rendered using a CAD model of the cistern. Various source/receiver positions are considered, including those with special characteristics (e.g., flutter echoes).
• Using a combination of close-microphone techniques and additional room microphones on stage, the instruments of the Deep Listening Band will be captured, convolved and auralized with the simulated impulse responses. The levels of direct and reverberant sounds will be calibrated to receive the authentic sound of the cistern.
• Additional microphones will be placed in the audience area to process the audience members’ own sounds with the same algorithm to provide the audience with the impression that it is sharing the same space with the musicians.

Celebrate With A Download

Free Download for an 80th Birthday:
Tower Ring Gong Meditation

56 minute Gong “meditation” leading up to the performance in Anne Hamilton’s Tower on June 5, 2011.  Performers include Stuart Dempster (conch), David Gamper (conch), Lisa B Kelley (conch), George Marsh (gong), Pauline Oliveros (conch) and Jennifer Wilsey (gong).

Click here to download

Pauline Oliveros

Oliveros’ life as a composer, performer, and humanitarian is about opening her own and others’ senses to the many facets of sound. Since the 1960s, she has profoundly influenced American music through her work with improvisation, meditation, electronic music, myth, and ritual. Many credit her with being the founder of present day meditative music. All of Oliveros’ work emphasizes musicianship, attention strategies, and improvisational skills. In March, Oliveros was honored with the John Cage Award, which is made in recognition of outstanding achievement in the arts for work that reflects the spirit of composer John Cage.

She has been celebrated worldwide. During the 1960s, John Rockwell named her work Bye Bye Butterfly as one of the most significant of that decade. In the 1970s she represented the United States at the World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan; during the 1980s she was honored with a retrospective at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. The 1990s began with a letter of distinction from the American Music Center presented at Lincoln Center in New York, and in 2000 the 50th anniversary of her work was celebrated with the commissioning and performance of her Lunar Opera: Deep Listening For_tunes.

Oliveros’ work is available on numerous recordings produced by companies internationally. Sounding the Margins—a forty-year retrospective, will be released soon in a six CD box set from Deep Listening.

THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2012
OPEN STUDIO: 11:30am-2pm, EMPAC Concert Hall, Free and Open to the Public. Peek into the
process of composer Pauline Oliveros and aural architect Jonas Braasch as they set up for the
evening’s concert.

PERFORMANCE: 7:30pm, EMPAC Concert Hall, Benefit for the Deep Listening Institute Presented in
collaboration with the Arts Department at Rensselaer, Free; donations to Deep Listening Institute will be accepted.

• Land of Snows by Brian Perti
with Brian Perti (Dung Chen Tibetan Horn), Stuart Dempster, Pauline Oliveros (Conches)
Monique Buzzarté, Peter Zummo, Jen Baker (Digjeridus)
Cistern simulation technology by Jonas Braasch, Anne Guthrie, Sam Clapp
• From Now On by Deep Listening Band (Oliveros/Dempster/Gamper)
with Deep Listening Band (Oliveros, Dempster) and guest artist Brian Perti
• Returning by Oliveros/Dempster
with Pauline Oliveros (Voice, Accordion), Stuart Dempster (Trombone/Didjeridu)
• The Single Stroke Roll Meditation by Pauline Oliveros
with Ade Knowles and the Congeras, Richard Albagli, the Rensselaer Percussion Ensemble
• Exit Sliding by Stuart Dempster
Jennifer Baker, Monique Buzzarté, Stuart Dempster, Peter Zummo (four trombones)

SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2012
Will perform as part of the Bang on a Can All-Stars’ annual marathon, time TBA

• Quasi-Infinity by Jonas Braasch
Jonas Braasch (Soprano Saxophone)
• Land of Snows by Brian Perti
with Brian Perti , Dung chen (Tibetan Horn), Stuart Dempster, Pauline Oliveros (Conches), Monique Buzzarté,
Peter Zummo, Jen Baker (Digjeridus)
• From Now On by Deep Listening Band (Oliveros/Dempster/Gamper)
with Brian Perti and Deep Listening Band (Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster)
• Returning by Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster
Pauline Oliveros (Voice, Accordion), Stuart Dempster (Trombone/Didjeridu)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street | Troy, NY 12180-3590 USA
Phone (518) 276-6531 | Fax (518) 276-6091 |

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