These photos of the Dan Harpole Cistern are from the Centrum website.
As part of a wonderful Tree People Centrum Creative Residency, where we spent 5 very special days creating, rehearsing, recording and performing music, two of the Tree People (Stephen Cohen and Rich Hinrichsen) and friends (Bruce Cowan and Mike Naughton) descended into the Dan Harpole Cistern at Fort Worden, Port Townsend, Washington.
After some experimentation of the echoes and with the sound possibilities of the Cistern, we were able to spontaneously create and record a piece of music with voices and found objects in the Cistern that will be the first movement of a Cistern Symphony that we will plan to complete in the next year. The piece starts with Bruce (Bruce becomes the lead found horn player on the piece) blowing into a metal tube he found on the floor of the Cistern and it continues with Stephen (Stephen becomes the lead found percussionist on the piece) dropping various pieces of metal found on the Cistern floor back on the floor, while Rich, Bruce (Rich and Bruce become the lead voices on the piece), Mike and Stephen engage in chanting, and it proceeds from there, with the 4 participants using their voices and any scrap metal they can find to move the piece forward.
It was all recorded on a hand held recording device that Rich had fortunately purchased just a week before our residency. And it all happens because of the fantastic acoustics and spirit inside the Cistern. And it could not have happened without Centrum. Thanks also go out to Deborah Petersen, who kept watch from above, and the Fort Worden ranger who opened the entrance to the Cistern before our descent in and closed it after our descent out. Tree People member Rich Hinrichsen said later that the descent into the Cistern was was one of his best musical experiences ever.
Here is a video of our first Cistern experience:
facebook music page documenting the creation of the Cistern Symphony. You can also hear it at our myspace page: it is the 10th piece of music on the page.
We plan to complete a Cistern Symphony by composing, creating and recording several more movements, instrumental and vocal, in 2011, with several more guest artists joining us in our second descent into the Cistern.