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was established in 2001 to present the best of international
contemporary music and to support the exploration of new methods in
concerts by premier artists in the world of creative music. In
addition, Nameless Sound artists work directly with students from
Houston’s public schools, community centers, and homeless shelters.
Nameless Sound’s educational work helps to nurture a new generation of
artists and inspire tomorrow’s creative thinkers.
NAMELESS SOUND AND BUFFALO BAYOU PARTNERSHIP PRESENT
SOUNDING THE CISTERN
FOR PAULINE OLIVEROS
photo credit: Katya Horner
Sounding the Cistern
for Pauline Oliveros
Tom Bickley (Berkeley, CA) – recorders
David Dove (Houston, TX) – trombone
Juan Garcia (Mexico City, MX) – double bass
Lisa E. Harris (Houston, TX) – voice
Sunday, May 26, 2019
at Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
105 Sabine St.
This event is sold out.
remembrance of one of the important composers of our time, four
improvisers sound the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern for Houston’s native
Her significance as a composer was first established in the early
1960’s, through sonically daring works of groundbreaking electronic
music (as well as for notated pieces like Sound Patterns, which
launched her international career when it earned the Gaudeamus
International Composers Award in 1962). She consistently operated on
the cutting edge of technology through a range of projects, including
her live improvisations with global collaborators, facilitated in
real-time through high-speed Internet connection.
She was an influential teacher, writer and community leader. As a
recognized composer, she took a bold step in the early-1970’s with her
text-based scores Sonic Meditations. She temporarily rejected public
performance, and practiced these scores with a cohort of women that
included both musicians and non-musicians. Sonic Meditations may
represent the avant-garde’s most significant effort towards inclusivity
in music-making. They are still widely employed as the basis for
community workshops, and they planted the seed for Oliveros’ philosophy
of Deep Listening.
She was an accordion player, and her practice on that instrument had
roots in the city where she was raised. Houstonians well know the
instrument as one sounded in a great diversity of cultural expressions.
This instrument’s plurality was certainly meaningful to her. And its
underdog status in “serious music” was also embraced. This too was
rooted in her hometown, as the University of Houston had the country’s
only bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical accordion
She was an improviser. In this capacity, she most immediately expressed
her mastery of how sonic frequencies move through physical and
architectural space. In performance, her accordion could send sounds in
any direction, and shape them in a range of resonances. These abilities
were famously employed for recordings in unusual locations with special
acoustic qualities. The most famous is her 1988 recording in Washington
State’s Fort Worden Cistern. That cistern’s acoustic qualities, like
its 45-second reverberation, have become well known. Acoustic
architects at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have digitally simulated
this space for off-site performance.
She was an important mentor. Those who she taught, coached, and
inspired span generations around the globe, in contexts that range from
the academic to the personal. Through the Deep Listening Institute at
Rensselaer, that legacy continues. Here in Houston, Nameless Sound was
started under her guidance and remains active after almost 20
She was a native of Houston, Texas. And she was perhaps the most influential experimental artist ever to come from our city.
In memory of this singular artist and humanitarian, four musicians with
close ties to Pauline Oliveros will sound Houston’s Buffalo Bayou Park
Cistern in the first ever public performance held in this special
space. Built as a drinking water reservoir in 1926, the Buffalo Bayou
Park Cistern was designed to hold 15 million gallons of water when
functioning at capacity. 87,500 square feet, and supported by 221
concrete columns which are 25 feet tall, the Cistern features a
17-second sonic reverberation. Buffalo Bayou Partnership restored and
repurposed the Cistern into a magnificent public space, offering
regular history tours as well as periodic art installations and