New England Phonographers Union

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Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant on World Listening Day 2011

The New England Phonographers Union, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and Mobius, will perform a special concert on World Listening Day, Monday, July 18th. The concert is free and open to the public, and will be held in the Reception / Training Center of the Historic Pump Station at the Deer Island Treatment Plant in Winthrop, Boston Harbor, during midday, from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. For this concert, the Phonographers Union will be performing using only sounds that they have recorded throughout the vast Sewage Treatment Plant itself.

The facility is listed in the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s Land Use Database, with the following description: “The Deer Island waste treatment plant processes Boston’s sewage and is the second largest sewage treatment plant in the country (Milwaukee’s is larger). The plant is capable of handling more than a billion gallons of wastewater per day, ejecting treated effluent out giant submerged sprinkler heads at the end of a 9.5 mile long tunnel that leads out to sea. A dozen ‘egg-shaped’ digesters, 110 feet tall, loom over the island, and break down solids in the waste. The city’s sewage, treated and untreated, has been pumped out to sea from here since 1899.” For more detailed information about the processes which the Phonographers Union have recorded for this project, please see http://www.mwra.state.ma.us/03sewer/html/sewditp.htm .

The occasion for the concert is the second annual World Listening Day, a new tradition started by the World Listening Project in honor of Canadian composer, soundscape philosopher and activist R. Murray Schafer, and held on the date of his birthday. For this project, the New England Phonographers Union is represented by Rick Breault, Michael Bullock, Ernst Karel, Kara Oehler, and Jed Speare.

Attending the concert and directions: carpooling to Deer Island through Winthrop is the suggested means of access (directions below). Public transportation is also available by taking the Blue Line to Orient Heights and then catching the Point Shirley bus to the last stop; walk up the road to the plant gate from there.

NOTE: All attendees to the concert must R.S.V.P. in advance, by 8:00 p.m. on Sunday July 17th, to Barbara Allen of the MWRA at Barbara.allen@mwra.state.ma.us with: name(s) and means of transportation, i.e. by vehicle (with number of occupants) or by bus. All attendees must also bring a valid I.D.

Both NEPU and the MWRA are aware that this protocol for attending the concert is unusual; it’s due to the unusual nature and location of the event. We encourage people to come and share the adventure. There is also a National Park Recreation Area and 2 1/2 mile Harbor Walk on the island to discover as well.

Automobile directions to Deer Island from Boston via Boston Harbor Tunnels:

1. From Boston, the Callahan or the Ted Williams Tunnel, follow Route 1A North, McClellan Highway, until first traffic light.
2. Take right on Boardman St. to rotary, go half way around and continue on Saratoga St.
3. After passing “Entering Winthrop” sign take first right onto Pleasant St. (Route 145)
Discontinue following Route 145.
4. At “Stop” sign take a right on Shirley St.
5. Follow Shirley St. to Elliot St. take a left and follow Elliot St. around to the left.
6. Take a right on to Tafts Ave. and follow to the end. (GPS: 190 Tafts Ave, Winthrop, MA)
7. Visitors to the Deer Island Public Access Area can use the visitor parking lot and walk around the island.
7a. Visitors and Employees of the treatment plant can continue to the Guard house/check point.
7b.Visitors for functions at the Historic Pump Station (Reception/Training Center) should inform Security Staff and follow their direction.

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