New England Phonographers Union

Waterworks Museum Concert for World Listening Day 2013: HEADWORKS II

The New England Phonographers Union, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum and Mobius, announces a special, four-channel concert celebrating the 4th annual World Listening Day on Thursday, 18 July, at 2:00 p.m. at the Waterworks Museum. Located in Chestnut Hill, Brookline, the museum is a former 19th century pump station which provided clean water to the City of Boston until it ceased operation in the 1970s. Admission to the concert is $5 and open to the public.

For this concert, Jed Speare and Ernst Karel will perform using a series of sound recordings they made between 2010 and 2012 at the Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant and four Boston-area “Headworks” facilities — or pump stations which send collect, process, and send raw sewage on to Deer Island — at Nut Island, Chelsea Creek, Columbus Park, and Roxbury. The New England Phonographers Union has previously performed using these recordings in concerts at the reception hall (and historic pump station) at Deer Island in July 2011, and an outdoor concert at the park adjacent to the MWRA’s Nut Island Headworks facility in Quincy on summer solstice 2012.  For this concert, Speare and Karel will not only work with the original unprocessed location recordings in creating a live multichannel mix, but will also transform and extend the sounds using live electronics.

The Waterworks Museum is located on the site of the original Chestnut Hill Reservoir and pumping station. By the 1880’s, Boston’s water system couldn’t keep up with the rapid growth of the city and its water needs. Chestnut Hill was identified as the location for a new reservoir and main pumping station. The original station was built in 1887, but by the 1890s, it was clear that demand had quickly outstripped the ability to transport sufficient water. The need for more water resulted in the installation of increasingly powerful (and enormous!) pumping engines, which operated every day until the 1970s, when the site was taken offline, and Boston’s water supply shifted to the Quabbin Reservoir. The Chestnut Hill Reservoir, however, is still used as a back-up source of water in case of emergencies.

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