Free Public Performance Celebrates Centennial of “Washington’s Official Instrument”

"This is where you have been forever and will always be forever." (Stuart Dempster, speaking about what itCistern4_4  feels like to be in the Cistern, where time sometimes seems to stop.)

Join us on Wednesday, August 8, at 7 pm on the upper hill at Fort Worden State Park as multi- instrumentalist Stuart Dempster performs improvisatory compositions for didgeridoo, conch shell, and trombone as part of the dedication of the naming of the Dan Harpole Cistern.

The concert will also celebrate the Cistern’s centennial (it was built in 1907). Listen to a recording of Dempster playing in the Cistern here! (Here, you can listen to a cistern recording by flutist and recorder player Laura Sterling.

Dempster, celebrating his 75th birthday on that day, will become one of the first artists to perform from inside the Cistern, a former water tank with a 45-second reverberation time. Speakers will conduit the music up to audience members seated on the lawn above.

Stuart_dempster Dempster is a trombonist, composer, didgeridoo players, and professor emeritus at the University of Washington. He has recorded for numerous labels, including Columbia, Nonesuch, and New Albion. His albums include In The Great Abbey of Clement VI, Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel and Sound Massage Parlor. A member of Cathedral Band and Deep Listening Band, he has toured extensively. Dempster is also known for his work in musical healing.

In his August 8 performance, Dempster will be accompanied by trombonist Kevin Karnes, trombonist David Marriott and didgeridoo player Brian Pertl.

Kevin Karnes teaches music history at Emory University in Atlanta. His musical work explores the intersections of musical creativity with broader discourses art, modernity, and cultural identity. Karnes completed his Ph.D in musicology and has published on Johannes Brahms, Austrian theorist Heinrich Schenker, and Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick. 

David Marriott is co-leader, with his brother, Thomas, of the award-winning Marriott Jazz Quintet. He also leads his own jazz groups, including Septology and the Crimson Pentagram Brigade. He is a member of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, Emerald City Jazz Orchestra and the New York City-based Brian Lynch Big Band.

PertlBrian Pertl is a musician and ethnomusicologist. He has studied the didgeridoo in Australia and has studied Tibetan Buddhist sacred music in Tibet, Nepal and India. He has performed widely on didgeridoo, dung chen, trombone, and other wind instruments from around the world. He has released three CDs: Echoes from the Dreamtime, The Didgeri Dudes, and Under the Earthtones, which was recorded in the Cistern.

On June 14, 2007, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission named the Fort Worden cistern the “Dan Harpole Cistern” in honor of Harpole’s life and work in the arts.

“Harpole was dedicated to educating policymakers and the public about the importance of the arts to the fabric of community life,” says Centrum Executive Director Thatcher Bailey. “His personal and professional mission was to create opportunities for connecting people to the arts.”

Harpole also tried to get the cistern designated as “Washington’s Official Instrument” in recognition of its unique acoustic properties, but was unable to get legislation passed. Nevertheless, thanks to his tireless advocacy, musicians were able to navigate government red tape and record inside the Cistern safely, Dempster said.

“One of Dan’s greatest strengths was bringing people together,” said Centrum program manager Peter McCracken. “He was able to find common ground among widely divergent groups of people.”

In addition to serving as Centrum’s assistant director, Harpole served on the Port Townsend City Council from 1994 to 1996. In 1995, then-Governor Gary Locke appointed Harpole to the Washington State Arts Commission; he was elected chairman in 1998.

Harpole also served on the Jefferson County Commission from 1997 to 2000. In 2000, Harpole moved to Boise, Idaho, to become executive director of the Idaho Commission on the Arts.

A week before his death from a rare form of cancer in December, 2006, Harpole was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman’s Medal in recognition of his service to the arts in the United States.