Hildegard Westerkamp - Lighthouse Park Soundwalk (1977)
Lighthouse Park Soundwalk was one in a long series of soundwalks produced as part of my radio programme Soundwalking on Vancouver Co-operative Radio between 1977 and 1979. Lighthouse Park is a forested park on the rocky shoreline outside of Vancouver, where much of the old growth forest has been preserved. The sounds in this piece consist of the park's soundscape as I walked through it and my own voice. As was done in all soundwalking programmes, the spoken voice was recorded live, on location, during the recording of the soundwalk. It is my own voice and most of the spoken words are quotes from Westcoast painter Emily Carr's writings about the sounds of forest.
Hildegard Westerkamp was born in Osnabrück, Germany in 1946 and emigrated to Canada in 1968. After completing her music studies in the early seventies her ears were drawn to the acoustic environment as another cultural context or place for intense listening. Whether as a composer, educator, or radio artist most of her work since the mid-seventies has centred around environmental sound and acoustic ecology.
She has taught courses in Acoustic Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and is giving lectures and conducting soundscape workshops internationally. She is a founding member of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) and was the editor of The Soundscape Newsletter between 1991 and 1995.
The majority of her compositions deal with aspects of the acoustic environment: with urban, rural or wilderness soundscapes, with the voices of children, men and women, with noise or silence, music and media sounds, or with the sounds of different cultures, and so on. She has composed film soundtracks, sound documents for radio and has produced and hosted radio programs such as Soundwalking and Musica Nova on Vancouver Co-operative Radio.
In a number of compositions she has combined her treatment of environmental sounds extensively with the poetry of Canadian writer Norbert Ruebsaat. She also has written her own texts for a series of performance pieces for spoken text and tape. In addition to her electroacoustic compositions, she has created pieces for specific "sites", such as the Harbour Symphony and école polytechnique. In pieces like Visiting India she explores the deeper implications of transferring environmental sounds from another culture into the North American and European context of electroacoustic composition and audio art culture. Most recently she collaboarated with her Indian colleagues Mona Madan, Savinder Anand, and Veena Sharma on a sound installation in New Delhi entitled Nada-an Experience in Sound, sponsored by the New Delhi Goethe Institut (Max Mueller Bhavan) and the Indira Ghandi National Centre for the Arts.
By focusing the ears' attention to details both familiar and foreign in the acoustic environment, Westerkamp draws attention to the inner, hidden spaces of the environment we inhabit.
© Productions electro Productions (*PeP*) 1999