Make Music Winter, Friday, Dec. 21st

Sonic Meditation: The Heart Chant

The Heart Chant (2001) is a participatory Deep Listening® meditation, an offering of sonic healing for all beings through vocalization and listening. Written by Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016) in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, The Heart Chant‘s simple instructions invite any and all to participate in creating community through sound. No musical training is required. Come join any time, leave any time, and return as you wish. There will also be instructions and facilitators at the location.

This program is presented in partnership and with thanks to The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and Westfield World Trade Center.

Permissions for this event are by The Pauline Oliveros Trust and The Ministry of Maåt.


Visit us anytime between 12:00 and 2:00 PM at the Oculus Plaza on the corner of Fulton Street and Church Street. Take the R/W to Cortlandt Street, 1 to WTC Cortlandt, or 4/5/6 to Fulton Street.

Sonic Meditation: The Heart Chant is open to all interested participants. You are welcome to arrive at the performance location at any point during the program to take part and instructors and facilitators will be on hand to help guide you. If you would like to be a facilitator or want additional information on the program, email organizer

Pauline Oliveros’ (1932-2016) life as a composer, performer and humanitarian was about opening her own and others’ sensibilities to the universe and facets of sounds. Her career spanned fifty years of boundary dissolving music making. In the ’50s she was part of a circle of iconoclastic composers, artists, poets gathered together in San Francisco. In the 1960’s she influenced American music profoundly through her work with improvisation, meditation, electronic music, myth and ritual. She was the recipient of four Honorary Doctorates and among her many recent awards were the William Schuman Award for Lifetime Achievement, Columbia University, New York, NY, The Giga-Hertz-Award for Lifetime Achievement in Electronic Music from ZKM, Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany and The John Cage award from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts.Oliveros was Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, and Darius Milhaud Artist-in-Residence at Mills College.She founded “Deep Listening ®,” which came from her childhood fascination with sounds and from her works in concert music with composition, improvisation and electro-acoustics.  She described Deep Listening as a way of listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what you are doing.  Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of nature, of one’s own thoughts as well as musical sounds.’Deep Listening is my life practice,” Oliveros explained, simply.  Oliveros founded Deep Listening Institute, formerly Pauline Oliveros Foundation, now the Center For Deep Listening at Rensselaer, Troy, NY. Her creative work is currently disseminated through The Pauline Oliveros Trust and the Ministry of Maåt, Inc. (



JB: Jonah, you staged a version of “The Heart Chant” last summer solstice as part of the annual Make Music New York celebrations that take place every June 21st and we are happy to be working with you again! What inspired you to organize a winter solstice version of the work as part of Make Music Winter?

JU: I am very happy you’re having me back! “The Heart Chant” is very dear to me, and it went so well over the summer I couldn’t wait to bring it back. We were hosted by Union Street Studio, an architecture firm in Carroll Gardens with a street side space. A group of trained and untrained singers joined voices for nearly four hours. Everyone who joined in or passed through left with bright eyes and wide smiles. I knew I had to make it happen again, and reach more people!

 JB: “The Heart Chant” was written by Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016), a composer, performer and humanitarian whose work is informed by a unique philosophy. Can you elaborate for our fans?

JU: Pauline was a revolutionary in so many ways, but her life’s work is centered around her practice called Deep Listening. This practice honors the healing power of listening with an open heart, beyond the selective hearing that is so habitual for us. “The Heart Chant” is a Deep Listening Sonic Meditation, an invitation to use this listening to vocalize together as a community. It is intended for anyone to participate, non-musicians and musicians alike. It is a powerful, uplifting experience to be a part of it.

JB: With thanks to our partners from The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and Westfield World Trade Center, the program will take place from the Oculus Plaza. The performance location resonates profoundly with Oliveros.    

JU: Yes, “The Heart Chant” was Pauline’s response to the 9/11 attacks, and Oculus Plaza is just feet from ground zero. She wrote most of her seminal Sonic Meditations in the 1970’s, but in many ways “The Heart Chant” is her most distilled. It’s a simple and universal invitation, for a world that needed it so desperately in so many ways in the wake of that event. We’re still living in that world.

JB: Importantly, it is not too late for interested participants to get involved. How can Make Music Winter fans participate in “Sonic Meditation: The Heart Chant”?

JU: All you need to do is show up! With an open heart and mind. If you’d like to learn a little more, or be involved in organizing, send me a message at

JB: What you are most looking forward to in activating the program on December 21st?

JU: The sound of “The Heart Chant,” of dozens of voices resonating from the heart, and joining together in natural harmony is one of the most magical things I have ever heard. And I love getting unsuspecting passersby to join in, or even just to stand and experience the force of this work. I am very excited to share Pauline’s incredible and underappreciate work with more New Yorkers!

Illustration by Kyle Lambert of Callout Creative