"Architects create environments with physical materials.
I do it with sound."
HEARTS of SPACE PRODUCER STEPHEN
HILL's CAREER seemed to take a sharp detour in the early 70's when he
abandoned his architectural career and opened a recording studio.
Hill received a graduate degree in architecture at the University of
Pennsylvania in 1969 where he studied and worked with Louis Kahn, Robert
Venturi, Romaldo Giurgola, Richard Saul Wurman and other leading architects
of the day. After moving to San Francisco in 1970, Hill gained additional
experience in photography, film, multi-media design, sound engineering,
and radio production.
Music and sound technology ultimately held his attention. He developed
his audio engineering skills under the tutelage of Bob Olhsson, a professional
recording engineer formerly with Motown records. Hill describes this
period as "five years of constant reading, research, and hands-on
As a staff engineer at KQED-FM radio (San Francisco 1971-75) and as
an independent producer (1973 - present), Hill produced thousands of
live and recorded radio broadcasts, ranging from provocative interviews
with leading thinkers to powerful contemporary music experiences. Hill
also served as engineer/producer of over seventy record albums and soundtracks,
including Genocide, a 1983 Academy Award-winning feature length
film documentary. Other production projects of the '70s and early '80s
include recordings for the Celestial Harmonies, Fortuna, and Pacific
Arts labels with artists like James Newton, Chaitanya Deuter, Carlos
Nakai, Double Image, and the original Tibetan Bells group.
In 1984 the Hearts of
was launched with Hill serving as Director of A&R and Art Director.
It grew to a catalog of over 140 titles and four sub-labels before being
sold in 2001.
While working at KQED in the early '70s, Hill became fascinated by similarities
he found between certain traditional musics and the synthesized sounds
emerging from the first wave of experimental electronic composers. Here
was a new kind of imagery in music that offered compelling
psychological experiences by creating a sonic atmosphere for concentration
and mental expansion. Hill adopted the term "spacemusic" to
describe the new genre.
To explore these sounds and spaces, in 1973 Hill created Hearts of
Space as a three-hour live weekly radio program on KPFA-FM in Berkeley,
California. Joined a year later by former co-producer Anna Turner, the
show became a habit for thousands of northern California listeners eager
for something truly new in music programming. National syndication of
a one hour version of the program began in 1983 and continues today
on over 240 NPR affiliate
stations and XM
satellite radio, as well as online with a subscription
service that makes the entire Archive of music programs since 1983
available to Internet listeners on demand.
From its inception as a late night free-form mix, Hearts of Space has
evolved into a tightly structured, artfully edited one hour music experience
best described as contemplative music broadly defined. With
minimal commentary, it combines the best of contemporary electronics,
classical adagios, quiet chorales, spacejazz, contemplative soundscapes,
and music from exotic cultures around the world.
In retrospect, Hill realizes he never really left architecture. He simply
became a sound architect who learned to build his castles on the air.