Local musician at Field Museum

Local artist, writer and musician David Stocker was approached by the museum as they planned to replicate an ancient pan flute.

David Stocker is a local artist, writer and musician who brings music to thousands of school-age children throughout the region as part of the world music ensemble One Drum (www.onedrum.net). He has made a specialty of building simple musical instruments with students, based on aboriginal and world music instruments of our ancestors of many cultures. His curriculum, “The Origins of Music,” started with support and encouragement from the Rockford Area Arts Council and is now part of the program offerings of the Illinois Arts Council. Stocker has now been an Artist in Residence for the State of Illinois for nine years.

Through his work as an instrument maker, Stocker was approached by Chicago’s Field Museum as they planned to replicate a 2,000-year-old pan flute to be included in the new “Ancient Americas” exhibit opening this month. The artifact is part of what is called the Hopewell Collection. This is one of the most well preserved of a large number of Hopewell Panpipes unearthed and brought to the Field Museum but never actually exhibited in the rush to discover American prehistory at the end of the 19th century with the Great Exhibition in Chicago.

Rediscovered in the museum’s archives, this artifact is significant for its condition and craftsmanship. Very pure copper from the Great Lakes region has been mined and worked for more than 6,000 years and appears in artifacts from many areas of North America. Some of the Hopewell Panpipes were found with women’s bones. Museum visitors will hear a sound recording from the replicated pan flute and see the artifact and replica side by side.

Stocker will present two concerts at the Field Museum. “Along Ancient Sonic Pathways” by the music ensemble One Drum on May 26 and 27 will feature panpipes and other aboriginal instruments. Stocker will also lead a kids/family workshop making a panpipe at the newly opened exhibit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, March 10.

Describing the artifact, Stocker said it “looks like a lump of corroded copper about the size of a cell phone, but you can see clearly the four tubes that once were bird bone sound chambers and the folds and curves of the copper sheaths that held it together.”

From the March 7-13, 2007, issue

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