Gordon Hempton is an international acoustic ecologist and Emmy Award-winning sound recordist. For nearly 25 years he has provided professional audio services to musicians, galleries, museums, and media producers, including Microsoft, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Discovery, National Public Radio, and numerous other businesses and organizations. He has received recognition from the Charles A. Lindbergh Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rolex Awards for Enterprise.
A botany graduate of the University of Wisconsin (1976) with graduate studies in plant pathology (1980), Gordon Hempton began recording the sounds of nature in Washington State, embarking on numerous backpacking trips into the wilderness. He produced and published his first two titles, Idle Times and Put on Your Dirty Cap, under The Sound Tracker® label in 1982. The following year Hempton recorded at The Nature Conservancy’s Yellow Island Preserve, a small island off Washington State. In 1985, he published Limited Editions of Rare Native Acoustics—32 sound portraits available on both cassette and ¼” analog tape.
People Magazine published a prominent center page article on May 30, 1988, "Listening for the Vanishing Sounds of Silence, Gordon Hempton Wishes Civilization Would Lower Its Voice.” With a circulation of 24 million copies, this publicity drew national attention to the fact that natural soundscapes were vanishing and only Hempton was preserving them. Additional national publicity followed on television, radio, and print.
In 1989, Hempton received the purchase price of The Spirit of St. Louis, a symbolic grant from the Charles A. Lindbergh Fund. This resulted in numerous sound portraits and the “One Square Inch for Silence” recommendation to the National Park Service for preserving natural soundscapes nationwide.
In 1990, Hempton received recognition from the Rolex Awards for Enterprise and The National Endowment for the Arts.
In 1992, Hempton circled the globe, visiting six continents, to record dawn circling the earth. He became the subject of a national PBS television documentary, Vanishing Dawn Chorus, which earned him an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Individual Achievement.”
From 1992 to 1994, Hempton studied and recording the childhood environment of Mark Twain. (Hempton’s work in the Mississippi Valley became the subject of a high definition television documentary, Sound Hunter, by NHK-Japan.)
From 1993-1995, he studied the life of John Muir at Yosemite beginning with a walk from San Francisco to Yosemite. (This became part of a television documentary, Web of Life, by WQED.)
He taught Joy of Listening and Nature Sound Portraiture at Olympic Park Institute from 1994-1997.
Hempton continues his work in publishing, sound design, consulting and location recording services to major clients such as Microsoft, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Discovery, and National Public Radio, while also maintaining his passion for preserving vanishing sounds.
Hempton has now circled the globe three times in pursuit of environmental sound portraits. His new series—Environmental Sound Portraits—is the first new work to appear in more than a decade.
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