Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Listen To Seattle Man Blow A Shofar Inside A Two-Million Gallon Water Tank

Gabriel Spitzer
Jon Lellelid practices his shofar every day this time of year, outside his office in Marysville, Washington.

The Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah began Wednesday at sundown, and Jews around the world marked the Hebrew calendar’s new year with a clarion call from the shofar. The horn, usually made from the horn of a ram or antelope, is a tricky instrument to learn. 

Here's how it sounds when played in a two-million gallon cistern at Fort Worden State Park by Seattle's "master blaster" of shofar, Jon Lellelid.

The underground Dan Harople Cistern was originally built to hold water for firefighting in the event that the fort was attacked and put to the torch. The cistern was drained in the 1950s when the fort was closed, leaving an underground space more than 200 feet in diameter and 14 feet deep.

This huge subterranean chamber has an acoustical reverberation time of around 45 seconds, and has attracted the interest of various musicians and recording artists, among them Pauline Oliveros and Stuart Dempster. The park management used to rent out the cistern for recording events on a day-to-day basis.

But Lellelid doesn’t just play the shofar in cisterns of times past. This is his 13th year blowing the shofar at Seattle’s Temple de Hirsch Sinai.

And he takes the role of master blaster very seriously. Starting in March, he practices every day. Normally he ducks out of his office at the Sno-Isle library system, finds a spot on the scruffy edge of the north parking lot, and rehearses. He said he’s been mistaken for a moose once or twice.

Read our full story on Jon Lellelid >>>

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.