Polestar Music Gallery is closing on Monday, October 18. During its two and a half years of operation, Polestar presented over 200 concerts of music that most venues fear to book: free improvisation, noise, lowercase sound, cracked electronics, sound installations, contemporary composition, and other adventurous genres.

About Polestar's intrepid co-organizers, composer Tom Baker remarked, "Henry Hughes and Peggy Sartoris-Belaqua worked very hard to create an environment conducive to primal listening, for which we all should be grateful. My experience there as a listener, performer, and composer was unmatched by any other venue in town." Wally Shoup, alto saxophonist and a godfather of Seattle's free improvising music scene, declared, "In this day and age, it takes a brave soul to create a space that says, in effect, that sound and sound alone is sufficient."

Kept afloat by a resolutely anonymous pack of donors, Polestar's co-organizers kept the focus on music and musicians. No drinks were sold, no cash registers rung. "As a performer," said percussionist Greg Campbell, "you knew that you might not make record-label wages, but you also knew that whatever money came in the door would make its way to you and your fellow performers."

Although Polestar is closing, musicians from the Open Music Workshop hope to keep the space open to present unusual music. Recently, Henry Hughes told me, "I hope they can keep it going, but Polestar is at the end of its run."

Doug Haire, host of KEXP's Sonarchy, summed it up succinctly: "They took their shift at presenting new music in Seattle and did a fine job of it. Now it's time for the next personality to do it." CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

Polestar's final shows run Thurs Oct 14 through Sun Oct 17 (Polestar Music Gallery, 1412 18th Ave at E Union St, 329-4224). Check www.polestarmusic.org for details.


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