Chuck Van Zyl | via

Chuck Van Zyl’s worlds of music and radio hosting are as intertwined as they are dream-inducing. The longtime host of Star’s End on WXPN (now in its 40th year) is a performing musician himself, specializing in the style of electro-space compositions that he’s shared with his late-night listeners for four decades. Van Zyl will present his own set of music at the next Gatherings Concert Series, a program he helped create in 1992, taking place November 12th at St. Mary’s Church on Penn’s campus.

A co-founder of The Gatherings, Van Zyl spoke with The Key four years ago to celebrate the series’ twentieth anniversary. In the interview he discussed the inception of the program, the evolution of spacemusic as a popular form of sound, and the importance of creating a space where that sound could incubate and grow regardless of monetary benefits:

“I guess once we got over the fact that, ‘well, there’s no chance we’re ever gonna get any money out of this,’ we decided we might as well just do it to try to, you know, further the cause of the music, or to keep the scene going, or do something to try to help Stars End and the radio station…. To make the people who listen to the show feel like it’s more like a community.”

Now in its 24th year, The Gatherings Concert Series is still doing that, and Van Zyl is seeing the community branch out in new ways as well. Over email, he tells us:

There has recently been a growing interest (however underground) in the instruments used to make this music. This current trend is unique to my many years of involvement in this field…. [I recently] spent the afternoon in West Philadelphia’s Clark Park enjoying a “pop up” modular synthesizer event, where several performers plugged into a gas powered generator and a small PA, and each performed a 10 minute live set before an engaged crowd of onlookers.As you might imagine, seeing all this activity, in a field I have been involved with for over 30 years, feels great.

More information for next month’s free performance at St. Mary’s can be found here. Watch a video of Van Zyl’s improvised synth music below.