13/14 Season Wrap

I still get to measure years as September to May with a summer vacation. What a great luxury it is to be able to measure something same way I did when I was a kid! It’s June, so that means it must be summer vacation. (My definitions are rough, work with me, please). Of course it’s not really, I’ve been working at Scotia Festival for the past week, teaching a bit and playing a bit. Last night I played a concert, and today I am flying to Vancouver to play and meet with all of The Circuit presenters. So it’s not really vacation, but it’s not symphonic, a change is as good as a rest, surely!

Back to the year: It was a very busy one, for me and for suddenlyLISTEN. As usual we presented four Main Series Concerts, a couple of Open Source Series shows, the workshop, the Montreal et Halifax project avec les musiciens/iennes de Supermusique, what else? Oh yeah, I went to Calgary for the Canadian New Music Network Forum, we hired a book keeper, and generally spent a lot of time thinking and writing about, preparing, publicizing, facilitating, and generally living suddenlyLISTEN and improvised music!

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The Main Series was all about variety this year ( I guess it sort of is every year). In my programming I was trying to fuse or mash up music and musicians with a broad range of interests, musical languages and sounds. Quartetto Obscuro was just a hoot. I got to meet Donald MacLennan and Robin Streb, and hang with my old pal Chris Church. These were all musicians do don’t play free music in their “normal” lives, but they share philosophical ideas and a sense of adventure which allowed us to musically take some real chances: It wasn’t a simple show, we had a concept…. (It’s funny how an improvised music show is just “normal” now!) And we succeeded! And we failed too!

It’s all worthy of celebration. I loved the Dave Grisman tune that Donald brought. It was a great source of musical ideas for us to exploit, fun to listen to, and we nailed our fancy ending. I thought the Beethoven piece (that I brought, of course) didn’t work as well….maybe it was just me, or the fact we were looking at a bunch of notes, but I didn’t find it a good source of musical ideas at all!  Maybe all the good ideas were already on the page? People clapped anyway, but I think that idea requires further work and some more thought

Sea Glass

Sea Glass was special as it brought Magda Mayas to Canada for the first time, and combined her otherworldly piano sounds with Arthur Bull and me. This was a challenge because the music I knew of Magda was spare, and cool, and I wasn’t sure how it would mix with Arthur’s very personal twang and my more sonorous language. I needn’t have worried of course, and once we got past the panic of the church’s music director seeing his piano treated by Magda (all respectful, and free-of-harm preparations) our sounds mixed and melded, dipping into each other’s worlds, finding our own original sound, sliding back into our individual worlds again. I haven’t heard the recording of Sea Glass yet, but I have a feeling it might be a keeper.

At almost the same time we collaborated with our friend Jerome Blais and Dalhousie Music to present Music Actuel>Montreal et Halifax. This project brought some old friends of suddenlyLISTEN and Canadian creative music, back to Halifax (members of Ensemble SuperMusique Joane Hetu, Jean Derome, Scott Thomson and Danielle P. Roger). It also gave Dal students, local musicians and the public a great opportunity to learn more about the amazing scene that SuperMusique has pioneered over the past 20 or so years in Montreal. We learned that Jerome actually helped to inspire the birth of Ensemble SuperMusique by presenting a concert of large ensemble pieces of Danielle P. Roger’s, before the SuperMusique empire was even a twinkle in the eyes of it’s birth mothers and fathers! A nice connection.

Then the playing began: in two concerts, both students and Halifax improvisers got a chance to play with these fantastic musicians. It was an amazing opportunity for young and older alike. Jerome and Dalhousie have created a rich little improvising community and the students shone out, as they rose to the masters level on each set!

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Then we took a break for a couple of months: really needed after an intense autumn. It felt good to take a little break (and start planning for 14/15 of course)Of course we also presented Land of Marigold, on a Circuit tour, and the workshop was rolling along, with dance/music sessions as well as nights that concentrated on graphic scores, conduction and form!

And that’s where I shall pause this tale of great music making. Expect some blogging action over the next few weeks, I’ve been saving up some ideas to share with you, and I’ll try not to lump them all on you at once!

 

Stay tuned, and as always share your impressions! What was your favourite concert? What made you stay away, or get off the couch?