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soggy and slightly wild eyed hikers

The final 3 days of the trip to Glasgow were a whirlwind, both literally and figuratively. I’m actually safely at home in Halifax now but I’ll give you the rundown of the past very eventful days!

Wednesday dawned (around 9am, I mean really!) wet and blustery. I was expecting wet in Scotland, but when I went outside to run an errand, the conditions were profound: The rain cut when it hit and the wind felt like I might be blown off my feet. I got the powerful feeling that Glasgow was on the edge of the earth, with the elements just toying with us puny humans…. And that was in the comfort of a city of 2 million!

Indoors, things were developing well. Sebastian and I finished integrating his excellent Parat+ app into my system, not only providing control for the new filter, but fader control of all processors, so if sound is really rolling in the patch, I can use both hands to mix and blend. I spent some time practicing with it, and look forward to really getting comfortable with the operations and the mixing of acoustic and electronic sounds, that I love so much. That night we celebrated with a trip out for Indian food and to a pub that bragged of having 1000 kinds of whiskey! I am a Scotch whisky lover, and this was just about all my senses could manage. I was served a malt from Campbelltown a distilling region I never knew

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That is all whiskey!

existed! It was smooth and peaty and a rare experience, in a great atmosphere. A second pub had less of a classic feel, and certainly less whisky selection but had some young trad musicians playing. It was great to here some Scottish music and different it was from our Cape Breton playing. There were Uillean pipes, guitar, a djembe and a super kickin’cellist who joined for a few tunes as well. It reminded us of the joyous spirit of that music. It all felt like a very authentic Scottish experience, even to Jane, the Scot!

Thursday was my final day, and we planned to fill it. We woke before dawn (which isn’t that hard in December in Glasgow, but it was 7am…) and drove north. Part of my process with Sebastian is walking and certainly we have done our share of hikes together (around London, and in the mountains of the Black Forest of Southern Germany), but this was maybe our most extreme weather-wise! We arrived on the eastern shore of Loch Lomand at Rowardennan, stopped a little early due to a flooded out road (We guessed the Loch was over a metre higher than usual) and hiked up into the highlands. The mountains above were dusted with snow, and we felt a bit of that, along with driving rain, blinding sun, rainbows so close we could almost reach them, and combinations of all of the above! It was amazing. We climbed up a steep but beautifully built and maintained trail as high as we could still get a view, about an hour out. The trail we were on was a 4 to 6 hour loop, but we were not going to try to attempt the whole thing (I don’t think there are 6 continuous hours of daylight in December actually…) we had other plans! And that was our concert INTERLACEat The Old Hairdressers! This space is an upper floor of a pub, which serves as concert space and art gallery, and is welcoming to improvisers. There I met Nick Fells, a prof at University of Glasgow, and eventually my old friend Adam Linson (who was fresh off a plane from Los Angeles) who were to be my trio mates for the evening. Nick employed a sampling and processing system, and Adam was using his stand alone electronics setup, so I left my gear at home and played the role of simple cellist. Which was great, as Nick used a lot of my sound for his source material, so I was hearing bits of myself bouncing around the room in his 4 channel system. It allowed me to be patient more easily, I could play my bit, then stop and listen to it’s second life as Nick’s material. It was pretty neat. Adam contributed a variety of sounds from noise to piano, so he made some nice contrast and consonants with both Nick and me. My dinner before the show with Nick Fells was really nice, we had a chance to share ideas on institutions, pedagogy and improvisation. He has been using the term “generative practice” to describe composition, improvisation and all of the variants and of blends of the two. I really like that term, it really describes what creators of music and sound do: We engage in the practice of generating material to listen to.

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looking across Loch Lomond

The two concerts I played were part of Sebastian’s Interlace Series, one that has a long history in London, and has been reborn in Glasgow. I think Glaswegians are lucky to have Sebastian there!

So. What a 8 days it was! I think I made use of every minute, learning, seeing experiencing, playing, programming, exploring, discovering, discussing, performing. My brain will be full for a while I think. I’d like to send special thanks to Sebastian Lexer, Jane Dixon, Arts Nova Scotia and The Maud Whitmore Scholarship for their support in my endeavors. I loved every minute!