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  • Norm Adams

20 Years

What a time it continues to be! We’ve all had the discussion (“what’s going to happen?” “What a world we live in”). We’ve asked the questions (“How are you working?” ”when can you go back to work?”). And we’ve searched for the answers (“When will this end?” “will the world be different when it’s over?”). So I won’t write about those things.

I’ll write about suddenlyLISTEN! The thing that has kept me from going crazy, and kept me on the edge of going crazy for 20 Years!

It’s mind boggling. And it has been a labour of love that has brought me and many other artists and audience members and workshop attendees and students, great joy, great experiences and great music.

And great memories: Pauline Oliveros: “How long should we play” I asked, “as long as the music” she replied. David Mott and Dani Oore stepping into the elevator of the AGNS and emerging a floor above without a break in the music. Evan Parker’s solo piece at Studio 21. Joelle Leandre’s 2 night workshop that blew minds. Magda Maya’s piano preparations at St. Matthew’s (that almost cancelled the concert!) Sam Shalabi’s first visit and the CD and amazing national tour that resulted. Ken Aldcroft’s last show for us with William Parker: “I think of the audience as my clients. I am here to provide aid to my clients”. Hubsch/Martel/Zoubec, the sounds I hoped would never end. Being taught “musical commitment” by Gerry Hemingway, then getting to tour with him! The sounds of Susan Alcorn. The joy and discovery at the Salon Series at Lexicon Books in Lunenburg. The utter magic of Shoju-Sennonno-Midori. The crazy fun of Tanya Kalmanovich with Andrew and Donald. Jen Theissen’s presence as our first Artist-in-Residence. The tour with Chimera that was cancelled….and we’re back.

What a history we have created, and what a future we can faintly see in front of us!

Yes, the future. There will be one of those. One of the beauties of new and improvised music is that it just doesn’t attract large crowds! We think that’s crazy, because the music is so powerful, but that’s the reality right now. So we feel like concerts can still happen. Social distancing will be a smaller task for us as we get going this fall. Worry not! You will feel secure and healthy at OUR shows!

And we too are pivoting: we’ll be focussing on three longer-term creative projects for our artists, starting with Chimera, (if we can get Francois to Halifax) in December. We’ll expand our Artist-in Residence program to 2 each season (the first limited to Atlantic artists). We’re using this weird time to really dig in to making relationships that will result in a deep and effective creative program for at risk youth from Halifax. And we’ll present three good old fashioned/new look concerts with guests and the widest variety of your favourite local performers: Our outdoor show in September (!) and the new collaboration with SlowPitchSound in the new year come immediately to mind.

We’re still excited by concerts but we are looking into the deeper musical results that are born from longer, more focussed working periods. 

More time making art, less time posting on Facebook! 

Last season Danielle Jakubiak and Tim Crofts led a music session for youth at the North End Public Library in Halifax. This six-week program really opened some ears, but we all felt more time was needed to build the relationships and trust that make this tough but worthy work really beneficial. This year we have decided to take the COViD pause to allow Tim and Daniel to take the time to ask about and listen to what these kids really need. We imagine that offering some skills to bring their creative voices out, will help them to feel the ownership and satisfaction that comes from artistic creation. What Danielle and Tim find out during their research may be different from our plans, but we’re ready to listen and learn and do what we can for our often at-risk youth. 

The call for our fall Artist-in Residence is closed and we’ll soon announce who our regional artist will be. Last season’s time with Jennifer Theissen was a period of research and discovery for Jen, a shot in the creative arm for local artists and a sonic treat for our audiences. We can’t wait to hear what our next A-in-R is going to bring. A second Resident call for winter/spring will be made in the coming months.

This season we will support work by groups of artists over a week-long period. Beginning with Chimera featuring Francois Houle, continuing with a new cooperative venture between improvisers from Rimouski and Halifax, and finishing with a new ensemble we were to have presented in May, assembled to play the music of Halifax’s Tim Crofts. These longer periods of work will result in possible recordings and concerts, stay tuned!

Finally, good old-fashioned concerts: Well they won’t be old fashioned, that’s for sure! The first will be outside combining music, movement, a performance art. The second will hopefully feature the next level DJ work of Toronto’s SlowPitchSound, and finally a show that features all Halifax improvisers, playing in several sets, with the widest variety of sounds and styles on display! 

Please keep your eyes on our social media and website for details on all of this activity! It’s obviously, partially contingent on shifting rules and public health protocols, so some changes may be needed. But unlike larger organizations, we can be agile in our programming, shifting plans as needed. Be assured that we will always be presenting the strongest, most colourful, most creative and timely music you can find! Please venture out to our comfortable, new venues to take it all in. Times are weird, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop doing what we love: And because times are weird, it’s the best time to try some new musical and artistic adventures! suddenlyLISTEN can give you that, 100%. Strap on your mask and I’ll see you out there!


Aug 18, 2020 at 20:19

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