top of page

Norm at CNMN Forum #3

Here it is Saturday, and jetlag is working! It allows me to write a little before heading to the 9am first session.

Who is here and who isn’t? Good question. There are lots of composers, some with academic positions. A side note: I always judge people by their clothes….shallow, but outrageously generally indicative of the different communities that exist in this broad swath of the arts. The composers are generally in suitjackets (yes they are mostly men) with a couple in Tshirts. Suitjacket=academic, Tshirt = freelance. There are also administrators of music organizations, most of whom, probably ALL of whom are musicians as well. (Wardrobe is a less accurate means of identification here…sorry). There are a couple of musicians, a couple of improvisers and a few others. Who isn’t here? People under the age of 30, more improvisers, more interpreters. I understand the absence of these groups, but the lack of younger people frightens me a bit.

I have this idea growing in my head that the younger generation of serious musicians are sidestepping the traditional “system” (public funding, academics, formal organizations) for something more DYI. A beautiful thought, but one lacking in income for the artists. Maybe the money comes from a new place I don’t know, but I feel a shift happening, and I want to investigate. That will be my job today: corner the one person under 28 here, the woman from Weird Canada, an online magazine……I’ll report back.

Back to the day:

Friday afternoon was taken up with a presentation by Lawrence Cherney, the legendary Director of Toronto’s Soundstreams, and a panel on new/social media and new music.

Cherney is an amazing character. His Soundstreams series has presented almost 100 premieres of new pieces in the past 30 years! Quite a legacy of new chamber music. He had some great words for us: New music is as rich and as varied as all music. He identified Choral Music as having a strong potential to reach out into different communities which is a big opportunity and challenge for all presenters of new music. Is choral singing a more universal language? Is it the nature of choirs and choir culture to be more inclusive of different communities? Hmmm.

His programming is really interesting and a form of expression all its own! He loves themes: “Tango” “oratorio” “flamenco” “pianos”, even “Jerusalem”! He love playing music more than once too, which is a problem I’ve heard about constantly here: The excitement and buzz of the premiere leading to…..nothing, one performance.

He is also interested in interaction, and has set up a website where the public can not only stream recordings of all of the premieres he has presented, but can grab samples of these works and remix them into new pieces through online software! Amazing, check it out.

Nice to be in the same room as that guy.

Next was “Music and 21st Century Media the broader connection”, which fittingly was plagued by Skype connectivity problems throughout with the delegate in New York….The irony was mentioned more than once! This panel featured Marie Leblanc Flanagan, from Weird Canada, (representing some of the "scruffier' communities, she said! I like scruffy) who seemed to have a better grasp of social media than most. Except for Jean-Francois Denis of, who always manages to put technology into perspective (I’ve heard him speak a couple of times). He pointed out that the internet has only been around since 1987. It’s new and evolving and we are still only learning how to use it. He’s not impressed or seduced by the fad aspects of the web, like the interactive software of choice (Facebook and, remember Myspace?) Marie was the most comfortable by far, although when she asked about who uses the various tools for social media, we all put our hands up! She said that in music there’s no pure experience. It is different each time, experiential. New Media is like that too, what we do with it is up to us. She said these tools are extensions of ourselves not just conduits of information. (I squirmed in my seat and felt old) It’s social media (That's true, and I learned something important…).

I then went to a wonderful concert by Calgary’s Lands End Ensemblein the gorgeous Ekhardt Gramatte Hall (wow), and heard a great piece by Zosha Di Castri, a young Canadian living in New York, and the classic Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies, (which surprisingly featured the smashing of a violin into little pieces at the end. Very 1969!) It was a terrific performance by the English baritone John Savournin. Then some free music play by some Calgary improvisers, and thankfully, bed.

Now I’ve got to go start it all over again! This is fun.


2014/01/25 at 12:01 pm

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page