7 months ago

Volume 28 Issue 6 | Summer 2023

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Fast start to the summer and it just keeps going: Luminato walks with Little Amal; the Historical Organ Society comes to town; composer Carmen Braden is keeping busy; Phil Nimmons turns 100; TSM's metamorphosis; and check out live links in ads, listings and our easy surfing directory of summer festivals. See you August 30 for Volume 29 no.1


IN WITH THE NEW A SUMMER MUSICAL MIX WENDALYN BARTLEY Carmen Braden CARMEN BRADEN Summer and Music Festivals make great partners. Now that concert life appears to be fully alive after the past few years of the enforced doldrums, the summer festivals are alive with several offerings of new music and Canadian compositions. I’ve picked out some of the upcoming highlights, both local and further afield. Carmen Braden I began by reaching out to Yellowknife composer Carmen Braden to speak about her upcoming performance at Ottawa’s Chamberfest as well as her interest in soundscape composition. My initial encounters with her musical work were through our connections in the world of acoustic ecology and her past participation in CASE (Canadian Association for Sound Ecology). As she explained to me during our phone conversation, she had initially encountered the writings and ideas of R. Murray Schafer in her composition classes at Acadia University. “Instantly I felt I had found a community I didn’t know I was looking for,” she said. “It resonated so strongly with my love of my home environment and the outdoors and I had been trying to find a way to marry those interests with music. To find these people (both at CASE and in the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology) who had been creating and working as sound activists for years, developing the ideas of soundscape, soundmarks, and the power that sound has through history and memory – I felt like I was finding real community.” Braden subsequently joined CASE, served on its board and was active in the organization for several years. Even though she’s not as active currently, she regularly returns to these ways of listening and finding community as part of her practice as a composer. Braden was born in Whitehorse in the Yukon, but her family moved back to Yellowknife when she was quite young and it is where she currently lives, raising her own young family. Her past experiences of listening to the endless repetition of sounds of nature such as waves on the shore or bird calls, have now come together with the different environment she is currently experiencing – the daily rhythms and patterns of life as a parent. Melding these two life experiences together is the inspirational force behind her new piece, You Know What’s Coming, You Just Don’t Know When. Says Braden: “Within repetitive patterns, there is usually something happening to break the cycle or shift things whether it’s gradual or dramatic. The time I’ve spent looking for those patterns and listening for variations in nature has opened my ears to how kids are endlessly repetitive.” Commissioned by violinist Mark Fewer, it received its premiere on May 4 at a concert presented by the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto, and will receive its second performance as part of Ottawa’s Chamberfest on July 25. It will be paired in the program with Ernest Chausson’s Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, composed between 1888 and 1891. It was the instrumentation of Chausson’s work that set the path for the creation of Braden’s piece. Continuing to talk about the influence of soundscapes in her compositional work, she mentioned her piece See the Freeze, Hear the Thaw that was performed in October of 2022 in Yellowknife by pianist Megumi Masaki, the new director of music at the Banff Centre. Using video and audio, the piece explores ice, using a series of recordings gathered in 2021 combined with people talking about ice including Elders speaking of the changing climate and interviews with young Yellowknife-based climate activists. Away from home at the time, Braden was feeling nostalgic for the sounds of the spring ice breakup. She shared that many people from home, knowing of her love for these beautiful sounds, were sending her recordings they’d made on their phones. “It feels like some of the work I did with CASE and in my own music has started to come back at me from others which is a really rewarding feeling.” Braden has a busy summer ahead of her. In June, at the time of the summer solstice, the Longshadow Music Festival, a festival she organizes and calls her “little passion project” will take place in Yellowknife June 15-17. With three days of concerts, it’s a chance to allow for musical exploration while including works from the musical traditions that stand behind those pieces “that are more on the weird spectrum,” Braden said. The Biglake Festival in Wellington, Prince Edward County, will premiere a work titled The Crossover + The Exodus Suite on August 21. This piece was commissioned by the Ensemble Made in Canada from Wesley Hardisty, a fiddler and composer from the Dene First Nation in the Northwest Territories. In this project, Braden takes on the role of arranger to bring the EMIC Quartet’s classical background into his fiddle world 14 | Summer 2023

great chamber music downtown 2023–24 SEASON STRINGS October 12 December 7 January 18 February 22 March 28 Quatuor Danel Gryphon Trio Verona Quartet Ying Quartet St. Lawrence Quartet Gryphon Trio Verona Quartet PIANO Duo Turgeon November 7 Duo Turgeon February 13 Maria Thompson Corley March 5 David Fung Maria Thompson Corley ALL CONCERTS START AT 8PM Summer 2023 | 15

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