Does the title of this article — The Fall Of 2020 — sound a little too dire? I didn’t mean it to, when we have so much good news to share. I wrote it thinking about the time of year, not realizing then how ominous it sounded. But afterwards I decided that making do with what we have has definitely become the theme for this year. So The Fall Of 2020 it is.
Because we’ve never launched a stranger season. It is more of an improvisation than a season, really. A kind of dance. A response to circumstances beyond our control. More like surfing than progressing through a well-planned sequence of events, programs, and concerts. So I encourage you to dance with us. To improvise with us as we go. To surf, as we are, through a 2020-2021 season unlike any other.
And perhaps that’s the best thing to come out of this new reality. That we are exploring new ways of doing things. We are breaking down barriers. We are experimenting. And we’re doing all of that with you in real time. So I encourage you, in that spirit, to discover, listen and play right along with us as we continue to explore the new.
Our online concert series, Unaccompanied, has become the little series that could, born as it was during the first week of our national lockdown in mid-March. A collaboration with Redshift Music Society, this paean to performance has grown into two dozen unique recordings of Canadian music, each one beautifully filmed by Jordan Nobles.
After a summer hiatus, the series resumed on September 10 with cellist Isidora Nojkovic performing Song by Taylor Brook. The next video, released on September 17, featured Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, performing Alexina Louie’s Music for Piano. Today’s video features trombonist Jeremy Berkman playing Owen Underhill‘s Trombone Walking.
To say these recordings feature some of the most extraordinary musicians in the country is an understatement. We are so lucky to have them part of Unaccompanied. They are offering us highly personal and inspired interpretations of music they’ve chosen themselves, music to which they have a deep connection.
Going forward, we plan to release one new recording every two weeks, extending this magically performer-centred series through into the Spring. (Perhaps with hopes for a vaccine high, that article can be titled The Rise of 2021 …)
2020 Weisgarber Workshop
In addition to taking our concert series online this Spring, we also launched a new online education program — the Elliot Weisgarber Workshops.
The 2020 Weisgarber Workshop offers young composers the opportunity to write a short work for Corey Hamm and Nicole Ge Li’s PEP Piano and Erhu Project, under the guidance of Composer Mentor Edward Top, head of Vancouver Academy of Music’s composition program.
Ten participants logged on for the first session on Sunday, August 23, from Vancouver, Paris, Montreal, and Rodgrind, BC, among other cities, including Francis Sadleir (14), Adam Zolty, Henry From (16), Kamran Shahrokhi (27), Darren Xu (24), Kirsten Ewart, Justin Lau, Leif Jack (19), Robert Humber (24), and Christine Lee.
Starting with just a sketch, participants have had the first two readings of their pieces, with the third taking place October 18. Then we will start releasing video performances of the works they’ve composed in November.
Decolonial Imaginings asks non-Indigenous and settler-descendent composers to identify and demonstrate their specific responsibilities to decolonial work, distinct from the work of resurgence by Indigenous artists. Co-curated by Dylan Robinson and Mitch Renaud, the project unfolds from July – October 2020 with composers Juliet Palmer, Kelly Ruth, jake moore, Mitch Renaud, Jocelyn Morlock, and Luke Nickel.
The project takes place over three stages. First, the six participants and co-curators come together in a group conversation to raise questions and offer prompts for reflection from their readings of Dylan Robinson’s new book Hungry Listening. Second, each composer will create a new work in the form of an imagined composition that will be presented and discussed in small groups. Lastly, all artists will join the co-curators to reflect on the process as a whole.
Decolonial Imaginings is co-produced by of-the-now concert series and the Canadian Music Centre in BC, and is supported by funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Vancouver Foundation.
Artist in Residence
At the start of 2020 we launched a very simple Artist in Residence program funded with support from Dorothea Adaskin. The program provides access to the Murray Adaskin Salon that a performing artist, ensemble, or composer can use for a month to write and rehearse music. They are then able to use the space without cost for a performance as well. I’m pleased to say the program has recently relaunched after being shut down since March, with the concert benefit now translated into a video recording, rather than a live performance.
Our first post-lockdown Artist in Residence in August was violinist Jack Campbell, a composition student of Rodney Sharman, who has just begun composition studies at UBC. Next in the house for October is Mezzo Soprano Barbara Ebberson. Would you like to be considered for this program? Contact our inestimable Librarian, Jordan Nobles.
Our Annual Meeting this year will take place online on Tuesday evening, October 27, at 7pm. In addition to a report on our activities and finances for the past year, and a look ahead to our upcoming plans, the meeting will feature presentation of our 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award, other Pentland Awards, and elections for our 2020-2021 BC Advisory Council. For details, please contact us.
In addition, Soprano Marion Newman will join us online from Toronto to report on her work conducting a series of conversations on our behalf with BIPOC music creators and performers across Canada along with some of her findings; and we’ll also present a first look video taking us inside Decolonial Imaginings.
Composer Conversations & Composium!
Last Spring Jordan and I began a series of weekly conversations with small groups of composers to share experiences, learn what people are working on, and let people know about the programs and goals we are working on.
Those conversations have been amazing, and it’s led us to think bigger, now that Zoom can accommodate as many as 120 people. So stay tuned for Composium!, bringing together more than 100 composers across the province for a first-ever mass compositional conversation.
What’s next? We’d love to know what you think. We welcome your ideas and suggestions.