Monday, February 12, 2018

Our Very Own returns to Ottawa this week

For the first time since 2015, Our Very Own will perform in the Ottawa area. Performing a project of German works, Marie Bouchard and I will perform a recital with special guest soprano Marianne Moore.

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Funding Received

During the Spring of 2018 I will take on a project to study the reeds of Wilhelm Knochenhauer and Carl Mechler with James R. McKay. McKay is the author of The Bassoon Reed Manual: Lou Skinner’s Theories and Techniques and has a collection of original Knochenhauer and Mechler reeds.

Thanks to support from The Canada Council for The Arts, I will be able to spend a number of days working closely with McKay in Canada during the months of May and June. The overall goal of the project is to measure and experiment in order to develop a process to create replicas usable for bassoons of the late 19th century. With any luck, there will be a process or two which may inspire a new design for baroque and classical instruments. 

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country. 
Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Tackling a Dangerous Premise

Recently, I was asked the question below in a discussion about early music performance. I've decided to write up my (polished) answer. 

"What do you think about attracting audiences in this century of digital music downloads?"

First, I'd like to tackle the premise of your question. It assumes that a recording is effectively a replacement to a live performance. In fact the two media are fundamentally different works. A recording today is, essentially, a patchwork of hundreds (or even thousands!) of segments that are weaved together to present a musical composition performed to technical perfection and, possibly, with a specific artistic vision. 

A live performance, on the other hand, is a communal activity where an artist or artists engage with a work and the audience around them. A performance is a transfer of energy through a specific medium (whether it be a musical work, theatre piece, etc.), connecting people on an intellectual and/or spiritual level. It's a human activity - it's not a social construction. 

I'm sure you've been to a performance in your life where you felt you were on the "outside" - maybe it was a concert of 15th century Burgundian music, or maybe it was contemporary dance - but even so, there was still a moment during the show where you couldn't help but think "wow, I don't know what I'm watching, but it's incredible!"

The danger with tacitly accepting that a recording is a replacement to a live performance is that it will ultimately lead to the latter's disappearance. Already it's getting harder and harder for artists to find paying audiences, and I worry that we are unconsciously trying to replicate a recording in performances to the detriment of the activity. At every level of artistic training, at least in the classical music world, we are not teaching performance. We might encourage it, but we don't emphasise and train the skills which set performance apart from recordings. We don't even have a vocabulary to discuss and analyse the act of performing. 

So, to answer your question, all I can say is that I will continue to advocate live performance as its own medium; to strive to perform as much as I can, to the best of my ability.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Night that Songs are Written About

Over the last year I've found it hard to find the inspiration to write. I've had plenty of life to live in that time, but the events that have occurred did not reverberate in the musical or literary corners of my mind. That changed this past Saturday night. 

After an exhausting week in The Netherlands with Primary Colours and The New Baroque Orchestra, harpsichordist Andi Westermann and I got back to Basel early Saturday morning. After I awoke, I had to immediately prepare to officiate a friendly Rugby game between Basel and Fribourg later that afternoon. Luckily, I wasn't a complete disaster.

That evening I went on a date with someone whom I had an immediate connection. I think everyone reading this can relate, but these kind of moments for me are few and far between given my career choices. After a beer, she invited me to meet some friends and to continue on to a club. I could come along so long as I understood one thing: she was leaving Switzerland and never coming back. 

It's funny how defining a relationship can dramatically establish how it unfolds. It was clear in this moment that we had to experience the night as best we could. Her friends and I danced the night away. We talked, laughed, and shared those dreams of what could be. We stayed in the moment for as long as it could last. It was one of those nights that songs are written about; one I won't forget.

As the days begin to pass, that echoing in the corner of my head has begun to build up once again. I hope it continues to grow.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).