I had the pleasure of attending two of the events that were part of WRCMS. You can read my pre-event interview with co-founder Ivana Jokic here. This is a quick round up post of the events I went to.
Monday, August 21, 2017. Stealth at Abe Erb
This event was a night of improvisation headlined by Kitchener/Waterloo’s STEALTH (Kathryn Ladano, bass clarinet & Richard Burrows, percussion). After the concert ended, the floor was opened up for an open improvisation night led by Kathryn Ladano. Over the years I've seen a lot of live music in a lot of different venues, including bars and restaurants. Abe Erb is a bar and a restaurant and this crowd were among the most respectful crowds I have ever seen. It may have had something to do with the fact that the majority of the attendees were there specifically for the show. Everyone was quiet and engaged. This was not the type of concert I would normally have gone to, but I'm glad I did. It was an enjoyable evening.
Saturday, August 26, 2017. Pre concert talk by Canadian composer and educator Linda Catlin Smith
Linda Catlin Smith grew up in New York and lives in Toronto. She studied music in NY, and at the University of Victoria (Canada). Her music has been performed and/or recorded by: Tafelmusik, Other Minds Festival, California Ear Unit, Kitchener-Waterloo, Victoria and Vancouver Symphonies, Arraymusic, Tapestry New Opera, Gryphon Trio, Via Salzburg, Evergreen Club Gamelan, Turning Point Ensemble, Vancouver New Music, and the Del Sol, Penderecki, and Bozzini quartets, among many others; she has been performed by many notable soloists, including Eve Egoyan, Elinor Frey, Philip Thomas, Colin Tilney, Vivienne Spiteri, and Jamie Parker. She has been supported in her work by the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, Chalmers Foundation, K.M. Hunter Award, Banff Centre, SOCAN Foundation and Toronto Arts Council; in 2005 her work Garland (for Tafelmusik) was awarded Canada’s prestigious Jules Léger Prize. In addition to her work as an independent composer, she was Artistic Director of the Toronto ensemble Arraymusic from 1988 to 1993, and she was a member of the groundbreaking multidisciplinary performance collective, URGE, from 1992-2006. Linda teaches composition privately and at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada.
This was an interesting talk about gender identity and being a composer and although it seemed timely, Linda Catlin Smith started the talk by telling us that she had been asked to give a talk like this before in the 1990's. She said that the term "woman composer" was fairly new, as composers were always men, even though woman composers exist, going back to Baroque times. The large gap in the repertoire is mostly due to historical reasons. Women were denied training and not given the same access as men. Even though she was the only female composer student at her university in the late 1970's, she has never thought of herself as a "woman composer" and felt like that title has been thrust upon her from the outside. She doesn't feel like herself when she thinks of herself as a "woman composer".
Although things are changing, they are changing slowly. Keys to change are thoughtful programming (as in the case of WRCMS), striving for equality of opportunity, and inclusivity. She stresses the need to be open to people, styles, and thoughts that haven't considered before, and also to put more thought into inclusivity and how it affects children. She gave personal examples of girls who have been inspired by her and said that it is important for girls to see themselves on stage, and important for boys to see this as well.
An important take away from this talk was when she said that students and consumers have power. There are conversations that need to be had and those conversations can lead to change. Although my knowledge of this type of music and the history of it is limited and I didn't quite get all the music related inside jokes, I still left the talk with important information.
Saturday, August 26, 2017. Participant concert
I was honoured to in the audience for the world première performances of 10 new works composed and performed by WRCMS 2017 participants. The participants hailed from all over the world (Philippines, Spain, the United States, etc.) and Canada (Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia), and created a diverse array of contemporary music. While all of the music performed was remarkable, the standouts for me were: "I am the Voice" (it had a really theatrical feeling and purple balloons were involved), "new voltage" (it has spooky synthesizer sounds), and the mesmerizing "A Study on Exile, No.2" (this piece was performed in the audience, and broke the conventional no cell phones rule, as audience participation was required for recording).
It was a successful inaugural event and I'm looking forward to seeing what WRCMS has planned for next year. As an outsider to this world of music, by attending both events, I was entertained and I learned a lot. If you went to any of the concerts or events, I'd love to hear your experiences.
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Story by Glodeane Brown
Stealth photo provided by Ivana Jokic
Maureen Forrester Recital Hall photo by Glodeane Brown