The thirteenth bi-annual Sound Symposium is here. Dan Murray lists off the top five things you shouldn’t miss.
Droning soundscapes and full-on white noise are not usually a big draw for people seeking out live performance, but don’t tell that to the folks at the Sound Symposium. The city’s bi-annual festival of performances and artistry devoted to sound has been opening many eyes and ears to the unusual and experimental since it began in 1983.
This summer, the thirteenth Sound Symposium will run from July 7th until the 15th in a multitude of venues around the city ranging from churches, living rooms, halls, parks, bars, the harbour, and even a WWII bunker. Filling these spaces will be installations, workshops and performances of music and sound by local and international artists.
1 Even if you’re twelve miles away when it happens, you’ll still be able to enjoy the Harbour Symphony. The symphonies are played on the horns of ships in St. John’s Harbour every day of the festival at 12:30PM. It’s an event that has continued since the festival began. There will be a free workshop on how to compose a harbour symphony at 2:00PM in the Anna Templeton Centre on the first day of the festival (July 7th)
2 Night Music is the Sound Symposium’s gateway drug to experimental music. The basis for the event is for a band to play a set of original music and then allow anyone (this means you) from the audience to come up and improvise with them. It’s like karaoke with the insane – expect the unexpected. Night Music begins on Saturday, July 8th in the Anna Templeton Centre and every following night of the festival in the Ship Pub at 10:30PM. Local guests include The Origin of the Sound Band, McKudo and The Seelie Court Players.
3 Trichy Sankaran is the Founding Director of Indian music studies and a professor of Music at York University. He will be giving a free workshop on rhythm at the MUN School of Music’s Choral Room at 3:30 on July 12th. He will also be performing a number of times throughout the festival, including once at the Quiet Music series. Quiet Music is a very intimate performance series (with food and wine!) which ends off some nights of the festival. Seating (and food and wine!) is limited, so the tickets must be purchased from the box office. Sankaran will be performing as a guest of local percussion group the Neighbours Percussion Trio on July 8th in a location known only to ticket holders. Not bad for 25 bucks.
4 Bringing movement and sound together will be Toronto’s fantastic Yvonne Ng. She will be performing a solo dance entitled “Headdress” at the LSPU Hall on July 12th at 8:00PM. Born in Singapore and raised in Canada, her work brings together influences ranging from Chinese opera to Indian cinema and 1950’s Hollywood films to create unique contemporary dance works. Ng will also perform “East Meets East” with Erin Donovan. Based around children’s songs from their youth, the performance will also feature John Little’s “Sagromides of Venus” sound sculpture.
5 Installation art exhibits are also an important part of the festival. Ivika Kivi (a multimedia artist) and Sulo Kallas (an electronics enthusiast) from Estonia are two of a many visual and sound artists taking part this year. They will be showing their work "Surrogate to Natural Harmony" at the Christina Parker Gallery. The exhibit deals with environmental pollution, harmony with nature and attempts to replace nature with technology. They have created a soothing soundscape using the sounds of solar-powered mechanical birds.
Sound Symposium offers so much more than I describe here, and I encourage you to go out to at least a few of the festival’s events and experience something new. They’re taking over the city so you might as well enjoy it.
I, for one, welcome our new sonic trickster overlords!
Tickets for all Sound Symposium events are available at the door or in advance from the LSPU Hall Box Office (3 Victoria Street, 753-4531). For a complete listings of artists and the festival schedule visit their website www.soundsymposium.com.