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sonic topographies

Posted on Jul 28, 2014 in Events | 0 comments
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Bio-Box by Leslie García


Vancouver New Music Festival 2014
Sonic Topographies
Sound, music and sustainability
October 16 – 19, 2014


“Only on condition of a radical widening of definitions will it be possible for art and activities related to art [to] provide evidence that art is now the only evolutionary-revolutionary power. Only art is capable of dismantling the repressive effects of a senile social system that continues to totter along the deathline: to dismantle in order to build ‘A SOCIAL ORGANISM AS A WORK OF ART’… EVERY HUMAN BEING IS AN ARTIST who – from his state of freedom – the position of freedom that he experiences at first-hand – learns to determine the other positions of the TOTAL ART WORK OF THE FUTURE SOCIAL ORDER.” [1] (Joseph Beuys)


Beuys’ statement well represents the impetus that many artists all over the world have been embracing in the last few decades: an impetus for art and creative activities as a transformative path, not only as an expression of the individual, but as the expression of a need and a demand for both social and ethical changes. With this year’s festival we wish to reflect on and listen to similar energies, also inspired by the awareness that “many composers and sound artists all over the world are turning their ears to the music of the earth”[2] and people to reconsider what artistic creation really means in a context that fosters sustainable ideas about creativity, culture and tradition.


In presenting this very diverse group of musicians, composers and performers we wish to instigate discourse and activities around the specific questions of what and how contemporary music practices can contribute to the larger discourse about sustainable systems in a post-aesthetic world. We wish then to connect with those ideas and soundscapes that are suggesting ways of thinking in terms of patterns or sonic ideas emerging from – or transducing into – natural interlocking cycles and aural resonances (John Luther Adams, Michael O’Neill), reveal alternative systems of thoughts arising by the re-definition of timbre as a correlated ensemble of energies (Georg Friedrich Haas, Tristan Murail), consider social, listening and ecological practices (Annea Lockwood, Akio Suzuki, Hildegard Westerkamp), and acknowledge the possibility of transdicliplinary approaches and perspectives (Raven Chacon, Leslie García).


Finally, we wish to thank all of the fantastic musicians, composers and performers who are going to share their creative spirit in this year’s VNM festival, together with all the community partners and organizations which are sharing programs and ideas resonating with the festival’s focus during the month of October. All of them embody the larger community of artists and creators offering the opportunity to appreciate and meet with wonderful expressions of human creative power in the hope to further nurture and treasure the evolutionary-revolutionary power of creativity, beauty, personal expression and the power of imagination.


[1] Joseph Beuys statement dated 1973, first published in English in Caroline Tisdall: Art into Society, Society into Art, ICA, London, 1974, p.48.

[2]John Luther Adams: Resonance of Place, Confessions of an Out-of-Town Composer, The North American Review, January/February, 1994, pp. 8–18.


Thursday, October 16, 2014
8PM concert | 7PM artist talk with Annea Lockwood
Orpheum Annex (823 Seymour Street, 2nd floor) [map]
Tickets $35 regular, $15 students (includes taxes and venue surcharges) [Buy tickets]

Akio Suzuki (Japan)
A legendary Japanese sound artist Akio Suzuki has been performing, building instruments, and presenting sound installations for nearly 40 years. His music is simple and pure, exploring how natural atmospheres and sounds can be harnessed and then set free. To experience his art is to lose oneself in the sound that surrounds us.

Annea Lockwood
 (New Zealand)
Jitterbug (2007)

For six channel tape and two musicians.
Jitterbug counterpoints hydrophone recordings of aquatic insects and fish, with three musicians’ interpretations of the markings on rocks collected from the area near Glacier Park, Montana in which Lockwood made the recordings.

Hildegard Westerkamp (Vancouver)
Liebes-Lied/Love Song (2005)
For cello and electroacoustic soundtrack.
Based on the poem Liebes-Lied by Rainer Maria Rilke and its English translation by Norbert Ruebsaat, Liebes-Lied/Love Song is a meditation on love. Readings of the text combine with recordings of Anne Bourne’s improvised explorations on the cello and environmental sounds to create the soundscape of the piece, over which cellist Peggy Lee performs live improvisations.

John Luther Adams (US)
Ilimaq (2012)
For solo percussion and electronics.
Virtuosic percussionist Scott Deal (US) performs Adams’ expansive, richly layered work for solo percussion.  Ilimaq was commissioned by University of Texas, Stanford University, the Walker Art Center, and Duke University.

Friday, October 17, 2014
8PM concert | 7PM artist talk with Raven Chacon and Leslie Garcia
Orpheum Annex (823 Seymour Street, 2nd floor) [map]
Tickets $35 regular, $15 students (includes taxes and venue surcharges) [Buy tickets]

Raven Chacon (US)
From the Navajo Nation, Raven Chacon uses unique instruments in this live performance: bone whistles, light-drums, and antler harps, in addition to voice, are all processed and over-driven by various electronic and electric devices. Chacon’s music ranges in dynamics from meditative quiet hums to abrasive scrapes and piercing screeches, speeding up and slowing down throughout its course. |

John Luther Adams (US)
The Light Within (2007)
For alto flute, bass clarinet, vibraphone/crotales, piano, violin, cello, and electronics.
Vancouver’s Ethos Collective perform Adam’s The Light Within, a sublimely textured work for small ensemble inspired by installation artist James Turrell’s explorations of light and space.

Georg Friedrich Haas (Austria/US)
Sextett (1992/1996)
For flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin and violoncello.
Written in 1992 and completely reworked in 1996, Haas’ Sextett begins with two voices, moving in quarter-tones, evolving into a complex, and precise exploration of pitch, in concert with the “absence or loss of pitch” (UE). Sextett will be performed by Ethos Collective (Vancouver).

Hildegard Westerkamp (Vancouver)
Like a Memory (2002)
For piano and two digital soundtracks.
Like a Memory explores that area of aural perception in which we hear music in sounds and sounds in music, where scrap metal structures become musical instruments and the piano becomes a strange sound sculpture.

Tristan Murail (France)
Territoires de l’oubli (1977)
For solo piano.
Murail’s longest single-movement work to date, Territoires de l’oubli is a massive exploration of the piano’s resonance, unfolding in a huge curve of continuously evolving textures. Masterfully performed by William Fried (US), this is a musical experience not to be missed!

Saturday, October 18, 2014
8PM concert | 7PM artist talk with Hildegard Westerkamp
Orpheum Annex (823 Seymour Street, 2nd floor) [map]
Tickets $35 regular, $15 students (includes taxes and venue surcharges) [Buy tickets]

Bio-Box – Leslie García (Mexico)
Sound artist Leslie Garcìa performs live with her plant-based, biofeedback interface, Bio-Box.  At once live performance and laboratory, Bio-Box establishes audio communications between different living systems (mosses and algae) generating micro-voltage from the gestural responses of these bodies to physical stimuli such as light, vibration and touch. By rendering these electrical responses audible, the interface gives us access to the high sensitivity and complex sensory systems of different plants.

John Luther Adams (US)
Four Thousand Holes (2010)
For piano, percussion, and electronics.
Percussionist Scott Deal (US), and pianist William Fried, (US) come together to perform Adams’ Four Thousand Holes, a piece described as a “sometimes lush, sometimes fragile, rhythmically complex and technically demanding work for piano, mallet percussion and ghostly electronic “auras”—electronic sounds created by processing the acoustic instruments’ sonorities” (Jim Fox, Cold Blue Records).

Hildegard Westerkamp (Vancouver)
Fantasie for Horns II (1979)
For solo French horn and 2 soundtracks.
Composed in two stages, beginning with a composition created from recordings of horns from the Canadian Pacific and Atlantic coasts – trainhorns, foghorns, factory horns and others – in Fantasie for Horns II, the tape composition becomes the acoustic environment for a live French horn, an instrument which, in turn, has had a long history as sound signal in many parts of the world.

Annea Lockwood (New Zealand)
Buoyant (2013)
Stereo electroacoustic work.
Buoyant interweaves water recordings made on the shore of Flathead Lake, Montana, and clangorous gangplanks moving with the Hudson River at the Hoboken Ferry Terminal, with a small boat harbor on Lake Como, Italy.

Dusk (2012)
Stereo electroacoustic work.
In Annea Lockwood’s Dusk, bats zip past and Willie Winant creates long sonic trails with large gongs above the deep pulsings of a hydrothermal vent in the Pacific seabed.

Sunday, October 19, 2014
3:30PM concert | 2PM free panel discussion – note early start time!
Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), University of British Columbia (2260 West Mall, UBC Point Grey Campus) [map]
Tickets $35 regular, $15 students (includes taxes) [Buy tickets]

Michael O’Neill (Vancouver)
stone garden *
For gamelan, bagpipes, and voices.
stone garden is an intercultural work for Balinese gamelan beleganjur, Scottish bagpipes, Ukrainian bilij holos (white voice or pure voice) singing, and chorus. It is a rumination from a personal perspective on end-of-life matters, recognizing the shared traditional role of beleganjur and bagpipes in cremation/funeral ceremonies. Weaving through the piece, with light, humour, and gravitas are the words of celebrated Vancouver poet Gerry Gilbert.

* World premiere, commissioned by Vancouver New Music with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts.

John Luther Adams (US)
Songbirdsongs (1974-80)
For two piccolos, and three percussion.
John Luther Adams’ Songbirdsongs creates a mesmerizing, and shifting sonic landscape of birdcalls, water, and wind.

Annea Lockwood (New Zealand)
floating world (1999)
For stereo tape.
floating world is an immersion in place and transience. Lockwood invited eleven friends whose own work with environmental sound she much admires to make recordings in places of personal, spiritual significance to them.

Hildegard Westerkamp (Vancouver)
école polytechnique (1990)
For eight churchbells, mixed choir, bass clarinet, trumpet, percussion, and two–channel tape.
Dedicated to the 14 women slain at École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989, école polytechnique invites the audience to listen inward and search for what is sacred, what cannot be compromised, what cannot be allowed to be killed inside us and therefore not in the world. école polytechnique is meant to provide the sonic environment for such a journey inward.

Taking place throughout September and October 2014, Alternative Energies offers a series of events that explore the intersection of art and sustainability presented by an exciting variety of arts, educational, and community organizations in Vancouver.

Canadian Music Centre – BC Region and Vancouver New Music present
At the Edge of Wilderness
A Sound–Slide Installation about Ghosttowns in British Columbia created by composer Hildegard Westerkamp and photographer Florence Debeugny
Opening reception September 26, 2014; 5-7PM
September 29 – October 17, 2014; Monday to Friday 9AM to 5PM

Canadian Music Centre (837 Davie Street)

When resource industry moves into British Columbia’s landscapes, industrial sites and company towns are cut into the wilderness. The edge between wilderness and such a new place is traditionally knife sharp like the edge between life and a stabbing death. Natural rhythms and movements eventually soften the edges, transforming an abandoned industrial site into mysterious rusty shapes and collapsed wooden structures overgrown by moss, weeds, shrubs, and trees. Through images and sounds gathered in various ghost towns of the Canadian province British Columbia during Spring and Summer of 2000, At the Edge of Wildernessexplores a strange moment of excitement and magic, discovery and adventure, the moment when the contemporary visitor encounters an abandoned industrial site.

Originally commissioned by the Western Front Society in Vancouver for the group show Industrial Ear, September 8-16, 2000.

Culture Days 2014   CMC BC Region

Vancouver New Music presents

Vancouver Electronic Ensemble plays music by David Dunn
Saturdays, October 4 and 11, 2014

Time TBA
Vancouver Community College Atrium (1155 East Broadway)
By donation

Members of the Vancouver Electronic Ensemble (VEE) perform works based on the music of composer and sound ecologist David Dunn. Currently based in New Mexico, Dunn’s music and sound work uses environmental and field recordings to explore intersections of art and nature.

Vancouver Community College

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents
VEE at the CAG
Monday, October 6, 2014; 7PM

Contemporary Art Gallery (555 Nelson Street)

An sound performance inspired by the recent works of German artist Jürgen Partenheimer whose exhibition, The Archive – The Raven Diaries, runs from September 12 to November 9, 2014 at the CAG.


Vancouver New Music presents
Sound and Sustainability Soundwalks
Dates & Locations TBA

Take some time to listen to the underlying sounds and rhythms of the city on a soundwalk. Members of the Vancouver Soundwalk Collective lead two, free guided walks through the urban environment.

DOXA and The Cinematheque present
A selection of films by Bill Morrison
Tuesday, October 14, 2014; 7PM
The Cinematheque (1131 Howe Street)
Tickets $12

Called “one of the most adventurous American filmmakers” by Variety, Bill Morrison‘s films often combine archival film material and found footage set to contemporary music. He has collaborated with some of the most influential composers of our time, including John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Gavin Bryars, Dave Douglas, Richard Einhorn, Philip Glass, Michael Gordon, Henryk Gørecki, Bill Frisell, Vijay Iyer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, and Steve Reich, among many others.

Screened as part of Motion Pictures, DOXA’s monthly film series.

Cinematheque   DOXA

Emily Carr University presents

Raven Chacon: Artist Talk
Thursday October 16, 2014; 11:30AM

Aboriginal Gathering Place, Emily Carr University (1399 Johnston Street)
This event is free and open to the public. Please note space is limited.

Join us for a talk by composer, experimental noise musician, and installation artist Raven Chacon. Chacon’s work explores sounds of acoustic handmade instruments overdriven through electric systems and the direct and indirect audio feedback responses from their interactions.  Recent and ongoing collaborations include projects with Bob Bellerue (Kilt), William Fowler Collins (Mesa Ritual), John Dieterich (Summer Assassins), Robert Henke, Thollem McDonas, and the ETHEL quartet (Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project). Chacon has presented his work in different contexts at Vancouver Art Gallery, ABC No Rio, REDCAT, Biennale of Sydney, Canyon DeChelly, Adelaide Festival, Ende Tymes Festival and The Kennedy Center.

Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) and Vancouver New Music present
Panel discussion on Arts and Sustainability
Sunday, October 19, 2014; 2PM

Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability at UBC (2260 West Mall)

Join CIRS’ Associate Provost for Sustainability John Robinson, the Suzuki Foundation’s Jay Ritchlin, and artists Leslie Garcìa, Annea Lockwood, David Maggs, and Hildegard Westerkamp for a discussion about intersections of art and sustainability. Moderated by Giorgio Magnanensi.

Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability     David Suzuki Foundation

SFU Woodwards presents
Art Music’s Indigenous Inclusions and the Politics of Form
With Dylan Robinson

Monday, October 20, 2014; 7PM

Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings

Concerti for throat singers, operas on Indigenous subjects, and powwow symphonies. Despite an increasing number of collaborations between Indigenous artists and classical music ensembles, the political exigencies of First Nations communities across Canada are scarcely referenced in such work. As Cherokee scholar Craig Womack has noted, while “America loves Native American Culture[,] America is much less enthusiastic about Native American land claims”. This talk examines the space between classical and Indigenous musical forms, and the attendant politics of recognition in such collaborative processes that often celebrate Indigenous inclusion at the cost of political engagement.

SFU Woodward's

Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in collaboration with the UBC School of Music present

Soundwalk with Tyler Kinnear
Wednesday, October 22, 2014; 2 – 3:30PM

Meet at Belkin Art Gallery (1825 Main Mall, UBC Point Grey Campus)

Join Tyler Kinnear for a guided soundwalk on the campus of the University of British Columbia. During this excursion we will give our ears priority, paying attention to the sounds around us as well as to our own listening.  In what ways do we interpret the sonic environment?  In what ways do we contribute to its composition?

This event will happen rain or shine.  Participants should wear appropriate footwear and clothing.

Workshop series – Pauline Oliveros’ “Sonic Meditations” with David Metzer and Hedy Law
Tuesdays, October 14 and 28, 2014; 2PM

Belkin Art Gallery (1825 Main Mall, UBC Point Grey Campus)
Free – registration required. For more information visit

UBC Professors of Musicology David Metzer and Hedy Law will be leading a workshop exploring the pioneering work of Pauline Oliveros. In her seminal 1974 Sonic Meditations Oliveros expanded the characteristics of the “new sensibility” by bringing her fascination with long continuous sounds (motors, fluorescent lights, freeway noise) to bear on her deep involvement with meditations. We will revisit this revolutionary exploration of expanded consciousness through practice and discussion.


Alternative Energies takes place in conjunction with Sonic Topographies, the Vancouver New Music 2014 Festival.

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