Orchestration Post Doc Blog (OPDB) #4
What a summer! One of the busiest of my life, with no clear beginning or end: the barrage of projects rolled from the spring straight into summer and through to the fall, as though it was just one continuous end-of-semester crunch. While there was nothing like an actual break to speak of, there was certainly a lot of travel. My ACTOR-related activities brought me to amazing events in four different countries, with fascinating people from all around the world.
1) Hearing (Musical) Scenes: International Symposium on Auditory Scene Analysis, Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg, Delmenhorst, Germany, 28-29 March 2019.
My first big conference of the year was organized by my friend and former colleague from McGill’s Music Perception and Cognition Lab, Kai Siedenburg, which was attended by a two other ACTORs, Stephen McAdams and Frank Russo. It was a gathering primarily of heavy-hitting scientists, which was a little intimidating for me since my background is primarily in music, but my paper was well-received and there was a great vibe. It was really amazing to hear about current advances in 3D audio, virtual reality, hearing aid technology, and many other scene analysis-related fields. A particular highlight was meeting Josh McDermott, professor at MIT whose work on sound texture recognition has been a great inspiration to my research.
2) Bathurst Chamber Music Festival, Bathurst, Canada 15-19 May 2019.
I was honoured to be composer in residence for the Bathurst Festival, which meant that I got to spend a week with a group of phenomenal musicians and have my music performed in several concerts. East Coast Brass premiered my piece for brass quintet ‘Danse Interplanétaire’ (2019), and the Tintamarre Ensemble (pictured below) premiered a new arrangement of my ‘Bathurst Suite’ (2016). Particularly special for me was the premiere of my piece ‘Seven Beginnings’ (https://youtu.be/Tf4Vpi7LZos) for chamber orchestra, electronic soundfile, and video projection. This piece applied some of the research I’ve done as an ACTOR postdoc, transcribing speech and other vocal timbres for instrumental ensemble.
3) ACTOR Year 1 Workshop, IRCAM, Paris, France, 12-15 July 2019.
Our annual meeting was a great success: it was three jam-packed days of brainstorming, scheming, eating, breathing, and dreaming timbre and orchestration, in one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world. I gave five presentations in two days (!) and met a lot of the people I had been hearing about for the last year. We all left charged with enthusiasm to actualize our big ideas, and heartened to know that we are not alone in our orchestrophilic nerdiness, but are members of a worldwide community of timbre geeks! Here we are on the bridge in front of IRCAM, which Kit Soden affectionately refers to as the “pont des fumeurs.”
4) Conference of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition, New York, USA, 5-7 August 2019.
Off to the Big Apple for the largest-ever SMPC, with over 500 music perception and cognition researchers in attendance. Because there were so many people and so few days (only three when there are usually at least four), presentations were shorter than usual. This being so, we were very thankful that the organizers granted us a double-symposium session to present research by members of the ACTOR team from University of Oregon, University of Toronto, McGill University, and Université de Montréal. NYC is, of course, amazing, and we managed to cram some fun in around a busy conference schedule. Highlights for me were running around Washington Square in the mornings, walking the highline with Julie Delisle, and bike riding up the Brooklyn Bridge with Kit Soden and Caroline Traube.
5) The 21st Century Guitar Conference, Ottawa, Canada, 22-25 August 2019
My final big event of the summer brought guitarists, composers, and scholars to Ottawa for an incredible event that was the brainchild of Amy Brandon (http://amybrandon.ca/), all about the many things the guitar can be in the 21st century. From a crazy 8-hour marathon concert of contemporary Canadian guitar music, to academic sessions and roundtables on many innovative topics in guitar composition, performance, research, and pedagogy, to a series of lecture-recitals including one by me, Caroline Traube, and Steve Cowan, I have never been so deliciously immersed in all things guitar. A particular highlight were two beautiful concerts for guitar orchestra featuring amazing 360° projections by Kurt-Laurenz Theinert (https://theinert-lichtkunst.de/). The picture below is from the premiere of my piece fantaisie harmonique (2019).
Back to work now—not that it ever really stopped—but after so much going it’s a relief to have some time at home to do some new research and composing (and spend some time with my family). But I am completely blown away by all the amazing scholars and musicians I’ve encountered through all these travels, and newly-inspired to try to live up to their incredibly high standards in my own work.