May/June Roundup

It’s been a busy (and awesome, and beautiful, and nourishing, and other lovely adjectives) few weeks… here’s the scoop! ๐Ÿฅ„๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ‘‡

May 24-June 1: Back at the barn

We spent a week and a bit at Venturing Hills Concert Studio rehearsing and putting the finishing touches on our Spirits program… we also ogled at birds, horses, and the inspiring sunsets over the Eardley Escarpment.

June 3-5: Open Ears Fest

SHHH!! performed Spirits at the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound in Kitchener-Waterloo! We had a blast sharing incredible new music by composers like Andy Akiho, Kevin Hanlon, Micheline Roi, John Beckwith, John Gordon Armstrong, Monica Pearce, and Jocelyn Morlock!

It was also great to hear Carmen Braden perform her Seed Songs with a killer band and experience Grace Scheele’s Not Yr Angel Bby Harpist.

June 6: Super News From SOCAN

We got word from the SOCAN Foundation that we have received funding to commission NYC based composer Harry Stafylakis. We’ve asked him to write us a fast and furious “SHHHred-isode”… stay tuned for that!

June 7: World Premiere of “Enable Original Sound”

In the words of SHHH!! percussionist Zac, “I don’t always compose, but when I do it is always for percussion!”

Commissioned by the Centre d’Excellence Artistique d’Ontario at ร‰cole Secondaire De La Salle, Enable Original Sound engaged graduating music students at the school who, due to COVID restrictions for most of this year, were unable to play their normal (non-percussion) instruments. Zac coached them on basic percussion skills and wrote a piece for them! They rose to the occasion and played beautifully!

June 9: Final mixing session at Le Lab

Meanwhile is almost here! We spent the afternoon at Le Lab Mastering in Montreal with our producer Carl Talbot working on the Dolby Atmos mix. It sounds incredible and we are so excited to share this music with you!!

June 11: “Odaabaanag” at Pique Summer 2022

Together with Debaser, Jumblies Theatre, Ottawa New Music Creators, and No Borders Voices we presented Odaabaanag at Pique Summer 2022. Odaabaanag is a suite of two original musical compositions by Melody McKiver and Beverley McKiver, inspired by the words and stories of Garnet Angeconeb, Josephine King and Tom Chisel from Obishikokaang (Lac Seul First Nation). It was a deeply moving and very special experience for us (and for everyone that attended the concerts!).

What’s Next?

We are working towards the world premieres of Daniel Mehdizadeh’s Ritual and Edward Enman’s That Star Is Awake at Ottawa Chamberfest’s New Music Now event on August 1st, continued preparations for the launch of Meanwhile, prepping a brand new program to be debuted at ร‰tรฉ Musical de Barachois on August 25th , and planning ONMC’s next season… never a dull moment!

Recording at Domaine Forget

SHHH!! just got back from an incredible week at Le Domaine Forget in the Charlevoix region of Quebec! We were recording our debut album, titled Meanwhile in the beautiful acoustic of the Domaine Forget Salle de Concert.

We spent November 20th and 21st setting up (LOTS of gear!), rehearsing, and getting comfortable in the space. The next three days were a joyous whirlwind working with tonmeister extraordinaire Carl Talbot recording some of our most beloved repertoire.

While recording, everything had to be considered: the setup (each piece had a unique percussion array, and therefore different mic and instrument placement), the physicality of music (more intense pieces were recorded either at the very beginning or very end of the day), even piano tunings had to be factored in as some pieces were so bombastic and impassioned that a tuning was required before we could proceed!

Here is a sample of our schedule from Day 2:

8h00: piano tuning

9h30: arrive at the hall and warm up while Carl and his assistant Philippe tweak mic placements and settings.

10h30: begin recording Micheline Roi’s Grieving the Doubts of Angels. We start with the very transparent opening when the piano would be at it absolute best… things gradually get more aggressive and crunchy sounding so we save that for the end.

12h55: the very understanding piano technician Michel is called 5 mins before his scheduled tuning to please-please-please come 20-30mins later so we could get a final take or two of the last energetic and wild last section.

13h25: piano tuning / lunch break. Perhaps of interest, perhaps not… meals at Domaine Forget generally consisted of cheeses, breads, preserves, and pรขtรฉs from the Charlevoix region… or tourtiรจres from Lรฉon & Lily boulangerie… too good! Don’t worry, we had lots of fruits and vegetables as well! ๐Ÿ˜‰

15h00: meet back in the booth to go over the mornings takes and double check if anything needed to be redone. We were all good, so it was time to move on to Jocelyn Morlock’s Spirit Gradient. There was a slightly different setup for this piece so things needed to be rejigged.

16h30: begin recording Spirit Gradient. We got some great initial takes, but because of our position to get the best sound, hearing eachother was a little problematic (the tuned metal discs called crotales that I, Zac, play ring A LOT, and had to be placed far away from the piano mics… we play in rhythmic unison for much of the piece! So, not easy!). Carl outfitted Edana with some headphones that allowed her to hear me much better. After that it was smooth sailing and we got into a really good flow.

19h30: head back to the booth and check out our progress. After much close listening and debating we agreed that we were all good. A really awesome Day 2.

20h30: Day 2 complete. Back to our apartment to decompress. Edana and I got in the habit of sampling a different beer from Charlevoix each night. Always excellent.

Day 3 proceeded in much the same way, so all in all, things went swimmingly! We really enjoyed the process, working with Carl was a pleasure, and the grounds and the hall at Domaine Forget were beautiful and inspiring.

Over the three days we recorded John Beckwith’s Meanwhile, John Gordon Armstrong’s The Angels’ Share, Noora Nakhaei’s Echoes of the Past, Micheline Roi’s Grieving the Doubts of Angels, Jocelyn Morlock’s Spirit Gradient, Monica Pearce’s leather, and Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine.

Following the last day of recording we spent a further two days exploring the region… walks on the beach, some hiking at Parc National des Grands-Jardin, delicious dinners and wine at Le Sainti (a ten minute walk from Domaine), and checking out all of the amazing local producers of beer, cheese, honey, meat, preserves, mushrooms, and more.

Our album will be released in Spring 2022 on the Analekta label! A HUGE thank you to the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for supporting this project.

We can’t wait to share this incredible Canadian music with you!

Lunenburg Residency

This past week SHHH!! had the opportunity to rehearse intensively at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (LAMP) in historic Lunenburg, Nova Scotia (home of the famed Bluenose schooner, the vessel featured on the Canadian Dime).

We spent seven days working in the gorgeous 19th century building pictured above, with inspiring views of the town and harbour from every window. Thanks so much to Artistic Director Burt Wathen and the LAMP staff for welcoming us into their space, it was an incredible experience. This beautiful time would not have been possible without the generous support of LAMP’s Gifted Young Artist Bursary Program, which we were honoured to receive.

During our residency at LAMP we spent the days fine tuning our debut album repertoire. We will be recording from November 22-24 on the Analekta label at Domaine Forget in Charlevoix, Quebec.

Some pictures of our Lunenburg Academy studio space:

The weather was spectacular, blue skies almost everyday! Here are a few shots from out the window and around town:

Typically we divide our time between multiple SHHH!! projects, teaching, and other freelance work, so dedicated and super-focussed rehearsal periods such as this past week are essential to our success. We put in some long days: rehearsing and practicing all-day-every-day and sticking to a program that will, fingers crossed, set us up for a successful debut recording! We are feeling great!

Our time in Lunenburg wasn’t without some leisure, meal times were spent attempting to ingest a year’s worth of seafood… as they say: Fill Yer Boots. Coffee breaks at No. 9 Coffee Bar (excellent), an obligatory Ironworks Distillery visit, and we took in a stunning sunset at Hirtles Beach, pictured below. Definitely a trip to remember!

Fall Update

Many projects going on this fall! Here is quick overview of what’s up over the next few months:

  • October 17, Spirits recital at Pontiac Enchantรฉ in Luskville, QC! Get your tickets here.
  • October 27, Ottawa New Music Creators (ONMC) season opening concert ft. loop pedal violists Kathryn Patricia and Radia. Get your tickets for that event here.
  • October 29, Spirits recital at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB.
  • November 1-9, Residency at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (LAMP) in Nova Scotia.
  • November 15, Video recording session ft. ONMC members and SHHH!! in the world premiere of a new work commissioned by ONMC/SHHH!! (more on this coming soon!!).
  • November 22-24, Debut album recording session at Domaine Forget in Charlevoix, QC with producer Carl Talbot for the Analekta label. HUGE thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts for funding this project! ๐Ÿ™‚
  • December 3, ONMC Concert 2 ft. Lara Deutsch (flute) and Adam Cicchillitti (guitar).
  • Continued learning of the approximately 3,000,000 notes involved in Kelly-Marie Murphy’s new double concerto Machines, Mannequins, and Monsters! World premiere on January 26, 2022 with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

Never a dull moment!

Meanwhile, it’s HAPPENING!

On Tuesday last week we received the wonderful news from the Canada Council for the Arts that we were awarded an Explore and Create – Concept to Realization grant! That, combined with our earlier Ontario Arts Council Music Production Grant will allow us to proceed with recording our debut album, Meanwhile, on the Analekta label. We couldn’t be happier!

We will be recording at the beautiful George Weston Recital in Toronto with tonmeister extraordinaire Carl Talbot this fall, with a release date in early 2022.

Meanwhile‘s all-Canadian lineup surveys some of our most memorable collaborations and creative endeavours from the past few years and will include:

  • Kelly-Marie Murphy’s riveting and virtuosic Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine;
  • Noora Nakhaei’s Echoes of the Past, based on the remarkable and moving co-autobiography Sister Language by Martha and Christine Baillie;
  • John Beckwith’s Meanwhile, a haunting, reflective, and at times violent theme and variations, and the first piece written for our duo as well as the namesake of the album;
  • Micheline Roi’s powerful and expressive Grieving the Doubts of Angels, one of the few previously existing Canadian works for piano/percussion duo;
  • John Gordon Armstrong’s The Angels’ Share is a loving look at tasting notes from various single malt Scotches;
  • Jocelyn Morlock’s quirky and groovy Spirit Gradient explores the inner sound world of the horizon determining device through the eyes of a child.

We cannot wait to share this music with you! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿฅณ๐ŸŽถ