Project Announcement

We are so totally smiley/excited/bowled-over/grateful/smiley/ecstatic/weepy/smiley/joyous/thrilled to announce that the Canada Council for the Arts has supported our next BIG project:

Part commission, part recording project An Auditory Survey of the Last Days of the Holocene will be a new concert-length electroacoustic work written for us by composer and activist Frank Horvat.

We will be collaborating with Frank throughout the 2022-23 season in two workshopping intensives at Port William Sound (Mountain Grove, ON) culminating in a final intensive and recording session of the work on May 7-12, 2023 at Domaine Forget. An Auditory Survey of the Last Days of the Holocene will also be our second album!

In our preliminary discussions with Frank and our various project partners we have already amassed a collection of 200+ emails, several hours of Zoom and phone calls, and numerous brainstorming sessions at all hours of the day… not to mention boundless levels of excitement and anticipation! We can’t wait to get started in earnest on this important and timely work.

We’ll be sharing updates about AASotLDotH (perhaps pronounced “eh-sottle-doth”… its a mouthful, we know!) every step of the way, but for now and on a much more serious note, a little taste of what An Auditory Survey of the Last Days of the Holocene all about:

“What if you could choose the sounds that go extinct? Which ones do you wish never existed? 

The sounds that are forcing us out of the Holocene into a new human-influenced epoch are the ones Iโ€™d choose. This composition indexes those sounds of our destructive past and present, with the hope that this piece becomes a historical catalogue, like a museum gallery, for those destructive reverberations that no longer exist in the wild because humans decided it was time to dismantle them. If we choose this path, we can ensure a future for the sounds that are truly important to us, making certain those continue to thrive for epochs to come. We might be entering a new age out of the mistakes of our past but with a re-birth comes the ability to choose how you want to move forward.”

โ€” Frank Horvat

Frank Horvat is one of the most inventive songwriters to come out of the contemporary scene in Canada (WholeNote Magazine). This award-winning composerโ€™s music is emotional and intense. As a pianist and multi-genre composer, he has made the tricky musical leap that allows him to pursue a niche of his own (Edmonton Journal). Frank explores a wide array of themes in his music from love to the environment, mental health and social justice issues. He gives his audiences time and space to reflect in this fast-paced world. Frankโ€™s compositions tell deeply personal stories while permitting audiences to ponder their own.

We are so excited to be working with this creative individual!

You can read more about Frank and his incredible work here: https://frankhorvat.com

BIG DAY!

Today is a BIG day for SHHH!! ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿฅณ๐Ÿพ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ’ฟ๐Ÿฅณ

Its our debut album Meanwhile‘s pre-release single day!

Starting now, you can listen to Noora Nakhaei’s Echoes of the Past in stunning Dolby Atmos on all major streaming platforms! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡

The full Meanwhile album will be available digitally worldwide on October 7th on all major streaming platforms (with physical copies coming on the 14th!)!

Our debut album also features incredible music by Jocelyn Morlock, John Beckwith, Micheline Roi, John Gordon Armstrong, Monica Pearce, and Kelly-Marie Murphy!

Meanwhile Launch Events ๐Ÿชฉ ๐Ÿฅณ ๐Ÿ’ฟ ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ 

The creation of Meanwhile would not have been possible without the generous support and trust of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. Thank you!

Help spread the word and this electrifying new music! Share this blog post or the streaming link on social media, tell a friend, phone your aunt, email a colleague, suggest it to your grouchy neighbour, etc, etc ๐Ÿ™ƒ! Thank you for your support, we really appreciate it! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿฅฐ ๐Ÿ™

Ritual and That Star Is Awake @ Chamberfest

Last week we had the pleasure of premiering two new works by our friends and composers Daniel Mehdizadeh and Edward Enman at Chamberfest’s New Music Now! We have known both composers since our student days at the University of Ottawa in the early 2010s! The concert was made even more special as we shared the program with music by fellow SHHH!! friends, collaborators, and Ottawa connections John Gordon Armstrong and Kelly-Marie Murphy.

Mehdizadeh’s Ritual is an abstract exploration of an imagined and nameless ritual… dark and brooding, at times groovy and at other times spacious and sinister.

Contrastingly, Enman’s That Star is Awake explores “the idea of a child experiencing the sight of the stars, the moon, the sun, and discovering what they are, and how they are what they are… stars are big exploding balls of gas… they can also be a smiling character in a children’s book… this piece is somewhere in between.”

We look forward to performing these two beautiful new works again in a couple of weeks at ร‰tรฉ Musical de Barachois in New Brunswick!

Photos by Curtis Perry:

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!

ONMC 2021-22 Look Book

What a thrill it was to curate our first Ottawa New Music Creators season! We relished in the opportunity to expand our creative horizons, feature the work of INCREDIBLE artists, commission new music, and create memorable events for our community.

A BIG thank you to the performers, composers, ONMC board, and our tireless Executive Director and photographer Curtis Perry! Thank you also to the City of Ottawa, CMC Picanto, SOCAN, and the Ottawa Art Gallery for making all of this possible!

Take a peak at the gallery below and check out what ONMC was up to in 2021-22!

CONCERT NO. 1: IN THE LOOP

in the loop showcased the work of loop-pedal-violist performer-composers Kathryn Patrica and Radia!

๐Ÿ“ La Nouvelle Scรจne, Bistro

Kathryn Patricia

Radia

Concert NO. 2: Vistas

vistas featured guitarist Adam Cicchillitti and flutist Lara Deutsch in an evening of music by Toru Takemitsu, Gabriela Ortiz, Gulli Bjรถrnsson, Jason Noble, Ottawa-based composer John Gordon Armstrong, and emerging composer call-for-scores winner Jano Williams.

๐Ÿ“ La Nouvelle Scรจne, Bistro

Adam & Lara

John Gordon Armstrong

Special Project: IN SEA By Jesse Stewart

With the generous support of a Picanto 7X Video Production Grant and the Ottawa Art Gallery, we embarked on a special project commissioning a new piece from Ottawa based composer Jesse Stewart. In Sea is Stewart’s 21st century take on the minimalist classic In C by Terry Riley. We had a blast recording and collaborating with this all star band!

๐Ÿ“ Ottawa Art Gallery (ft. the installation Google Optical Display by AM Dumouchel)

Concert No. 3: Simple Lines of Enquiry

For our third concert we welcomed Montreal based pianist-composer Edward Enman for a livestream performance of Ann Southam’s Simple Lines of Enquiry and the Canadian premiere of Enman’s own work Silver Light.

๐Ÿ“ Venturing Hills Concert Studio

Edward Enman

Concert No. 4: Art CRUSH | ENSEMBL’ARTS

For our season closer, we were thrilled to present Art Crush | Ensemblโ€™arts, an exciting and genre-defying interdisciplinary group featuring violinist Marc Djokic, visual artist Avery Zhao, and dancer/choreographer Ariana Pirela Sรกnchez. Marc performed works for solo violin by Nico Muhly, Missy Mazzoli, Philip Glass, Astor Piazzolla, and Canadian composers Ana Sokolovic, Murray Adaskin, and Richard Mascall.

๐Ÿ“ Ottawa Art Gallery, Alma Duncan Salon

Ariana Pirela Sรกnchez

Avery Zhao

Marc Djokic

We’re already looking forward to next season! Stay tuned!

Photo credits: Curtis Perry, Ming Wu (top photo of SHHH!!)

Cool friends

It’s been a while since our last blog post! SHHH!! is deep in project planning mode (๐ŸŒ‹๐Ÿ”ฅ๐ŸŽถ), so not too much of our own news to write about at the moment!

We thought we would take the opportunity to share some recordings recently released by a few of our friends (#talent)! We’re listening to them lots, and we think you should too! ๐Ÿคฏ๐ŸŽง

Daniel Ramjattan – Inspirations

๐Ÿ˜Ž: Solo guitar sorcery, ft. music by SHHH!! collaborators John Gordon Armstrong and Raphael Weinroth-Browne. ๐Ÿง™โ€โ™‚๏ธ๐ŸŽธ๐Ÿค˜

๐Ÿ”—: https://danielramjattan.bandcamp.com/releases

Radia – Of Glow & Abandon

๐Ÿ˜Ž: #BanffBuddy, Radia also performed at our first ONMC concert as artistic directors in October, 2021! This debut EP is slick. ๐Ÿ€๐ŸŽป๐ŸคŒ

๐Ÿ”—: https://radiaviola.bandcamp.com/releases

Lara Deutsch & Philip Chiu – Night Light

๐Ÿ˜Ž: fellow Ottawa-based-badass (Lara), ft. music by SHHH!! collaborators Jocelyn Morlock and Frรฉdรฉric Lacroix. ๐ŸŒ‡๐Ÿš—๐ŸŒฌ๏ธ

๐Ÿ”—: https://www.leaf-music.ca/product/lm249/

Martin Daigle – Mossy Cobblestone

๐Ÿ˜Ž: also a #BanffBuddy, this one is a BANGER. ๐ŸŽฉ๐Ÿซ–๐Ÿฅ

๐Ÿ”—: https://martindrum.bandcamp.com/releases

Monica Pearce (performed by Maureen Batt & Simon Docking) – Aunt Helen

๐Ÿ˜Ž: Monica Pearce, SHHH!! collaborator & composer of the awesomest music (including our beloved leather). ๐ŸŽน๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ’ฏ

๐Ÿ”—: https://www.leaf-music.ca/product/lm2012/

Happy Listening! ๐Ÿ™‚

Gone Fishhhing

About a week ago we got hit with our biggest COVID-era cancellation. We were devastated. Since then, a big “Gone Fishhhing” sign has been posted on our studio doors. This week we plan to get back into the swing of things: learning new notes and telling everyone about this really cool thing we did! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘‡

One of our dream projects over the past year has been to find a piece that would allow us to collaborate freely with a variety of other musicians in a hip, accessible, and groovy way.

The Answer? Jesse Stewart’s In Sea

In an ocean of open score oeuvres, we came across many good candidates: some were more obvious (like Terry Riley’s In C), some were more obscure (like Erik Griswold’s Action Music), but none felt quite right for this particular project. What we really wanted was a tailor made piece that featured our duo as a sort of anchor (sorry, but there will be many nautical puns here…), augmented by an indeterminate ensemble comprised of any number of any instruments.

Co-commissioned by SHHH!! Ensemble and the Ottawa New Music Creators, In Sea is a new work for flexible ensemble by Ottawa’s Jesse Stewart. Inspired by Terry Riley’s open score classic In C, In Sea is Stewart’s 21st century take on the well known minimalist work.

A huge thank you to the Canadian Music Centre and Picanto (a new video hosting site dedicated to Canadian new music) for their support through the 7X Video Production Fund. We are honoured to be one of seven artists/collectives from across the country to be awarded this funding. Our video premiere drops on February 7th as a part of the Picanto 7X Festival!

On November 15th we filmed the world premiere performance with eight Ottawa New Music Creators at the Ottawa Art Gallery with stunning artwork by Gatineau, QC artist AM Dumouchel as our backdrop. We had a whale of a time! ๐Ÿณ๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿ˜€

The incredible musicians involved in the world premiere recording are:

  • Raphael Weinroth-Browne, cello
  • Travis Mandel, trumpet
  • Ben Glossop, bassoon
  • Yolande Laroche, clarinet
  • Sean Clarke, flute
  • Alex Moxon, guitar
  • Erica Miller, violin
  • Kathryn Cobbler, viola

Audio/video recorded was provided by Julian Bertino Sound and Nikolas Labossiere. Stills and additional footage by ONMC’s Exec-extraordinaire Curtis Perry.

Back in November, we were between waves of COVID and the public health guidelines in Ottawa allowed us to meet to rehearse and record for one glorious day of sonic exploration. In the company of such fine musicians recording was **preemptive cringe** plain sailing.

With so many COVID-cancellations plaguing our winter schedule we have been buoyed by this upcoming pandemic-proof premiere!

Following the premiere screening of In Sea on the Picanto platform, SHHH!! is looking forward to continue to perform this new work and using it as a way to connect with other artists and new audiences!

Some pictures from the recording day by Curtis Perry:

Hope to sea you on the 7th! ๐Ÿ™‚

Staying Positive While Remaining Negative

Following the event formerly known as the “coolest thing we’ve done”, a.k.a. our. debut album recording, we dove into learning Kelly-Marie Murphy’s new double concerto Machines, Mannequins and Monsters! We will be premiering it with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on January 26th, 2022.

We have been deep in the woodshed the past few weeks, grinding out what is undoubtably one of the most intense pieces we have ever had the opportunity to learn.

Machines, Mannequins, and Monsters is a taut and driving showcase for piano/percussion duo and orchestra and is inspired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibition of the same name:

“In the first decades of the 20th century artists in Europe and the Americas brought to life of legion of unsettling figures shaped by shared experiences of sweeping technological change… Machines promised a bright, efficient future, but they also enabled a devastating warfare that mutilated soldiers’ bodies, which were then remade with prosthetics… increasingly lifelike mannequins filled shop windows [and now digitally on screens everywhere], uncanny doubles of the consumers passing by… on the silver screen, vampires, golems, hunchbacks, and other anthropomorphic monsters reflected a pervasive racism and aversion to difference”. (MoMA)

100 years later and humanity is still grappling with the same issues.

It is a peculiar feeling spending hours a day rehearsing a piece, which due to increased restrictions in response to the new COVID-19 variant, may be indefinitely postponed. Over the past eighteen months our duo has been able to weather the COVID storm through a combination of lucky timing, constant applications, and virtual pivots. For the moment we are still going forward with the double concerto, though the potential for a cancellation is forcing us to reexamine what drives us to create art.

Throughout the Murphy Double Concerto there are many special moments: big, open spaces punctuated by franticly accelerating and fractured scales in the first movement; blooms of resonance, echoes, and wisps of memory permeate the second movement; and, in the third, a relentless gallop towards oblivion.

The last few weeks have been very productive and, dare I say, enjoyable as we continue to hone this incredible new piece. No matter when the premiere takes place, it is always a pleasure to spend time with such brilliant music.

SHHH!! Ensemble wishes you a safe holiday season and try to stay positive while remaining (COVID) negative! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!