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 Été 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! 🥄🍦👇

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 École 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 Été 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!

📍 La Nouvelle Scène, 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 Björnsson, Jason Noble, Ottawa-based composer John Gordon Armstrong, and emerging composer call-for-scores winner Jano Williams.

📍 La Nouvelle Scène, 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!

📍 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.

📍 Venturing Hills Concert Studio

Edward Enman

Concert No. 4: Art CRUSH | ENSEMBL’ARTS

For our season closer, we were thrilled to present Art Crush | Ensembl’arts, an exciting and genre-defying interdisciplinary group featuring violinist Marc Djokic, visual artist Avery Zhao, and dancer/choreographer Ariana Pirela Sánchez. 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.

📍 Ottawa Art Gallery, Alma Duncan Salon

Ariana Pirela Sánchez

Avery Zhao

Marc Djokic

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

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

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! 😎👇

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! 🐳🎶😀

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! 🙂

ONMC Season Launch

We are thrilled to announce our first season as the Artistic Directors of the Ottawa New Music Creators (ONMC)! 🚀😀

We have an incredible lineup planned featuring local artists, innovative performer-composers, and interdisciplinary collaboration. See below for details:

First, a few thank-yous and shout-outs:

  • To the City of Ottawa, thank you for your ongoing support. This may be our first season, but it is ONMC’s 10th (🍀🤞), and we could not have got this far without you!
  • To ONMC’s membership and wonderful audience of auditory explorers. Thank you for trusting us to curate a creative, inclusive, and groundbreaking season.
  • To ONMC’s board for the support and encouragement, suggestions, planning sessions, and marathon meetings. 🍻
  • To our season artists, we cannot wait to hear you play. It is going to be incredible. ✨
  • Finally, to Curtis Perry, ONMC’s tireless Executive Director, without whom ONMC could not exist. Your creative and organizational talents are much appreciated by the ONMC community. Also, your posters look AMAZING! 🤩👌
And now, on to the lineup:

Concert No.1 – In the Loop, October 27th

ft. Kathryn Patricia & Radia

Concert No.2 – Vistas, December 3rd

ft. Lara Deutsch & Adam Cicchillitti

Concert No.3 – Simple Lines of Enquiry, February 27th

ft. Edward Enman

Concert No.4 – Art Crush – Ensembl’Arts, April 7th

ft. Marc Djokic, Avery Zhao-Djokic, & Ariana Pirela Sánchez

Ticket Link for Concert No. 1:

Some of our Summer

With all of the ups and downs that the last year has brought, thankfully this summer is shaping up to be one of our busiest and most creative! 🙂☀️🎶

That being said, we did allow ourselves a little break last week in beautiful Prince Edward County:

Since our last post:

  • Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity Evolution: Classical has continued with incredible weekly mentor sessions and EvoFest concerts. Always so inspiring. EvoFest concerts are available for free on the Banff Centre YouTube channel, here.
  • Episode 3 of NightCAPS w/ SHHH!! Ensemble aired ft. world premiere performances of Monica Pearce’s leather and Patricia Morehead’s Moon on Shimmering Water. You can still watch the performance, here.
  • On June 20th we had the pleasure of recording Monica Pearce’s leather at Revolution Recording in Toronto for her upcoming Textile Fantasies album.
  • SHHH!! percussionist Zac Pulak received a City of Ottawa Creation and Production Fund for Professional Artists Grant to complete a new solo percussion work he has been developing since the start of the pandemic (to be premiered this Fall).

Coming up:

  • Chamberfest released their season lineup! We will be performing three concerts (available online or in person)! Click here for complete details.
    1. New Music Now ft. Jocelyn Morlock’s Spirit Gradient and Monica Pearce’s leather
    2. Bring the Kids! concert ft. some really fun and engaging participatory pieces
    3. Record Centre SHHHuffle recital ft. classical arrangements plus new music by Jocelyn Morlock, Mari Alice Conrad, Noora Nakhaei, and Andy Akiho.
  • We are honoured to be partnering with the National Arts Centre as artists in residence for the 2nd instalment of the Banff Centre Evolution: Classical program. Thanks to the NAC’s support, we will spend two glorious weeks putting the finishing touches on our new repertoire at the Venturing Hills Concert Studio in Luskville, QC. The new program will be live-streamed from Venturing Hills via the Banff Centre’s EvoFest series.
  • PLANNING, PLANNING, PLANNING for the Ottawa New Music Creators’ season launch (early September). It’s going to be RAD. 🤙

More to Come SOON! 🤫😉

A tale of two residencies

SHHH!! has a lot to look forward to over the next few weeks! Beginning on Monday, May 10th we have the distinct pleasure of being involved in not one, but two virtual residency programs!

In one we will be mentors, and the other we will be mentees! 🙃

We are excited to be joining Daniel Mehdizadeh’s East Chamber Music Emerging Composer Festival as the Ensemble-in-Residence. Between May 10th and 16th we will be working with six composers from around the world, helping them bring their new works for piano/percussion duo to life! We have already seen first drafts of the scores, and it looks like it will be a very interesting and exciting week! The six students have already started their mentorship with Dr. Mehdizadeh.

For more information about the program and participants visit East Chamber Music’s website here. The world premieres concert will be taking place on Monday, May 17th. Keep an eye out for the link on our social media channels.

From May 10th to 22nd (and again from August 2nd to 14th) we have the privilege of taking part in the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Evolution: Classical Career Development Program led by the Gryphon Trio. We were initially accepted into the program last year, unfortunately it was one of many things cancelled due to COVID. Though it is sad not to visit Banff again, we are stoked that the program has been able to pivot to an online format this year.

Over the first two week session we will be workshopping a new program with an international performance faculty and receive coaching sessions on all aspects of our artistic practice. We can’t wait!

Currently, our feet are firmly planted in our home studio in Ottawa, but with the Banff Centre program around the corner, our minds are frequently wandering back to the Rockies… It’s truly one of our favourite places, and where SHHH!! Ensemble first started!

Below, some pictures from our previous visits:

Clockwise from top left: view from the top of Sulphur Mountain, recording in Rolston Recital Hall, Bow River views, Edana’s practice buddy, a difficult decision, fat-bike exploration around Vermillion Lakes, the outskirts of the town at dusk, Mount Rundle view (5 mins from our studio), at the top of Sleeping Buffalo Mountain (overlooking the Banff Centre and the town of Banff)

Bottom picture: view from the back of Sulphur Mountain on an incredibly cold and clear day.