Port Willy Retreat

For the past eleven days SHHH!! has had the good fortune to be rehearsing and working on new music out of Port William Sound in Frontenac County (rural Ontario, about 1 hour 30 mins from Canada’s capital of Ottawa). Over the course of the 2022-23 season will be spending 6 weeks in this beautiful and inspiring location thanks to generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council!

What are we practicing?

We are working on Kelly-Marie Murphy’s new double concerto Machines, Mannequins, and Monsters which SHHH!! world premieres with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on February 1st, 2023. It’s a bear… it feels right to be learning it in bear country! 🐻

We are also collaborating on an epic new project on environmental themes with composer Frank Horvat. Here is a brief description of the project from Frank:

“With the working title, An Auditory Survey of the Last Days of the Holocene, this composition will index those sounds of our destructive past and present, with the hope that the music 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.”

Frank joined us this past week to brainstorm and collaborate and we are absolutely buzzing with excitement!!!

Of course, it’s not all work at Port Willy… we also took advantage of our beautiful surroundings and got out for a couple of hikes in Frontenac Provincial Park, not to mention the three times daily walk of what can only be described as possibly the most beautiful driveway in the world.

In the Great Indoors:
In the Great Outdoors:

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 I’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.”

— 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 composer’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. Frank’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