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

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! 🙂

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 pâtés from the Charlevoix region… or tourtières from Léon & Lily boulangerie… too good! Don’t worry, we had lots of fruits and vegetables as well! 😉

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!

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! 😉🥳🎶