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!

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 Enchanté 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! 🙂
  • 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!

Barn Life & Banff Wrap Up

Over the last two and half weeks we had the privilege of setting up shop at the Venturing Hills Concert Studio in Luskville, QC (home of the Pontiac Enchanté Concert Series) as a part of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Evolution: Classical career development residency. Our stay at the “barn” was made possible with the generous support of the National Arts Centre and Pontiac Enchanté. Thank you for the opportunity!

Evolution: Classical asked us to develop a new curation that pushed us musically and artistically, as well as to explore new concepts and ways of connecting, expressing, and creating. With the time and space afforded to us by our stay at Venturing Hills, we were able to develop a new, more theatrical and unified approach to our curation. This new approach was also inspired by the incredible faculty and other Evolution: Classical participant entities who we have got to know (remotely) since May.

While at the barn, we had the chance to work IN PERSON with choreographer Marie-Josée Chartier. With her expertise we were able to hone our movement, transitions, and staging (and Aperghis… whew!!). What a great experience.

The result of all this work?

EXTRAterrestrial

EXTRAterrestrial, our new curation, premiered on August 11th as a part of the Banff Centre’s EvoFest Evolution Concert Series. The program includes music by Andy Akiho, Kevin Hanlon, J.S. Bach, Jocelyn Morlock, Mari Alice Conrad, Monica Pearce, and a theatrical percussion work by George Aperghis. It was thrilling to be able experiment and push ourselves with this program. Thank you to the Banff Centre E:C mentors (and participants) for their support, encouragement, and feedback!

Our performance was part of an epic triple header with other Evolution: Classical participant entities Indigo Trio (Jessie Ramsay, Alyssa Ramsay, and John Sellick) and Kalliope (Ellen Torrie and Kerry Bursey). It has been SO inspiring to see all of these diverse curations come together. You can still watch the show and all of the EvoFest concerts here. At the time of writing this blog post there are still two more shows that can be watched LIVE, tonight and tomorrow.

A few stills from August 11th:

Besides being a gorgeous concert venue, Venturing Hills is also a functioning equestrian farm that is nestled in the Eardley Escarpment. With it’s back to the Gatineau Park and facing out towards the Ottawa River, there was no shortage of beautiful views, greenery, and hikes and walks.

Some pictures from our rehearsal breaks over the course of the residency:

Normally, we would have wanted to cap off this blog post with a bunch of great pics of us with all of the faculty and other participants that made this residency such a rich, inspiring, and unforgettable experience, but since the bulk of our interactions were via Zoom (and it still managed to be AMAZING) we will end with screen shot from Jamie Parker!

Thank you to ALL! 🙂🙂

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! 🤫😉

Zoomin’

Over the last seven days, and approximately 50 hours logged on Zoom so far, as a part of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity Evolution: Classical and East Chamber Music Emerging Composer Festival, SHHH!! Ensemble is definitely Zoomin’, Boomin’, and Movin’!

We are feeling SOOOO inspired. Daily talks with the incredible faculty and inspiring presentations from our fellow participant entities have our minds swimming in “virtually” limitless possibility… and ludicrous daily screen time reports! We have also managed to keep up a daily practice routine that has our new repertoire cooking! What a beautiful time. We are so grateful for this opportunity to grow as artists and humans!

Throughout the Evolution: Classical program (2 intense weeks in May, ongoing weekly sessions in June/July, and 2 intense weeks in August) we are working on a new SHHH!! Ensemble curation that will debut at the end of the program. Fortunately for us, our repertoire is full of energetic interactions, expressive gestures, and a sense of exploration that is the perfect remedy for a day otherwise spent behind the screen!

Inspiring mentor sessions with the likes of Rob Kapilow, The Gryphon Trio, Megumi Masaki, Aiyun Huang, Dinuk Wijeratne, Anders Astrand, Marie-Josée Chartier, and so many others have made it clear to us that in order to take this curation to the next level we need to push ourselves as a duo by bringing in elements of movement, staging, and memorization to our performance. We are ready for the challenge! The unbelievably supportive team at Evolution: Classical has set us up with numerous extra coaching sessions with experts in these particular fields and we are feeling so well taken care of.

We are looking forward to continuing to develop this innovative program and share it with you in August! Stay tuned for more updates!

In the meantime, SHHH!! tries on some other ideas…

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.