Immersion by Jordan Nobles wins Classical Composition of the Year at 2017 Junos

Immersion by Jordan Nobles: winner of a 2016 Juno award.

Last Saturday (April 1st, 2017), the Junos were held in Ottawa, where my good friend, co-conspirator, and former co-worker at Redshift, Jordan Nobles, was nominated in the category of “Classical Composition of the Year” for his four-movement work, Immersion. Jordan was attending the awards ceremony with his wife Kelly and texting me updates. What follows is a highly edited, highly paraphrased transcript of our exchange:

J: My category’s up next

M: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE (author’s note: I was merely trying to express my support and enthusiasm. Please don’t judge me for squealing over text)

M: Lemme know what happens!

[Dead silence]

M: Hullo?

[More dead silence, whereupon I finally decide to text Kelly]

M: Kelly, Jordan isn’t responding to my texts. I need an update.

K: WON!!!

M: Uh, you’re April fooling me aren’t you. (author’s note: in my defence, the awards were being held on the 1st of April)

K: No, really! He won!!

M: Holy Sh*t!!

K: That’s what I said! He went up there and made a speech and they whisked him off somewhere. I have no idea where he is now. I have to text everyone — I feel a bit rude doing this at our table.

M: I think it’s allowed in this case!

[Several hours later…]

J: Holy sh*t…

There’s more, but I think you get the gist. I’m so happy for Jordan to be honoured this way, not only because it’s really nice to occasionally get some mainstream acknowledgement for one’s artistic work, and not only because Immersion is a truly original piece written for a very specific space, but because Immersion was, at the end of the day, a collective effort. On a chilly October morning in 2014 a whole squad of Vancouver based sound artists, engineers, and performers (yes, including me!) donned steel-toed boots, reflective vests, and hard hats; descended into the bowels of the earth in North Vancouver; and recorded, in one take, some 30 minutes of music in the Break Head Tank: an enormous concrete bunker connected to 7 km of water tunnels that allow Capilano water to be pumped to the Seymour Capilano Filtration Plant for treatment. Shortly after the recording, the Break Head tank began its service as part of Metro Vancouver’s water system, and was flooded with water forever, making the whole experience a fleeting, bittersweet thing.

Negative Zed Ensemble preparing to enter the Break Head Tank

It was, I have to admit, one of the stranger gigs I’ve done. Who would have thought that an underground filtration system would actually look more like the vaulted subterranean passages of Tolkien’s Moria? Seriously, check it out:

As one might gather from the photos, the acoustic in this space is really something else — and Jordan crafted Immersion to perfectly exploit the cavernous echoes of the Break Head Tank. You can listen to this beautiful, haunting work HERE. Congratulations, Jordan!


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