Casse-Tête Festival 2017 in Prince George

Performing the premiere of Jordan Nobles’ “Air” for bass flute and 16-channel speaker system. Photo: Chris Reiche

I love road trips. Why? Probably because I never actually learned to drive, so my road trip duties have always included less stressful chores like “music selector”, “semi-engaging conversationalist”, and “occasional nap-taker”. It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it.

On June 16th, these mad skills were put to the test when five of us piled into a van and began the 10-hour drive to Prince George, BC for the 2017 Casse-Tête Festival. Helmed by Jeremy Stewart, Casse-Tête has been treating Prince George to an incredibly diverse lineup of improv and contemporary music for the last five years. The 2017 instalment of Casse-Tête was particularly exciting for us Vancouverites as it marked the official unveiling of Redshift Music Society‘s 16- channel speaker system, The Array.

After four days of performances — including those by cellist Marina Hasselberg, soprano Cathy Fern Lewis, composer-pianist Christopher Reiche (who played Satie’s Vexations for 24 hours), and the wonderfully bizarre improv duo ManZap (which included a hair-raising performance on Casse-Tête’s resident “bass piano“) — Redshift and I took to the stage on June 18. I performed a solo set that included works by Salvatore Sciarrino and Toru Takemitsu, as well as two works from my Pacific Rim project: forever after by Calgary composer Hope Lee and the world premiere of Hiraeth by Toronto/Montana composer Emilie LeBel. Afterward, Redshift’s Array closed out the festival with three premieres: Jordan NoblesAir for 17 bass flutes (or in this case, one live bass flute and 16 pre-recorded bass flutes); a scene from Benton Roark‘s forthcoming opera, The Handless Maiden, featuring guest soprano Melanie Nicol; and Fantasiae for alto flute and electronics by Victoria composer Annette Brosin, a work that playfully explores time and memory: the flutist sits at a desk, “composing” G.P. Telemann’s Fantasy in A minor, which becomes the source material for the rest of the piece (with some text quotations from Takemitsu’s Voice thrown in for good measure).

It was terrific to be part of the festival, and a great was to kick off the summer season!

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