Aside from poutine and hockey, Canada appears to take on the “underdog” title in many areas. Slowly but surely, Canada is gaining speed and putting itself on the map as a hub in which to experience live sound art.
While music festivals aren’t for all music lovers, they certainly are a major draw to me. I have been attending send + receive, an international festival of sound art, for many years. send + receive is based out of Winnipeg and is heading into its 18th year of operation. For the past two years, I have acted as a Board Member to send + receive; as of 2015, I happily filled the position of Volunteer Coordinator and Chair of Fundraising Committee for the festival.
Taking a more “behind the scenes” approach to a sound art festival has granted me a greater appreciation of this realm. I would highly recommend you take the leap from an attendee to a volunteer, should you have the opportunity. And no, you do not need to be a sound artist to get involved with volunteering. I say this with certainty, as the extent of my musician life was playing the A&W theme song with a tuba in junior high and alas, here I am. A passion for the art is truly all you need to get involved.
Without further adieu, let’s jump into 5 must-attend Canadian sound art festivals:
Open Ears is located in Ontario– more specifically, the Waterloo region. Open Ears uses the tagline “bring out your ears”, which proves adequate. Artists for the 2016 festival are Tristan Perich, Vicky Chow, and Dodecaphonic Funk, among others.
FIMAV is held in Victoriaville, Québec and will make its 2016 appearance May 19th-22nd. What caught my eye about this festival was the impressive 2015 list of public sound art installations. Artists such as Nataliya Petkova, Patrick Saint-Denis and Danys Levasseur hosted an impressive array of installations containing stripped pianos, robotic accordions, and more.
Electric Eclectic’s home is on a farm just outside Meaford, Ontario. This festival has brought unsurpassed entertainment every Canada Day Weekend since 2006. Notable past artists are Tony Conrad, Chelsea Wolfe, and Doldrums. I am especially impressed by the equal installation artist-to-performer ratio.
Sounds Like Audio happens in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Last year, Sounds Like entertained their audience from July 23-25th. Sounds Like truly speaks to the Canadian sound art scene, as their festival last year featured only Canadian artists. Among these artists were Anitra Hamilton, Eric Hill, Ben Grossman, Burden, and Karl Fousek.
While NAISA stands as a year-round non-profit organization, it also hosts annual festivals, such as the Sound Bash Series. NAISA resides in Toronto and is bound to expand your sound art repitorie with a variety of installations and performances. Last year, NAISA made themselves known around town in March. If you’re in Toronto this year in March, I highly suggest you clear your calendar and make an appearance.
Where are my words on send + receive? Good question. They will evolve from my head/heart region and will be in a post all of its own on an unmuted breed.
If anyone has been to the above festivals, please share! I am all ears to your experience attending any other sound art festivals. Now that I am a student (AKA bound to homework and a shoestring budget), I am relying on the experiences of others.