VIX Sound+Light+Motion



by on May.02, 2010, under Concerts, Events, Technology

Photo Credit: Jimmy Katz

Photo Credit: Jimmy Katz

The evening of May 1st I experienced the Orchestrion Project, conceived and directed by Pat Metheny at The Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver. I obeyed the request not to take photos or make recordings, so I will offer the readily available ubiquitous You Tube examples and links to official sites where some images are available. Pat Metheny has provided some photos by Jimmy Katz on his site (left). The first part of this post is a comment on the memorable guitar collection and the second part on the automated Orchestrion. (continue reading…)

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Professional Photo Hosting

by on Mar.15, 2010, under Concerts, Events, Media, Photography

My photography has moved to the level where I am being paid for photos and several of my friends are interested in the documentation of their concerts and events. It is a lot of work to process RAW photos and develop them with a degree of individual care that they deserve if they are not going to be used. They should also be custom formatted for print or web publishing and there are a number of other considerations. Now I take a lot of photos, processing was becoming too time consuming. I had to find out what other photographers were doing to manage this situation.

Welcome to Photoshelter, a very cool photo host that is as professional as you want it to be. This is a custom search box to check if you  are listed in a photo on the site. Here is my homepage – VIX.

Right now, I only have one gallery of Viviane Houle, Stefan Smulovitz and Dider Petit playing as a trio at the Light Gallery on Monday. I have posted a couple of the photos with their permission. In the top photo Didier was acting tired and critiquing Stefan’s laptop offerings (below). It was all in good fun and the concert was amusing.

Their intent was humorous, right from the start, as the first piece was an accompaniment to the performed text of the clause in the artist’s contract that restricts their right to criticize the Olympics, the sponsors or anything else about the “Big O”. The rendition was quite sardonic, but did not constitute a violation, as they were just reading the contract. There are some rumours that the Olympics have copyrighted our year, so that it is an infringement to use Vancouver 2010 in this sentence. I guess this is permitted use because I am talking about this concert that was held as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

I have to confess I did not watch the hockey game, but I love the Cultural Olympiad. There is more, yes, much more. HIVE3, one of my favourite theatre festivals is part of the fun and John Kosrud strikes again with the Ice Age March 20th in North Van. I have been busy this weekend with concerts by Paul Plimley and a new music group from Taiwan at Performance Works on Granville Island. I am getting into the action while I can because with the Arts cuts after the Olympics leave town, it is going to be a lot quieter than usual in Vancouver.

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Victoria with Mud Bay Blues

by on Mar.13, 2010, under Concerts, Events, Music

The Waldorf Hotel pub is quite a nice venue and it was really fun to play with the Mud Bay Blues Band. This band has been around for many years and the players have a smooth familiarity with each others playing styles.

A friend of mine came down to enjoy the music and took a few photos – check them out here. It was very generous of him to document the event as he usually specializes in nature photos and not people.  I guess we were down to earth enough for him to accept us as part of the scenery.

This Friday night was really fun, as I had the opportunity to play my original music that is closest to my Blues heritage.  I hope I have another chance to play with this group and I will post future events in advance.

Tonight Paul is playing at Performance Works as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

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The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Experience

by on Feb.19, 2010, under Concerts, Events, Media, Projects, Technology

Everywhere is Vancouver there is evidence that the Olympics are here. From the eternally crowded transit to the spotlights lighting the night sky, this party for the world cannot be ignored.

Paul and I went to see Laurie Anderson last night at The Playhouse, playing at the same time next door at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre was Neil Young with rumours of Lou Reed being in the group. As we walked to our ticketed event, we passed pavillions with free shows going on continuously.

There is so much going on, it is hard to choose what to see. So far, I have participated in Sonic Genome with Anthony Braxton, attended Yaletown Live on my way to see the ticketed event Sound Gallery at the Roundhouse, danced to the sound and light of the Drum & Light festival hosted by John Kosrud and Hard Rubber Orchestra and walked past really long line-ups into other pavillions.

Friday, Feb.19, at 8pm I will attend Marathonologue, a fusion of Javanese gamelan, Scots highland bagpipes and Japanese Taiko drumming. This is Michael O’Neill’s full-length performance piece, which also features Alexanra Dulic and Ken Newby contributing their visual projections. There has been a dominant theme of visual projections as there are large led and flat screens everywhere you look.I will add photos to this post, but now I have to go to work.

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Anthony Braxton’s Sonic Genome Project

by on Jan.27, 2010, under Concerts, Events, Music

There are no words that can express the feeling of the concert that will be happening at The Roundhouse Community Center on Sunday, January 31, 2010 starting at noon — you will have to be there to hear the music. Money is no object, as it is a free 8 hour long concert that brings together Anthony Braxton’s 12+1 tet and an ensemble of approximately 50 of Vancouver’ improvising musicians.

With Anthony Braxton reeds/composition, Taylor Ho Bynum cornet/trumpet/flugelhorn/bass trumpet, Nicole Mitchell flutes, Andrew Raffo Dewar, James Fei reeds, Steve Lehman saxophones, Sara Schoenbeck bassoon, Jessica Pavone violin/alto viola, Mary Halvorson electric guitar, Reut Regev trombone, Jay Rozen tuba, Carl Testa double bass/bass clarinet, Aaron Siegel drums/percussion/vibes.

The concert is presented as part of the PuSH Festival in association with The Coastal Jazz and Blues Society. The Coastal website has a lot of information about the Genome Project world performance premiere on their site. The image that appears here is linked from the Coastal site as I have taken no photos yet. According to the press release, this piece was conceived as a recording project and this is the first live performance. A CD of the recorded Genome Project is already available.

I am excited and honoured to have been accepted into this ensemble and I will be playing with computer and vocals. There are already several guitar players, including my friend Paul Plimley, so I think this instrumentation will be more useful in creating unique textures.This is the largest instrumental ensemble I have ever been in, although I have sung with larger choirs, this will be a once in a lifetime experience. Please come down sometime during the 8 hours of music to enjoy the space and be part of the energy.

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Phil Minton and the Feral Choir

by on Jan.25, 2010, under Concerts, Events, Music, Photography

The Vancouver New Music Society brought Phil Minton to lead the Feral Choir, a group made up of local volunteer singers. This program of  improvisational vocal workshops leading to a performance has been popular at locations all over the world and there are samples of audio and video on the official site from several sites in Europe and Australia. We were very lucky that he chose to return to Vancouver to share some of his expertise with us.

The last time I saw Mr. Minton in Vancouver was with Maggie Nichols, a longtime collaborator, who is also from the UK. As I was doing my usual Jazz Festival volunteer shift as Crew Chief at the Ironworks, I had the opportunity to share in the fun as the duo warmed up in the green room. The show was very inspiring and opened up vocal areas that I had not previously concentrated on.


Phil Minton in action

I was looking forward to the workshops and performances and I signed up early. There is no audition and Phil’s workshops are open to anyone who wants to sing, so there were many people attending who I do not know. Singers I did know included Kate Hammett-Vaughn, Carol Sawyer, Soressa Gardener and DB Boyco among others.


Phil Minton and his Vancouver Feral Choir 2010

I did take photos of the rehearsal such as Phil in action and the pre-performance  at Ironworks, but my daughter, Jhayne Holmes, took this group photo (above) with my camera. The low light conditions are difficult for the Nikon D50 with the kit lens — we will see what her newer Nikon photos are like.

There are more photos to come, but I will send them to the performers through Vancouver New Music as I did not get specific permission to post them.  Perhaps they will post and I will link.

I did record the concert with my Zoom H4 and  Vancouver New Music recorded as well. One of the choir members was recording at the rehearsal for CBC broadcast, so it might be part of a radio show soon. There may be some sonic samples of the amazing choral sounds that were made today.

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Vancouver Folk Music Festival Volunteer Experience 2009

by on Jul.18, 2009, under Concerts, Photography, Projects

This year I am volunteering at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival because I was asked to document the volunteer experience, in a similar way that I did with the Jazz Festival volunteers. Usually, I don’t volunteer for every festival in Vancouver, but there is a really good festival line up and I wanted to attend anyway.

One of the big differences between the documentation that I did at the Jazz Festival and this experience, is that I am handling the audio recording of interviews with the participating volunteers. I have a partner, Dean Buscher (2nd from right – wearing the shades), who has a Nikon D3 and all the fast lenses he needs. This a photo I tool of the 2009 “Volunteer Experience Documentation Committee”.



I am honoured to be doing sound recording at the festival because of the work my friend, Sylvi MacCormack, (pictured left) has done by creating a soundscape record of the festival that is posted on their site; VFMF Soundscapes 1999-2002: Festival Quartet for Solitude

Sylvie is a woman I really admire because she has devoted her life to her music and art. Despite all of the obstacles she has faced, I always see her smiling and excited about a project she is involved in. She certainly contributed to my experience of the Folk Festival through her work.

She was present at our orientation and will be continuing to document the sound events at this year’s festival. I am dedicating my participation, including this web page, as a tribute to her and in recognition of her pioneering work that helped to develop this idea.

As we were receiving our directions I noticed a group of very well equipped photographers standing nearby. I went over to photograph them. This festival has a major crop of Nikon D3 cameras sprouting up everywhere and this was a dense patch.

I was happily taking pictures with my camera, when one of them handed me his deluxe model and requested I take one for him. I was amazed by the clarity of the screen and the camera was so crisp when operating the shutter. I can’t complain about my Nikon D50, it is a good camera and I can learn a lot with it. BUT, when I really want to get good, I will have to invest. Photography really is one of those arts where money makes a difference.0023_Vic_photgrapher

The photographer who traded cameras with me, ever so briefly, took a photo of me – with mine. Notice the poor form, not totally balanced to be tripod steady and continuing to wedge a program under my arm. I hope the result was not too bad!


The real story is the audio, so I include a couple of interviews with the photographers. I will post individual photos, but Alyssa is second from right and Colin is third, next to her (camera at ready) in the group photo.

Colin Mills interview

Alyssa Burtt Interview

I have added Alyssa’s interview to my podcast feed.
More from fellow volunteers and my own posts on the Folk Music Festival Site.

My gallery software now automatically creates a gallery of images on the page, so I added a few more of the photographers. I am going to have to figure out how to edit this as it makes duplicates. Edited and updated.

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Vancouver Jazz Festival 2009

by on Jul.06, 2009, under Concerts, Events, Media, Photography

The Vancouver Jazz Festival, produced by the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society,  is over for another year, tonight is the volunteer party that is the final event. This year, I was more involved than ever before as I not only volunteered as Crew Chief at the Ironworks, but I volunteered to take photos of my fellow volunteers.  These photos are also hosted on Flikr under username jazzvolunteer and I have my set; Victoria’s Volunteers.

Click on any image to start, click on the << or >> to navigate  and click on the image to end. With this basic viewer it only shows the page you are on, so you have to change to the next page. The more sophisticated plug-ins make viewing all the images possible.  If you need instructions for the plug-ins or to make the gallery work go to the Gallery page.

Victoria’s 2009 Jazz Festival Volunteers

Photography is a social art and in that way, being a photographer at the festival  is very different from being a musician.  If  I walk up to people in the street and start singing, they think I am strange, move away slowly, and would hesitate to get in an elevator with me. I find I have to set up sactioned events to get people to participate musically. But, if I walk up and ask to take their photo, it is a much more socially acceptable artistic connection.  People like to have their pictures taken and they trust me enough to  give me their contact information so I can send them the image. They are friendly and happy with the process. I am really enjoying interacting with people since I started to take photos and I meet a lot more potential friends.

In Vancouver society, there usually  is some distance between the community and the music makers. Music making can be isolating because so much time is spent practicing alone.  In performance, music is a special event that occurs in an area separated from the audience, where the community is expected to be passive observers and listeners. As a musician, you come into a prepared area, present your show, then leave without having any direct personal contact with the receiver of your art. This is not the case in other cultures I have studied, and I was very happy that it was not the case when I attended a workshop on Saturday.

Saturday, I had an encounter with three amazing French musicians cellistDidier Petit and bass clarinetist, Sylvain Kassap with drummer, Edward Perraud. They made my life complete during their workshops by asking me to sing with them.

Vancouver musicians bassist, Clyde Reed and erhu player.  Lan Tung also joined the sonic esploration.  I had such a wonderful time as these musicians, solo and in ensembles, know how to open up and create the space that welcomes music in. My next post will be about this event.

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A New Beginning: A Playground

by on Jun.24, 2009, under Concerts, Events, Media, Projects, Technology, Video


I was very honoured to be asked to produce the film that was shown as the visual component of this concert in the Walter Phillips Gallery, located in the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Pauline Oliveros explained the concept and gave me freedom to develop the 20 minute film using the photos provided and my own digital artworks. Ms. Oliveros was inspired by President Obama’s speech in Cairo and the Codepink efforts to encourage peace by building three playgrounds in Gaza.  I obtained permission to use photos from the Codepink Flikr stream, with attribution, from:

Jean Stevens
National Media Coordinator
CODEPINK Women for Peace

The Codepink  projects are very worthy and I was proud to be able to support them and be associated with an initiative that is intended to bring people together to work for peace.  In addition to the photos of children and playground construction in Gaza, we used photos of American children playing in a playground provided by Ione.  She explained at the concert that she thought it was nice for them to play together. Ione was inspirational in the production of this film as she helped me to gain a more precise understanding of the concept of the musical work.

Many people complimented me on my work after the show and it will remain one of the highlights of my time in Banff. I did document the performance on video and the audio was recorded by the Banff Centre technicians, led by John DS Adams. At some point, I hope that my film, “A New Beginning: A Playground” will be shown during future concerts when Pauline and Ione perform this piece. When the audio is mixed, there are plans to produce a DVD with the soundtrack of the concert.  When it is complete, it will be available from the Deep Listening Institute site.

Tech Notes: All photographs and digital artworks were prepared in open source software, The Gimp. The film was created using Final Cut Studio on a Macintosh workstation owned by the Banff Centre.

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Banff Percussion Concert

by on Jun.22, 2009, under Concerts, Motorcycles

Yesterday was the solstice, the longest day of the year and I woke up in overcast Calgary and prepared to go to Gavin and Rikki’s wedding. My daughter, Jhayne and her boyfriend, Tony, and I all got ready and piled into a cab. We arrived at the Strathcona Community Centre and my daughter began her task as the official wedding photographer. I brought my video camera and let Jhayne take the pictures.

The ceremony was a Wiccan hand-fasting and the group formed a procession to the standing stones in the park. It was a beautiful, sacred ceremony that was deeply meaningful. I was happy to take part in such a symbolic and emotionally moving event. As we were involved in the ceremony, the skies cleared and I decided to ride off into the sunset. The forecast had predicted rain until Tues and clearing Wed and I really had to get back to Vancouver. The ceremony was complete and Tony returned with me in a cab and helped me pack my motorcycle.

The ride from Calgary to Banff is not very long and the green fields glowed in the westerly light.  The Alberta landscape has an intense green from the recent rain that is bursting with growth and life. I could see the rain ahead of me and stopped to put on my sweater and fasten the rain flaps on my Technic rain pants. There was a light rain before I entered the Rockies, clearing for a while, then it really started to pour around Canmore.

Center map

I rode carefully, but quickly because there was a concert in Banff that I did not want to miss. The rain lightened once I was in Banff and, as I am now familiar with the territory, I was able to proceed quickly to the Banff Centre. I arrived just in time to greet a few of my friends and find a chair before the “Roots and Rhizomes Outdoor Concert” began.

The first part of the concert was inside and the audience was treated to superb performances of the percussion classics “Ionisation” by Edgard Varese and “Persephassa” by Iannis Xenakis. The audience was appreciative and the weather continued to clear. The Program Director, Steven Schick, decided to hold the rest of the concert outside in the ampitheatre as the composer had written the piece to be played outdoors.

As the percussionists and techs moved the instruments and recording equipment outside, I raced to get my camera. I arrived back just in time to hear the start of “Inuksuit” by John Luther Adams. The program notes translate the title as “to act in the capacity of a human” and the atmosphere of a tribal gathering in a clearing on a mountaintop was reinforced by the lingering Solstice twilight.

The piece was far more intense than I expected. The sacred space that was created at the beginning was maintained throughout and the beauty of the instruments, as an addition to the natural setting, placed us as part of the ecosystem of the mountain.  I moved from one side into the centre and then to a different side, moving in a clockwise direction as the Wiccan priestess had directed at the ceremony.  The section with the drums and conch shells reminded me of early Hawaiian music reconstructions I had heard on recordings, but the sound of the conches echoing through the mountain air as they started with call and response across the large circle and moved into harmonic tones, could never be duplicated in a recording. The environment, the mountain air and the energy of the audience all contributed to the impact.

When I first read the notes about the percussion program at Banff, I was concerned that it would be another program that continued in the classical mold (sic) — I did not recognize the new compositions as there are several world premieres on the list. Steven Schick assured me that it was in fact, an innovative and exciting program and I have found the two concerts I was able to attend deeply moving and precisely played. The work by Mark Applebaum during Friday’s concert was also a world premiere and the different movements were full of charm and wit.

0023stephen-shick-sm1 Steven Schick is a charming, warm individual who has brought a wealth of innovative percussion education to Banff and I feel privileged to have met him.  I will write more about the Thursday concert that displayed, not only his skills as a percussionist and educator, but his formidable conducting. He has a superb ictus and a style that is clear and welcomes parts to enter, rather than commanding them. It made for a wonderful performance of Bela Bartok’s masterpiece of Music for Strings and Percussion.

The Mark Applebaum piece deserves its own paragraph, but for now, I must ride.

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