Duo 3: with Moshe Denburg (Vancouver) and Joël Bons (Netherlands)

Saturday, January 9, 2010, from 9:00 to 9:45am

With Moshe Denburg (Vancouver) and Joël Bons (Netherlands)

(The following post-presentation report is from Moshe Denburg)

Moshe Denburg, of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO) andJoel Bons, of the Atlas Ensemble (based in Amsterdam) spoke about their experiences establishing an intercultural orchestra, and the ongoing challenges entailed in such an endeavour. Brief video clips were shown — one of a piece by Moshe Denburg with the VICO in concert, and several small clips by Joel illustrating the use and function of several non-western instruments, as related by master practitioners.

Moshe talked about the history of the VICO, and his motivation in founding an intercultural orchestra. He emphasized the personal side of ’overcoming one’s own ignorance and prejudice’ as a motivator, as well as the artistic vision of exponentially expanding the palette of sounds available to the composer. He also spoke about one of the main challenges of intercultural work: bringing together musicians trained in aural traditions with musicians trained in written traditions. Solutions can be found in teaching improvisation to reading musicians and teaching reading skills to improvisers. There are a variety of techniques that can be utilized.

Joel emphasized the ’mutual learning’ that is at the core of the intercultural project. He spoke about the differences between Vancouver and Amsterdam, in that Vancouver has a lot of non-western musicians to choose from, whereas Amsterdam has few, and so the Atlas Ensemble has had to go looking for non-western musicians all over the world and bring them to Amsterdam to realize various projects.

A lively question and answer period ensued, much of it focused on the importance of improvisation as a way to bring together the practices of different cultures.