Sessions & Activites

Overall Plan

Networking Opportunities

Listening And Tuning

  • Soundwalks
  • Tuning

Network Development Sessions

  • Network Development Session 1 — Open Session
  • Network Development Session 2 — National Networks
  • Network Development Session 3 — Local and regional networks
  • Network Development Session 4 — Open Session

Core Sessions

  • Geographies
    • Connecting to the Sound of the Pacific Coast
    • Connecting Art, Intention and Place
    • Festivals as a Cultural Voice
  • Connecting Generations And Communities
    • Generations & Disciplines
    • For Whom? For What?
    • Breaking The Mould
  • Technologies
    • Extending Creativity — Creative Software And Software Creativity
    • Visual Paradigms For Ensemble Improvisation
    • Stretched Boundaries
    • Extended Bodies — When the Virtual Bleeds into the Physical
  • Cultures
    • Retelling New Music With Indigenous Eyes
    • Old Asia — New Music
    • Musical Dialogue Across Cultures

Mini Concerts

Closure — Plenary Session

Networking Opportunities

Building on feedback from previous Forums, more time for formal and informal networking has been built into the schedule of this edition. A networking gathering is planned after registration Thursday January 19, with a light buffet and music. Networking lunches are provided each day and other connection opportunities punctuate the entire Forum, so there will be ample time to reconnect with old friends, and make new contacts.

Listening And Tuning

Short periods of sound practice are offered before and in between each day’s proceedings.

Stay tuned for details.


With a focus on listening, soundwalks are a way to engage with the sonic environment while walking with consciousness through a particular landscape.


Practices such as those inspired from R. Murray Schafer’s The Tuning of the World and The Thinking Ear, Pauline Oliveros’ Sonic Meditations and other resources.

Network Development Sessions

Four “open forum” networking development sessions will take place, one on each day of the Forum. Participants are encouraged to bring questions, ideas, proposals and concerns with the intention of creating sustainable connections and alliances within local, regional and national communities.

Network Development Session 1 — Open Session

A gathering of topics to be discussed

Network Development Session 2 — National Networks

Participants are invited to explore the intentions, structures and impacts of national networks, this session is introduced and facilitated by David Pay (Music on Main, Vancouver), who provides an update about recent meetings of the Canadian Classical Music Coalition and the Canadian Arts Presenting Association. Representatives from the Canadian Music Centre, Canadian League of Composers and other national networks and associations will also be on hand.

Network Development Session 3 — Local and regional networks

Forum participants are asked what role local and regional networks and associations play in supporting their practice and its dissemination. With input from: Paul Cram (Atlantic Canada Art Music Network), Scott Thomson, Tim Brady, Joane Hetu and Cléo Palacio-Quintin (Montreal’s Le Vivier), Bob Baker (Canadian Music Centre BC Region), John Reid (Canadian Music Centre Prairie Region), DB Boyko (Sonic Presence BC), Leah Hokanson (Lulu Productions, Gabriola Island) and others.

Network Development Session 4 — Open Session

Open to any topic brought forward by those in attendance and/or as agreed as a result of previous sessions.

Core Sessions

Guest presenters were invited to consider the notion of connection and pathways to connection in the particular work they are doing and in how it is presented. Connecting to the sounds, cultures, politics of specific places, connecting to youth and elders, connecting to each other through technologies — these are some of the themes being explored in this edition of the Forum. Presenters were also invited to create sessions that moved attendees from observers to active engagers to give potential for dynamic connections to emerge.


Connecting to the Sound of the Pacific Coast

  • Hildegard Westerkamp (World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, Vancouver)
  • Paul and Helena Spong (Orca Project, Vancouver Island)
  • Kim Cascone (Hydrophone Festival, San Francisco)

Hildegard Westerkamp’s acute sense of place in her work with sound compliments the work of Paul and Helena Spong, who use listening as a way to research the environment of the Orca of the Central Coast of BC. Kim Cascone’s Hydrophonia Festival similarly brings attention to noise pollution in ocean environments through audio art projects inspired by hydrophone recordings. These innovators are part of a growing network of sound-workers worldwide who use the sound of place to build relationships with geographic, scientific and environmental communities.

Sparked by discussions about their work, this session asks participants to consider the relationship that might exist between new music and elements of the specific geographic location in which it is practiced.

Connecting Art, Intention and Place

  • Joel Chadabe (Ear to the Earth, Electronic Music Foundation, New York)
  • Barry Truax (World Soundscape Project, Vancouver)

Joel Chadabe and Barry Truax each have distinguished trajectories in the fields of electronic music, guided by intense interests in the nature of sound and our relationship to it. Joel Chadabe pioneered some of the earliest interactive electronic systems for performance, while Barry Truax developed the first real time granular synthesis system, built within an interactive composition environment. These two artists have also been instrumental in creating new foundations for defining the position of art making within society and building structural frameworks for the interaction between artists and environments.

In this session, participants consider the questions such as ‘Is there and should there be a relationship between new music and the political and social realities of its practitioners?’ and ‘Do artists have a responsibility to the environment, to the cultures we spring from and to the languages we speak?’

Festivals as a Cultural Voice

  • Michel Levasseur (FIMAV, Victoriaville)
  • Ken Pickering (Coastal Jazz & Blues Society, Vancouver)
  • Gordon Monahan (Eclectic Electrics, Meaford)
  • Peter Hatch (Open Ears Festival, Kitchener-Waterloo)
  • Joel Chadabe (Ear to the Earth Festival, New York)

Festivals mirror the community they serve and serve as an evolving voice for that community. Understanding the needs of each community is essential, both for the festival director and for those that apply to the festivals. This session will provide an inside look at unique festivals from across North America, and the needs of each.

Active discussion with session participants will foster deeper understanding between Artistic Directors and the Canadian New Music Community, as well as provide opportunity for more dialogue as a community.

Connecting Generations And Communities

Generations & Disciplines

  • DB Boyko (Arts and Health Project, Sonic Playground, Vancouver)
  • Owen Underhill (Turning Point Ensemble, Vancouver)
  • Marie Lopes (Roundhouse Community Centre, Vancouver)
  • Rodney Sharman (Composer, Vancouver)

The development of collaborative models, bringing new music into community and community into new music with youth and seniors through schools and community associations, has resulted in relationships that revitalize the artform and its creators, performers and audience. Curator/vocalist DB Boyko and Art Programmer Marie Lopes have collaborated on two projects that show that meaningful and critical engagement can happen at any age. Express Your Voice isa year-long Arts and Health program that engages seniors in the act of singing and the creation of music, while Sonic Playground showcases exploratory music and sound activities for families. Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble works with Metro Vancouver public schools, educator Rob McLeod and composer Rodney Sharman to develop and present new work by young composers through mentorship and performance workshops.

A vocal creation workshop with DB Boyko is followed by a demonstration of student compositions performed by Turning Point. Forum attendees are invited to bring questions and examples toward implementing similar programs within their own regions and to discuss criteria for meaningful community engagement.

For Whom? For What?

The Making of Community — Pluralism in Progress

  • Georgio Magnanensi (Vancouver New Music)
  • Jerry Pergolesi (Contact Contemporary Music, Toronto)

Professional musicians and sound artists are defining new roles for themselves within their communities (geographic, cultural, political, generational) as the broader culture refocuses on the local. As music practitioners engage more deeply within these communities, they are finding surprising new avenues for dissemination for their work in ways that are sustainable, and that are relevant both to the particular community and to their growth as artists.

Referencing their process in building prolific local creative relationships, Giorgio Magnanensi and Jerry Pergolesi challenge participants to regain qualities of curiosity, interest and commitment and to experience these qualities in caring mutual exchange while emphasizing the value of difference as a path toward a deeper availability to the creative encounter.

Round table brainstorming groups take participants toward finding engaging connections within their own locales and consider the kinds of initiatives that embed long term creative relationships within specific communities.

Breaking The Mould

Challenging preconceptions of culture, generation, genre and discipline.

  • Sandeep Bhagwati (matralab, Concordia University, Montreal)
  • Raven Chacon (Albequerque, New Mexico)
  • Anju Singh (Fake Jazz Wednesdays, Vancouver)
  • Brady Cranfield (Music Appreciation Society, Vancouver)

Egalitarian ideals in the current Canadian cultural worldview promote openness and inclusion, melt boundaries and celebrate diversity in creative dialogue. Art for all and all for art. But when the boundaries that distinguish genres, disciplines and traditions are erased, is there a correlating loss of vigorous debate, and of the aesthetic frames of reference for determining accomplishment, failure, mistake and excellence? Is depth of community thus lost? How can we meaningfully talk about art across dissolving boundaries?

Sandeep Bhagwati is a multidisciplinary composer, researcher and instigator who poses these queries in an interactive dialogue with Anju Singh, Brady Cranfield, and Raven Chacon, three artists who have provoked the edges of genre, culture and context.

Inspired by Max Frisch’s famous 1960 questionnaire, session attendees are asked, ‘Why do you listen to musical genres / disciplines you do not create yourself or do not know well? How do you relate to them? Do you relate to them differently from the genres / disciplines you do create within and/or that you know well? Why?’


Extending Creativity — Creative Software And Software Creativity

  • Barry Truax (Simon Fraser University)
  • Arne Eigenfeldt (Simon Fraser University)

Can software be a composer’s assistant? Can it actually create the music itself? Autonomous composition systems have been used for decades, and the notion of generative composition (a composition that changes each time it is performed, most often using software) is nothing new; however, recent adaptations of artificial intelligence, evolutionary algorithms, and cognitive models have provided composers with new and exciting directions for the creation of music.

The session will briefly discuss the history of these ideas, and demonstrate (with opportunities for audience participation) cutting edge software that implements these topics.

Visual Paradigms For Ensemble Improvisation

Conduction and Remote Control

  • Coat Cooke (Orkestra Futura, Vancouver),
  • Stefan Smulovitz (Mad Scientist, Vancouver),
  • Tina Pearson (Avatar Orchestra Metaverse, Global)

Participatory demonstration — please bring your instruments!

Blending classical music conducting with jazz and free improvisation, the emerging practice of Conduction is sprouting new relationships among performers, ensembles and composers and creating visual connections for audiences. Using technology and networked platforms, Conduction and other ensemble approaches are entering the telematic and virtual reality spheres.

Participants will have the opportunity to experience conduction first hand in a demonstration by Coat Cooke of the tools he has used to develop improvising orchestras, to see Stefan Smulovitz’ Mad Scientist remote conduction system in action and play virtual instruments in real time with the globally dispersed Avatar Orchestra Metaverse. This interactive session asks how these visual and remote connections influence our relationships with sound, with our fellow musicians and with audiences.

Stretched Boundaries — Connecting Across Abilities, Networks and Practices

  • Pauline Oliveros (Deep Listening Institute, New York) via Skype

This session includes “Vancouver Calling”, a multi-platform piece composed by Oliveros specially for the Forum and includes anyone who wants to participate — please bring your instruments.

Perhaps one of the most connected New Music practitioners on earth, Pauline Oliveros has always been on the forefront of new ways of getting her message across. She has built networks, championed causes, redefined listening, and challenged the very act of composition and performance. Her thoughts and ideas are invaluable for those who want to expand their work in new and innovative ways.

Oliveros will focus on the development and applications of the Adaptive Use Musical Instruments system with AUMI collaborators Jaclyn Heyen and Leaf Miller. Oliveros demonstrates how connections made through deep listening bring surprising creativity and possibility. AUMI will be available for attendees to try at the Forum. The session will conclude with the open performance of Vancouver Calling, connecting Forum attendees in audio-visual play with the Avatar Orchestra Metaverse, Pauline Oliveros and AUMI.

Extended Bodies — When The Virtual Bleeds Into The Physical

  • Arne Eigenfeldt (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver)
  • George Tzanetakis (University of Victoria, Victoria)
  • Cléo Palacio-Quintin (Montréal)

From the moment a human struck rocks together in rhythm or blew across the opening of a bone to create sound, tools and technologies have been intertwined with the development of music. The possibilities offered by the astonishing technologies of current times are creating previously unimagined relationships with music creation, collaboration and performance. From instruments extended beyond their original design to cutting edge robots that play themselves, artists are intimately and fundamentally altering the human — machine landscape.

Cléo Palacio-Quintin has created an innovative bridge between scientific/technological and artistic domains through her development of hyperflutes — transverse flutes interfaced to a computer and software by means of electronic sensors. Arne Eigenfeldt and George Tzanetakis are exploring the interactive possibilities of robotic percussion instruments, testing the boundaries between music and technology. Using techniques such as digital signal processing and music information retrieval programs, they are transforming robotic instruments into robotic percussionists who can “listen” and react in integrated human-machine improvisatory settings.

This session asks, ‘How do mechanical systems and extensions contribute to the development of new musical paradigms for the twenty-first century?’


Retelling New Music With Indigenous Eyes

  • Dylan Robinson (Indigeneity in the Contemporary World, University of London, UK)
  • Raven Chacon (Albuquerque, NM)

Raven Chacon, known for his chamber music compositions and his solo performances of experimental noise music, is also part of the Postcommodity Art Collective, an interdisciplinary group promoting a constructive art-focused discourse that challenges colonialism and its market-based tenets. Dylan Robinson is an artist currently researching the role of the arts as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is a team member of the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World research initiative in the UK.

Drawing from their combined experiences as creators, performers, educators and scholars of art music, and informed by their relationships within indigenous communities, Dylan Robinson and Raven Chacon contrast art representing First Peoples and the lesser known music made BY Indigenous composers and artists.

This session poses provocative questions about cultural collaboration, performance, concert protocol, appropriation, and the evolving worldviews that upturn notions of art’s voice in the scheme of all things.

Old Asia — New Music

  • Michael Tenzer (Gamelan Gita Asmara, University of British Columbia, Vancouver)
  • Joel Bons (Nieus Ensemble, Atlas Ensemble, Holland)
  • I Wayan Sudirana (Gamelan Gita Asmara, Vancouver, Indonesia)
  • Mei Han (Red Chamber Ensemble, Vancouver)

Asia has become a new focus for collaboration and for dissemination, yet western ways of approaching contemporary music are not finding fertile soil in Asia. With a depth of understanding of the soundworlds, philosophies and frameworks of non-western cultures, each of the session presenters has drawn from a specific community to create new ensembles, new forms and new audiences.

Mei Han is not only a virtuosic specialist in performing the ancient and new music of her homeland, but is a scholar of the specific journey that Chinese music has taken into contemporary global culture. I Wayan Sudirana has spent a lifetime performing Balinese Gamelan music and dance, and is playing a key role in the development of contemporary Gamelan performance practice. Joel Bons’ experience as a leader of two of Europe’s most prolific inter-cultural ensembles gives him a unique perspective on the relationship between Western European Art Music and Asian music. Michael Tenzer is well known as a scholar, ethnomusicologist, composer and performer of Asian-inspired music, whose compositions and performances breathe the musical constructs, philosophies and soundworlds of the places he has studied.

In discussion together, these artists challenge western methodology while proposing new concepts, ideas, and practical information on writing and performing in the rapidly flourishing Asian Renaissance.

Musical Dialogue Across Cultures

  • Michael O’Neill (Gamelan Madu Sari, Vancouver)
  • Jon Siddall (Vancouver)
  • Moshe Denburg (Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra)

A musical practice session using the SFU Gamelan and participant instruments — please bring instruments.

The three session facilitators have each been immersed for well over a quarter century in applying Asian sounds and practices to their work. Michael O’Neill, in addition to creating and performing new music for bagpipe, has been a long-time member of Gamelan Madu Sari (based at SFU) and is a regular collaborator with the Japanese-inspired percussion group Uzume Taiko. Jon Siddall had an early interest in Gamelan music and in some of the first North American composers who incorporated Gamelan form and tuning in their music. He brought the first Gamelan to Toronto and founded the Evergreen Club Gamelan in the 1980’s. As founder of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, composer-performer Moshe Denburg has focused his musical practice on inter-cultural communication and fostering musical forms that fuse and transcend cultural traditions.

This practical performance session will focus on the challenges and outcomes of combining instruments, styles and philosophies from a variety of diverse cultures. Bring your instrument or use the gamelan!

Mini Concerts

Sonic Presence BC presents a series of short performances during Forum networking breaks.


  • Coat Cooke and Joe Poole (Vancouver)
  • Big World Band (John Oliver, Farshid Samandari and friends, Vancouver)
  • Lee Hutzulak (Vancouver)
  • Marie-Chantal Leclair (Montreal)
  • Raven Chacon (New Mexico)

Closure — Plenary Session

Coalesces the discussion from the previous networking sessions and provides the opportunity for participants’ insights and perspectives to direct CNMN’s next steps.