Since 2007, CNMN has produced a national / international new music conference called the FORUM. Previous editions were held in Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver.
This past January, the 6th edition, FORUM 2014, was held in Calgary and featured over 175 participants from across Canada and beyond, including four major international guests, many of Canada’s most important new music professionals from across the country, over 25 students from the University of Calgary, and 27 students from Chestermere Highschool music program.
The theme was Canadian Music, Canadian Audiences. The goal was to help Canadian new music professionals connect with the world, and FORUM 2014 delivered in a big way to connect them with artists, with producers and presenters, with the web, with the media, with educators, and with the public.
“I think your forum is rare…the UK could get something from a similar forum… I gained so much from the experience personally and professionally by being there, and I hope left something behind in sharing [London Sinfonietta’s] experiences of new music planning, funding, production and promotion … I also was impressed by the quality of the project. The depth and thought of the delegates struck me – and I was happy to soak up their breadth of experience. But also the organization of the event – it was practically seamless, and the good mood and sharing that resulted made the event successful.” ~ Andrew Burke, Chief Executive, London Sinfonietta
“I had never been to Canada, and did not know much about Canadian music, so this was a great opportunity for me to learn about your country and its music. I met many fantastic people, learned a great deal and had a wonderful time. … Maybe, if I’m lucky, I can come back for the planned FORUM 2016!” ~ Patricia Rosner, Berlin Phil Media GmbH
“I regularly attend national conferences in the United States, including Chamber Music America, the Associate of Performing Arts Presenters, and Early Music America, and I especially appreciate that there is focused attention in Canada for new music, which is critical for the success of the field, both nationally and internationally.” ~ Melissa Smey, Executive Director, Miller Theatre (New York)
For the first time, there was not one keynote, but an entire panel of keynote guests: Lawrence Cherney – Soundstreams Canada (Toronto), Patricia Rosner – Berlin Phil Media GmbH (Berlin), Melissa Smey – Miller Theater (New York), Nicolas Thirion – Why Note Festival (France) and Andrew Burke – London Sinfonietta (London). This kind of international networking is critical for Canadian new music to reach international audiences. In addition to taking part in the two hour “keynote panel,” the international keynote guests gave portrait sessions paired with a Canadian counterpart, where they shared information about their company and their experiences in more detail.
Also for the first time, FORUM programming was fuelled by an open call. This was very successful – 40+ submissions – and added a whole new and exciting dimension of new music professionals, emerging and established, from a wide range of genres and perspectives, from across the country and beyond, leading a variety of activities such as mini talks, demos and workshops.
There were also four open sessions, which have become a popular activity. These open sessions are critical community-building opportunities and an integral part of the FORUMs because they move attendees from observers to active engagers.
The schedule followed a rhythm and balance that mixed longer sessions with shorter ones, and full-group activities with smaller groups in parallel sessions, in an effort to continually pursue better, deeper discussions and to keep people engaged and refreshed throughout the 2.5‑day conference. It was also important to find a balance between lots of interesting content, and giving participants enough space to just “hang out and talk.” Lunches were longer this time, and there were more breaks, in both the morning and afternoon schedules.
And it wasn’t all talk: New Works Calgary, Land’s End Ensemble, the Discovery Series at University of Calgary and Bug Incision provided fantastic music during the evenings.
There was major support from the University of Calgary, through the Music Division of the School of Creative and Performing Arts, and the conference was held at the Rosza Centre, a dream venue: four spaces of different sizes, a 240 seat concert hall, all in one floor, one space, a few strides from one another. Plus Hotel Alma, a very comfortable hotel, was just 30 seconds away.
Another first was the live internet streaming of sessions on the Friday, thanks to the direction of Laurie Radford. “Although I was not there I actually did feel like I was somewhat a part of it. It’s a good way for me and other ex-pats to take part,” commented one person who checked in from Germany. In fact, the whole conference was video-documented, and the U of C team plans to produce some podcasts, video bites and longer thematic takes in the coming months, which will be made available on the CNMN web site.
As with past editions, it was a pleasure to see the familiar faces of those who are regulars to the FORUM, along with new faces. The FORUM is nothing without the people who come to it. Thank you to everyone who attended the Canadian New Music Network FORUM 2014. There was a true sense of positive activity in the air where thoughtful consultations were taking place, mutual support structures were being built and lifelong collaborations were being formed.
The whole FORUM team, many volunteer-based also deserve a great big thank you.
The guests, the high-level discourse, the strong sense of community, the amazing open discussions and great networking, the evening concerts, the programming and generous volunteers and support staff, led to a very special event for all those who participated.
Looking forward to FORUM 2016!
~ Emily Hall and Tim Brady
p.s. If you would like to support the continuation of these FORUMs, we would love to hear feedback from you! Whether it’s a couple of words, a few sentences, or more, about any aspect of the FORUM, your feedback and testimonials will help tremendously with our reporting and future planning. Please email Emily — firstname.lastname@example.org