FORUM 2014 Wrap-up

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 —


Direct link: FORUM 2014 Wrap-up
Return to full Bul­letin – March 2014