FORUM 2016 OTTAWA Wrap-up

Pho­to cred­it: Cur­tis Per­ry. (1) Jesse Stew­art, Ellen Water­man, Koen Kap­ti­jn, Gayle Young, Pauline Oliv­eros, Ione, Raphael Wein­roth-Browne, Lang Tung. (2) Mud Lake Sym­pho­ny : stu­dents from the Regi­na Street Pub­lic School, Jesse Stew­art, dir.


From Jan­u­ary 14–17, 2016, CNMN host­ed its sev­enth nation­al / inter­na­tion­al FORUM, this time at the School of Music at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa.

Reach­ing a total of 129 reg­is­trants, many extra­or­di­nary mem­bers of the new music com­mu­ni­ty pre­sent­ed, lis­tened, dis­cov­ered, dis­cussed and debat­ed. A room full of cre­ative peo­ple is bound to gen­er­ate new activ­i­ty. Despite the so-far short ges­ta­tion peri­od, atten­dees have already informed us of sev­er­al con­crete projects mate­ri­al­iz­ing out of con­nec­tions made at the FORUM, and there are undoubt­ed­ly many more to come.

Guests and speak­ers were from a broad spec­trum of the musi­cal prac­tice, includ­ing exper­i­men­tal jazz, noise, instal­la­tion, and forms with­out easy titles. There were a total of 49 pro­grammed indi­vid­u­als: 1 keynote speak­er – doyenne of new music impro­vi­sa­tion, Pauline Oliv­eros, 5 high-pro­file inter­na­tion­als and 43 of Canada’s most impor­tant new music pro­fes­sion­als from across the country.

Also deserv­ing a men­tion, the Call for Pro­pos­als gar­nered such a high qual­i­ty and inno­v­a­tive pro­gram­ming poten­tial that many of them were inte­grat­ed into the pro­gram­ming, rep­re­sent­ing 38% of the fea­tured guests.

FORUM 2016 start­ed on Thurs­day evening with a “show-and-tell” ice­break­er. After Fri­day morning’s for­mal wel­come by Shan­non Chief of the Algo­nquin nation, every­one was ready to dive right in.

The activ­i­ties pro­mot­ed con­nect­ing, and the sort of in-depth, excit­ing dis­cus­sion that leads to col­lab­o­ra­tion and exchange:

  • 1 keynote, 6 pan­els, 10 oth­er activ­i­ties (mini-talks, work­shops, dia­logues and demon­stra­tions) and 3 open net­work­ing & com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment sessions.
  • 2 edu­ca­tion-themed activ­i­ties: a demon­stra­tion per­for­mance by Mud Lake Sym­pho­ny (mid­dle school stu­dents led by Jesse Stew­art), and an open rehearsal of pieces by uOt­tawa com­po­si­tion stu­dents (Thir­teen Strings led by Kevin Mallon).
  • 10 por­traits of orga­ni­za­tions from across Cana­da, the UK and the Netherlands.

The theme was New Music and the Main­stream. The goal was to tack­le the issues of ghet­toiza­tion of new music: the rela­tion­ship between cre­ative music in the “clas­si­cal stream” and oth­er cre­ative musics in a time when dis­tinc­tions are becom­ing blurred and tra­di­tion­al labels are becom­ing meaningless.

These issues ulti­mate­ly trig­gered a major thread of dis­cus­sion through­out the FORUM: diver­si­ty – of prac­tice and prac­ti­tion­er. Diver­si­ty was high on our agen­da, as it was too on the agen­da of the Prime Min­is­ter; only a few days lat­er he stat­ed at the the World Eco­nom­ic Forum in Davos, “Diver­si­ty isn’t just sound social pol­i­cy. Diver­si­ty is the engine of inven­tion.” The CNMN’s FORUM 2016 was a tes­ta­ment to how the new music com­mu­ni­ty often mir­rors the same rel­e­vant issues chal­leng­ing larg­er soci­ety. The FORUM’s role as an out­let – a think tank, a Launch­pad – to help the new music com­mu­ni­ty be an effec­tive force to address these issues, was made ever the more clear.

Indeed, FORUM 2016’s focus on the place of new music in soci­ety com­bined with the clear con­cern of par­tic­i­pants with issues of inclu­siv­i­ty and diver­si­ty demon­strate that CNMN’s soci­etal anten­nae are work­ing and that this com­mu­ni­ty can and will con­tribute to and influ­ence the larg­er soci­ety for the greater good. But this is no news. As Pauline Oliv­eros said in her keynote speech (para­phras­ing), “Go out, all you artists, and make pos­i­tive change happen.”

This gath­er­ing of the new music com­mu­ni­ty has become inte­gral to the struc­ture and cul­ture of new music in Canada.

The extra­or­di­nary good will, the courage to be hon­est, and the skill at being sen­si­tive to oth­er view­points and real­i­ties were extreme­ly evi­dent amongst the par­tic­i­pants at the FORUM. The con­cen­trat­ed expe­ri­ence of this dynam­ic is the kind of thing that can help improve the cul­ture of how we do new music.

The FORUM 2016 team, many vol­un­teer-based, deserve a great big thank you. Thanks also go to all the fun­ders as well as our part­ners who con­tributed high-lev­el musi­cal per­for­mances for each of the 3 nights of the FORUM, many of which per­formed to a full house.

Read what oth­ers had to say: Sou­venirs from FORUM 2016.

Plan­ning for FORUM 2018 begins soon.

~ Jen­nifer War­ing, Kyle Bren­ders and Emi­ly Hall


Direct link: FORUM 2016 OTTAWA Wrap-up
Return to full Bul­letin – June 2016