Sessions and Activities

The theme of the FORUM is New Music and the Main­stream, and we have devel­oped a remark­ably var­ied pro­gram­ming to meet this chal­lenge. The keynote address will be giv­en by Pauline Oliv­eros. Our pan­els include a rich array of per­son­al­i­ties from across Cana­da and abroad, and will cov­er subtopics of pub­lic engage­ment, the inter­play of mod­ern tech­nolo­gies and cul­tures, and orches­tral pro­gram­ming, as well as a dis­cus­sion on the his­to­ry (and future) of CNMN. Our mini-por­trait ses­sions will bring togeth­er rep­re­sen­ta­tives of dis­tin­guished new music pre­sen­ters from Cana­da, France, the U.K. and the Nether­lands, and our call for pro­pos­als has yield­ed a fas­ci­nat­ing set of pre­sen­ta­tions, hands-on work­shops, dia­logues and demon­stra­tions on a vari­ety of topics.



Pauline Oliveros, Deep Listening – New York

Root Stream, Main Stream and Global Stream

Who are we who gath­er in com­mu­ni­ty around new music or exper­i­men­tal music? How do we find each oth­er? Who lis­tens to us and why? These ques­tions will be explored in what I call Root Stream under­stand­ing in rela­tion to Main Stream and Glob­al Stream music.



PANEL 1 – Concert Experiences in the 21st Century

How are con­certs evolv­ing? What is the effect of venue or cir­cum­stance on per­for­mance, and on the art form? And what is the effect of venue or cir­cum­stance on the public’s accep­tance of new and unfa­mil­iar kinds of music? What kind of rela­tion­ships are pre­sen­ters devel­op­ing with their audi­ence? These and oth­er ques­tions will be exam­ined by a pan­el of top-flight fig­ures work­ing in a wide range of gen­res, on the Cana­di­an and inter­na­tion­al scenes.

Jean-François Denis, empreintes DIG­I­TALes – Mon­tre­al, QC
Véronique Lacroix, Ensem­ble con­tem­po­rain de Mon­tréal (ECM+) – Mon­tre­al, QC
David Pay, Music on Main – Van­cou­ver, BC
Craig Ped­er­sen, composer/improviser – Mon­tre­al, QC
MODERATOR: Jesse Stew­art, SSAC, Car­leton Uni­ver­si­ty – Ottawa, ON


PANEL 2 – New Music and Popular Music

What new rela­tion­ships exist between these two pre­vi­ous­ly dis­tinct, vir­tu­al­ly mutu­al­ly exclu­sive gen­res? How do fund­ing structures/realities affect the nature of both kinds of music? In what ways are the lines being blurred, and why? What are the impli­ca­tions for mar­ket­ing and audi­ence development?

Paul Théberge, SSAC, Car­leton Uni­ver­si­ty – Ottawa, ON
Nicole Lizée, com­pos­er – Mon­tre­al, QC
Rus­sell Smith, The Globe and Mail – Toron­to, ON
MODERATOR: William Echard, SSAC, Car­leton Uni­ver­si­ty – Ottawa, ON


PANEL 3 – Cultural Context(s) for New Music

What are the func­tion­al con­texts for the prac­tice of new music? If new music’s roots lie in the Euro­pean clas­si­cal music tra­di­tion, where does it live now as a prac­tice? (Is this assump­tion about its Euro­pean roots even accu­rate?) What is new music’s rela­tion­ship to musi­cal expres­sion of “oth­er” cul­tures? How do dif­fer­ent cul­tures prac­tice their own form of new music, if they do? Does it stem from the musi­cal tra­di­tions of the par­tic­u­lar cul­ture or is it an adop­tion of the Euro­pean clas­si­cal music tra­di­tion? And, is new music just one prac­tice, or is it mul­ti­ple prac­tices – with mul­ti­ple com­mu­ni­ties, and mul­ti­ple contexts?

Moshe Den­burg, Van­cou­ver Inter-Cul­tur­al Orches­tra – Van­cou­ver, BC
Kamal Hors, Wind­streken – Ams­ter­dam, NL
Ben Dietschi, Spec­trum Music – Toron­to, ON
Melody McK­iv­er, vio­list, media artist – Ottawa, ON
MODERATOR: Juliana Piva­to,
artist – Toron­to, ON


PANEL 4 – New Music and Community Engagement

Grass roots move­ments, do-it-your­self-ness, cit­i­zen orga­ni­za­tions and the like have all had an effect on how new music artists and orga­ni­za­tions inter­act with the com­mu­ni­ty. What are the sto­ries and suc­cess­es? What are the impli­ca­tions for the art form?

Ruth Howard, Jum­blies The­atre – Toron­to, ON
Juli­et Palmer, Urban­ves­sel – Toron­to, ON
Jesse Stew­art, SSAC, Car­leton Uni­ver­si­ty – Ottawa, ON
MODERATOR: Matthew Fava, Cana­di­an Music Cen­tre – Toron­to, ON


PANEL 5 – New music and the orchestra: how to make the orchestra relevant

This pan­el exam­ines the rela­tion­ship of the orches­tra not only to con­tem­po­rary music, but also to our own time. Can an ensem­ble born of 18th cen­tu­ry soci­etal rela­tion­ships tru­ly reflect 21st cen­tu­ry real­i­ties? Con­sid­er­ing the orchestra’s “bread and but­ter” reper­toire, how have they dealt with chang­ing aes­thet­ics? What is their oblig­a­tion to con­tem­po­rary cre­ation? At a time when arts orga­ni­za­tions have to com­pete with tech­nol­o­gy and a myr­i­ad of oth­er enter­tain­ment options for audi­ence, what can orches­tras do to attract the num­bers that a large and expen­sive ensem­ble requires? How might the solu­tion to this prob­lem lie in new music?

Alexan­der Shel­ley, Nation­al Arts Cen­tre Orches­tra – Ottawa, ON
Tania Miller, Vic­to­ria Sym­pho­ny – Vic­to­ria, BC
John Esta­cio, com­pos­er – Edmon­ton, AB
Jared Miller, com­pos­er – Vic­to­ria, BC
MODERATOR: Adri­an Fung, Toron­to Sym­pho­ny Orches­tra – Toron­to, ON


PANEL 6 – A Decade of CNMN: looking back and looking forward

CNMN’s 10th anniver­sary pro­vides the oppor­tu­ni­ty to look back on its accom­plish­ments and look for­ward to its role in con­tin­u­ing to help the Cana­di­an new music com­mu­ni­ty come togeth­er and deal with the next press­ing issues.

Aimé Don­tigny, Direc­tor, Music Sec­tion, Cana­da Coun­cil for the Arts; CNMN found­ing vice-pres­i­dent (2006) – Ottawa, ON
Kyle Bren­ders, pres­i­dent, CNMN – Toron­to ON
Tim Brady, found­ing pres­i­dent (2005–14), CNMN – Mon­tre­al, QC
Gayle Young, past board mem­ber (2006–8), CNMN – Grims­by, ON
Lukas Pearse, Upstream Music Asso­ci­a­tion – Hal­i­fax, NS
MODERATOR: Ellen Water­man, past board mem­ber (2006–7), CNMN – St. John’s, NL



The mini por­traits pro­vide new music pre­sen­ters a chance to focus on their orga­ni­za­tion. Most of the mini por­traits pair a Cana­di­an pre­sen­ter with an inter­na­tion­al pre­sen­ter to stim­u­late dia­logue across geo­gra­phies and cultures.


Mini Portrait 1

Ben Dietschi (Spec­trum Music – Toron­to) + Koen Kap­ti­jn (Splen­dor – Netherlands)


Mini Portrait 2

David Pay (Music on Main – Van­cou­ver) + Susan­na East­burn (Sound and Music – U.K.)


Mini Portrait 3

Henk Heuvel­mans (Gaudea­mus Muziek­week – Nether­lands) + Sonia Steven­son (Lich­field Fes­ti­val – U.K.)


Mini Portrait 4

Isak Gold­schnei­der (Inno­va­tions en con­cert – Mon­tre­al) + Jim His­cott (Groundswell – Winnipeg)


Mini Portrait 5

Joe Bates (Filthy Lucre – U.K.) + Dar­cy Spi­dle (OBEY Con­ven­tion – Hal­i­fax, NS)



Each ses­sion has a theme. Facil­i­ta­tors are there to help, but the ses­sions aim to move atten­dees from observers to active engagers. Par­tic­i­pants are encour­aged to bring their per­son­al expe­ri­ences, knowl­edge, ques­tions and con­cerns sur­round­ing the ses­sion theme, with the inten­tion of cre­at­ing deep­er aware­ness, stronger rela­tion­ships, and sus­tain­able solu­tions with­in local, region­al and nation­al communities.

Ses­sion One deals with impro­vi­sa­tion: specif­i­cal­ly, how to incor­po­rate it into “com­posed” work.

Facil­i­ta­tor: Jen­nifer Waring

Ses­sion Two is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the New Music and its ‘Oth­ers’ activ­i­ty (see below).  It will give time for dis­cus­sion and shared learn­ing across diverse per­spec­tives of gen­der, socio-eco­nom­ic sta­tus, sex­u­al­i­ty and cul­tur­al heritage.

Facil­i­ta­tors: Juli­et Palmer and Jer­ry Pergolesi

Ses­sion Three is the Ple­nary Wrap-up. Par­tic­i­pants will decide what press­ing top­ics need fur­ther airing.

Facil­i­ta­tor: Kyle Brenders


Addi­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties for net­work­ing and devel­op­ment: we’ve learned that some of the most last­ing part­ner­ships and fol­low up actions from a FORUM come out of the infor­mal pro­gram­ming. So, on each full day of the FORUM there is an infor­mal break specif­i­cal­ly for net­work­ing as well as a social lunch. This is your oppor­tu­ni­ty to car­ry on dis­cus­sion from pan­els and open ses­sions, find out more after lis­ten­ing to a mini-por­trait, pick each other’s brains, share expe­ri­ences, and ini­ti­ate collaboration.



You won’t want to miss this selec­tion of mini-talks, hands-on work­shops, dia­logues and demonstrations!

New Music and its ‘Others’: Reviving the mainstream through a diverse musical watershed – Interactive presentation

The time­line of con­tem­po­rary con­cert music devel­op­ment in Cana­da coin­cides with sec­ond wave fem­i­nism, the civ­il rights move­ment and the gay lib­er­a­tion move­ment. But while these scenes share a chronol­o­gy, diverse voic­es are con­spic­u­ous­ly absent in Cana­di­an new music. This ses­sion inves­ti­gates the struc­tur­al bar­ri­ers that pre­vent diverse musi­cal trib­u­taries from join­ing the main­stream of con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal (new) music, high­light­ing expe­ri­ences from com­posers, researchers and per­form­ers out­side the nar­row con­fines of the so-called “nor­mal.” Fol­lowed up by an open ses­sion for dis­cus­sion (see above).

Facil­i­ta­tors: Juli­et Palmer and Jer­ry Pergolesi
Pre­sen­ters: Mary Ingra­ham (Uni­ver­si­ty of Alber­ta), Dylan Robin­son (Sto:lo Nation; Queen’s Uni­ver­si­ty), and Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa (pianist, Queer Arts Festival).


Making Contemporary Opera Mainstream – Dialogue

Erin Bar­d­ua and Mau­reen Batt, vocal­ists and co-founders of Essen­tial Opera (Hal­i­fax, NS), will dis­cuss col­lab­o­ra­tion between cre­ators and pre­sen­ters, and espe­cial­ly the impor­tance of work­ing togeth­er to help new works gain the momen­tum required to enter the main­stream reper­toire. Suc­cess isn’t a light­ning strike – it’s a snowball.


The Loyalty Debate: Single-ticket sales vs. Subscriptions – Dialogue

Tim Crouch, direc­tor of mar­ket­ing for Toy Piano Com­posers, advo­cates for a healthy bal­ance between sin­gle-tick­et sales and sub­scrip­tions, bring­ing in his expe­ri­ence from Tafel­musik. Alter­na­tive­ly, TPC’s artis­tic direc­tor and founder Mon­i­ca Pearce presents argu­ments for strength­en­ing resources behind sin­gle-tick­et sales. The goal for both in this debate: to achieve brand and long-term loy­al­ty with audi­ence members.


Feminism, interdiscipinarity and the voice in new music creation/performance – Performative dialogue

New music vocal­ist Sarah Albu and mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary artist and singer Ruby Kato Attwood dis­cuss their expe­ri­ences as inter­preters and cre­ators of new vocal music and exper­i­men­tal per­for­mance across var­i­ous media and gen­res. These two artists find com­mon ground despite per­ceived bor­ders of dis­ci­pline, call­ing into ques­tion the con­struc­tion of a musi­cal hier­ar­chy, the chang­ing def­i­n­i­tion of “new music com­po­si­tion” and the role of the female voice with­in these structures.


Music as a Catalyst to Bring About Social Change: Going beyond the fundraising concert – Mini-talk and group discussion

Greek philoso­pher Pla­to stressed the cen­tral­i­ty of music to pol­i­tics. He saw music as an essen­tial com­po­nent of soci­ety because it con­tributed to both indi­vid­ual and soci­etal bal­ance and har­mo­ny. As part of the new music com­mu­ni­ty, we are in a unique posi­tion to ele­vate issues rel­e­vant to our times. How can we col­lab­o­rate and share ideas to ampli­fy our pas­sions and music, and tru­ly be musi­cians that facil­i­tate change? Frank Hor­vat, com­pos­er, pianist, and activist musi­cian (Toron­to, ON) leads the dis­cus­sion with attendees.


The Sounds of Montreal Project: Inter-Traditional Urban Music – Public interview with Q&A

Jonathan Gold­man (Cir­cuit, musiques con­tem­po­raines) inter­views Mon­tre­al composer/performers Sandeep Bhag­wati and Kiya Tabass­ian (Mon­tre­al, QC) on ques­tions cen­tral to their Sounds of Mon­tre­al project, and the dif­fer­ences in this project to oth­er inter-tra­di­tion­al ensem­bles. Can mak­ing new music today be at all mean­ing­ful­ly con­ceived as a con­tin­u­a­tion of euro­log­i­cal mod­ernism alone?


Beside the Mainstream – Mini-talk

Luke Nick­el, Co-Direc­tor of Clus­ter: New Music + Inte­grat­ed Arts Fes­ti­val (Win­nipeg, MB) dis­cuss­es how the inclu­sion of “oth­er” gen­res does not con­sti­tute involve­ment in the main­stream. He will also dis­cuss what moti­va­tions a pro­gram­mer might have for want­i­ng to inter­act with the main­stream. To con­clude, he will speak about a project for Clus­ter 2016 that does touch the main­stream in a way acces­si­ble to new music pro­gram­mers, and what the ram­i­fi­ca­tions are, both aes­thet­i­cal­ly and logistically.


The Voices of Drawing – Hands-on workshop

Visu­al and media artist Isabel­la Ste­fanes­cu (Inter Arts Matrix, Kitchener/Waterloo, ON) leads a hands-on work­shop where par­tic­i­pants learn how to use the Euphonopen for both free and struc­tured impro­vi­sa­tion, as well as how to “com­pose” a draw­ing. The Euphonopen is a device that cre­ates live aleato­ry elec­troa­coustics using the by-prod­uct of mark-mak­ing ges­tures of a per­son who draws or writes.


Concert music in relation to other performance arts – Mini-talk

For prac­ti­tion­ers of dance and the­atre (and also of pop­u­lar music) a pro­duc­tion is cre­at­ed spon­ta­neous­ly from the work itself; in oth­er words, the tech­ni­cal, finan­cial and human resources, as well as strate­gies for pro­mo­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion, are deter­mined in advance as a func­tion of the spe­cif­ic nature of the project. Can it be the same for con­cert music? Com­pos­er and pro­duc­er Simon Mar­tin (Pro­jec­tions libérantes – Mon­tre­al, QC) shares his thoughts on this ques­tion in rela­tion to his con­cert-length work Musique d’art for string quin­tet (2015).


In Pursuit of Balance – Mini-talk

How can we achieve a sus­tain­able work-life bal­ance? Is a self-employed artist ever on vaca­tion? The line between work and life can be blurred – espe­cial­ly for artists and arts admin­is­tra­tors. Sopra­no Mau­reen Batt (Hal­i­fax, NS) explores some of the chal­lenges that we face when the bal­ance is off, and offers some solu­tions that might bring you back to the middle.