This weekend was the latest edition of Paved Arts award winning Core series “Process/Failure”. The Core series is a experimental mashup of video artists (Paved) and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players (the Core). Since its huge success last year, “Process/Failure” was held over two sold-out nights.
The title “Process/Failure” speaks to two ways of appreciating the art of the evening. When presenting art and live music, there is a certain risk of failure. Many pieces presented during the evening had a tense feeling of possible failure hanging over them. To fully appreciate most of the work during the evening you also need to be aware of the process involved in making the art.
The night opened up on a lighter note with Richard Carnegie’s solo bass performance of Tom Johnson’s “Failing” paired with Reilly Forbes’ and Devin McAdam’s video. The video was a “tragic comedy of life’s unending struggles” as it followed someone (in first person) trying to control everything before him amidst chaos: shown figuratively as the protagonist chases and tidies up an elaborate tea party set up in the back of a pick up truck that rumbles through the prairies. Carnegie embraced the exciting brink of failure in a performance with his version of “Failing”. Here Richard had to play a difficult score of music all-the-while reading a monologue to the audience without skipping a beat. He tied up his performance quite well when at the end he had to improvise the rest of his speech while playing his bass. His improvisation wasn’t noticable until he admitted it.
The next performance was a collaboration between Lia Pas (SK) and Jennifer Sparrowhawk (SK). Jennifer Sparrowhawk created a dream-like, melancholy video of a woman searching the wilderness for a home that was inspired by the music itself. Lia Pas’ “A Small Piece of Sky” was haunting melody played by a Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, Viola and Double Bass. While this performance was enjoyable, it was the one piece that didn’t carry the tension of live failure and the process was typical.
The last performance of the first set was really took up the theme of Process/Failure: an Oboe, Bassoon and double Bass improvised music based on three simultaneous screenings of Gerald Saul’s 16mm movies. Let me explain, each musician was watching a separate projection and improvising music for that screen, after a while they would all switch screens. Improvising music for Garald Saul’s movies is a tricky job: they’re colorful, psychedelic and experimental. I was captivated by Saul’s 16mm movies: they were abstract with bending colour fields that trippingly came in and out of reality. The analog process of Saul’s work with damaged film, rough animation, kaleidoscoping colours is dumbfounding. The music, however, was a bit chaotic. Truly good musical improv’ is playing off of the improv’ of the other musicians. Part of me wished to see them all play to a single screen and rotate screens together.
There was a 20 min intermission that allowed people to visit with each other and the artists/musicians while sipping on delicious cocktails by Saskatoon’s own Lucky Bastards Distillery.
After the intermission was an intense dual performance that flirted with the aspect of Failure. While a quintet of woodwinds played Paul Suchan’s (SK) beautiful “Winter Music” Callen Diederichs was playing a looped super 8 film. What made this a tense dual performance was while the movie was playing Callen Diederichs was live editing the super 8 film. Playing, let alone editing, super 8 film is a delicate process. Diederichs made an improvised giant loop for the film to play through as he hung the film from the rafters as an impromptu spool while the film was being hand fed through the projector. As the film was playing through the loops Diederichs had the precarious job of editing the film as he cut and spliced other film into the loop. It was fascinating and gripping watching him hurriedly/carefully edit because at times it felt like things were at the brink of failure. Experiencing this live was absolutely captivating as your attention alternated from film, musicians and editor.
The last perfomance of the evening was a live triple performance. “Sinfonietta” by David McIntyre (SK) was being played by the entire Core group as Alice Teichert and Hri Neil provided the visuals. This performance was true collaboration that fully embodied the process element of the evening. Alice Teichert was creating a live painting/collage that was being filmed while Hri Neil was live video manipulating her work. What made it true collaboration was Alice Teichert was making her images inspired by the music that was being played live but also responding to Neil’s editing/manipulating of her work. Hri Neil’s job in this was extremely cool as he warped and played with the video creating something that was living and abstract out of Teichert’s sparce visuals. The Core on this was created a wall of sound of colourful sound to match the bright abstracted visuals. Tremendous!
I didn’t get around to taking any photos during the event, since I thought it was uncouth to diddle with your phone during a live and intimate symphony performance. If you want to see a few photos you can visit Paved Arts Instagram here: http://statigr.am/pavedarts
I can’t wait until the next installment of the Core series in April. If you love music and art, don’t miss it!