It’s already Monday, and I haven’t seen the past couple of days go by. Why you say? Cause I’ve been busy having fun at events in and around the National Capital.
As mentioned in my previous post, I had the pleasure to attend the Electric Fields Festival for the first time this year and truly enjoyed myself and appreciated the creativity and ideas presented through the relationship between sound and space. Some of the region’s most interesting spaces were redefined through sound and music to enable the public to experience and perceive them in a new and different way.
I began exploring our city’s architecture through sound thanks to Polytectures. Poly-what? Polytectures: a narrated soundwalk by Antoine Bédard ( aka Montag) through downtown Ottawa that explores the connection between music and architecture. 10 local composers/ musical groups translated key buildings on the walk into pieces of music/sound compositions that together created a sonic portrait of the Capital’s center. This is probably not for the average lazy person since it requires considerable preparation. Well, since I’m not lazy and almost always willing to try anything when it comes to events, I was a good sport and downloaded the prerequisite playlist onto my Ipod, printed the map and went downtown to discover what this was all about. My first mistake was to do this in the evening, just when it’s sort of too dark to really see the buildings unless they are lit up by some sort of lighting. Some of the buildings were lit up like the National Arts Centre (NAC), the first stop on the itinerary, which I fully got to enjoy, but others, like the Supreme Court, were rather in the dark and were hard to see. Having said this, the NAC “stairs” that the narrator asked us to take were closed off to the public and as a result that part of the soundwalk was off limits. Also, some of the soundtrack’s narration talked about the buildings when seen in daylight. I wish they would’ve developed a day-time and a night-time version to provide suitable commentary like they did for the Montreal-version of the soundwalk called Mutations. As a result, I couldn’t fully take in the soundwalk and was a bit disappointed. Nonetheless, Polytectures was a very worth-while experience and I’m glad I went out of my way and braved the ‘cold’ to complete this one-hour musical visit of downtown Ottawa.
The second event I attended presented by Electric Fields was the Electric Pow Wow with A Tribe Called Red at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Being a HUGE fan of ATCR and the Electric Pow Wow ‘project’, I had high expectations for this event and envisioned it a certain way since it was taking place through Electric Fields, a festival that focuses on audio-visual performance/installation, music and new media by presenting artists that have increasing technological engagement in their work. I was really excited about the fact that there was live traditional singing performed over electronic beats by two amazingly talented Aboriginal women. The result was truly outstanding and unique-sounding. A real delight to the ears! ATCR’s music was irresistibly excellent as always and made me move my hips all night. I was however, somewhat disappointed by the lack of lighting and visual presentation that I was hoping to see as part of the event. You see, I’ve seen the Grand Hall with all its decorum lighting and lit-up totem poles and have experienced the magic that this venue possesses with its fancy shoes on. This space has enormous potential. Here’s a picture of the Grand Hall with some of its decorum ligthing: just look at the backdrop, ceiling, walls, columns and totem poles, its completely different and so much better when its dressed up! But, for partly budgetary reasons, Electric Fields and ATRC had to do without this beauty.
That’s what I was expecting for this particular event not only to maximize the atmosphere, but to symbolically demonstrate how ‘that was then, and this is now’ with regards to past traditions in relation to current aboriginal people living in an urban contemporary context. I think it’s extremely important for museums to step away from that stereotypical mould they are constraining aboriginal people and cultures in to contribute to the dialogue of mutual understanding and appreciation. Canadian museums often seem to freeze Aboriginal cultures in time without staying current with today’s reality. History shouldn’t just offer a picture of the past. And this contributes to perpetuating stereotypes for Canadian residents and International tourists. No longer are First Nations walking around on a day-to-day basis with ceremonial headdresses and making pemican to survive the cold winter months or whatever else. Some may, but in a much different context and reality. Didn’t our cultural institutions get the memo? We are in the 21st century right? But anyway, enough with the ranting for now, this blog’s about events afterall. Having said this, in the end the venue does contribute to the general feel of the event and the message that is communicated through it. No matter what, I always have an amazing night at the Electric Pow Wow as it brings together people from all backgrounds through the sound of music. Thanks to the ATCR boys for bringing it again and again, Ottawa loves you!
Last but certainly not least, I got to see DJ Vadim live at the Mercury Lounge on the occasion of their 15th Anniversary! And, this was another fantastic time of dancing to non-stop good beats all night long
Although Vadim quoted on his Facebook page that he got “THE EQUIPMENT FROM HELL. A ROTARY MIXER. I HATE THEM. WELL i hope i can do something tonite! otherwise i may just be a ipod. not my fault. terrible misscomunication!!!!” he delivered. Despite technical issues, he still offered bangin beats as a professional DJ would Vadim, you just gained a new fan and congrats on just ending your North American tour!!
Reminder – Tonight and tomorrow night: Ghostface Killah at Ritual, an event not to be missed by hip-hop heads around town!
Next weekend is my Christmas staff party and the Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre presented by the Pennsylvania Ballet, which I am really looking forward to attend as it’s my favorite ballet and children’s story: a definite classic over the holiday season. I’m getting into the Christmas spirit and full holiday mode starting Friday…Stay tuned for more reviews and upcoming events around the NRC!