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Sum of its Parts: 2013-’14 Season Highlights


Sum of its Parts is a blog series from Spectrum Artistic Producer, Shannon Graham where each of the Spectrum composers (and special guests) provide answers to questions about music, art, and life interfering with both… Whether art imitates life or life imitates art, we hope that you’ll find something to relate to in these contemplations from five chamber-jazz composers. Musicians and Listeners: feel welcome to share your answers as well in the comments section below!



What was your favourite moment in Spectrum’s 2013-2014 season?

For this installment of Sum of its Parts, we reflect on our favourite moments from throughout the season. We would love to hear what your favourite moment was!


Ben Dietschi answers: This truly was a special year for Spectrum. I noticed a convergence of many things we were striving to improve over our formative first few seasons. I’m proud of how far this company has come in such a short time, and the artistic heights that we reached this year makes me excited to get started on our next season.

“As I precariously balanced on a crate while holding a handful of prop swords I thought ‘This is what self-produced concerts are all about!'”.

My most memorable moment in 2013-14 was climbing around in the prop room looking for items to create a fantasy atmosphere for “Atlas of Imaginary Places”. The “Prop Room” is actually an utterly chaotic pile of props no doubt collected over years of performances assembled in a dusty room adjacent to the stage. As I precariously balanced on a crate while holding a handful of prop swords I thought “This is what self-produced concerts are all about!”. I brought back the whole Spectrum team and we playfully picked through the mess like kids in a candy store. In the end we were able to add a nice air of fantasy to the stage, all without a set designer. I’m thankful that the Annex Theater was kind enough to trust us rummaging through their props.


Heather Segger answers: When I try to think of one particular moment that stands above the rest so many great things come to mind; there was a lot of diversity through the entire season, and so many special performers and composers were involved in presenting fresh new local music.

“I enjoyed composing and recording layered tracks in an electronic medium; this was a new challenge for me and opened up a new avenue of exploration in my writing.”

Since I have to choose, I think the Interface season launch was especially exciting for me; I had just joined Spectrum so it was the first concert I was involved in presenting with them, and I was excited to see what the other composers would bring.  I also enjoyed composing and recording layered tracks in an electronic medium; this was a new challenge for me and opened up a new avenue of exploration in my writing.


Shannon Graham answers:

“The atmosphere in the theatre was supportive, encouraging, and hopeful- a few things every musician needs now and then!”

This season was a great year of programming and performances, but it was with Spectrum’s outreach that I began to see a new direction for this collective that I didn’t expect three years ago. After presenting Matthew Robert’s Interface project in the public library (for New Music 101) I had an interesting conversation with one of the participants about improvising and structure vs chaos. That moment gave me the impression that there are opportunities for discussions about art music in our community and I’m excited to explore that further. My jadedness was further challenged during the culmination of the New Voices Composer Residency (with Nick Lavkulik) at our season finale concert. The atmosphere in the theatre was supportive, encouraging, and hopeful- a few things every musician needs now and then!


Jesse Dietschi answers:

“after over a year of planning and coordinating behind the scenes, I finally had the opportunity to hear the ensemble play through Chauvet for the first time”

Early Expressions was my first venture in being the lead producer of a Spectrum Music concert, which gave me a more intimate perspective on the event than any venture I had been involved with prior. I remember the feeling I had when, after over a year of planning and coordinating behind the scenes, I finally had the opportunity to hear the ensemble play through Chauvet for the first time. It was the moment where emails, contracts, grants, and other logistics finally took a pause and everyone’s attention was directed fully towards the most important element- the music and artistic process! I was very excited at how quickly the ensemble prepared the music, and was happy to have been a part of such a fantastic production.


Matt Roberts answers:

“I was really delighted by the creative energy that I felt the room”

I think the highlight for me was watching the creativity of the audience during the Interface season launch party.  I was proud of how we created something quite unique (harder and harder to do in this interconnected age of information). The audience then had to decide how they would react to this novel experience. I was really delighted by the creative energy that I felt the room. (Felt n a literal sense, because people had to touch my skin to operate Interface!) Since the launch party we’ve re-staged Interface at the reference library, and we will do it again at the new Fort York Library as part of the New Music 101 series, 7:30pm on May 28th.


Mike McCormick answers:

“Watching Braid craftily steer the quartet towards his musical goals was really inspiring”

Joining the Spectrum team as an Artistic Assistant was certainly a highlight of the season for me. I had previously enjoyed my role as an audience member at Spectrum concerts, but joining the group in a supportive capacity revealed to me the amount of thought and effort that goes into each production to create the unique experience offered at every Spectrum show. As I was only involved in the last show of the season, my favourite moment since joining Spectrum was definitely the first rehearsal with David Braid and the Ton Beau String Quartet in preparation for the Early Expressions concert. Braid’s pieces required some improvisation from the string quartet, which can be intimidating for some groups that don’t have much relevant experience, but Ton Beau fully embraced the opportunity. Watching Braid craftily steer the quartet towards his musical goals was really inspiring, and the end result was a fantastic musical collaboration with contributions from the entire ensemble.


Spectrum will announce our exciting 2014-”15 season soon! Don’t miss out! Join our mailing list, and like us on Facebook to stay in the loop!

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