Continuum Contemporary Music Project

Continuum Contemporary Music, 30. yılı kutlaması için, 8 Mart tarihinde Toronto’da The Music Galery binasında  30 More! adını verdiği bir konser düzenledi. Bu konsere Turkish Society of Canada’da sponsor oldu. Bizler için ayrı bir önemi, genç Türk bestecisi Mithatcan Öcal’ın da konsere katılacak olması ve bir bestesini seslendirmesi idi. Maalesef kendisi Toronto’ya gelemedi ama eseri, konsere katılan müzisyenler tarafından sanatseverlere sunuldu. Konser programi ile ilgili detaylara aşağıdaki bağlantıdan ulaşabilirsiniz:

Konser sonrası Continuum projesinin sanat direktörü ve aynı zamanda çok başarılı bir perküsyonist olan Ryan Scott ile hem bu konser, hem de Continuum projesi hakkında bir söyleşi gerçekleştirdik. Yukarıdaki fotoğraf, Ryan Scott’un, Eric Griswold’a ait “Spill” (2007) adlı besteyi 9 Eylül 2014 tarihindeki konserdeki sunumunda çekilmiş bir karedir. Aşağıda bu söyleşiyi sizlerle paylaşıyoruz:

We know that Continuum Contemporary Music formed in 1985. Can you please tell us some more about the project? When  did this idea first appear?

Continuum’s long standing mandate is to support emerging and established composers from both at home and abroad.  We especially seek out composers who are experimentalists and who constantly strive towards new ideas in music, on its own and in interdisciplinary exploration.   We take a similar approach to the makeup of our ensemble: we seek out musicians for whom new music is a passion , and who are constantly exploring new musical ideas as performers; we also seek to mix emerging musicians with seasoned new music artists, thereby creating a continuum (as it were) in our local new music community.   We offer our audiences the opportunity for deep musical exploration, and we want our presentations to be evocative, enriching, meaningful and ultimately, fun.

Continuum was formed in 1985 by a dozen rebellious young and emerging performers and composers who felt underrepresented in the music community at large, and at the University of Toronto.  Today, Continuum Contemporary Music is an internationally recognized contemporary music organization with an ensemble of top new music specialists.

How do you describe contemporary music? Why Continuum is a contemporary music project?

Contemporary music is continuing extension of classical music, written today by composers who are living in our times and reflect the various cultures in which we live.  Classical music has always been based in new music; it is not folk music – it changes and adapts to modern times – from Bach, to Debussy, to Stockhausen, to Mithatcan Ocal – and this music has an enormous global following (assisted today very much by the internet).  As with contemporary painting, writing and dance, contemporary music reflects the living culture around us and is no longer created simply for entertainment or for the upper classes.  It is for everyone.

The variety in contemporary music is infinite and although it is occasionally flavoured by the region in which it is created, it is most often based entirely on the individual who created it – the composer – her or his life experiences, global influences and reflections of modern culture.  These musical and sound ideas are notated and performed using mostly western classical music instruments in unusual combinations with extended techniques, and sometimes with electronic sounds as well.  The musicians who perform the newest music are often the most skilled musicians, because they are demanded to push the technical limitations of the instruments – for instance, when Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was premiered in 1913, the musicians reportedly said it was impossible to play, and today it’s common repertoire for student performers.

Personally, I find new ideas in contemporary music to be endlessly fascinating as are the individuals who create and perform them.  I feel deeply honoured and rewarded to be a part of this community, both locally (where I was given opportunities to learn how to perform) and internationally.

This is 30th year of Continuum. Are you happy what you have achieved so far? What were the major challenges? What was the major support?  

Continuum has grown immensely in 30 years, winning and being nominated for many awards, touring regularly and recording, and we continue to grow and reach into new territory with each passing season.  We are internationally recognized as a leading contemporary music organization in Canada, but Continuum remains a collective of many efforts on many levels.  We receive support from the Canada Council for the Arts,  The Ontario Arts Council, The City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, The Julie-Jiggs Foundation, several season sponsors like Urbane Cycle, and Caliterra Wines – and very importantly – through many private donors.  Fundraising is a key component of our existence, and lately we have had some success with a “Make a Stand” campaign for which we raised enough money for music stands in our small rehearsal space, and we continue this year with a very fun event – a live band karaoke evening on the back patio of Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu in Yorkville on June 11th.  Last year we had a blast with our musicians playing everything Billy Joel to Motown classics, and it will be even bigger, louder and more fun this year!

You celebrated your 30th year with a great concert in Toronto. We know that, both Canadian and international musicians join together in your organisations. What are the future plans?

Most immediately, our education project: Later this March Continuum will premiere ten new works written by elementary school children from a variety of schools from various neighbourhoods across the GTA.  These young children work for several months with our education coordinator Doug Friesen and composer Chris Thornborrow using new software and new technologies.  The Continuum musicians mentor a secondary school orchestra (this year Riverdale Collegiate) and act as section leaders.  On March 31st, all 700 students with be bussed to Riverdale Collegiate to introduce, explain and then hear their works that we present –  it’s really a wonderful concert and it’s funded by the TDSB.

On May 20th, we represent Canada along with Tanya Taguk (2014 Polaris Prizewinner) at the Opening Gala Concert for “Classical:next”, a contemporary music conference in Rotterdam.

On May 28th we take over The Theatre Centre on Queen Street West and present one of the biggest events we’ve ever undertaken.  We collaborate with Subtle Technologies for a one night project, three years in the making in a groundbreaking interdisciplinary project combining science, media installations and music.  The audience will be mobile, and we present three world premieres by some of Canada’s leading composers: James Rolfe, Nicole Lizée and Jimmie LeBlanc with media artists Fareena Chandra and Jason Baerg, and scientists Stephen Morris, Erin Fortier and NASA astronomer Jayanne English.  It will be an incredible evening!

Next season we continue with several themed concerts and many new collaborations including a tour of British Columbia and Southern Ontario with BALLET KELOWNA in presentations of modern dance and contemporary music inspired by the early music of Henri Purcell and William Byrd re-imagined by Canadian composers Rodney Sharman and Jocelyn Morlock and choreographed by James Kudelka and Simone Orlando.

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Do you have message to Turkish Canadians and other multicultural communities?

Every concert we present is different, and we take great care to make each event special, meaningful and thought-provoking.  Our audience continues to grow, because people come and have a good time and I encourage anyone who thinks about the sound around them and enjoys music, to come and hear what we are doing.  You may hear something you’ve never heard before, and most importantly, it may change the way you think of the sounds around you.  Contemporary music thrives on a global level, it is a global movement and we present composers not only from across Canada, but from many other countries and cultures.  Mithatcan Ocal’s Les Paroles Autour De La Musique (which Continuum just performed on our 30th anniversary concert) was only played once before in France, and we gave it its second performance and the North American premiere.  I think that it’s also significant that we recorded the live concert video with a professional camera crew that will be available in the coming weeks on our YouTube channel so that everyone in the world can hear and see Mithatcan’s music.  I was so impressed at the level of his writing – he is only 23 years old – I invite your readers to check it out!

Thank you for your time and bringing great music and musicians together.

And thank you very much for your support!!