The shape of Wa­ters

Open Wa­ters re­turns for another slate of sin­gu­lar per­for­mances that take risks from all sides.

The Coast - - ARTS - Open Wa­ters Fes­ti­val Friday, Jan­uary 5-Wednesday, Jan­uary 10 var­i­ous venues $15-$25 (fes­ti­val pass $60) tick­ethal­i­


tagline for this year’s Open Wa­ters, the an­nual mu­sic im­pro­vi­sa­tion fes­ti­val, is “never the same river twice.” “That’s Her­a­cli­tus,” says artis­tic direc­tor Lukas Pearse of the para­phrase. “My favourite pre-So­cratic philoso­pher.”

Such is the na­ture of im­pro­vised mu­sic—it is made in the mo­ment, of the mo­ment, not to be heard again. It’s not easy, and there’s no sin­gle way to play it. “The es­sen­tial thing is to try to make sure there are dif­fer­ent ap­proaches and dif­fer­ent tra­di­tions of im­pro­vi­sa­tions rep­re­sented,” says Pearse of the pro­gram, which is pre­sented by the Up­stream Mu­sic As­so­ci­a­tion. “I want to have artists who are both us­ing im­pro­vi­sa­tion in a con­scious way, some­thing that is part of their cre­ative form, and who also are usu­ally for the most part com­mit­ted to it and de­vel­op­ing with it.”

Open Wa­ters fea­tures six days of 20 events across five venues, a mix of estab­lished and emerg­ing, lo­cal and vis­it­ing. “I also do try to make sure there are some artists not from our area to pro­vide global con­text,” says Pearse.

Out-of-town guests in­clude Ja­son Sharp and Adam Bas­anta from Mon­treal, who head­line the Mar­quee on Jan­uary 5. “Ja­son plays bass sax­o­phone and mod­u­lar synths and in this project they’re us­ing heart-rate mon­i­tors and EKGs to con­trol the syn­the­siz­ers while also play­ing the sax­o­phone,” says Pearse. “It’s lit­er­ally vis­ceral mu­sic.” Van­cou­ver clar­inetist François Houle hits the Dunn on Saturday, and there on Sunday will be Jan­ice Jack­son’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with Eti­enne Rolin, from France, and Sin­ga­pore’s Dirk Stromberg.

Lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion comes from Pearse’s project with Alan Syl­li­boy, The Thun­der­mak­ers (Saturday at the Dunn), so­prano Mau­reen Batt at Dal’s MacAloney Room on Saturday af­ter­noon, To Dream of Si­lence (a co-pre­sen­ta­tion of Up­stream Mu­sic and Sanc­tu­ary Con­certs) at the Hal­i­fax Mu­sic Co-op on Tues­day and New Her­mitage on Friday night at the Dunn. “I re­ally want to cel­e­brate younger artists tak­ing the risks,” says Pearse of the lat­ter quar­tet, “and mak­ing good on their promis­ing starts in the [Hal­i­fax Jazz Fes­ti­val’s] Cre­ative Mu­sic Work­shops.”

Be­cause of im­pro­vised mu­sic’s range of in­cluded gen­res—jazz, elec­tronic, folk, cham­ber, ex­per­i­men­tal—it’s an art form that’s di­verse, open-minded and wide-reach­ing. “Im­pro­vised, ex­ploratory mu­sic is some­thing that hap­pens all over the world,” notes Pearse. “It’s not just us over here be­ing weird cause we’re weird.”


Flutist and “new mu­sic pi­o­neer” Paolo Bor­to­lussi is part of this year’s lineup.

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