In a world where almost everything — people, music, cultures — get labeled and slotted into simple categories, Cris Derksen represents a challenge. Originally from Northern Alberta she comes from a line of chiefs from NorthTall Cree Reserve on her father’s side and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s. A Juno-nominated classically trained cellist and composer, Derksen braids the traditional and contemporary, weaving her classical background and her Indigenous ancestry together with new school electronics to create genre-defying music. Derksen has performed Nationally and Internationally with some of Canada’s Finest Including; Tanya Tagaq, Buffy Sainte Marie, and Naomi Klien.
Surgeon emerged from the ashes of St. John’s instrumental rock group, NARROWS, back in 2008. Where Narrows paved the way with intricate guitar layers, massive grooves and infectious melodies, Surgeon draws inspiration from a darker, more twisted sound world. Taking cues from contemporary classical music, horror movie soundtracks, prog-rock legends and post-rock aesthetics, Surgeon “seamlessly flows through multiple genres while still offering audiences music that’s easy to digest” (Bandsoup blog). Members of Surgeon have been touring the globe for years as soloists or members of the esteemed NL-outfit Hey Rosetta, yet the group has only ever played within St. John’s. Rare performances combined with the consistent addition of new material make every Surgeon show an event to be seen. In 2018, Surgeon will record their third album with the addition of bowed strings. It will include original material as well as epics from the classical canon, re-imagined for rock band.
Whether she finds herself on a concert hall stage or in an underground venue, Jennifer Thiessen relentlessly seeks a deep musical authenticity, in which she carves her own unique voice. She is a founding member of Cénacle, Toninato/Thiessen Duo and Park Sounds, and performs regularly with collectif9, Ensemble Caprice and Ensemble SuperMusique, among other historical and new music ensembles in Montreal. Mixing new sounds with instruments of the past, she is known for her performances of new works on the viola d’amore for Innovations en Concert, Ottawa New Music Creators and Cluster Festival. A multi-disciplinary artist, she appears as singer-songwriter Daily Alice and toured the world with La La La Human Steps from 2007-2012. From within the multiplicity of artistic adventures she is called to be part of, she remains grounded in her passion to create thoughtful and meaningful musical experiences for herself and her listeners.
Montreal-based saxophonist, composer and improviser Ida Toninato has an ear for the unknown. Her playing is electric – an expression of her need to orient the sound she is making to the environment she is in, and to the people she is with. After years of playing contemporary music with various collaborators, she is diving head-first in pursuit of a music after her own daring intuitions. Her debut full length record, Strangeness is Gratitude, released on Kohlenstoff Records in April 2016, planted her firmly in the underground experimental scene with an enthusiastic reception from critics, artists and a growing fan base. In addition to her solo compositions, she writes music for dance, film and theatre. She performs actively with laptop musician Ana Dall’Ara-Majek as Jane/KIN, creating performances that mix spatialisation and improvisation.
Teresa Connors is active as an acoustic/electroacoustic composer, opera singer, film scorer, and installation artist. Her creative works have received awards and support from the Canada Council for the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, Bravo Fact and presented at international conferences, film festivals, and galleries. She has recently completed a practice-‐based creative PhD at Waikato University in New Zealand that developed non-linear techniques for audiovisual installations and will continue this research as the 2017-18 postdoctoral research fellow with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
The Faceless Forces of Bigness (FFoB) are an electronic collective. For the past 17 years the FFoB have explored generative composition within the parameters of real time improvisation. The FFoB create music and moving images using analog modular synthesizers networked to cutting edge video authoring tools.
GRAMMY nominated Dawn Avery creates a contemporary soundscape from electronica, pop and classical elements. Her sultry vocals and soaring cello lines reflect a deep spirituality rooted in her Native American heritage and love of Sufi tradition. Avery toured and performed with the Soldier String Quartet for 10 years at such venues as The Kitchen, the Knitting Factory, CBGB’s and Lincoln Center in NYC. As an improviser, she worked with contemporary avant-garde and jazz artists John Cage, John Zorn, Elliott Sharpe, Ornette Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, and Grover Washington; rock musicians John Cale and Sting, and World Music artists: Sussan Deyhim, Glen Velez, R. Carlos Nakai and Humayan Khan. She is currently touring her newest multi-media projects with guitarist/ producer, Larry Mitchell— 50 Shades of Red and Love Songs for a Changing World, that feature downtempo music, video, and theatre. Their recent Off-Broadway production and recording, Crane on Earth, in Sky, won two Global Music Awards (best album, best World Music Theatre).
James Harley is a Canadian composer teaching at the University of Guelph. He obtained his doctorate at McGill University in 1994, after spending six years (1982-88) composing and studying in Europe (London, Paris, Warsaw). His music has been awarded prizes in Canada, USA, UK, France, Austria, Poland, Japan, and has been performed and broadcast around the world. Recordings include: Neue Bilder (Centrediscs, 2010), ~spin~: Like a ragged flock (ADAPPS DVD, 2015). As a researcher, Harley has written extensively on contemporary music. His books include: Xenakis: His Life in Music (Routledge, 2004), and Iannis Xenakis: Kraanerg (Ashgate, 2015). As a performer, Harley has a background in jazz, and has most recently worked as an interactive computer musician. 2017 performances include: CubeFest, Blacksburg, Virginia; Remembering Pauline, Montreal (with Gayle Young); Beast Feast, Birmingham, UK; Creative Music Symposium, Guelph (with Gayle Young, Jeff Bird); Thursday at Noon, Guelph (with Joe Sorbara).
Gayle Young is a Canadian composer, musician, and author. Her music and sound installations include a wide variety of sound sources, from electronic and orchestral instruments to found stone and wood. In the late 1970s she developed notational systems and designed musical instruments to facilitate explorations in unusual tunings, and since 1993 has used multiple lengths of tuned tubing in outdoor sound installations. She continues to combine her interests in tuning and soundscape by recording environmental noise of highways, railways, rivers, and ocean shorelines through tuned tubing. Her 2017 CrossWaves uses underwater hydrophone recordings enhanced by electroacoustic processing.
Subhira, one of the most innovative bands from Chile bring their unique blend of World, Latin American and Contemporary Acoustic Music to Sound Symposium. The band is composed of electric cellist Juan Angel Moñoz, violinist Danka Villanueva, film maker and percussionist Emai Cepeda, and Subhira Rodrigo Cepeda on piano, keyboards, didgeridoo, and ethnic instruments.