The Black Auks, Instruments of Happiness, James O’Callaghan, Patrick Boyle and Casey Sokol

Concert: Sound Symposium XVIII, July 9, 2016 – LSPU Hall

soundsymposium-2016-3642-michellelacoureSound Symposium’s first LSPU Hall concert for Saturday evening was a great way for the uninitiated to get an idea of what can be explored in the creation of sound. The room began in darkness, with sounds of doors opening, running on gravel, voices, locations…noises coming from varied parts of the room yet in entirely different spaces in your mind. It was the desired effect, being a section of a 3D surround piece presented by Fernando Lopez-Lezcano designed to reflect how the blind dream. From that audio picture we are introduced to the first act of the night, the city’s veteran improvising group, The Black Auks, who provided the audience with their customary chaotic noodling complete with free form honks from toys and all manner of dissonant themes. Wallace, Neil, Mack and Craig have never followed any ‘rules’ with what I know of their music-making, which is really a lovely thing. Following this was the guitar quartet, Instruments of Happiness, beginning with an atmospheric solo piece by Tim Brady, who utilized a multitude of pedal effects for looping phrases, distorting passages and firing dark swells. He was then joined by Antoine Berthiuame, Michel Héroux and Gary Schwartz for a couple of compositions which layered harmonized chords and interwoven melodies, swapping leads between them and evoking moods that most certainly were joyous and happy.

After a short break, the second half began with James O’Callaghan’s acousmatic work, Bodies-Soundings, which made use of a toy piano on stage and an acoustic guitar seated in the middle of the audience. Both were source material in the piece and used as additional resounding loudspeakers for playback. The whirs, clicks, creaks and hollow resonant feedback was fascinating, coming from all sides of the room. The concert finished with a pair of the country’s finest improvisers, Newfoundland’s own Patrick Boyle on trumpet, and the steadfast improv educator from York University, Casey Sokol, on piano. They came out conversational, playful and charming, each riffing with a surprise object of the other’s choosing and together on a piece by Oliver Schroer adapted for piano. It was a loose and fun end to the show, and morphed into the next section outside the LSPU, where everyone huddled in the foggy chill to witness AE Bridger on accordion with a full horn section play solemn dirges from his new CD, Museum. The band led everyone in a traffic-stopping processional across Duckworth Street to The Ship for a seamless transition to Night Music, with a packed house, flashy lighting and spirited jams afterward. I ducked out while the Auks’ Craig and Mack were thumping out a cool psychedelic rock vibe with Bridger and Patrick Canning on guitars. Always a trip, and one I would continue the next morning with a workshop from James O’Callaghan and more rehearsal preparation for Tim Brady’s 20 Guitars performance scheduled for Monday night. Sound Symposium XVIII keeps me busy, interested and always entertained.

Day 2 – Sound Symposium 2016

Casey Sokol improvs with the lizard at the LSPU Hall on Saturday night.

Casey Sokol improvs with the lizard at the LSPU Hall on Saturday night.

Saturday (day 2) of Sound Symposium was jam packed. Beginning with the Visions of Sound tour of sound installations by Chris Dennett, Tom Hamilton,Jude Weirmer and Butterfield & Lytle at various locations around downtown St John’s, then a vocal improv workshop with Christine Duncan. Evening concert featured The Black Auks, Happiness Guitar Quartet, James O’Callaghan and Patrick Boyle & Casey Sokol. It closed with an inspired street performance by AE Bridger in front of the LSPU Hall before lading the audience in a processional down Duckworth Street to The Ship Pub for a Night Music Performance.

AE Bridger outside the LSPU Hall in St John's.

AE Bridger outside the LSPU Hall in St John’s.


AE Bridger leads processional from the LSPU Hall to The Ship Pub on Saturday Night.

AE Bridger leads processional from the LSPU Hall to The Ship Pub on Saturday Night.

Day 1 – Sound Symposium 2016

Carole Bestvater, one half of The SIzzle Sisters, performing at Harbourside Park concert

Carole Bestvater, one half of The SIzzle Sisters, performing at Harbourside Park concert.


This years Sound Symposium kicked off with a Harbour Symphony for ships horns and a concert in Harbourside Park with The Sizzle Sister (Chantelle Jubenville and Carole Bestvater) with Duane Andrews, Danial Hawkins and Etienne Pemberton-Renaud doing a unique trad – folk set. The Harbour Symphony was composed by Steve Maloney and you can check it out on CBC NL FaceBook Page.

It closed with Night Music series at The Ship Pub with JAMES O’CALLAGHAN: “Reasons for Amplified Books & Electronics”; PHTHONG: Chris Tonelli, Christine Duncan, Gabriel Dharmoo, Fiona Chatwin vocal improvisations; REMOTE CTRL: Rick Bailey, Rozalind MacPhail, Craig Squires


Christine Duncan conducting the patrons of The Ship Pub with a little vocal improvisation during Night Music on opening night of Sound Symposium 2016.




Sound Symposium XVIII 2016 line up announced

Vox Voxel – Fernando Lopez-Lezcano and John Granzow with John’s 3-D photocopier.

Sound Symposium has announced its line up for SOUND SYMPOSIUM XVIII on July 8-16, 2016.

2016 Artists Profiles

For 25 years Sound Symposium has been bringing the best in new music, performing and sound arts and the leading edge in experimental music and aural experience to St John’s. This years lineup of artists will continue amaze with World Premieres, Improvisational Music & Dance, …Voice, Voice, Voice, New Music for Gamelan, Indonesian Dance, …Guitars, guitars, guitars, Sound Art, Harbour Symphonies, Contemporary Music, Jazz, Rock, World Music, Drums, Percussion …Piano Piano Piano, Night Music & Quiet Music series, Electronics, Hi-Tech Sound and lectures and workshops.

Be a part of it.