AE Bridger is a songwriter and composer from St. John’s. The past few years have seen AE Bridger working with large ensembles of brass, reeds, and strings to stage concerts of original works everywhere from concert halls, to living rooms, to the steps of the LSPU Hall. Steeped in classic progressive rock and psychedelic pop, and drawing influence from Third-Stream jazz and minimalist contemporary classical music, AE Bridger’s live performances are as vaporous as they are dense, for a unique concert experience that has been described as both deeply moving and visually entertaining.
AE Bridger Ensemble: Greg Bruce, Nicole Hand, Susan Evoy, Chris Harnett, Keith Harding, Paddy Byrne, Brad Power, Chris McGee, Michelle LaCour, Maggie Burton, Natalie Finn, Valerie Hewson, Cleary Maddigan, Josh Bourden, Justin Strong, Jake Nicoll, Kira Sheppard and Hannah Boone
This interview has been edited for length and concision.
Annie Corrigan: What can concert goers expect from you at this year’s Symposium?
AE Bridger: They can expect anything they choose. I’m more interested in whether or not they will have any expectation at all, and for that reason, I will stop short of giving too much away. I want you to be present and free to feel whatever you need to feel about these moments. A large ensemble of some of St. John’s most brilliant players have entrusted me with their time and mental energy to take on the task of doing something you’ve never seen done before. I hope that we succeed in transporting you, and exposing you to the beauty of your own inner private world. You will take from this what you put into it. Relax, take a deep breath. It’ll be over shortly.
AC: You have a variety of musical influences. Can you remember one of your earliest memories of music that really touched you and made you want to be a composer?
AB: I am reminded of that inspired feeling constantly because I have made tremendous amount of space in my mind to dream about music and indulge in those child-like fantasies. The ecstatic wonder I felt as a teenager is the same one that I get today when I share a musical dialogue with another person, even with all the ideas and experiences I’ve accumulated since music first blew my mind. If I’m doing my job, I can convey the feeling of those memories to others without having to say a word.
AC: I rarely see a composer’s performances described as “visually entertaining.” Describe your philosophy of performance and how the visuals work with the music.
AB: I’m chasing a beautiful moment. I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager. I want to be standing in the middle of something that has spiritual weight. I’m trying to nourish my soul. I personally take on the responsibility to make it possible to go through that process in front of an audience, but the real nourishment comes from all of us working together to cultivate that moment. Off the stage, the people in that audience have a lot of different ways of taking in the world around them. In some cases, one of those routes is through the eyes. Ideally, the experience of being at a great concert is coming into our awareness through every sense we have. The concerts I’ve been to that I’ve truly loved were all complete three-dimensional bodily experiences that spoke to every part of my existence.
AC: What are you looking forward to about this year’s Sound Symposium?
AB: I haven’t performed with a group like this since December 2017, so I’m so grateful that I get to celebrate the amazing Sound Symposium with a concert of fresh ideas that reflect what I have been dreaming about for months. It takes a lot of preparation to get a huge group of people, each with their own lives, hopes, dreams, etc, all in the same room together to share a musical conversation. It is always an honour and privilege to share that labour of love with our community, and even more so when it coincides with one of the best expressions of Newfoundland’s rich and varied musical and artistic traditions. As a bonus, it’s a time when lots of my best musical buddies from out of the province come back to visit, participate in the Symposium, and catch up!
AE Bridger Ensemble At Sound Symposium XIX*
- Concert, world premiere — Thursday, July 5 at 8:00pm (LSPU Hall)
*Times and locations subject to change.