Re: On Harvest Moon

Subject: Re: On Harvest Moon
From: Rob Godman (
Date: Tue Sep 27 2005 - 07:42:52 EDT

On 25 Sep 2005, at 16:32, Ned Bouhalassa wrote:

> I'd like to preface this by saying that due to circumstances way
> beyond my control, I was only able to attend the last day of
> Concordia's Harvest Moon festival.
> Here are a few random thoughts for a Sunday morning:
> - Why were there so many US composers programmed compared to Canadians
> and Europeans? Not that I have anything against Americans, of course,
> but given this city's fantastic output of exceptional electroacoustic
> pieces and the historical ties with France, and more recently the UK,
> it seems quite a turn. Did it have to do with the projection format? A
> Concordia student came up to me after the concert (Tim? If so, he and
> his friends are a great addition to Concordia's electroacoustic group)
> and said that my music sounded very different from what he had heard
> up until now at the festival, he called it much more cinematic.
> Clearly, he does not know that acousmatic art is (was?!) the dominant
> form of electroacoustics in this city.

I went to a gig at SAT on the Thursday evening. Having been to the
Harvest Moon concerts on Wednesday and Friday is was interesting to
compare 'types' of music with 'types' presentation. I was definitely
listening to EA at SAT (although most people were talking over the top
of it...). However, there were a lot of people at the SAT gig - for
what ever reason. Did they prefer the art they were witnessing...?
Don't know.

> - I really enjoyed the conference aspect and wished I had attented
> other presentations. In particular, I was very stimulated by Eliot H's
> questions. In the future, he should be the official interviewer for
> the festival, particularly when it comes to presentations that deal
> with composition specifically. Réjean Beaucage has played that role
> very well during Réseaux's festivals. I also thought the atrium
> installation in front of the library was fun and important in that it
> allowed for a more public context for electroacoustics.
> - The webcast aspect threw me off at first and it took me a while to
> get used to it. In retrospect, I think it's absolutely great to have
> such a resource. Thank you to those that made it possible at Concordia
> (Yves G?!!).
> - The sound in the hall was terrific. The system is top notch. I had
> brought my piece on my laptop and it was a joy to be able to adjust
> individual levels from the audience's vantage point (I was connected
> via a long FireWire cable). My only question is whether the 8 speakers
> have a lot of low end? It seems that even while lowering the LFE
> output in my sequencer, I was still getting much low end from the
> other speakers - was I dreaming? Oh, and sorry, kind of, for
> distorting the live stream. Next time, I'll try to... nah, I'll
> probably do it again! ;-)

And here we have a fundamental difference between SAT and Harvest Moon.
  The latter allowed us to listen in great detail to what we were
hearing. So why so few wanting to do such a terrible thing as

> - While I was happily surprised when KA threw out 450 as the number of
> students who are studying sound at Concordia, I was disappointed
> (again) by the relatively low turn-out at the concert proper. There
> should have been 100 students, at least. For this, I blame the
> teachers.

Well, I'd like to blame my parents for all of my shortcomings! It
takes the blame off me. It's a tough call on me if I take the rap for
my students not taking my advice. In fact, I frequently tell my lot
that they are more than welcome not to take my advice providing they
can make an *informed* decision. Come to a concert - this music is
good for you isn't good advice! Come to a concert - because you may
want to on the evidence gradual knowledge gained is a better bet.

One other option - at the University of Hertfordshire we have a week
called Mayfest. Funnily enough this is a concert/talk series that
takes place in May and are aimed primarily at our students population
but are also accessible to the public. Our students *have* to come to
80% of them, a register is taken. If they don't come, then there are
potential (small) grade reductions for related courses. Our concerts
are packed. But...

> And I fear that this is a 'problem' (maybe only for me?!) in many
> universities/colleges. Why do I blame the profs? Because it's so
> bloody hard to get newbies to become regulars, that IMO, you have to
> go _out of your way_ to set an example, show them that this can be an
> exciting music and that concerts can be fun to attend, and _most
> importantly_ that there is room for motivated composers/performers. My
> teachers included Jean-François Denis, Kevin Austin, and Francis
> Dhomont. All incredibly active, and _involved_ in the scene, but also
> terrific motivators, not just (!) good teachers. Once again, there
> were _no_ other active Montreal ea composers at a Concordia concert.
> Why? Distance and timing (Friday night, in the West end of town)?
> Yeah, that played a role, but I also blame the programming. 15 years,
> I used to program Québécois composers regularly at Concordia. They
> would come and bring other composers and friends with them, and their
> powerful works would rock the hall. They would marvel at the quality
> of the system in this out-of-the-way university, and the audience
> would marvel at the quality of Montrealer's output. Now?...

There is still something very special about listening in an environment
as good as that at Concordia. Maybe it is dangerous to look at
audience numbers as a means of demonstrating success. Would I have
preferred more people at the Wednesday concert for my piece - sure,
but from my experience I know that this type of listening environment
won't attract as large audience numbers as an installation in a public
space. So, we have elitist events? Should we worry about making this
music more 'popular'? I suspect we need to look at other avenues.
More accessible, yes. Access to this art is a huge issue.

So, Harvest Moon a success - you bet.



> Ned
> __ Ned Bouhalassa __
> > > < <
> ::::: :::::
Rob Godman

Senior Lecturer In Music Technology
John Lill Centre for Music Studies
University of Hertfordshire
T. (44) 01707 286592
F. (44) 01707 285098

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