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[Symposium Report]

Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium 2007

Chair of the 2007 Symposium

Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium
9–10 August 2007. Various venues, Toronto ON

The Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium 2007, a co-production of the Canadian Electroacoustic Community (CEC), the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto and New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA), took place 9–10 August at various venues around Toronto (principally the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, but also at the Canadian Music Centre’s Chalmers House and the InterAccess Media Arts Centre).

The symposium’s call for presentations drew an enthusiastic response from a diverse collection of electroacoustic practitioners. Nine of fifteen presenters came from the greater Toronto area, two came from Montreal, and the remaining four came from various parts of the United States. Sessions included “The Discipline of Electroacoustics”, “Interfaces and Environments”, “Soundscapes”, “Instruments and Installations” and “Live Electronics”.

Of special interest were the two keynote lectures, given by Barry Truax and Trevor Wishart, both of whom were in Toronto as resident composers with the Sound Travels festival (and both of whom arrived laden with new CDs to sell). Truax focused his lecture on the complexities of the relationship between sound and space. According to Truax, this area still represents one of the frontiers of contemporary sound art. Wishart’s remarks, on the other hand, were a meditation on the role of the electronic composer. Alongside examples drawn from his own work, he talked about the present normalisation of electroacoustic art and explained his idea of elitism for all. (The full text of Wishart’s lecture can be read here.)

During the afternoon of the 9th, the Canadian Music Centre hosted a reception for symposium delegates. CMC national librarian Michelle Arbuckle and CMC Ontario director Jason vanEyk spoke about the history of the CMC’s work with electroacoustic music. They invited further dialogue with the CEC and with electroacoustic composers in Canada.

The group hosted an open-mic night during the late evening of August 9th, in the gallery space of the InterAccess Media Arts Centre. Alongside improvisations by symposium guests (including especially memorable ones by Jim Hearon from Hawaii, and by Chicago’s Eric Leonardson with his Springboard [read Leonardson’s paper here]) and InterAccess’ resident collective, IOmedia, the top five works from the CEC’s 2007 Jeu de temps / Times Play (JTTP) competition were diffused on a 14.1 loudspeaker system. JTTP winner Georges Forget travelled from Montréal to diffuse his own work at the open-mic night, while the winning works of Gauthier, Girouard, Lebrun-Paré and Thibault were diffused by angelusnovus members David Ogborn and Jason Stanford.

Average audience attendance at any given symposium session was roughly 25–30 people. Over the course of the two day symposium, open-mic night and Sound Travels festival concert the total number of different people in attendance was roughly 60, including people associated with Sound Travels, the CEC, the CMC, the University of Toronto, York University, the Ontario College of Art and Design, a number of independent sound artists and a contingent of interested high school students.

Following the symposium’s conclusion, and throughout the adjoining Sound Travels festival weekend, there were many suggestions made that the event should become a recurring one. Both the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto (in the person of Dennis Patrick) and New Adventures in Sound Art (in the persons of Darren Copeland and Nadene Thèriault-Copeland) expressed their enthusiasm for contributing to a 2008 Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium.

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