An Evening with Sound and Radio Artist Christian Calon
Oscar Peterson Hall (Montréal)
3 October 2002
On October 3rd, 2002, at 8:00 pm, the work of Christian Calon was presented at the EuCuE XXI festival, in the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall at Concordia University's Loyola campus. The EuCuE festival series strives to bring the best in electroacoustic performance to Concordia University, as well as to showcase the works of Concordia's own students. This second concert of the 2002 series, was devoted exclusively to the work of Christian Calon, which he diffused himself.
The audience was small, perhaps less than 30 people, but they were really engaged in the performance, and being primarily electroacoustic music students and faculty, they had a context in which to place Calon's work. Though far outnumbered by the seats in the room, students filled the centre of the auditorium, placing themselves as near as possible to the very centre of the loudspeaker system, in order to experience fully the diffusion of the music.
The Oscar Peterson Hall is a semi-reverberant concert hall. Panels on the walls of the room limit reverberation to 1.2 seconds, offering a dryish, muffled sound. 24 speakers were used during the concert, with matching pairs of speakers defining a path down the length of the concert hall, with a large curved speaker at the extreme front. The concert was diffused using a 24 channel TAC Scorpion 2 mixing console, with no digital signal processing used during the performance.
Calon began the evening with a recent piece entitled "Time Well" - 21:51 (2002). The piece contrasts white noise sounds processed through digital delay with pure bell tones. The aspect of time in the piece seemed especially fluid, as if it were slowing down and speeding up alternately in different movements. This effect was most likely intentional, as "Time Well" belongs to a series of pieces Calon has composed on the subject of time and its relationship to the listener.
The second piece that Calon diffused was entitled "Semaphore-Nord" - 15:40 (1998). The sound of people filling a room was used in the piece, providing an interesting contrast for the audience, themselves sitting listening in silence. At times, fragments of vocal utterances - laughing, low-pitched rumblings, chanting, whispering - were used to create a very uncomfortable emotional space. At other times, moments of sudden beauty would erupt and harmonies would stem from the sampled voices. In this piece, Calon attempts to separate the voice, a major vehicle of human communication, from the rigid boundaries of language.
After a short intermission, Calon presented his third work of the evening, "Les Corps Eblouis" - 22:45 (1994). This piece was the longest in the concert, and seemed to be the best received by the audience, judging by their rapt attention. It was a departure from the first half of the concert because of the way the music's component sounds integrated seamlessly together.
Composed entirely out of guitar sounds, Calon describes "Les Corps Eblouis" as concerning metamorphosis, and with his experiments to render the material of the song only superficially legible.
The fourth piece of the evening, "La Disparition" - 20:38 (1988), was also the earliest of his works presented. This performance was in fact a premiere a new remixed version, a shorter version than the one on his empreintes DIGITALes CD. "La Disparition" combines fragments of music from many different times and cultures to document a sonic history. The compositional method he used involved creating small patchworks of sound from each source and then synching them together to form larger molecules of sound. From the perspective of the listener, the sounds appear orchestral, swelling together into emotional outbursts that repeat and interchange.
Calon seemed especially pleased after the performance, particularly enjoying the reaction to the new mix of "La Disparition". His presence at the performance added a great sense of dynamism to the evening - Calon is clearly someone who enjoys what he does.