See it, receive it

Sound art: what’s that? Whether you know or not, send + receive’s director crys cole believes, “Some people have an idea that since they may not know much about sound art, or s + r, that it’s not something they’re going to enjoy. But I see it as the opposite of that; it can transcend the niches of arts. You don’t need an education in art history. It’s a new way of stimulating yourself creatively. It’s a new experience.”

There seems to be truth in that statement; Winnipeg’s practicing sound art community is pretty tiny, but send + receive is now entering its 12th year and continues to draw some of the most renowned acts in the genre. The festival runs from Nov. 23-28 and includes concerts, films, instillations, workshops and artist talks.

Australia’s Oren Ambarchi, one of the most versatile and renowned acts in experimental music, has performed at send + receive once before.
“I’m not really looking forward to the weather to be honest,” says Ambarchi. “But last time it was great. The audience was very warm and the performances were very intimate. A lot of the times I come to festivals and they just dump me in a hotel room; it wasn’t like that at all.

“Sound art festivals in small towns and cities are a pretty common thing in Europe. I play in little towns in the middle of nowhere there all of the time. But when it happens in countries like Canada or Australia, it’s almost more special because it is so uncommon. I’m really looking forward to the event.”

Cole has a hard time picking highlights, “There is a loose string and wire theme through all of this year’s events that creates a cohesion, but every event presents something very different.” Ambarchi is part of one concert that cole expects to have very broad appeal: Energy +
Dynamics at the WAG on Thursday night.

“It will be of interest to lots of people because it has a very physical and transcendental quality. Winnipeg artist Michel Germain goes so beautifully well with Ambarchi and Montreal group artificiel as well — a perfect fit,” according to cole.

Ambarchi says, “My performance will be very physical and relate to the space I’m performing in. I’m very interested in low tones and what I do really comes from rock music, but I’m recontextualizing it and presenting it in a very different way.”

Keith Rowe of the U.K. is also bound to be a highlight; he’s one of the trailblazers of experimental music. Cole has this to say about his appearance: “My absolute highlight is the Sunday performance by Keith Rowe. He’s a man I’ve been inspired by for years. He’s been a key player in experimental music for 50 years, playing with composers like Cornelius Cardew and Christian Wolff and also sharing bills with Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.”

“Having an artist of [Rowe’s] caliber at the festival is such an honour. His training is actually in painting, which he continues to do, and he has audiences in rock, jazz and free improvisation. He’s one of the earliest voices who paved the way for noise music. Keith will also be doing a talk at Aqua Books on the Saturday which is such a rare opportunity for people to hear from an artist with such a rich history who’s work continues to be so challenging and ground-breaking.”

Ambarchi, who collaborates with Rowe, is also excited and will be performing with him at the festival. “For a long time what he was doing was seen as not being hip, and he was overlooked. He’s in his early seventies, so I think it’s really special that he’s still going out and playing for people. I’ve been working with him since around 2000; we usually play just once a year. We tend to play very minimally and it requires very intense listening. It’s a great creative challenge working with him.”

“The Saturday program takes certain presumptions and turns them right on their head. C Spencer Yeh and Anju Singh are both violinists, but have taken their instrument to extreme and challenging realms,” says cole. “Erin Sexton will be rounding out the night with her hand-built oscillators and electronics. The night represents a risky and raw approach to sound making.” 

Alongside these performances s + r also hosts screenings and exhibitions at aceartinc., Semai Gallery, Gallery 1C03 and Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner featuring local artists Clint Enns, Andrew Milne and Cameron Johnson alongside Canadian and international artists.  

“I really feel strongly that send + receive offers something unique and important to the Winnipeg cultural landscape,” says cole. “I hope that people will continue to take a chance and come out with open minds and ears!” 

Oren Ambarchi will be presenting at the University of Manitoba, Nov. 24 in 207 FitzGerald. send + receive runs from Nov. 23-28 at locations around the city.