Winnipeg New Music Festival wraps up
Jen Doerksen, BEAT REPORTER
The first week of February brought people together to experience new forms of music in different spaces for the Winnipeg New Music Festival.
“I love the whole theme of exploring space and sound,” said Jillian Reimer. She purchased a full festival pass and attended every show.
“I especially loved the two radio station’s work at the Plug In,” Reimer said. “It’s this sort of interplay of installation art and a performance. It was both at the same time.”
The festival aims to bring new ways to experience music to Winnipeg. Hosted by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the festival brought in artists from around the world and many with Canadian and indigenous roots.
“I’ve tried to get representation this year that’s current Canada,” Alexander Michalthuate, the artistic director for the festival said. “For example, we have Serbian, Canadian, Icelandic, Metis, First Nations, a range of cultures came together, giving a different feel than when the festival started.”
The performances ranged from classical music with traditional influences, like Tiffany Ayalik’s Inuit throat singing, to experimental ambient music, like the 12-Hour Drone that closed off the festival.
Red River College student Adam Fainman, also known as Beatox, performed on the opening night. He did a set of live beatboxing with a band and visual projections. He said the setup was a challenge for him because he didn’t have a drummer in the band.
“That was the nerve-wracking part, having such a high profile gig with a band and no drummer, and building the beat up,” he said.
Fainman was asked by Stream WPG, a local concert series that focuses on creating safe, accessible concerts for hip hop, rap, R&B and jazzy experimental artists to perform. He was “super down” for the gig, even though he would be performing just for exposure.
“I knew it would be good exposure and hit a demographic that I would never be able to hit.”
Though a majority of the festival focused on mixing symphonic music with other forms of performance, a few events stood out as being more contemporary and deliberately experimental.
One event, called “Music for Two Radios Sea,” combined space with radio waves to create a listening experience. One song was played on CKUW 95.9 FM, the radio station at The University of Winnipeg. Another song was played on 101.5 UMFM, University of Manitoba’s radio station. The event hosted two radios in the Plug In Gallery on Portage Avenue.
“The fact everybody was experiencing a different concert based on where they were [in the room] was a really powerful theme to explore,” Reimer said.
Reimer finished her festival at the 12-Hour Drone: Experiments in Sounds of Winter. She spent the night at the performance, along with many others.
“How often do you sleep over at a concert?” Reimer said.
“Exploring the space being awake versus enjoying music when you’re like half asleep is just totally different realms of consciousness, which is really neat,” she said.
The 12-Hour Drone lasted from 12 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4 until noon that day. The music featured a range of sounds, incorporating different forms of instruments like singing bowls and animal skin hand drums.
“At the beginning, it was a lot louder and it buzzed through your bones,” Reimer explained. “It got more and more mellow throughout the night, and this morning it’s been so calm and peaceful. It’s great.”
Reimer was one of a handful of people who slept on the gymnasium floor at the Duncan Sportsplex. People brought air mattresses and sleeping bags for the event.
This was the 26th year of the festival.