A facilitated composition made with the Contact ensemble for performance at Allen Gardens, Toronto.
Root, Blood, Fractal, Breath is a work in progress that had its beginnings during a 6-day creative residency with the Contact ensemble at the Canadian Music Centre in Toronto in July, 2017. It was made specifically for performance at the Allen Gardens Conservatory and took its form and content from the context (migration, transplanted and invasive species), and the specific flora housed in the gardens. The approach of developing the work introduced a combination of Deep Listening practices, biospheric art practice, attunement with the plants and dirt in the Gardens, and contemplations by the performers of their own genetic/blood and cultural histories. The resulting set of experiments, as Root, Blood, Fractal, Breath, was given a workshop performance on in the gardens on July 15, 2017 to a attentive audience of listeners.
Root, Blood, Fractal, Breath was initiated through discussions with Contact Artistic Director Jerry Pergolesi, who has an interest and practice in condensed periods of collaborative creation. Contact has hosted a week-long project called Music From Scratch for a number of years – a workshop that invites young composers to work with the ensemble for a week to investigate ways of creating sound and music together, and to perform the results at the end of the week. I was invited to co-facilitate Music From Scratch with Pergolesi, during the same week as the residency.
The creation of Root, Blood, Fractal, Breath began with exercises in Deep Listening, and continued with a facilitated composition process that included a vulnerable process of inquiry and sonic exploration that both built on and tore down the exemplary skill sets of the ensemble as individuals and as a whole.
Root, Blood, Fractal, Breath is one single piece with solo, duo, trio and ensemble sections and segments that can precede, follow and/or overlap each other. It is intended as a way to consider and respond to the realities and suggestions inherent in the Allen Gardens greenhouses, as well as the juxtaposition of 8 creative musicians who have ancestries outside of Canada, and have each come to music making with no familial roadmap. The score comprises text instruction, text imagery, aural cues from the setting, and graphic imagery.