Longshadow New Music Festival opens this weekend

First year of contemporary music festival will focus on jazz, percussion

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The first-ever Longshadow New Music Festival kicks off on June 14.

Yellowknife composer Carmen Braden organized Longshadow because she wanted to bring contemporary music to audiences in an accessible way.

Yellowknife composer Carmen Braden is the artistic director of the Longshadow New Music Festival. Hannah Eden photo.

“Contemporary music is one of my passions and I wanted an event that really celebrated music that might end up on the fringes of some other events,” said Braden.

The plan is for each year of the festival to have a different theme, showcasing sounds that falls into the broad category of contemporary music.

“One year might be electronic, one year might be voice, one year might be fusion,” Braden explained.

“It’s a very flexible overall concept of what is contemporary and for the purposes of this, contemporary is music from the 20th and 21st century that lives on those kind of edges.”

This weekend’s performances will focus on jazz and percussion.

Nia Devetzis, a Calgary-based solo percussionist and the Midnight Blue Jazz Society, an 18-person jazz big band, will perform two feature concerts at NACC on Saturday.

The weekend will also feature improvisation workshops and two soundwalks in Old Town – one under the midnight sun on Saturday night and another on Sunday. The only rule of the soundwalk is that there’s no talking, said Braden.

“I wanted to give people, both locals and the visiting musicians who are coming up, a chance to explore a part of the town that might be really familiar for locals but I think people will hear things that they may miss in the course of an ordinary day,” she explained.

“It’s a chance to really explore in a deep and gentle way, our soundscape.”

The soundwalk is based on the idea that the world around us is musical, even everyday sounds.

“As a kind of environmental symphony that’s happening all the time around us that has incredible beauty and richness and sometimes deserves more attention than we give it in our busy and noisy lives,” said Braden.

Friday night’s opening reception will feature the world premiere of a piece Braden commissioned specifically for this event.

The piece was composed by fiddler Wesley Hardisty and will be performed by Andrea Bettger.

“People are very curious about music from the North, but there’s not a lot of it that originates from here that is written down and passed on to other players,” said Braden.

“So to have this new piece of Wesley’s that can now be shared with violinists all over the world and share that music like that – that for me is a real point of pride.”

The opening reception starts Friday at 7 p.m. in the lobby of Sir John Franklin High School, followed by music and a discussion at 8 p.m.

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