Ensemble SuperMusique — Eastern Canada 2013

Toronto — Kingston — Ottawa — St John’s — Halifax

Ensemble SuperMusique is on the road this fall. After successfully playing Ontario’s Guelph Jazz Festival, the ensemble is now about to play in Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, St John’s and Halifax, courtesy of various new music festivals and concert series. The ensemble’s members will also be involved in improvised music meetings with local musicians, as well as leading workshops and participating in conferences and panels. Y a du bruit dans ma cabane is an eclectic programme of improvised game pieces, compositions based on verbal instructions, and graphic scores.

  • Friday, October 18, 2013
    8:00 pm

X Avant New Music Festival VIII

Presented by The Music Gallery.

This year’s ensemble in residence is a cohort of Montrealers who have made an indelible contribution to the ongoing dialogue of improvisational practice around the world.

Founded in 1998, the ever-changing Ensemble SuperMusique is one of the few Canadian ensembles entirely devoted to Musique Actuelle: a punk, absurdist, DIY response, but playing with questions of language and identity that only could have come from Quebec. Different composers/musicians from the ensemble itself alternate as bandleaders, but very rarely conduct the ensemble outright. Their repertoire is comprised of works by leading composers from both Canada and around the world.

The individual musical achievements of Joane Hétu, Jean Derome, Danielle Palardy Roger, Diane Labrosse, Pierre Tanguay and Scott Thomson are too numerous to mention. The core of Ensemble SuperMusique is responsible for one of Canada’s foremost experimental labels, Ambiances Magnetiques (1982), which has grown into a music distributor, live event producer, and the Ensemble itself.

Within their compositions are all the hallmarks of Musique Actuelle, from graphic scores to traditionally notated ones. In certain cases, they resort to orally transmitted instructions. Quite often, they receive specific instructions not to blend in the ensemble’s sound; on the contrary, they are to be considered as soloists of the highest order.

The Music Gallery
197 John Street – Toronto (Ontario, Canada)

Programme

  • Saturday, October 19, 2013
    10:00 am
The Music Gallery
197 John Street – Toronto (Ontario, Canada)
  • Saturday, October 19, 2013
    8:00 pm
Chalmers United Church
212 Barrie St – Kingston (Ontario, Canada)
  • Sunday, October 20, 2013
    7:00 pm
Club Saw
67, rue Nicholas – Ottawa (Ontario, Canada)
  • Tuesday, October 22, 2013
    3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
DF Cook Recital Hall – School of Music – Memorial University
230 Elizabeth Avenue – St John’s (Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada)
  • Tuesday, October 22, 2013
    8:00 pm
DF Cook Recital Hall – School of Music – Memorial University
230 Elizabeth Avenue – St John’s (Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada)
  • Thursday, October 24, 2013
MacAloney Room – Dalhousie Arts Centre
6101 University Avenue – Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada)
  • Thursday, October 24, 2013
    7:30 pm
MacAloney Room – Dalhousie Arts Centre
6101 University Avenue – Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada)
  • Friday, October 25, 2013
    8:00 pm
MacAloney Room – Dalhousie Arts Centre
6101 University Avenue – Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada)
  • Saturday, October 26, 2013
    6:30 pm
MacAloney Room – Dalhousie Arts Centre
6101 University Avenue – Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada)
  • Saturday, October 26, 2013
    8:00 pm
MacAloney Room – Dalhousie Arts Centre
6101 University Avenue – Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada)

In the press

Review

Brett Delmage, OttawaJazzScene.ca, November 2, 2013

The evening started with the first climax, delivered by Craig Pedersen in a solo trumpet performance. Pedersen then descended into quieter notes: much quieter, sculpted, breathy expressions from his trumpet, which turned up everyone’s attention. The limitations of Club SAW became more apparent, as his distinct statement descended below the level of the humming ventilation system for a good blow. And then it was over.

The music couldn’t descend from there and it didn’t try. After a short break, the main act, Ensemble SuperMusique, took the stage and turned it up again. These key improvisers and composers in Montreal’s scene and the two vintage drumsets, a turntable, a wind-up toy, vocal cords, two saxophones, and a trombone, brought a completely complementary sound with a lot of variety to the evening. Jean Derome’s Le fruit du hasard started with rolls of the dice prior to the performance; these inputs to pairs of musicians led them to play from two different compositions while finding ways to piece it all together.

These key improvisers and composers in Montréal’s scene […] brought a completely complementary sound with a lot of variety to the evening.

Review

Devin Hurd, Exclaim!, October 19, 2013

The opening piece of Ensemble SuperMusique’s first set was an exercise in extreme restraint. A group dynamic that includes two drummers constrained to quiet cymbal work. A turntablist working only with tightly controlled amounts of feedback. The musical texture featured two alto saxophones operating within a similarly constrained space — often playing without mouthpiece. A single muted trombone weaving its own drones into the overall mix.

It was a clear introduction to the aesthetic principles behind the enormously successful genre of musique actuelle — a movement that has brought international attention to the improvised music scene in Quebec. Ensemble SuperMusique’s two sets were a sampling of various kinds of compositional strategies used to shape group improvisation. It is an approach that favours pre-determined, formal constraints and rule-based systems over conducted, in-the-moment decisions.

Much of the material and sonorities draw upon other collectivist approaches found elsewhere. Yet the result is a uniquely French Canadian combination of these influences. Jean Derome’s use of hand-held toys and objects is similar to the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s use of “little instruments” with a sound that is closer to an Art Ensemble of Montreal. The collectivist nature of musique actuelle is itself similar Chicago’s AACM — possibly the only improvisation focused collective older than musique actuelle itself — with a distinctly different temperament shaping its sound. The sequencing of formal materials and focus on redirecting individual improvised elements has a clear ancestry in musique concrete’s manipulation of recorded sound — a trait not often associated with live improvised music.

The music on this particular evening was a thin sheen of sound that left plenty of space to hear the game theory operating behind it. It was music built upon the notion that beauty could be discovered, rather than deliberately engineered.

It was music built upon the notion that beauty could be discovered, rather than deliberately engineered.