Friday, October 10, 2014

Currente calamo: INTERsection 2014

INTERsection 2014 (Saturday, September 6, 2014)

I've got a buncha recordings from the day ready to go, but here's a few thoughts on the event that are common to them all.

I am absolutely delighted that INTERsection exists. For several years now, I've set aside a day to hang out at Yonge-Dundas Square (pretty much the only occasion you'd find me there) to soak in what is, when you think about it, a weird mix — New Music and experimental music being broadcast to the passers-by as they scurry through the vortex of tacky commercialism.

So I'm a fan, and I appreciate all the work that goes into making something like this happen. I've also been going long enough that I also feel a pining for what this event could be. One problem is that the event can never quite reconcile the two totally unrelated audiences it should be serving. For besides acting as a random disruption in the shopping district routine, given its timing and the forces it's gathering, it could also be a sort of public gala announcing the opening of the New Music season. (Usually relegated to the Labour Day long weekend, this year saw the festival moved ahead a week, which took the airshow overhead out of the mix but also meant that the event was a bit more lost in all of the concurrent TIFF-ery.)

It also feels a little bit thrown together at the last minute, perhaps this year moreso than usual, with a schedule (and out of town headliner) being announced in the days before the event, without giving much of an opportunity to raise interest and to get a crowd besides the random passers-by.

The off-stage "musicircus" programming was also scaled-down from the previous year, and felt a little threadbare. The central idea of it — creating a sonic mix-and-match that takes over the square — couldn't attain escape velocity with just one act at a time under a miniature tent. In fact, in doing so, it often left the acts feeling less vital than (and occasionally drowned out by) the hucksters and buskers across the street. Yonge-Dundas is never going to be the sort of sonically-pristine environment that most of this music is usually heard in, so it's better to go with the sort of over-the-top/overlapping spectacle we saw a year ago and really animate the square.

All that being said, there was a lot of worthy stuff up on the stage, with local DIY chamber ensembles Spectrum, Thin Edge and junctQín putting up strong work, and Kyle Brenders gathering no fewer than eighteen saxophones on stage to perform his "Haphazard Hinges", which turned out to be the day's highlight.

I'm glad this event happened, and given that the local New Music scene has this stage, I hope it's embraced and built upon in years to come.

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