Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recording: Listening Choir

Artist: SummerWorks Listening Choir #1

Songs: [five scenes from a Listening Choir walk]

Recorded in and around The Theatre Centre (SummerWorks Festival: Listening Songs: Listening Choir), August 13, 2015.

SummerWorks Listening Choir #1 - Part 1 [sound poetry]

SummerWorks Listening Choir #1 - Part 2 [development proposal]

SummerWorks Listening Choir #1 - Part 3 [wandering balladeer]

SummerWorks Listening Choir #1 - Part 4 [keys, fences, arches, birds]

SummerWorks Listening Choir #1 - Part 5 [patio pop]

For a half-dozen sessions over three days during the SummerWorks Festival, Christopher Willes and Adam Kinner led small groups in the West Queen West neighbourhood around The Theatre Centre calling on participants to interact with their sonic environment — and above all, to listen. Armed with DIY recorder/speaker boxes, the walkers both added to the neighbourhood's sonic diversity and sampled it to play back in a floating zone of slightly-distorted loops. This walking tour was a bit of a spectacle to passers-by, but more stirringly a call to the participants to remember that in their own daily strolls that there are so many sounds to attend to and secret places to playfully unlock: from air-conditioning ducts to the echo-chamber possibilities of a condo window; from the ringing echo of a set of keys on a metal fence to the secret codes of a hidden speaker on a restaurant patio. And meanwhile in the background is the city's own sonic weave and weft: trains rumble by, a siren's tocsin pushes past, birds chirp on sidewalk trees. We're in it all the time, but so rarely consciously of it.

Later in the day after participating in the Choir, I was making my way back along Queen on the streetcar, reflecting on the new details I'd learned about the neighbourhood I was rolling through. And just then, with perfect timing, a later Choir group emerged from the arch between the condo buildings across from Northcote, setting down their speaker boxes to create a temporary clanging symphony. The sounds surround us all the time, just waiting to be listened to.

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