SOUNDS like summer

Karla Hayward
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Sound Symposium brings music for your ears, and much more

It's happened to you, hasn't it? You stumble home from George Street, maybe having imbibed a wee bit too much, just as the sun is creeping over the horizon. You sink into your suddenly cloud-like bed and think, "I'm not getting up until the sun goes down."

Just a few short hours later, you're thrown from your slumber by what sounds like Judgment Day. Every horn on every vessel in the harbour is wailing in time.

It's happened to you, hasn't it? You stumble home from George Street, maybe having imbibed a wee bit too much, just as the sun is creeping over the horizon. You sink into your suddenly cloud-like bed and think, "I'm not getting up until the sun goes down."

Just a few short hours later, you're thrown from your slumber by what sounds like Judgment Day. Every horn on every vessel in the harbour is wailing in time.

"What is it?" you scream.

Why, it's the Sound Symposium's Harbour Symphony, of course.

That sometimes mournful, always unmistakable harbour-horn harmony is but a tiny part of the 10-day soundscape that is the Sound Symposium. Now in its 25th year (it's held biennially), the 2008 Symposium is chock-a-block with amazing aural action. Here's an overview, broken down into quick bites.

Not to be missed music

The heart and soul of the Sound Symposium is of course, fabulous music, played with extreme skill and enough energy to light up the skyline. Unfortunately, it's impossible to touch on it all in one article. That's what complete schedules are for! Go to the website, www.soundsymposium.com, and get yours. But, here's just a few: Mark Bragg and Andy Jones "Songalouges" at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre on Saturday, July 5; Pierre-Yves Martel on double-bass and viola on July 6; John Taylor on jazz piano at D.F. Cook Recital Hall on July 11; The Discounts at The Ship Pub on July 12.

There's also the music of Gayle Young. She will perform a tribute to symposium stalwart Mike Zagorski, as well as other shows. She is the first to be named "The Mike Zagorski Artist."

"We have decided to honour him, and honour an artist each symposium by calling them The Mike Zagorski Artist," says Kathy Clark-Wherry.

Young, a composer, musician and instrument builder worked with Zagorski and has appeared at many symposiums.

Quiet music

Bill Brennan is another longtime symposium organizer. He'll star in a Quiet Music concert, happening Monday, July 7 at D.F. Cook Recital Hall. It'll be one man and his piano, and Brennan's piano is more than worthy of your upturned ear. Zari Trio will also "play quietly" July 9 with their "Music of the Republic of Georgia" show. Marianne Trudel on piano rounds out the Quiet Music series on July 10.

Night music

Night Music is actually a year-round program that happens every month at The Ship Pub. It kicks into high gear for the Sound Symposium however, happening just about every night.

Event programmer Craig Squires says, "In the past, it was by and large a showcase for local artists. It was another venue for locals to be part of it in many ways. This year it's less that way." He says this year it's about half-and-half locals and come-from-aways (or at least locals paired up with CFAs). This year, check out McKUDO, The Pathological Lovers, Nasal Furniture, Kim Barlow and many more.

Not quite music

And of course, the Sound Symposium isn't only about sound - though sound is a part of all things symposium. There are visual exhibitions, dance, film and more. "We ask people to think about how sound is part of what they do," says Clark-Wherry. "So any artistic practice is welcome. It could be sound poetry, film that has to do with sound, anything like that. But we do focus on sound. It's not just like, 'Oh, bring your paintings.'"

An example? How about a laby-rinth in the former Newfoundland and Labrador Art Gallery? In it, wanderers will be treated to various sound compositions at each turn and twist. Check it out.

Or how about some dance? "There's actually a fair bit of dance this year," says Brennan. Local Lynn Panting is creating a new piece for 12 dancers, called "Breathe," that can be seen on the Arts and Culture Centre lawn on Sunday, July 13. Sarah Joy Stoker will dance part of "Sapiens Lay Here" late night at the LSPU Hall on Friday, July 11.

Some art, you ask? There's "Extreme Centre," an interactive installation at the Arts and Culture Centre; "Nameless," a piece of sound poetry at the Hall July 7, and Marlene Creates' "Boreal Poetry Garden" in Portugal Cove.

Music for tin ears

And finally, for those of you with a tin ear, there's a community event happening Sunday, July 6, in which the CBC's Angela Antle is encouraging people to get out their kitchen pots and pans - or gongs - and travel up to Signal Hill for an early morning "Banging in of the Sound Symposium."

The Sound Symposium can be heard all over St. John's July 3 to 13.

Organizations: The Ship Pub, The Discounts, Newfoundland and Labrador Art Gallery CBC

Geographic location: George Street, St. John's, Republic of Georgia Portugal Cove Signal Hill

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