It’s time to break the ice and start this Scrap Arts Music blog.
Hello World indeed!
It’s true it took us three l-o-n-g years to create our sculptural instruments, and to develop the original repertoire for the instruments, rehearse and refine the performances, and put out our first CD…. but the time since then has been a bit of a blur!
In the fall of 2000 our quintet showcased in Austin Texas at the Arts Midwest booking conference and wound up with a 65-day tour for the 2001-2002 season! Our American debut was scheduled in Philadelphia the following year on 9-11-2001… no kidding. (I’ll post a blog entry about that life altering experience later). Opening night was cancelled, but we completed our Philly run and the tour was ultimately launched — though into a radically transformed world.
Since that time we’ve criss-crossed the United States countless times. Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK soon followed; we performed in eastern Canada and were soon packing our instruments up for shows in Hong Kong and Macau. But without a doubt, the USA is our largest market — the country we’ve traveled and performed the most in. We are so psyched to be heading to Illinois and Texas later this month to start the 2013-2014 season!
What an incredible privilege for a Canadian ensemble! In the US we mostly travel with a mini-van and our rented Penske truck. Thousands and thousands and thousands of miles! We have seen so many iconic towns and cities… and stunning natural landscapes.
Most of the venues we perform in are around 1,200 seats in size, but there have been plenty that are significantly larger (upwards of 2400 seats) and also many that have been much more intimate. The history of a town can be appreciated so well through its architecture. I’ve always thought that our show looks great surrounded by the ornamental proscenium of a vaudeville theatre built in the 1920s (and oftentimes restored to original splendor in the 1980s and ’90s)… but our instruments look equally at home in the glorious acoustically sophisticated spaces that have been designed and built in the last 15 years too. I’m thinking of spaces like the Mondavi Center and the new Harris Center for the Arts in Folsom CA.
We finished a 24-city tour of the Netherlands earlier this year (our fourth tour of that country!) and got to experience firsthand the state-of-the-art architecture of Holland’s flourishing theatre scene. It was fascinating for us to see how theater design enhances the experience of patrons and artists alike – not just the auditorium space, but such areas as the artist’s greenroom (“artiestencafé”) and the public’s bar and lounge. Most of the theaters we performed in were in the heart of the “centrum” or old city, where automobile traffic is restricted –or outright banned– and everyone seems to be riding bicycles – even in February! One of the best things about touring is seeing how other communities live and thrive. We are really looking forward to our return to the Netherlands at the end of January 2014 for a 12-city tour.
So far we’ve performed in fourteen countries on four continents. I had to look up whether Central America was its own continent (we played in Guatemala twice!) — if you were also wondering, it’s part of North America. What a true gift to perform for people who speak different languages — whether it is Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, French, Dutch or Welsh… and still receive genuine warm applause and standing ovations. We thank all those brave promoters and visionary festival organizers who have brought us in and taken a chance.
We recently signed a contract for a 6-8 week tour of Germanic countries in early 2015; Italy might be added to that tour too. Hopefully some South American and other Asian countries will join the tour ‘band wagon’ as well. Who knew we would be invited to perform in so many architecturally spectacular venues, in countries that are so distinct and beautiful, and organized by presenters and festivals with hearts as big as the moon?!
In addition to our MainStage show, we are often invited to perform a shorter, 55-minute show with an educational component for students K-12. I wonder how many thousands of kids have seen our show and, perhaps more importantly, were influenced by it? In some cases we have been able to deliver pre-show and post-show talks to the general audience, lecture demonstrations to college students, hour-long workshops to teachers and/or public school students. We’ve even delivered multi-day master classes in percussion and instrument design to university-level music, engineering and architecture students. We’ve performed for young children with terminal illnesses in hospitals, as well as at center ice during NHL Hockey Games and center court during NBA Basketball Games. The variety of our experiences is truly astonishing to us.
A once-in-a-lifetime career pinnacle was performing during the Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. We wonder what the next will be!
Over the coming months I hope to pull the curtain back and share with you some of the amazing experiences we’ve had with this project. I’ll give insight into our creative process and I’ll share some of the crazier weird things that we’ve done too. Looking forward to getting to know you better.
This blog entry is by co-founder and co-artistic director Justine Murdy. If you have suggestions for what we should or could be blogging about, please don’t hesitate to send your ideas and suggestions our way!!