Circle of Sleep

@ 10:00pm-6:00am


$30 General Admission / $25 Students & WF Members

Two performances: Friday January 20 & Saturday January 21, 10pm to 6am

Circle of Sleep is an overnight concert, a meditation on sleep and dreaming that’s also a marathon of cutting-edge Canadian electronic music. Featuring nine artists from ambient music, new media, conceptual art, and improvisation, Circle of Sleep guides the audience through dream states from 10pm until dawn.

Vancouver composer Hildegard Westerkamp opens the evening with a bedtime story commissioned by Western Front. An international expert on environmental sound, Westerkamp brings her advocacy of ‘acoustic ecology’ to the circle. Her new work, Once Upon a Time … , combines multi-channel soundscapes with a fairy tale about technology, capitalism, and noise pollution.

Montreal’s Sandeep Bhagwati is at the leading edge of research into performer-interactive digital art and the melding of composed and improvised music through technology. With composer-programmer Navid Navab, he has developed performance software that creates real-time ‘comprovisation’ with a live performer, dialoguing with the live musician’s ideas in polyphonic surround sound. In this concert, Bhagwati’s software score acts as oracle or dream guide, helping the musicians and audience navigate an unconscious landscape. Veteran local improvisers Coat Cooke (saxophone) and Mei Han (zheng) perform in this digital oracle’s Vancouver debut.

Metis performance artist Cheryl L’Hirondelle (Waynohtêw) revisits her 2009 Western Front commissioned work,mocikihtatan e-nehiyawiyak, based on the concept of Cree narrative memory and oral culture. L’Hirondelle’s installation-performance invokes the role of the pawâkan, or spiritual dream helper, to map the sites of sleep and sonically lure the audience into a deepened consciousness.

Reflecting the Western Front’s affinity for the methods of the Fluxus art movement, Gordon Monahan remounts a now-classic piece, 1982’s Speaker Swinging. Toronto-based Monahan is best known for provocative and witty sound installations and performances, often based on collisions between high and low culture and technology. Speaker Swinging demands live performers’ physical strength to reproduce “electronic” sounds in a hypnotic and dynamic performance.

As the night turns toward dawn, Circle of Sleep features artists from the ambient scene to draw the audience deeper into the immersive experience, maybe even into inspired dreaming. Navid Navabpresents his own ambient ‘media alkemy,’ joined by Souns (Michael Red) (Friday) and Paul Elam aka Fieldhead (Saturday). Audience members should feel free to bring a pillow and sleeping bag and stay until the morning for more surprises!


Sandeep Bhagwati is an multiple award-winning composer, theatre director and media artist. He has directed international music festivals and intercultural exchange projects with Indian and Chinese musicians and leading new music ensembles; his compositions have been performed worldwide. He was a Professor of Composition at Karlsruhe Music University, and Composer-in-Residence at the IRCAM Paris, ZKM Karlsruhe, Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, IEM Graz, CalArts Los Angeles, Heidelberg University and Tchaikovsky Conservatory Moscow. He also was a guest professor at Heidelberg University in 2009. A Canada Research Chair at Concordia University, he currently directs the Hexagram and matralab centres for research into arts and technology. His current work focuses on combining composition and improvisation, intercultural aesthetics, and interactive electronic arts, music, and new media. MATRALAB

Coat Cooke – saxophonist, improviser, composer and bandleader – is one of Canada’s leading creative musicians. Coat is artistic director of the legendary NOW Orchestra (now Orkestra Futura), a mainstay of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and a prolific collaborator with jazz and creative musicians from Canada and around the world. COAT COOKE WEBSITE

Paul Elam as Fieldhead produces ambient/electronic music that delights in tape hiss, bleak landscapes and decaying analogue loops. Fieldhead’s latest release is the ‘Riser’ EP on Gizeh Records. Fieldhead tracks have appeared on compilations from Second Language Records and Japan’s Nothings66 records. FIELDHEAD WEBSITE

Mei Han is an explorer on the zheng (Chinese zither), performing everything from traditional music to collaborations with symphony orchestras, creative improvisers, and electronica. She has commissioned and premiered works by local composers John Oliver and Janet Danielson, and appeared on many recordings including the Juno-nominated Distant Wind and Road to Kashgar. MEI HAN WEBSITE

Cheryl L’Hirondelle (Waynohtêw) is an Alberta-born Metis musician and interdisciplinary artist based in Vancouver and Toronto. Working between tradition and the avant-garde, her practice combines the Cree worldview (nêhiyawin) and the creative expression of other indigenous and youth cultures. L’Hirondelle develops performances, infiltrations and interventions, site-specific installations, and keeps singing, making rhythm, dancing and telling stories whenever and wherever she can. CHERYL L’HIRONDELLE WEBSITE

Gordon Monahan has created provocative sound sculptures and performances across Canada, from turning North Vancouver’s Lynn Creek into a musical instrument to throwing a piano off a cliff in St. John’s, NL. An award-winning composer and sound artist, he examines the physics of music while raising issues around technology, the environment, and popular culture. He has worked around the world since 1978, with residencies and performances at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, Banff Centre for the Arts, Venice Biennale, San Francisco Exploratorium, D.A.A.D. Berlin, The Kitchen (NYC) and Western Front. GORDON MONAHAN WEBSITE

Navid Navab is a Montreal based ‘media-alkemist,’ composer, programmer, and sound designer. Navid uses gestures, rhythms and vibrations from everyday life as the basis for sound generation, resulting in ambient pieces that are entrancing, hypnotic, and eerily familiar. His investigations range from fixed compositions to responsive architecture, interface design, theatre, and improv based performances. NAVID NAVAB WEBSITE

Michael Red is a solo electronic music performer who records and presents events as Souns. His work typically focuses on ambient/experimental electronic music using loops and samples, working in areas of hyper-minimal tones and pure textures of soundscape, supported by dub bass lines and quiet rhythms. MICHAEL RED ON MYSPACE

Hildegard Westerkamp is a composer whose work since the mid-seventies has centred around environmental sound and acoustic ecology. Based in Vancouver, she travels widely, giving concerts and lectures, and conducting soundscape workshops throughout the world. She is a founding member and is currently active on the board of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE). She is a co-editor of Soundscape—The Journal of Acoustic Ecology, a publication of the WFAE (see: Her own website offers more detailed information about her various activities in the areas of soundscape composition, acoustic ecology and soundscape studies: HILDEGARD WESTERKAMP WEBSITE