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For where love is no word can be compounded
extravagant enough to frame the kiss
and so I use the under-emphasis,
the muted note, the less than purely rounded.
Excerpt from “The Understatement,” Cosmologies, by P.K. Page
Unaccompanied trombone and voice boldly interpret the poems of the late P.K. Page through song and dance. Scott Thomson’s suite of songs originally commenced in 2010 as arrangements for his Steve Lacey inspired project, The Rent, but have since been adapted to an intimate duet specially designed for vocalist/dancer Susanna Hood. Together they fuse word and song with dances choreographed and performed by Susanna Hood, “what emerges is a kind of dance between voice and trombone, between word and sound, a subtle counterpoint between conjoined melodies and ideas of voice, always in close connection to the gestural power of Page’s phrases,” Stuart Broomer, Music Works, 2013.
POST-CONCERT TALK BACK SESSION
Following their performance, Governor General Award winner and author of Journey with No Maps, A Life of P.K. Page Sandra Djwa joins artists Scott Thomson and Susanna Hood in a conversation.
Scott Thomson is a trombonist and composer who lives in Montréal, having moved from Toronto in 2010. He plays in established groups in many styles, and prizes ad hoc improvising as a way to meet many creative people. He has studied with Roswell Rudd, Jean Derome, Eddie Prévost, and John Oswald. Thomson is one of the founders of the Association of Improvising Musicians in Toronto (AIMToronto), and co-directs the AIMToronto Orchestra, which was formed for a project with Anthony Braxton in September 2007. While in Toronto, Scott was the artistic director of Somewhere There, a performance space for live creative music in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood that he founded in 2007. Scott has composed a series of site-specific works that he calls ‘cartographic compositions’ for mobile musicians and audiences in unconventional performance contexts, including pieces for the galleries and corridors of the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario. His principal project, currently, is a multi-faceted project with singer and dance artist, Susanna Hood, to perform his suite of songs based on P.K. Page poems. For this project, The Muted Note, Scott and Susanna perform the suite as a duo; with Scott’s quintet, The Disguises; and as a full stage work featuring Susanna’s choreography on three other dancers with live music by The Disguises.
Susanna Hood is a compelling and virtuosic performer in dance and music. She began her career with Toronto Dance Theatre, 1991-95. Independently, she has performed the works of various Toronto choreographers; created singing/dancing roles with Autumn Leaf Productions; acted on film for filmmaker Philip Barker; created music for the dance works of Louis Laberge Coté, Rebecca Todd, and Eryn Dace Trudell; collaborated extensively with composers John Oswald and Nilan Perera; and performed widely as an improviser in dance and music. Her collaborative projects as well as her own choreography and music compositions have been presented throughout Toronto, nationally, and internationally on stage and film since 1991. She has won the K.M. Hunter Emerging Artist Award and the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. Her principal project, currently, is a multi-faceted project with composer and trombonist, Scott Thomson, to his perform his suite of songs based on P.K. Page poems. For this project, The Muted Note, Susanna and Scott perform the suite as a duo; with Scott’s quintet, The Disguises; and as a full stage work featuring Susanna’s choreography on three other dancers with live music by The Disguises.
Patricia Kathleen Page (1917-2010) is one of Canada’s most celebrated literary figures, and wrote some of this nation’s finest poems. Although she was best known as a Canadian poet, the citation as she was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada reads “poet, novelist, script writer, playwright, essayist, journalist, librettist, teacher and artist.” She was the author of more than thirty published books that include poetry, fiction, travel diaries, essays, children’s books, and an autobiography. As a visual artist, she exhibited her work as P.K. Irwin at a number of venues in Canada and abroad. Her works are in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario. By special resolution of the United Nations, in 2001 Page’s poem “Planet Earth” was read simultaneously in New York, the Antarctic, and the South Pacific to celebrate the International Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations.
Sandra Djwa is a Canadian writer, critic and cultural biographer. Originally from Newfoundland, she moved to British Columbia where she obtained her PhD from the University of British Columbia in 1968. In 1999, she was honored to deliver the Garnett Sedgewick Memorial Lecture in honor of the department’s 80th anniversary. She taught Canadian literature in the English department at Simon Fraser University from 1968 to 2005 when she retired as J.S. Woodsworth Resident Scholar, Humanities. She was part of a seventies movement to establish the study of Canadian literature and, in 1973, cofounded the Association for Canadian and Québec Literatures (ACQL). She was Chair of the inaugural meeting of ACQL. She initiated textual studies of the poems of E.J. Pratt in the eighties, was editor of Poetry, “Letters in Canada” for the University of Toronto Quarterly (1980-4), and Chair of Canadian Heads and Chairs of English (1989). She is best known for articles on Canadian poets like Margaret Atwood and for her biographies of distinguished Canadians including F.R. Scott, and Roy Daniells. The biography of PK Page, Journey With No Maps was released in the fall of 2012 by McGill-Queen’s University Press. It was shortlisted for the 2013 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. It also won the 2013 Governor General Award for Non-fiction.