Night Sky at Port William Sound

Evolution of the Last Days of the Holocene

This past week, I was fortunate to return to Port William Sound in Eastern Ontario’s beautiful countryside to continue my collaboration with the ground-breaking and innovative percussion-piano duo, SHHH!! Ensemble.

They’ve commissioned me to compose a new large-scale artivist composition on the theme of climate change. We used this 2nd retreat as a means to dive into the creative process. I composed a 1st draft of the 1st 10 minutes of the work. The opening of this work is ominous, chaotic and horrific sounding. I appreciated spending this tranquil time in the beauty of nature to offset the intensity of the music I was composing. It was wonderful to get feedback in real time from Edana and Zac as I composed.

This was a follow-up to our 1st retreat here in October where we dreamt and brainstormed what we wanted this project to convey, planned out the structure of the piece and discussed the many percussion instruments that could be included. We also enjoyed a beautiful hike in nearby Frontenac Provincial Park. It’s amazing how great ideas are born out of spending time in the great outdoors.

With the working title, An Auditory Survey of the Last Days of the Holocene, this composition will index those sounds of our destructive past and present, with the hope that the music becomes a historical catalogue, like a museum gallery, for those destructive reverberations that no longer exist in the wild because humans decided it was time to dismantle them. If we choose this path, we can ensure a future for the sounds that are truly important to us, making certain those continue to thrive for epochs to come. We might be entering a new age out of the mistakes of our past but with a re-birth comes the ability to choose how you want to move forward.

This continuous single-movement 60-minute composition will be for various percussion instruments (both pitched and non-pitched), grand piano, plus fixed and live sound design. The sound design will be made up of audio samples that capture various activities that are associated with environmental degradation that are contributing to human-made climate change.

I will complete composing this work in early 2023. SHHH!! will then record the Holocene at the pristine venue of Domaine Forget in Spring 2023.

All this would not be possible without the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Stay tuned to my social media channels, my blog posts and my e-newsletter for updates on our progress.

Holocene Commission by composer Frank Horvat

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