63 minutes, 2014
Alice Ping Yee Ho
Shannon Mercer, soprano
Krisztina Szabó, mezzo-soprano
Anne Thompson, flute
Diane Leung, viola
Joe Phillips, double bass
Ryan Scott, percussion
Michelle Colton, percussion
Gregory Oh, conductor
Conception: Gary Popovich and Jennifer Waring
Produced by: Gary Popovich, GMP Films, & Jennifer Waring, Continuum Contemporary Music (Toronto)
Direction: Gary Popovich
Souvenir was presented with live ensemble on October 19 and 20, 2014 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto.
Jennifer Waring, Artistic Director of Continuum Contemporary Music (Toronto), suggested a collaboration. Together we arrived at a structure of six seasons, metaphors for stages in the evolution of our universe and human consciousness, and we chose six composers. I gave the composers a set of notes on the images and the narrative flow for each season. The composers then composed their pieces, after which I composed my images to the music they gave me.
Season One: Winter…before our universe, in the membrane realm of fluttering myths, new and old, to the big bang unfolding stars, planets, our home Earth, and life
Season Two: Spring…natural forces form landscapes; an explosion of life; humans, capable of representing the world around them and shaping it, with creative passion and competitive force
Season Three: Summer…agriculture, husbandry; our projections and representations become more expressive and complex; we imagine answers to our question: where did we come from?
Season Four: Autumn…empire forming hallucinations bring tribal leaders greater power, territory and wealth; our machines grow in sophistication, as do methods of pleasure and enslavement
Season Five: Winter…we see the very big and the very small; some forcefully execute their imaginings of a better world, while bodies fall forever silent
Season Six: Spring…plus ca change and we reap what we sow; clearly there’s more to it all than we see…but we can only imagine; we are traveling at the speed of light in an expanding universe, propelling us into a dark dissolution
Jennifer Waring, Artistic Director Emeritus,
Continuum Contemporary Music
Cosmic time, a history of the universe, and within that, a mapping of the development of human self-consciousness, in film and music—those were the aims as Continuum began collaborating with filmmaker Gary Popovich on Souvenir. Rather a big subject, it was influenced by the approaching millennium. Though we overshot that mark, Souvenir has not shrunk from dealing with the big picture, in spite of the many challenges. In fact, with another ten or fifteen years’ technological development, new possibilities emerged for realizing the vision.
I say collaboration, but Souvenir was always more about creating a structure within which composers and filmmaker could work more or less independently while contributing to a unified whole. The conundrum of how to unify a concert program while allowing creative autonomy to a diverse set of artists was a preoccupation at the time—Souvenir was one response. The process has a reflexive quality as composers reacted to the filmmaker’s description of their segment, with the filmmaker then reacting to their work. Because Continuum is in the business of music, it was important that the images be set to music, rather than the other way around as is customary. This ensured the six pieces of music their own logic and coherence, independent of the film, allowing them an independent life.
Gary Popovich has dealt with the challenge of setting images to existing music with his trademark inventiveness—and inventiveness was certainly called for as he found himself in a game of Chinese whispers, his original ideas, as expressed in the structure and descriptions, having been interpreted by the composers in unexpected and marvelous ways, and which were now for him to whisper back through his film.
The composers—Linda Bouchard, Randall Smith, Michael Oesterle, Alice Ping Yee Ho, Jocelyn Morlock and Hiroki Tsuromoto—represent both long-time and recent Continuum colleagues. The list should also include Michael J. Baker whose work for Souvenir was not yet complete at the time of his death in 2000, but who had a lasting effect on the project through many valuable discussions. Souvenir is the result of many voices directed at a common issue, whispering perspectives, inviting response.
Special Thanks to Annette Mangaard for additional footage
Special Thanks to Mike Hoolboom and Steve Sanguedolce for trinity sessions
Thanks to extended families Popovich, Sanguedolce-Bird, Joseph Desjardins, Lisa Freeman, Rick Klok, Louise Lebeau, Jeffrey Paull, John Price
Funding assistance, thanks to:
Canada Council for the Arts, Media Arts
Ontario Arts Council, Media Arts