I’ve recently completed a course of independent study with composer Martin Arnold supported by the BC Arts Council’s Early Career Development program. The aim of the study was to focus as much on questions directly related to composition as on questions about the nitty-gritty of maintaining an artistic practice. In particular, I wanted to learn from Martin’s experience maintaining a productive composition career alongside various other occupations (including landscape gardening, arts administration, and pedagogy), as I’ve felt strained trying to find a balance in this area myself.
This post will summarize the practical portion of the study. The conversation around mental health and burnout has recently occupied more public attention but has yet to find its way into institutional pedagogy. It’s my hope that the information in this post will be useful in a very pragmatic way to other composers, musicians, and artists at large in maintaining long and healthy practices.
new music for solo bass
May – June 2018
Dave Riedstra, contrabass
new compositions by Annette Brosin, Darren Miller, Janet Sit, Liam Ross Gibson, and Mitch Renaud
exhibit-v stopped by arc·hive this past weekend to chat with me about my installation 802.11. You can hear the interview and some of the installation here. 802.11 is open at arc·hive artist run centre weekend afternoons until 25 March 2018 (more info here).
My installation 802.11 opens this Friday at arc·hive artist run centre (2516 Bridge St, Victoria, BC). I’ve been working on this on and off for well over a year, so it’s very exciting to have it materialize in a public gallery setting.
802.11 constructs a living architecture of sound by fusing the existing physical and electromagnetic structures of its host space. Using techniques developed for network penetration testing, 802.11 transforms environmental WiFi traffic into an immersive soundscape. By revealing the unseen signals traversing the wireless ethernet, Riedstra’s installation offers a new way to explore and consider the omnipresent materials of our digital lives.
weekends 9–25 March 2018 noon–5pm
opening reception Friday 9 March 7–9pm
more exhibitions at arc·hive
In the summer of 2018 I will study various aspects of composition with Martin Arnold in Toronto. I’m excited for this opportunity to work with him and to be active in the Toronto new music community. I’m especially looking forward to helping out with the Toronto Creative Music Lab.
Something Arnold and I plan to focus the study on is the maintenance of an effective balance between work-life, life-life, and music/art-life. This is a topic which I believe hasn’t received the attention it should and is particularly relevant for Canadian artists. I’ll do my best to post any interesting insights and strategies here.
I’ve been seeing a few mentions of performances of pieces I’ve written around the web, so I thought I’d start to collect them here.
“Subsequent composition ) ( by David Riedstra, however, prepared a trio of voices of meditation exercises, a very similar match with the environment, but the interpreters with their toughness managed to get rid of the reality and then the listener could be dazed by a “non-material” floating composition.”
Šimon Kořený and Jakub Španihel for Opera+ on the Czech performance of ] [ by members of Canticum Ostrava (translation courtesy of Google Translate; a different version says the performers “were able to lose their virtues”)
“Dave Riedstra’s Prairie Trails was a virtuoso performance on clarinet by Nathan Friedman–of all the compositions I found it demanded the greatest attention due to the voice-less nature of many of the sounds produced.”
Janis La Couvee on Friedman’s Victoria performance of Prairie Trails (43%)
“…in the case of Nathan Friedman’s, Dave Riedstra’s and Hollas Longton’s pieces, the sound was propagated both via acoustic phenomena and live electronic techniques, where the listeners could barely tell the difference between sound, echo and their imagination.”
Maria Eduarda Mendes Martins on Hollas Longton’s performance of Veils
New music by Nathan Friedman and Dave Riedstra performed by Trio Taco and guests
Friday 6 October 8pm
Church of Truth
111 Superior St James Bay
Experience an increase in the density of our shared medium with the premieres of three works. Sierra Phosy and Emily McDermid open the space with Friedman’s duo for piccolo and trumpet. The full complement of flutes then surround the audience with Friedman’s lush antiphon Efflorescence, a polywork of the composer’s Glaucous for strings and a response to Franz Liszt’s Nuages. Finally, Trio Taco and a guest commune in Riedstra’s –——-––—, a beswitchingly intense work for four people performing “not louder than your breath at rest.”
Trio Taco are Bailey Finley, Sierra Phosy, and Alanna Kazdan (flutes, breath). They are joined by guests Jill Broughton, Jasmine Riseley, and Cooper Reed (“Trio Burrito”, flutes), Syssilia H.E. Reid (breath), and Emily McDermid (trumpet).
This event takes place on the unceded traditional territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt nations.
I’ll be attending the Ostrava Days New & Experimental Music Institute & Festival in the Czech Republic in August. I’m very excited that members of Canticum Ostrava will be performing ] [ at St Wenceslas Church in a program of very interesting works. More information here.
Many of my recent works use a semi-strict framework for improvisation named switchcraft (after the work of Dan Mellamphy and Nandita Biswas-Mellamphy). Performing using this framework requires a great amount of work of the performers. They must memorize the material thoroughly, re-learn to synchronize with the other performers, and then develop this continual re-synchronizing into a convincing musical performance and a unique approach to the piece. The performers must accept the possibility of no matter what eventuality and the simultaneous possibility of acting to create change. They must critically reevaluate their own tendencies while employing virtuosity and doing things in the ordinary way.
The written musical material of ] [ is greatly pared down and somewhat inverted. It is hoped that this presents a listener with a similar opportunity to practice sensitivity, virtuosity, and unlearning.
] [ was first performed by Cathy Fern Lewis, Christopher Reiche, and Dave Riedstra in Victoria, BC, Canada, in June of 2016.