Annual Impact Report 2021
(Sept 1, 2020 – Aug 31, 2021)
Welcome to Music on Main, where our mandate is “Music that brings us together.” Since 2006, we’ve produced over 500 events, featuring more than 1,000 musicians, and over 100 world premieres. In 2010, we launched our now-annual Modulus Festival, which made a successful return in the fall of 2021, and which “provides western Canada with one of the finest windows onto the post-classical scene” (Gramophone Magazine).
Music on Main presents top-flight musicians and classical, new, and genre-bending music in casual, welcoming, and inviting environments. At Music on Main, artists are encouraged to develop their practices through new presentation methods, new repertoire, and new ideas. Most importantly, Music on Main concerts are places where attendees can find community. In non-pandemic times, audience members are encouraged to have a glass of wine, meet their neighbours, and chat with artists and their new friends after the show. And, no matter the global situation, connection, community, and care are upheld as core values at each of our events.
Music on Main has earned a global reputation as a musical storyteller for the post-classical age. We create innovative musical experiences by deepening artists’ and audiences’ relationships to music, to each other, and to themselves. In undertaking its mission, Music on Main serves as a community curator, uniting ever-increasing and diverse audiences through new and innovative musical experiences.
The 2020/21 season represented a period of artistic growth, strategic development, and continued excellence in mission delivery for Music on Main, despite the systemic challenges linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. We focused more on live and pre-recorded digital events, animated new venues, explored iterative and immersive performance styles, and powerfully advocated for Canadian artists and art. This period also allowed Music on Main to launch into the first phase of “The Tempest Project,” our next immersive music theatre creation which will premiere in 2024.
Photo credits from top left to bottom right: Whitney George’s A Night in Brooklyn (Erika Switzer, Tyler Duncan & Olivia Blander); Jeffrey Ryan’s Everything Already Lost (Erika Switzer & Tyler Duncan); & Erika & Tyler talking. Photos taken by Joanna Dundas. As dreams are made (Saina Khaledi; Rebecca Wenham; Mark Takeshi McGregor), photos taken by Jan Gates. Music for the Winter Solstice (Corey Payette, Julie McIsaac & Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa) & Music for the Winter Solstice 2020 postcard. Photos taken by Lindsay Dober.
Artistic Highlights From 2020/21:
Return of Artistic Alumni: 2020/21 was a season filled with opportunities to feature some of our most celebrated artists from the Lower Mainland. Through live and digital events, artist talks and pop-up concerts, and other activities that built community, Music on Main maintained our commitment to sustainably engaging artists, providing them with reasons and opportunities to play, and investing in the deepening of relationships between audiences and musicians.
Given the occasion of Music on Main’s 15th season, we reached out to artists from past years to participate in programming. This included Erika Switzer and Tyler Duncan (who first performed with us in 2007/08), who collaborated with cellist Olivia Blander for a series of beautiful videos filmed in the lobby of UBC’s Chan Centre.
The 2020 edition of Music for the Winter Solstice shifted online, but that did not make it any less welcoming and warm! A brand-new video featuring past performers Corey Payette, Julie McIsaac, and Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa was unified with some of Music on Main’s favourite recordings from past live performances, creating a concert-length video, offered to audiences as both a live event, and an on-demand offering for weeks thereafter. This special offering was available to audiences at their leisure after our watch party on December 16, 2020 until January 6, 2021. Some of the past performers included in this video were Caroline Shaw, Steve Maddock, Gabriel Kahane, Veda Hille, Carman J. Price, and Karen Gerbrecht.
Following a successful summer 2020 offering of two summer pop-up concerts, Music on Main offered a full series of these events at Mount Pleasant Park in July and August 2021. The ten Pop-Up Concerts featured some of our favourite past artists, including Mark Takeshi McGregor, Adrian Verdejo, Rebecca Wenham, and Julia Chien. We connected in person with an appreciative audience of more 3,000 citizens.
World Premieres: The 2020/21 season was also replete with world premieres at Music on Main. The year started off with As dreams are made, which represented a personal and pragmatic response to the global pandemic, as well as the first exploration into the future full-length immersive performance, “The Tempest Project.” These 1:1 events provided a very intimate experience for one audience member and one musician, enabling them to connect safely through music. Featuring lighting design by Adrian Muir, a soundscape by Emerge on Main alumna Nancy Tam, and a recorded speech from Shakespeare’s play by actor Katie Findlay, the production had many audience members leaving with tears in their eyes, and marvelling at the exceptional experience.
In January 2021, Music on Main presented the digital edition of the world premiere of Caroline Shaw and Vanessa Goodman’s kinetic new creation: Graveyards and Gardens. This production was shared with the PuSh Festival and was beautifully live-streamed from the ANNEX to almost 500 screens over the two days, plus many more when it was offered as an on-demand video in March 2021. The presentation was also accompanied by a brand-new Listening Guide, which provided readers with in-depth background information on the presentation, its artistic genesis, and creative team.
Later in March, with the special support of a one-time sponsorship from the Kinaxis inConcert program, Music on Main also presented Vancouver’s beloved Microcosmos Quartet, playing Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” and Thomas Adès’s “Arcadiana” in a special live-stream directly from the Fox Cabaret.
In another innovative response to the pandemic, Music on Main created its inaugural “Listening. Together.” Spring Festival in May 2021. Twelve artists came together with the exceptional Collide Entertainment (and Music on Main’s David Pay and Digital Content Strategist Joanna Dundas) to create a series of beautiful videos of performances. These included a world premiere video recording of Keiko Devaux’s Hōrai (which received its world premiere stage performance at the 2021 Modulus Festival). Post-show talkbacks, presentations, and online panels helped to round out the festival experience for attendees.
The final world premiere of the 2020/21 Season was Brooklyn Wood’s “Celadon Waves.” This seventeen-year-old composer and violinist composed her piece for her friends and colleagues in the Kessler Academy.
Music on Main’s successes are made continually possible thanks to our partnerships. Over the 2020/21 season, we struck meaningful and lasting relationships with the following organizations, among others:
The Chan Centre, The Cultch, Action at a Distance, Infamy Too!, PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, Microcosmos Quartet, Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre, Vancouver Civic Theatres, The Fox Cabaret, Collide Entertainment, Vancouver Parks Board, and The Post at 750.
Photo credits from top left to bottom right: The Kessler Academy, photo taken by Jan Gates. Graveyards and Gardens (Vanessa Goodman), photos taken by David Cooper. Microcosmos Quartet (Marc Destrubé, Rebecca Wenham, Andrea Siradze & Tawnya Popoff), photo taken by Joanna Dundas. Behind the Scenes with Dálava (Aram Bajakian & Julia Ulehla), photo taken by Lindsay Dober. Summer Pop Up Concerts – Saina Khaledi & Ali Sajjadi; Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa; & Music on Main All Star Band in Terry Riley’s In C, photos taken by Jan Gates.