Thursday, September 1, 2016

BISQC, day 4

Today was halftime intermission for the string quartet competition. Not a day off for the competing groups, who spent it having professional videos, with an award-winning sound engineer, shot of their performances for their use in future publicity - a gift to all the contestants from the festival - but for us ordinary punters in the audience. And, as I discovered when I checked my e-mail this morning, for the cafeteria staff also, as our room & board packages were not to include lunch or dinner today. Would have been nice to have known that earlier. Mind, meals could still be had on campus, or you could walk into town, nearly a mile very much downhill (which means uphill on the way back).

I went downtown. Browsed shops, visited a decent local museum, and gave up on my plan to lunch on a genuine Alberta beefburger when I saw, around the corner, a Cajun restaurant with an impressively authentic-reading menu. Should have known better than to expect I'd get seriously authentic Cajun food up in the Canadian Rockies, though, shouldn't I? It was OK, but it was like the Kazakh conservatory orchestra playing the Candide Overture: knew all the notes but didn't quite get the music. By dinnertime I was back up here, and finding a takeout Caesar salad in the little cafe downstairs, I took that back to my room and made dinner out of that and some of the munchies I'd brought along.

There was one concert, of sorts, this evening. Past BISQC laureate the Afiara Quartet brought a couple of pieces they'd commissioned (from young Canadian composers Kevin Lau and Dinuk Wijeratne), very attractive and interesting music. What was somewhat less attractive or interesting was what they did next: they handed over these innocent pieces to a DJ, one of those guys from dance clubs who puts his hands on LPs while they're playing to wiggle them back and forth and make squiggly sounds, to see what he would do with this music. Standing behind his turntables and other equipment next to the quartet on stage, he created versions of the compositions enhanced with stutters, rap vocals, backing beat rhythms, and of course squiggly sounds. It wasn't anywhere near as awful as this would appear, but I don't think it added much.

We get back to actual serious business again tomorrow.

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