the city is immortal

The city chooses to bear the traces of its citizenry. Somehow these traces – smooth and shiny and rounded – lend the city a legitimacy and presence in the world. Maybe the city takes on these traces in an effort to gan a foothold on the earth, that without them it remains only an idea.

The city finds its way into its inhabitants in more ways than one. It forces itself not only into the neural pathways of its citizens – their thoughts and dreams – but also into their physical systems. The city forces its way into the lungs, ears, eyes, encompassing absolutely every single atom within. The city-conglomerate inhabits the totality of its space, depositing traces on every surface, inside and out, in an effort to be carried beyond its own boundaries. It doesn’t offer any choice but this – to enter a city is to acquiesce to this arrangement.

In the body, the city rests. It settles, is carried, permeates. It asserts itself throughout its own parts, expressing a character and identity readily parsed no matter who observes. Within the confines of itself, it is omniscient, knowing and updating itself to remain à temps and evolving in response to the state of its systems and actors.

Mote by mote the city expands its footprint farther and farther, trailing on shoes, in lungs and throats, embedded into the synapses of travellers – spreading like a living organism through myriad vectors across the surface of the planet and in the inner hearts of the people who pass through. In this way the city courts immortality yet again.


I’ve been working hard my first season at the Stratford Festival on three different shows. I’ve met many incredible people – actors, technicians, directors, administrators, support staff, the list goes on.

I’ve often thought earlier on when I was playing more music that I was grateful for the friendships I had, because I mostly played music with my friends.  I wasn’t put in the same position as, say, a jazz musician who might play with a different quartet every night, or a jobbing musician – I largely played music with the people I loved.

As I spend more and more time in the world of theatre, I find that these new connections and friendships remain a large part of my creative life. They nurture me and give me energy to deal with the myriad pressures and logistical surprises that come from working in the larger (and very large!) venues that I am finding myself in sometimes.  I stay grateful and open hearted, and I’ve been rewarded with a rich community of new friendships, that filter into the work I’ve been doing telling stories.

I like this way of working – enjoying people’s company, depending on their skill, collaborating and telling stories on many levels. It makes my work richer, and I’m glad that I move this way through the world.

radio (2)

A city is enveloped in haze – magnetic and electrical fields; pollution; particulates; light; sound; smell; language; transportation; water vapour; incense; the smoke from cooking fires; information; cabling; subsonic tremors; ambition; desire.

This haze is arranged in layers. Aeronautical regions and flight paths – 1 layer. Cell phone towers and signal repeaters – another. Power lines, roads, sewers, subways and those grids buried deeper. History. These make up only a vanishingly tiny few of those layers that surround and support the being of the city. They rattle and jolt the populace and affect them in countless other ways. The city actualizes itself.

The systems designed to make sense of the city by its inhabitants are in effect created by the city itself. It requires these infrastructures to strengthen its impact on the earth, its own selfhood. In that regard those that build to make sense of the city are in fact merely executing its will rather than their own. Our building of the city, our struggles to come to grips with it and its function – we become cells in a body, DNA executing programmed codes to strengthen the host and keep it alive, healthy and growing. It is not its inhabitants that use these systems, it is the city itself, sending us on a million small errands to keep itself vibrant and alive.

There are new options available to the city as new developments in technology, architecture, construction and engineering arise. Growth in three dimensions is more possible and issues surrounding high level dwelling are addressed in order to give the city more of a place on the earth, or rather to allow it to concentrate its resources and offset the energy drain of self maintenance.

For make no mistake, fatigue is a real possibility. The Arab Spring, the Gezi Park protests, PEGIDA – the fatigue of this city plays a part in these events, and has indeed always had a hand in the events that stand out in human history. Urban planning, urban health and social justice, politics, science, engineering, immigration, food safety, sustainability and green energy, economics – the city’s involvement in the arc of new thinking and developments in these fields is clear.

Do we need art?

I am sitting in the theatre (as I often am these days), watching actors and directors and other creative people tear apart words to find meaning and intent and moments that resonate. Would that we live our whole lives like that from moment to moment. But then would we need art?


and see
radios /

A Suggested Perspective of the Body

– a porous field of energy, constantly replenished and diminished by the fields of energy encompassing it

– a finite and definite boundary

– multiple systems of informatino transfer, housed within a structure of questionalbe durability

– the repository of its own history, a library of experience that is built on every moment and then carried further; a fossil record it its movement through space and time

– an intricately designed and efficient infrastructure, the sole purpose of which is to protect, support, and enable a thinking and feeling apparatus, the brain

– a sparse grouping of probability waves, slightly denser than the waves surrounding it

– a study in causality and the inexorable unfolding of the laws of the universe

– a random event triggered by cosmic rays

– a complex structure for manipulating physical matter through space

– a collection of periodic and aperiodic cycles, the collective execution of which mark the rate of decay of the system

– a gathering of innumerable binary forms – physical switches that, in aggregate, complete behaviours thought to be intricate and multiplex

– an engine that drives and is in symbiosis with articulations of ideas, many of which are not able to be expressed with verbal language

– the rude form that belies the various and delicate sensations within it

– constant and regular pulses of various intensities

– secretions of molecules in multiple states, either for purposes of maintenance of stasis or dissemination of information

– sensors designed to interact and relay information to a central processing instrument, even when dormant or in stillness

– a continuing, non stop scan of data that is constantly updated and acted upon in the short and long term

– the first step in a complicated process of parsing the world and extrapolating increasingly abstract and finer ideas about the laws governing space time and how the universe functions, ideas that become more and more difficult to express using conventional communication systems and rules that were developed to describe observed phenomena or behaviour

i have nothing to say and i am saying it

I like to tell stories. I’ve begun to see a pattern in the many projects I undertake – a desire to tell stories. These are not always the stories that have a beginning, a middle and end – sometimes they are the stories that I carry in my body and hands.

I recently played a concert that was the kind of presentation that is more conventional than the ones I often find myself in – a large hall, filled with people and with a band on stage. I realized that even here there is a story I am telling when playing a piece of music as part of an ensemble. It is the story of the years of practice, of (sometimes) frustration and (often) joy, and the slow dawning of the realization that I cannot be all things, I can only be myself.

I used to feel bad that I was “untrained” and feel that technique was lacking. That may be true, but in the many many years that I have been working at my craft and art, a kind of understanding has arisen, an understanding that I, myself, have a voice and a story to tell as part of the accumulated experience of my heart, mind and body. And that story is one that is worth sharing, because it is unique – mine and only mine.

So the theatre work that I do, the many artists that I collaborate with, the sound art and radiophonic works I create – they are all part of this unique story of me. And while this post is in danger of sounding self aggrandizing and egoistic, this is only because I cannot put into words properly what this story means in the larger world around me. It has meaning, and it is only one small cell in the giant organism of sound and being.



A story can be read many ways – it is strongest when it is open, allowing many streams of interpretation at once. To discover and present these streams to the viewer through sound is my job.

In creating sound for drama, and in particular on the stage, we have 2 concurrent sets of demands – those addressing logistics of the performance space and those addressing storytelling. These 2 sets must work together, so that sound highlights aural characteristics that are integral to the setting while at the same time participating in the development of the arc of the play – the emotional journey of the characters and the id of the story. Sound becomes one of the collaborators in the performance of the text, be it on stage, through a speaker, or on a screen.

Radiophonic art is also a kind of theatre, a theatre for the listener wherever they might be.  My lessons from the stories I’ve accompanied  often make themselves felt in these poetic spaces. The rhythm of the text. Where and what becomes emphasized. These are decisions I get to make when shaping these works, and the theatre artists (and musicians and dancers and choreographers and filmmakers) I have collaborated with over the years participate through the moments I sculpt as a composer.

Stories are strongest when they are open and distilled. They contain secrets that are revealed through unexpected channels – a look, a word, the sound of a footstep or the echo of a hallway, the fall of light across a floor. I look for and discover these secrets, and they guide my hand and ear in the making of the music. They whisper to me, and I whisper back. Together we offer our small contribution to the many pieces of the story that comes to your eye and ear, and moves you.



I’ve been blessed to collaborate with a lot of great artists in my time.

The partnerships that seemed to me to be the most joyous, productive and challenging were the ones in which I was able to be humble and listen with a soft heart.  They often seemed to be the ones where I felt I was punching above my weight – working with people whose work I admired and was inspired by.  Sometimes these collaborations came about because of someone else bringing a group together, but sometimes they happened because I asked.  And while these collaborators may not have had a very deep or solid idea of what I might bring to the project or my “skills” or “ability”, they were experienced and open enough to let me in.

Whenever I embark on a solo piece or am in a situation where I feel I am on my own somehow creatively, I draw on these experiences to help me discover which way I should go.  It isn’t a recipe, really – it’s more like a kind of hum that moves me onwards in the creation of the project.  I can feel when it is working and when it isn’t.

I guess now it is trite to say that we are a sum of our experiences, but I get a chance to feel that everyday in the work that I do.

Feeling pretty lucky, is what I call it.