If you are curious about blending two very distinct musical worlds, there has probably never been a better place and time than Vancouver and Now. As the city hosts large populations with European and Asian heritage, it seems inevitable that these cultures should mix and create something new and distinctly Canadian. As someone who has lived in the city for nearly 18 years, a city known for its openness and spirit of innovation, it surprises me how little musical cross-pollination seems to be happening. Enter the Sound of Dragon.
Mark Armanini and Lan Tung in Taipei
With one foot in the folk traditions of China and the other in the wild improvisational aesthetic of jazz, the Sound of Dragon Ensemble is blazing a brave new standard for what Canadian music can be. The first hour of this week’s program presents an intriguing conversation with SODE composers Lan Tun, John Oliver, and Mark Armanini, longtime residents of Vancouver and scholars of sonic alchemy. Catch their spring concert this thursday!
Presenting ancient music of the future! This week we are joined in the studio by musical mastermind John Oliver, composer and guitarist in Vancouver’s magically sublime Big World Band. We discuss the inception of this renegade project, the balance between tradition and innovation, and the spectral journey into cultural cross-pollination. John also presents live recordings from recent performances, describing how the songs were carved into existence.
Next, we take a trip to the Micronesian nation of Kiribati, a lovely scatter-shot of islands (atolls, to be precise) in the west central Pacific Ocean. Kiribati’s days are numbered, as it will be one of the first countries to be swallowed up by rising sea levels. I suppose Kevin Costner may be a prophet after all..
But the music and people of Kiribati will live on (possibly in Fiji). Unexplored by Europeans until 1892, Kiribati’s music is uniquely unaffected by external influence. As far as we can tell, the i-Kiribati (strangest demonym ever – seemingly sponsored by Apple) have no traditional musical instruments. But they discovered long ago that the bare body makes a thumpin’ percussion sound when combined with high-octane group chanting! Hear this and some (slightly) more modern sounds in our musical ode to a Commonwealth brother. On behalf of all Canadians, we would like to invite the displaced people of Kiribati to our polar opposite paradise.