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Daniel Brandes is a Wandelweiser composer from Victoria, BC. Nick Storring is a Toronto based composer and electronic artist who has worked with everyone from Rhys Chatham to Daniel Johnston.

Violin, autoharp, cello, (toy) piano, kalimba, melodica, pitch pipe, bird call and others crawl together through pastoral realms, trading soft beauty for strange weather as their journey takes them deeper. Over two long-form pieces, a musical conversation in whispers births a momentous creation of the gentlest sort.


Bespoken was assembled in the spring of 2013 with no intent of becoming any sort durable formation—chamber ensemble, band, or otherwise. Its foundational directive was simply to perform a concert featuring the two pieces on this recording— aigre-douce by Nick Storring (composed specifically for this group), and Daniel Brandes’ intimations of melody. Said concert led to chemistry which opened unto a recording and the prospect of further work together.

In many respects, aigre-douce, insofar as it was composed for this ensemble, defined the nature of the project in its debut incarnation. The score was designed to be legible to notationally-oriented musicians and simultaneously geared toward players of a more aural bent. Although it articulates a well-defined trajectory, the score also demands a high degree of intuitive decision-making, personal temperament, and, most of all, listening.

The members of the group represent a diverse set of relationships with respect to notation and improvisation. Cheryl Duvall and Ilana Waniuk are primarily chamber musicians and artistic directors behind Thin Edge New Music Collective, where their curatorial sensibilities engage a variety of compositional approaches. Nick Storring frequently writes for ensembles (including Thin Edge), though his performance practice and a substantial portion of his compositional work is grounded wholly in intuition and improvisation. Brandon Valdivia attended Wilfrid Laurier’s music program with Duvall, Waniuk and Storring, and subsequently immersed himself in Toronto’s experimental music scene, building a reputation as a highly unique and sensitive multi-instrumentalist and improviser. Matthew Ramolo, who primarily works solo under the name Khôra, is the group’s autodidact. His relationship with notation is the most tenuous of all, but this highly sophisticated, self-trained perspective was needed to truly cement the ensemble dynamic that aigre-douce required.

Daniel Brandes’ affiliation with Wandelweiser meant that he was also invested in creating a community-based form of ensemble music. Like aigre-douce, his compositions are open-ended, inviting the contribution and awareness of the performers into the fabric of the music, though they too delineate particular musical spaces/worlds.

Pending compositional contributions from within and outside the group, it is difficult to determine what Bespoken is and what it may still become. Its music is perched somewhere between the vision of its composers and the whims of its members, each bespeaking the other, within limits—made to fit and fit to be made.

Composer Biographies

Nick Storring is a Toronto-based composer active in a variety of areas including chamber and electronic music. Winner of the Canadian Music Centre’s 2011 Toronto Emerging Composer Award, he also placed first in the 2008 Jeux De Temps competition with first section of the broken-violin derived Artifacts. Recent commissions include an octet for Arraymusic, a twenty-minute electronic piece for Montreal’s AKOUSMA Festival, a solo harp work funded through the CMC’s Norman Burgess Memorial Fund, and a forthcoming solo piano work for Eve Egoyan. His work has been performed/ presented by the Madawaska String Quartet, Esprit Orchestra, Quatuor Bozzini, the Open Ears Festival, Musicacoustica Festival (Beijing), Soundstreams, the Music Gallery, and New Adventures in Sound Art. He also frequently collaborates with artists working in other media. Recent cross-pollinations include installation Tentacles which was featured at MoMA in 2011 and Ingrid Veninger’s feature film the Animal Project, an official selection at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Rife, his debut album of electronic music was released by Entr’acte in 2011. Nick Storring is also involved the groups Picastro, I Have Eaten The City, The Knot, an improv cello duo with Tilman Lewis.*

Daniel Brandes is a composer, pianist, and concert curator. He lives in Victoria with his wife and cat. Daniel’s music walks tight ropes—tight ropes between nothing and something, fragility and fierceness, beauty and ugliness. His works explore human vulnerability and new ways of imagining community. In 2012 Daniel founded A Place to Listen, a monthly concert series that focuses on experimental music in and around the Wandelweiser community. Daniel is in love with the simple and impossible beauty of sound. He hopes that you are too. His scores are available through Edition Wandelweiser.

Ensemble Biographies

Ilana Waniuk and Cheryl Duvall are members up-and-coming chamber music group the Thin Edge New Music Colllective.  Now launching their third season, the group has toured nationally and to Italy playing works by established and emerging composers including.  They’ve collaborated with Jason Sharp (of Land of Kush among other Montréal acts), and have played compositions by Kyle Brenders, Rose Bolton, Alison Cameron, Peter Hatch, Anna Pidgorna, Margaret Ashburner, Anna Höstman.

Matthew Ramolo is also known by the pseudonym Khôra whose album “Silent Your Body Is Endless” was released by Constellation Records as part of their inaugural Musique Fragile series.  His music, which fuses a variety of sensibilities including wayward strains of psychedelia, ambient, modern classical and various asian musics, has also been released by Arachnidiscs on a split with fellow Musique Fragile alumnus Nick Kuepfer.  This fall he’s touring with Picastro in Europe.

Brandon Valdivia is one of Toronto’s most respected percussionists.  One half of Not The Wind, Not The Flag he’s also a member of Picastro, I Have Eaten The City, Pachamama, and has his own solo project Mas Aya which fuses his interest in dubwise electronics as well as Latin American musical traditions both more current and related to its original indigenous peoples.

*Nick Storring is also a member of the Bespoken ensemble.

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