Autumn Hymn

This seasonal update has less to do with literal hymns than with my desire to see these two odd words standing next to each other; the English language is a curious thing. However, if a hymn is a song of praise and joy, as per its dictionary definition, let the following phrases be an ode to fall fulfillment.


Summer finished on a special note with a major life event: Ben Reimer and I got married! After our backyard family wedding in Winnipeg and some quality Manitoba time, we flew home to Montreal and hit the ground running with a Daily Alice show that same night, opening for Want Slash Need. I love that we can share these specific strange moments as well as an overall understanding of this life in music.

September brought a returned focus to planning the nitty gritties of the season, a routine existential crisis and examination of life direction, and a renewed commitment to what has become my life’s work: communicating with music and words. You could also say I didn’t have a lot of gigs. The trick I’ve learned is to use this abundance of time to reorient toward what Julia Cameron calls True North, and to take small, seemingly-insignificant steps in the direction of that continued call.

In actual events, I went to a workshop by Rainer Wiens on rhythm and improvisation, got back to playing for the live-music yoga class at Naada, worked on song ideas and recorded a Daily Alice tune with JC Lizotte and Ben Reimer at Mechanicland Studios, which will be mixed soon and ready for your ears!

Work picked up at the end of September, with a trip to Québec City to play Beethoven’s fifth symphony with Les Violons du Roy. The whole orchestra played standing up with no conductor, led only by violinist Anthony Marwood. This over-played beast of a piece came to life under his spirited guidance; what a pleasure to see a familiar sight from a new perspective.

October has turned beautiful hues with more improvised music in my life again, including playing with vocalist/saxophonist Joane Hétu and cellist Émilie Girard-Charest at Mercredimusics improvised music series, and plans with saxophonist Ida Toninato for continued improvisation and composition as a duo.

Another fall adventure brought a trip to Ottawa playing string quartet arrangements with Josh Dolgin. Pemi Paull put together a hard-hitting quartet to nail these traditional songs and Socalled originals in a new format for a hometown crowd.

In baroque news, the always-elegant Infusion Baroque invited me on board for the first concert of their season, and again for a house concert this past week. The audience of the September concert was a special one for me. I had the rare treat of my sister and her family present, as well as Sara Laimon, a professor I hadn’t seen in years who influenced my career perspectives at a pivotal time, and I’ll always remember our dear friend Nicolas Fortin sitting on the end of a pew winking and smiling in his lovely way every time we passed him. I’ll never forget him there, because that was the last time I saw him before he passed away suddenly a few weeks afterward. The loss of Nico’s vibrant, bright light is heartbreaking for the huge circle of people who knew and loved him. What can we do but remember, love, and continue living mindfully with appreciation for all the lights in our lives?