For me, the highlight of the festival was this weekend, which probably rates as one of the best weekends I've had in a while. Even though I had to go in to work for three hours on Saturday to babysit the computer lab I'm deploying.
Friday night was a chamber music concert [Edit to add: with Patricia O'Callaghan] including 3 pieces based on Leonard Cohen songs. One based on "Hallelujah" was particularly good, and although the composer used small pieces from the song for his themes, he kept my favourite lyrics, with mostly new music ("And even though it all went wrong / I'll stand before the Lord of Song / With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah"). The soloist on this piece had a beautiful voice. Another part of this concert had remixes for ensemble and turntable artist, which was fun to watch. Afterward, D. and I went home instead of staying for the late concert, because we'd been up the two nights prior and wanted to save energy for the weekend.
Saturday early afternoon was a string quartet plus some add-ons, including on one piece a marimba player with great chops (and one part of her piece involved using a cello bow on the side of the marimba. Who knew that would work? Not I.)
The early evening concert was not my thing, though it had the largest collection of Goth I've ever seen in this town (which might say less about this town than about me). Along side them were the little old ladies who had festival passes like I did. Fun crowd. Not so fun music: the performer had a wide range, but she spent most of it in gutteral shouting and vaguely operatic tones. The subject matter was the 1920s Armenian genocide by Turks. Much black makeup. Vamp, vamp. My friend Bill, who didn't like it either, says the music reminded him how much he likes Dead Can Dance, and I see his point. I joined some of the little old ladies and left part way through.
But then! Negativland! By a stroke of genius, they situated this concert in the City Hall Council Chambers, which has two rows of seating in the round, surrounding the performers, and about 200 seats above for the gallery. Sort of like the UN, although they took away our microphones. So Bill, D., and I were sitting practically within arms' reach.
This was in the same format as their weekly radio show, Over the Edge. According to their site, this is the first time in 24 years they've done this show live in concert. The show was just about exactly like their albums, if you've heard any of them- a 90-minute mish-mash of samples and bits of occasional live commentary (from Dr. Oslo Norway, famed religiologist). The theme was "It's All in Your Head" or "Religion is Stupid." ...And they played my all-time favourite cheezy Christian pop-rock song, "Our God is an Awesome God." Yay, cheese. Yay, cheese and party favours (they gave us all piniata blindfolds, to help with the fact that this was supposed to be a radio show and therefore non-visual). I expect the show will end up on their site, since they seem to do that. And, apparently it will be broadcast on CBC at some point.
Watching them mix things (largely analog; they used CDs, but with an analog mixer) was a lot of fun, though I don't know why they aren't completely digital. I suppose it could have been all for the sake of the performance.
Edit: Oh yeah, and they signed my CD! :)
Anyway, that was Saturday night.
Sunday morning, I went to Quaker meeting and led the third of six Quakerism 101 sessions. Gawd, leading a conversation among Quakers is much tougher than a group of Linux or Perl enthusiasts. With good reason; talking about religion is tough, especially in a faith that has no creedal statements. And any question has n answers, where n is larger than the number of participants in the discussion. Still, I think we did well on the topic, and had two new people attending, which was great. And I learned some interesting facts about Canadian Quaker history.
From there, two other Quakers and I rushed out the door at 2pm to get to the last of the Open Ears concerts, a local chamber choir with really nice voices. They did some really wonderful music, including an Arvo Pärt piece on The Beatitudes. In all, a super ending to the festival. ...Also, d. was sitting next to the harpsichord player from the Saturday chamber concert, and they hit it off well.
Then we came home and dan made us yummy pizza for dinner. Yay!
Yay, jam-packed weekend!