Vancouver Folk Music Festival Soundscapes

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Soundscapes of the Festival



Longtime Festival devotee sylvi macCormac is an artist who works with sound. She has created, and gifted to the Festival, an extraordinary work entitled VFMF Soundscapes 1999-2002: Festival Quartet for Solitude. You really need to hear these amazing compositions, a tapestry of ambient sound, spoken word, song and music, to really know what we’re talking about.

To learn more about sylvi and her work, visit


Dugg Simpson: “Years ago I went to hear John Cage perform, and afterwards he answered questions from the audience. Someone asked him to define music. He paused, then smiled and said, ‘I believe it has something to do with the ears.’ Takeo Yamashiro was the next artist I heard express a similar sentiment. He was about to play a concert here in the park. Before he began, he pointed out all the sounds one could hear from that spot – children laughing, the wind in the trees, people talking and a generator in the distance. He asked us to listen to, and not be upset by, all those sounds while we listened to the sound of his shakuhachi”. – VFMF 1999 program notes

Throughout the 1999 weekend, I realized that one of the sweetest spots was between stages where musicians seemed to be playing together in harmony and time. When the birds joined in perfect syncopation my ears and heart opened wider. While composing the audio portrait of the festival i came across one of the recordings made between stage 2 of the Total Gospel Choir & and stage 7 of Takeo Yamashiro. On careful listening i realized that Takeo had intentionally followed the Choirs lead and repeated melodically what he had heard from far far away varying it in an improv with the wind. There are many moments so beautiful.

These compositions inform my ongoing work with Audio-Portraits and Soundscape(s). To work with so many wonderful voices is an honour and treasure. They give me great joy. They are also part of my commitment to a larger community. The compositions are given to the care of and for the benefit of the VFMF. They were never mine to keep or call my own since “the sum of all these parts are we”. (Martyn Joseph)

sylvi macCormac


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