Emergent Behaviour

Tempest Flute Ensemble is seeking support for the event “Emergent Behaviour” at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver. This concert is scheduled for May 16, 2019 and features the world premieres of works by Canadian composers Anna Höstman and Emilie LeBel, as well as recent music by BC composer Jordan Nobles, Montreal composer James O’Callaghan, and Odawa First Nations composer Barbara Croall. “Emergent Behaviour” will also feature guest cellist, Rebecca Wenham, and guest conductor Kathleen Allan.

“Emergent Behaviour” is a site specific event that responds to the design and content of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum — a 20,000 square foot museum of natural history located on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Housing more than two million specimens, the museum’s signature piece is a stunning 25-metre skeleton of a female blue whale, suspended in the building’s atrium. The museum proper is a subterranean labyrinth of preserved mammals, birds, fish and marine life, plants, and fossils. The collection is extensive, fascinating, and occasionally ghoulish.

Whale skeleton suspended above the performance space at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

This event will present musical works that are inspired by and comment on the diversity, complexity, and fragility of our planet’s flora and fauna, with a particular focus on Canadian ecosystems. Taking place in and around the atrium, Tempest Flute Ensemble will present a programme of new and recent works that respond, either directly or symbolically, to the museum’s six permanent collections: Tetrapods (mammals and birds), Marine Invertebrates, Herbarium (plants and fungi), Entomological Collection (insects), Fish, and Fossils. The atrium’s whale skeleton, suspended above the audience, will have its rib cage illuminated from below with special lighting and video projections by Dejan Radovanovic, creating striking visuals that will change throughout the event to reflect the spirit of each piece.

Featured composers and repertoire:

Anna Höstman‘s new work for flute ensemble and cello will continue her examination of “tension in the natural world”, while directly referencing an upcoming Beaty exhibit of photography by David Ellingsen. Please see her written statement to learn more about how she envisions the new work.

Emilie LeBel will write a new work for flute ensemble that builds on the microtonal flute writing of her 2016 solo flute piece, “Hiraeth”. This new work will explore the “techniques of survival” employed by insects and plants. Please see LeBel’s written statement for more information.

Barbara Croall has written prolifically for both the Western concert flute and the traditional Anishinaabe cedar flute, the pipigwan — for Croall the flute is the ideal vehicle for evoking the power and capriciousness of the wind. Two of her flute works will be given their Western Canadian premieres on this programme: Noodin (There is a Wind, 1999) for two flutes, which explores a wide array of extended techniques and pitched/unpitched air; and Giiwedin (North Wind, 2013) for solo bass flute.

James O’Callaghan wrote Into Sections for eights flutes and electronics at the request of both the Tempest Flutes and ECM+ in 2016. Inspired by the songs of insects indigenous to his two homes, Vancouver and Montreal, this work combines field recordings with the extended soundworld of multiple flutes — often to the point where it is no longer clear where one world ends and another begins. This will be the Western Canadian premiere of Into Sections; O’Callaghan will be present for the event to run the electronics for his piece.

Jordan Nobles’ Emergent Behaviour (2009/18) takes its title from the self-organized method of flocking, schooling, and herding seen in birds, fish, and insects — for this work, Nobles was specifically inspired by the en-masse swooping of starling flocks. This final work of the evening will feature a 20-member Tempest Flute Ensemble — expanded to include our students and community members — spatially positioned along the ramp that surrounds the Beaty Museum’s atrium, presenting music that swirls above and around the audience, without any apparent central coordination.

Tempest Flutes: Advancing Interest in and Knowledge of Canadian Music

This project has the potential to connect a number of non-music communities with contemporary Canadian music and sound art. Amy Gibson (Marketing, Communication & Events Coordinator of Beaty Biodiversity Museum) has expressed her enthusiasm for having the museum’s collections re-envisioned through specially commissioned and curated musical works as a means of enriching the museum patrons’ relationship with the collections and the ecosystems they represent. She has offered the museum’s support by making this event part of their “Nocturnal” series — monthly evening events featuring special programming and extended operation hours. The location of the Beaty Museum (on the south end of the main campus of the University of British Columbia) allows us to engage the Vancouver scientific community and in particular, a diverse student body that may not necessarily venture out to experience artistic activities. Even within our Western Canadian new music circles there is the opportunity to share the music of Barbara Croall, whose music is not as well known here as it could be. This project also renews Tempest’s relationship with the music of Jordan Nobles (who composed one of our earliest commissions) and reconnects Anna Höstman and James O’Callaghan to their West Coast roots.

Tempest Flute Ensemble founder and director Mark Takeshi McGregor performing at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum


Letter of Support

Below is a letter of support from Amy Gibson, Marketing, Communications, and Events Coordinator of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, expressing her enthusiasm for this event:

Beaty Museum Support Letter (click to open)


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