Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

The artistic director of Music on Main, David Pay, has a funny story to tell from his childhood. It was about his tendency to want to stage shows – from a very young age.

“My kindergarten teacher used to call me Cecil B. DeMille,” Pay recalls in a recent phone interview with Just. “She called my parents and told them I had to stop trying kids for my productions.”

Fortunately for Vancouver’s music lovers, the unnamed kindergarten teacher did not get his wish. And Pay’s love of producing will be shown this month with the 10th edition of Music On Main’s Modulus Festival. It is his imaginative answer to a serious question: how do artists react in chaotic times?

At the heart of this year’s festival is a revival of a pandemic-inspired series of concerts, As Dreams Are Made, which premiered last year in Vancouver.

It is inspired by a speech by Prospero in William Shakespeare’s The storm: “We are such things / that dreams are made on, and our little life / is rounded by a sleep.”

This year’s concerts feature a largely new lineup of musicians who will offer individualized performances to one person at a time on stage in the Annex. The audience shows up in the lobby at an agreed time.

“You’re greeted in the lobby,” Pay explains. “You’re being told a little bit about what’s going to happen.”

Then the guest is brought into a dark room and a light comes on the musician. The guest then sits in an empty chair nearby.

“There’s a moment where the musician looks at you and you look at the musician,” Pay says. “It’s all quiet.”

Then the performer plays a piece that is decided at that moment to suit the only audience.

Video of MoM As Dreams Are Made

Video: Watch the trailer for As dreams are made.

According to Pay, musicians featured in the series have a repertoire to choose from. Each guest spends 20 minutes cycling through the theater.

“You want to see the show and no one sees you see the show,” Pay says. “Then the next person will come in and have a different experience.”

After each performance, the theater darkens and the person is welcome to leave the theater where they will be met again. He says that once people enter the world outside again, it is like coming out of a dream.

“It’s a bit like, ‘Hey, did that just happen? Did I just sit in a room with beautiful lighting and hear an incredible musician all alone? ‘ Says Pay.

Last year, he adds, the response from the audience was overwhelmingly positive. At this year’s Modulus Festival, there will be five musicians on As dreams are made: Chloe Kim (violin), Dailin Hsieh (zheng), Jonathan Lo (cello), Saina Khaledi (santour) and Mark Takeshi McGregor (flute).

On any given day, participants will not know which musician is to perform in what Pay describes as “an immersive performance for one person”.

The series relies on some methods developed in Europe for what are called 1: 1 concerts.

“But we’ve theatricalized it, so it has this relationship to a famous Shakespeare speech,” Pay says.

These short live performances will be a part of The Tempest project, which is an immersive full-length show that Music on Main plans to premiere in 2024.

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By Victor

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