Tools for the New Reality in a Covid Winter January 22nd

with panelists Liza Solomonova, postdoctoral fellow at McGill University in the department of Psychiatry and Samuel Veissière, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, co-director of the Culture, Mind, and Brain program at McGill University, and Associate Member in the Department of Anthropology, moderated by Stanzi Vaubel co-presented with Net Impact Montreal  

This event is open to the public. 


All seminars are hosted on Zoom and run from 7-8pm EST on Tuesday and Thursday nights (unless otherwise listed). 

Seminars participants are selected by application. For more information go here.  

Sha Xin Wei Jan 19 + 21  


Computer-driven media now circulate and activate images, sound and objects at densities greater than human limits of comprehension. We face the limits of effectively managing the technologies that activate our everyday world. Our challenge is how to build and inhabit environments that leverage the power of emerging technologies for shelter, sociality and play.

We pursue our mission by developing new practices for imagining and creating worlds that do not burden but enliven experience. We design technologies and techniques for animating environments that are richer but not more complicated, by asking how can we create worlds that we would want to live in?

Sha Xin Wei PhD is a professor in the School of Arts, Media + Engineering (AME) at Arizona State University. He directs the Synthesis Center for responsive environments and improvisation with colleagues in AME and affiliate research centers.

From 2001 to 2013, he directed the Topological Media Lab (TML), an atelier-laboratory for the study of gesture and materiality from computational and phenomenological perspectives. He established the TML at Georgia Institute of Technology in 2001, and moved the lab to Montreal in 2005 with the support of the Canada Fund for Innovation and the CRC.  From 2005-2013, Sha was the Canada Research chair in media arts and sciences, and associate professor of fine arts at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. From 2014 to 2019, Sha directed AME as ASU's transdisciplinary department fusing sciences and humanities with experimental media arts practices. Sha's research concerns ethico-aesthetic improvisation, and a topological approach to morphogenesis and process philosophy. His particular areas of study include the realtime, continuous mapping of features extracted from gestural instruments (such as woven or non-woven fabrics) into parameters modulating the continuous synthesis of video, sound, and physical or software control systems. This technical work supports the expressive improvisation of gesture in dense, palpable fields of sound, video and structured light, and animated materials.  

Shas art research includes the TGarden responsive environments (Ars Electronica, Dutch Electronic Art Festival, MediaTerra Athens, SIGGRAPH), Hubbub speech-sensitive urban surfaces, Membrane calligraphic video, Softwear gestural sound instruments, the WYSIWYG gesture-sensitive sounding weaving, Ouija performance-installations, Cosmicomics Elektra, eSea Shanghai and the IL Y A video membrane, and Einsteins Dreams time-conditioning instruments. Sha collaborated with choreographer Michael Montanaro and the Blue Riders ensemble to create a stage work inspired by Shelley's Frankenstein, with experimental musicians, dancers and responsive media. Sha co-founded the Sponge art group in San Francisco to build public experiments in phenomenology of performance.   With Sponge and other artists, Sha has directed event/installations in prominent experimental art venues including Ars Electronica Austria, DEAF / V2 The Netherlands, MediaTerra Greece, Banff Canada, Future Physical United Kingdom, Elektra Montreal, and eArts Shanghai.  He has also exhibited media installations at Postmasters Gallery New York and Suntrust Gallery Atlanta. These works have been recognized by awards from major cultural foundations such as the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology; the LEF Foundation; the Canada Fund for Innovation; the Creative Work Fund in New York; Future Physical UK; and the Rockefeller Foundation. Sha was trained in mathematics at Harvard and Stanford Universities, and worked more than 12 years in the fields of scientific computation, mathematical modeling and the visualization of scientific data and geometric structures.

Sean Smith Jan 26 + 28

Embodied Perspectives, Affective Bias, and Some Norms of Attention

The purpose of my contribution to these workshops is to think about the ways in which our bodies condition our perceptual experience, often completely outside of our awareness. Our embodied first-person perspective on our environment is massively affectively biased and we are normatively assessable in various ways in light of this bias. The normative evaluability of attention falls out of basic metaphysical facts about our embodied finitude and the way that bodily affect modulates our attentional commerce with our environment in light of that finitude.

Sean Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. His research is focused on the nature of consciousness and its relation to affect. His research is both cross-cultural and interdisciplinary. From the cross-cultural perspective he works on the early Indian Buddhist philosophy of the Pāli Tipiṭaka and its commentaries. The Tipiṭaka is the canon of texts of the Therāvada Buddhist tradition of South Asia. Philosophically he works in contemporary philosophy of mind as well as Phenomenology. Empirically, he is interested in affective neuroscience and the psychology of attention. Website: http://seanmsmith.philpeople.com/

Stephanie Davidson Feb 2 + 4

Anonymous Interiors

Stephanie Davidson grew up in rural Ontario. She earned a degree in fine arts from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, then studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London and Dalhousie University in Halifax, where she earned her M.Arch in 2005. Davidson received the Power Corporation of Canada award from the Canadian Centre for Architecture upon completing her studies, and has worked for German offices sauerbruch hutton and Gonzalez Haase as well as Montreal’s Provencher Roy. Since 2008, Davidson has collaborated with Georg Rafailidis as Davidson Rafailidis. The duo was recognized with the Emerging Voices award from the Architectural League of New York in 2018. Davidson co-authored a book on beginning design called “Processes of Creating Space: An Architectural Design Workbook” (Routledge, 2017) with endorsements by Rachel Whiteread, Herman Hertzberger and Jacques Rousseau. Davidson has taught at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany, the State University of New York at Buffalo, Daniels School of Architecture at the University of Toronto, and most recently, at the Peter Behrens School of Art in Duesseldorf Germany as a 2018-19 International Guest Professor.

Oren Krajden Feb 9 + 11

Making meaning in the 21st century

One of the most powerful medicines we have is our ability to make meaning. We will explore different approaches to meaning-making, drawing on sources in history, in art, medicine, philosophy, religion and the interpersonal. Situated in our present historical moment we will visit recent insights into this most ancient human practice

Dr K is a physician who has researched social responses post-disaster. He has trained at Dalhousie, the University of Toronto, and McGill. He has worked in long term care and with youth during the 2020 pandemic peak, and has at been with people at the beginning, middle and end of life.


Olaf Witkowski  Feb 16 + 18 

Universal Life: How Intelligence Emerges in Any Substrate — this session will be hosted at 8pm

In all of life on Earth, from cells, to swarms, to brains and societies, intelligence can be understood in terms of self-maintaining information flows through time and space. In our universe, information's substrate-independence and interoperability made possible for symbolic representations such as the genetic code to parasite the laws of physics. These patterns progressively became more complex, going through major transitions which gave rise to large varieties of self-correcting patterns. These steps correspond to transitions in ever-increasing intelligence and creativity, a phenomenon also know as open-ended evolution.

The study of artificial life brings us the key to understanding the emergence of such transitions in open-ended evolution by observing how spatiotemporal entities process and exchange information between each other, that is, the causal structure in their sensorimotor loops and information trading patterns. Replicating these effects artificially within computers -- either recent von Neumann architectures or more unconventional computing such as chemical computing -- can enable us to factor out the fundamental principles of life in the universe, and characterize formally the nature of concepts such as cognition, autonomy, complexity, synergy, and communication.

My contribution to this workshop is to explore how techniques from artificial life models, machine learning, and information theory can help us characterize the fundamental laws of intelligence, giving rise to the emergence of diverse lifeforms in the universe.

Olaf Witkowski is the director of research at Cross Labs, a new research institute which studies the fundamental principles of biological and artificial intelligence, funded and supported by Cross Compass Ltd. He is also a research scientist of the Earth-Life Science Institute, at the Tokyo Institute of Technology,  a lecturer in information sciences at the University of Tokyo, and a regular visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is also a founding member of YHouse­ ­— a nonprofit transdisciplinary research institute in New York, focused on the study of awareness, artificial intelligence and complex systems. He received his PhD under Takashi Ikegami, from the Computer Science Department of the University of Tokyo. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Society for Artificial Life, and was a program chair for the ALIFE 2018 conference ‘Beyond AI’, and has been organizing numerous meetings on AI and intelligence sciences.

Peter Burton and Mauro Pezzente  Feb 23+25

God Speed You! Black Emperor and Suoni per il Popolo

Mauro Pezzente is a Canadian musician. He is best known as being co-founder of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Pezzente, along with Efrim Menuck and Mike Moya, founded Godspeed You! Black Emperor in 1994. Along with Thierry Amar, Pezzente played the bass guitar for the band. Pezzente was the first to live and perform within the Hotel2Tango. Christening the Gallery Quiva, Pezzente and his partner Kiva Stimac played infrequent shows there until exhaust and carbon monoxide from the garage below the loft caused them to move out. Efrim Menuck soon moved in and renamed it. Mauro and his wife Kiva Stimac founded venues Casa del Popolo, La Salla Rossa, and La Vitrola which hosts the yearly festival suoni per il popolo "where the activity remains centred at a select few Mile End venues within easy walking distance, fuelling a community spirit. (The distance between Casa del Popolo and La Sala Rossa is little more than a hop and skip; add a jump and you’re at La Vitrola."


Peter Burton is Suoni Per Il Popolo's Executive Director and organizes events at vennues: Casa del Popolo, La Sala Rossa, La Vitrola, Pensione Popolo, Festival Suoni Per Il Popolo. Peter describes the curatorial process of programming as "a product of collaboration — not just between the organizers, but with musicians who embody the festival’s democratic spirit of sounds for the people, by the people."

The Suoni Per Il Popolo (Sounds of the People Music Festival) is an experimental and avant-garde music festival which takes place in Montréal, Québec. The festival presents over one hundred and fifty concerts and workshops annually by artists playing in a variety of styles such as New Music, Free Jazz, Avant Rock, Avant Folk, Noise, Free Improv, Sound Art, and Electronica. In the words of Ken Vandermark, leading Free Jazz musician and recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, the “Suoni Per Il Popolo is one of the most significant music festivals devoted to contemporary music happening today, in any city or country.” The festival and its venues (Casa del Popolo and Sala Rossa) have received attention in a broad variety of media outlets such as the BBC, CBC, National Geographic, Globe and Mail, Guardian, New York Times, Wire, Spin, Rolling Stone and Downbeat. The Suoni Per Il Popolo is funded by the Canada Arts Council, Heritage Canada, CALQ (Quebec Arts Council), Montreal Arts Council, City of Montreal and FACTOR amongst other organizations. More information on the festival is available at

Lauren Hayes March 2+4 

Site-Responsive Sonic Art

This talk and workshop will address technologically-mediated sonic responses to site through human, material, and environmental considerations. Informed by theories of self-organisation and reflexivity, I discuss the notion of site-responsive sonic art as an attempt to build a methodology for developing portable sound-systems using microcontroller technologies in which sonic entities emerge over time through mutually affecting relationships with the environments in which they are situated. I assess this work with reference to Hayles’ discussion of second-order cybernetics and its implications for conceptualising musical systems as sets of relationships between living things, machines, and the environment. I will discuss two case studies of the latest iteration of the tools—hardware and software systems—developed for this work: firstly, a large-scale installation which was presented in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, United States. The second case study took place as a series of experiments at the Ars Bioarctica residency in the sub-arctic tundra at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station, University of Helsinki, Finland. Students will be invited to explore some of the techniques developed within this research through a workshop that will specifically address their own personal situation with respect to site.


Lauren Hayes is a musician, improviser, and sound artist who builds and performs with hybrid analogue/digital instruments. She is Assistant Professor of Sound Studies within the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at Arizona State University where she founded the research group Practice and Research in Enactive Sonic Arts (PARIESA). Her research centers around embodied and enactive music cognition, enactive approaches to digital instrument design, interdisciplinary improvisation, and haptic technologies. Her writing has been published in major journals in her field (Contemporary Music Review, Organised Sound, Computer Music Journal) and her work on interdisciplinarity within research fields in collaboration with Adnan Marquez-Borbon recently was awarded the Best Paper at the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression. 

She has been commissioned by major festivals including the London Jazz Festival, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival with a live BBC Radio 3 broadcast as part of its 2017 International Showcase, and Sonica, for which she gave four sold-out performances inside Hamilton Mausoleum, Scotland, famous for once holding the longest echo of any man-made structure. She has performed extensively across Europe and the US and The Wire described her most recent album MANIPULATION (pan y rosas discos) as “skittering melodies and clip-clopping rhythms suggesting a mischievous intelligence emerging from this web of wires”. She is Director-At-Large of the International Computer Music Association, and a member of the New BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with whom she has been involved in the Oram Awards, responsible for promoting forward-thinking work from women and nonbinary artists. www.laurensarahhayes.com www.pariesa.com

Michael Lifshitz  March 9 +11  

Making invisible friends: Reality, imagination, and the plurality of self

We talk to invisible people all the time. At night, we hang out with characters in our dreams. In prayer, we ask for guidance from spirits and gods. After texting our crush, we obsessively contemplate what we’ll say next…if they ever text back…

I study how these imaginal interactions work. I am particularly interested in how we can learn, through deliberate practice, to make these interactions feel more vivid and real, so that the beings we encounter in our imagination can come to feel like autonomous entities with their own free will, even while they occupy the most intimate space of our minds. This then opens new ways of thinking about experiences of creative inspiration, where it feels as if the usual self steps aside to make way for some other purposeful, unseen energy to flow through.


In this seminar, we will study the science of imaginal interactions through an exploration of hypnosis, prayer, psychedelics, meditation and tulpamancy (the practice of creating invisible friends). We will touch on what we know about the range of these experiences, consider how they might work in the brain, and discuss how a deeper understanding of imaginal interactions may help us to develop more creative relationships with our own minds.

Michael Lifshitz is a cognitive scientist working at McGill University. His research combines phenomenology, neuroscience and ethnography to shed light on the plasticity of perception. He studies practices that aim to transform subjective experience—from meditation and hypnosis to placebos, prayer, and psychedelics. He’s particularly interested in how these practices can modulate feelings of agency and ownership, so that inner thoughts and sensations can come to feel as if they are emerging from a source beyond the self. Before starting his research group at McGill earlier this year, he did a PhD in neuroscience at McGill and then worked as a postdoc in the Stanford department of anthropology.

Andres DiazCarmit Zori, Simone Dinnerstein March 16 + 18 

Returning to Bach in quarantine

This seminar will be themed around asking broader questions such as: how do we listen? What is the difference between productive and unproductive discomfort in the introspective and creative process?  We will explore the concept of "listen and then play" articulated by cellist Andres Diaz. The idea is that an individual should know what they want to hear (the phrasing, the articulation) before playing. This technique is intended to allow the performer to get closer to the composer's larger vision, and in doing so, engage with a force outside themselves.  We will explore the paradoxes (specifically in classical music and more broadly) of what it means to create an architecture in our minds eye, a framework for the "world" or performance we aspire to and only then, attempt to draw the bow and play. It would seem that such an approach would over-determine the outcome, but counterintuitively it seems to be that the architecture, the framework we've laid out, helps shape our intentions, allowing for new relationships and resonances to meaningfully occur.

Andres Diaz 


Since winning the First Prize in the 1986 Naumburg International Cello Competition, Andrés Díaz has exhilarated both critics and audiences with his intense and charismatic performances. He was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and was nominated for a 2009 Latin Grammy. His numerous orchestral appearances have included performances with the American Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Rochester Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, and the Atlanta Symphony under Robert Shaw. Highlights of his recent seasons are tours of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Hawaii, and Canada; and appearances in Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. His debut solo recording on MusicMasters with pianist Samuel Sanders was acclaimed by the Boston Globe as “strong and subtle; everything Díaz does has personality and, better than that, character.” His most recent release features the six Bach Suites on the Azica Records label. His summer festival appearances include the Banff Centre, Santa Fe, La Jolla, Marlboro, Ravinia, Bravo! Vail, Spoleto, Music@Menlo, Saratoga, and Tanglewood festivals. He has toured and recorded with the Díaz String Trio, featuring violinist Andrés Cárdenes and violist Roberto Díaz. Born in Santiago, Chile, Mr. Díaz graduated from the New England Conservatory, where he worked with Laurence Lesser and Colin Carr. He is a professor at Southern Methodist University and holds the Koerner Chair in Cello at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He plays a 1698 Matteo Goffriller cello and a bow made by his father, Manuel Díaz.

Simone Dinnerstein 

Simone has a distinctive musical voice. The Washington Post has called her “an artist of strikingly original ideas and irrefutable integrity.” She first came to wider public attention in 2007 through her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, reflecting an aesthetic that was both deeply rooted in the score and profoundly idiosyncratic. She is, wrote The New York Times, “a unique voice in the forest of Bach interpretation.” Since that recording, she has had a busy performing career. She has played with orchestras ranging from the New York Philharmonic and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra to the London Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale Rai. She has performed in venues from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to the Berlin Philharmonie, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Seoul Arts Center and the Sydney Opera House. She has made ten albums, all of which topped the Billboard classical charts, with repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Ravel. 

In recent years, Simone has created projects that express her broad musical interests. Following her recording Mozart in Havana, she brought the Havana Lyceum Orchestra from Cuba to the United States for the very first time, raising the funding, booking the concerts, and organizing their housing and transport. Together, Simone and the orchestra played eleven concerts from Miami to Boston. Philip Glass composed his Piano Concerto No. 3 for Simone, co-commissioned by twelve American and Canadian orchestras. She collaborated with choreographer Pam Tanowitz to create New Work for Goldberg Variations, which was met with widespread critical acclaim. Working with Renée Fleming and the Emerson String Quartet, she premiered André Previn and Tom Stoppard’s Penelope at the Tanglewood, Ravinia and Aspen music festivals. Most recently, she created her own string ensemble, Baroklyn, which she directs from the keyboard. Their performance of Bach’s cantata Ich Habe Genug in March 2020 was the last concert she gave before New York City shut down. Simone is committed to giving concerts in non-traditional venues and to audiences who don’t often hear classical music. For the last three decades, she has played concerts throughout the United States for the Piatigorsky Foundation, an organization dedicated to the widespread dissemination of classical music. It was for the Piatigorsky Foundation that she gave the first piano recital in the Louisiana state prison system at the Avoyelles Correctional Center. She has also performed at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in a concert organized by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Simone founded Neighborhood Classics in 2009, a concert series open to the public and hosted by New York City Public Schools to raise funds for their music education programs. She also created a program called Bachpacking during which she takes a digital keyboard to elementary school classrooms, helping young children get close to the music she loves. She is a committed supporter and proud alumna of Philadelphia’s Astral Artists, which supports young performers. 

Carmit Zori 

Violinist Carmit Zori is the recipient of a Leventritt Foundation Award, a Pro Musicis International Award, and the top prize in the Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition. She has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Rochester Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among many others, and has given solo recitals at Lincoln Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston, the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., the Tel Aviv Museum and the Jerusalem Center for the Performing Arts. Her performances have taken her throughout Latin America and Europe, as well as Israel, Japan, Taiwan and Australia, where she premiered the Violin Concerto by Marc Neikrug. In addition to her appearances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Ms. Zori has been a guest at chamber music festivals and concert series around the world, including the Chamber Music at the Y series in New York City, Festival Casals in Puerto Rico, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music festival, the Bard Music festival, Chamber Music Northwest, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Bach Dancing and Dynamite chamber music festival in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont. After hearing the fifteen-year-old Ms. Zori, Isaac Stern arranged for her to come to the United States from her native Israel to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where her teachers included Ivan Galamian, Jaime Laredo and Arnold Steinhardt.​ Ms. Zori, who for ten years was an artistic director at Bargemusic, founded the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society in 2002. She has recorded on the Arabesque, Koch International, and Elektra-Nonesuch labels. She is professor of violin at Rutgers University and at SUNY Purchase, where she also serves on the chamber music faculty.

Yuki Numata Resnick March 23 + 25   

Buffalo String Works , Opportunity Music Project: The Impact of Community Music 

What qualities does a 21st-century performer need? To flourish in an era without conventions but full of possibilities, an artist needs flexibility, creativity, and courage. Described by the New York Times as a player of “virtuosic flair and dexterous bravery,” contemporary violinist Yuki Numata Resnick has what it takes. Yuki’s artistic life tells its own story: her playing can be heard on labels from Deutsche Grammophon (Max Richter: Sleep; Richard Reed Parry: Music for Heart and Breath) and edition rz (Clara Iannotta: A Failed Entertainment) to 4AD (Beirut: No No No; The National: Trouble Will Find Me) and Warp (!!!: Strange Weather, Isn’t It?). Groups she has played with range from indie bands Beirut and Blonde Redhead to new music specialists ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble) and Talea Ensemble. She has also performed as soloist with the Knoxville Symphony, Tanglewood Orchestra and Wordless Music Orchestra. On her 2016 debut solo album, For Ko., Yuki interweaves the movements of J.S. Bach’s Partita No.1 in B minor with newly commissioned responses from Caleb Burhans, Clara Iannotta, Matt Marks, and Andrew Greenwald. These are all composers with whom she has developed a close musical relationship. Others include Jóhann Jóhannsson and Max Richter, for whom she has performed the eight-hour Sleep and been soloist in his Vivaldi Recomposed, both at Sydney Opera House.


Collaboration and the creation of community are guiding values for Yuki, and exemplified with her non-profit organization Buffalo String Works, BSW. Yuki is a founder and Artistic Director of BSW which provides music lessons for children of refugee and immigrant families on the west side of Buffalo, NY. BSW is also a training ground for the college-age teachers and future artistic leaders who work with its young participants.

Jessica Garand

OMP works towards a world in which avenues of opportunity are unconstrained by racial injustice and economic barriers and provides access to those disenfranchised in music education. OMP’s work is aimed at most directly impacting racial justice and economic mobility through music education. Work done in education, is work in economic mobility. While education is an impactful predictor of economic mobility, there are important predictors that range from test scores and education attainment, to the gaps in pay due to racial discrimination.


While doing well at school, and college acceptance is a decisive factor in economic mobility, it cannot alone mitigate racial prejudice in the daily experience of the workplace, and its subsequent negative impact on economic mobility. Racial discrimination remains a viscerally damaging component affecting all areas of American life. It is apparent especially in classical music, where generational discrimination and issues of economic exclusion are interwoven to create an especially hostile environment for aspiring musicians of color.


I feel that it is especially important and hopeful to remember that we can each contribute to racial justice, in our professions, and areas of expertise, because injustice is endemic to every aspect of American life. If each member of each discipline can reform and embody equity, we can make a difference.  There is a mural in a New York City neighbourhood, near the OMP building that reads: “Drops of change, ocean of love.” It is exciting to imagine a world where avenues of opportunity are unconstrained by racial injustice and economic barriers, a world where pathways to leadership, change making, economic mobility, and safety are available to all young people.

JESSICA GARAND, violist, is a performer and passionate advocate for social innovation through music and is a recipient of the $10,000 McGraw-Hill Robert Sherman Award for Arts Education and Community Outreach. While a Masters student at the Juilliard School, she founded Opportunity Music Project, a non-profit providing free private lessons, instruments, and mentoring for under-served children in New York City. To help realize her mission, Jessica raised over $200,000 in funding, including $24,000 through crowd funding campaigns, the Juilliard School’s inaugural Jonathan Madrigano Entrepreneurship grant, and grants from New York City, the Heineman Foundation and the D’Addario Foundation. Raised in Canada, Jessica was featured in The Globe and Mail, and was awarded the Canadian Millennium Scholarship for her ongoing commitment to the community. Jessica has also traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil to teach master classes and give interactive community performances through Juilliard’s Global Outreach program. Jessica has performed widely including venues such as Saturday Night Live, Carnegie Hall, the United Nations, Alice Tully Hall, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and has worked with distinguished conductors Alan Gilbert, Bernard Haitink, Kent Nagano, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Jessica is passionate about chamber music and has performed with members of the Emerson Quartet, and has played at Carnegie Hall’s Japan NYC Festival, the Focus! Festival, and Summergarden with the New Juilliard Ensemble. Jessica Garand is a graduate of McGill University, and the Juilliard School.

James O’Callaghan  March 30 + April 1st 

Listening, solipsism, and empathy: composing and listening practices across aural estuaries of distance

In this workshop, I will share some reflections about the composition and shared listening experience of three different recent compositional projects: Alone and unalone, In an archipelago, and O Cocoon. I view creating and experiencing art as a fundamentally empathetic act, and the condition of shared listening in three very different ‘alternative concert experiences’ realized in these works connects to the tension between empathy and solipsism. Solipsism, the idea that one’s own mind is all that can be known to exist, is interpreted more broadly here to refer to the fundamental unsharable quality of having access to one’s own subjective experiences.

Alone and unalone (2019) situates simultaneous loudspeaker and in-ear diffusion with headphones supplied for the audience, putting into relief the relationship between individual and collective experience. In an archipelago and O Cocoon (2020) were fundamentally altered or shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic and led to new experimental compositional strategies. In an archipelago is a modular work whose formation can vary from solo performances up to a full ensemble, or be experienced as a purely electronic work. O Cocoon was assembled from fragments of musicians performing in their own homes and assembled into a shared virtual audiovisual space.

In discussing these different works, I will share some of my own reflections on the creative process and how it relates to these topics of empathy and solipsism, and open the discussion to participants to share their processes and reflections.

James O’Callaghan (b. 1988) is a composer and sound artist based in Montréal praised for his “mastery of materials and musical form.” (Electromania, Radio France) His music has been described as “very personal… with its own colour anchored in the unpredictable.” (Goethe-Institut) His work intersects acoustic and electroacoustic media, employing field recordings, amplified found objects, computer-assisted transcription of environmental sounds, and unique performance conditions.
 His artistic output, spanning chamber, orchestral, live electronic and acousmatic idioms, audio installations, and site-specific performances, has been variously commissioned by the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (INA-GRM), the National Youth Orchestra of CanadaEnsemble ParamiraboQuasar quatuor de saxophones, and Standing Wave, among others. His album Espaces tautologiques, released by empreintes DIGITALes, won a Prix Opus, and was listed by 5:4 as one of the “best albums of 2016”. His music has been the recipient of over 30 national and international prizes and nominations, including the ISCM Young Composer Award (2017), the Salvatore Martirano Award (2016), the Robert Fleming Prize (2015), the Jan V. Matejcek Award in New Classical Music (2018), the Jeu de Temps-Times Play Awards (2014), the SOCAN Foundation John Weinzweig Grand Prize (2014), and the audience and jury prize from the ECM+ Génération 2018 tour. Significant nominations include those for the Gaudeamus Award (2016), prix Métamorphoses (2018), and a JUNO Award for classical composition of the year (2014). Active as an arts organiser, he co-founded the Montréal Contemporary Music Lab, and served on the artistic committee of Codes d'accès. He also presents at conferences and publishes regularly on compositional topics including instrumental transcription of environmental sound, cross-media transcription, soundscape music, and electroacoustic diffusion through instruments (Organised SoundTwentieth-Century MusiceContact!Electroacoustic Music Studies). He is an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre.

Stanzi Vaubel  April 6 + 8   

Catalytic Spaces 

Stanzi Vaubel began her training as a classical cellist at The Juilliard Pre-College. She received her BA from Northwestern University and her PhD from The University at Buffalo in the Media Study Department while on teaching fellowship. She has collaborated on projects at Robert Wilson's Watermill Center, and has performed at such venues such as Tanglewood, The Long House, and Carnegie Hall. She has worked as a producer for New York Public Radio and produced a series entitled "The Gift" for Chicago Public Radio. Her audio documentaries have been featured on WBEZ, BBC, and spotlighted by The Third Coast Audio Festival. Her work has been commissioned by The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Burchfield Penney Arts Center, KANEKO, UnionDocs, Public Space One, and Free City Festival. During her time in Buffalo she became interested in site-specific productions, creating SITES DO THINGS TO PEOPLE (2015) staged at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, EXCURSIONS INTO UNKNOWABLE WORLDS (2016) staged at the Hi-Temp Warehouse. In 2016 she founded The Indeterminacy Festival focused on creating large-scale collaborative events which involved over a hundred participants and united a wide variety of disciplines and communities around solving complex problems. The festival was staged at Silo City for two years, UNCERTAINTY (2017), EMERGENCE (2018), and PASTFUTURE/FUTUREPAST at The Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Reserve in 2019. In 2020 she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to travel to Montreal and host the 2021 Indeterminacy Festival. Prior to Covid-19 she staged a pre-festival performance in partnership with suoni per il popolo at Sala Rossa in Montreal, entitled CREATING AN OPEN SYSTEM, hosted in collaboration with conductor Guillaume Bourgogne and his improvisation students at McGill University's Schulich School of Music. Previous festivals have been supported by New York State Council for the Arts, Mark Diamond Research Fund, the Physics and Media Study Departments at UB, Techne Institute, The Fulbright Foundation, and the College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Fellowship. 


In Fall 2020, Stanzi launched The Indeterminacy Consulting Group and partner with McGill's B21 as an Indeterminacy Consultant to begin the inaugural ICG Creative Development Program. In this role, she will train students how to thrive within uncertainty. "Practicing indeterminacy" is a method that teaches individuals to apply their expertise to unfamiliar settings and learn how to improvise new solutions to complex problems. 

Claire Reising 

Claire Reising is a Postdoctoral Lecturer of French at New York University. She completed her PhD in French literature at NYU and her BA and MA at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on 20th and 21st century Francophone literature and theater. As a doctoral candidate, she was awarded a Fulbright grant to research the work of immigrant writers in Montreal.  Her project examines how these authors develop narratives of diaspora while resisting binaries often found in interpretations of immigrant writing, such as native/migrant and center/periphery. She explores Montreal as a cultural incubator for diasporic writing and experimental aesthetics. Her analysis draws from Édouard Glissant’s theorizations of displacement and cultural production, highlighting the instability of concepts such as national identity, or home and host country. Claire currently teaches French language and literature courses at NYU, and she is developing a seminar on contemporary resistance literature and film. At NYU, she has also worked in academic advising and educational programming for the undergraduate French program. Outside the classroom, Claire enjoys sharing her teaching and research interests through conferences and public events. In New York, she has collaborated on several events bringing together artists and scholars, including a literary festival organized by l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.

Jesse Stewart April 13 + 15 

We Are All Musicians

Jesse Stewart is an award-winning composer, percussionist, instrument builder, visual artist, researcher, educator, community arts activist dedicated to re-imagining the spaces between artistic disciplines. He has performed and recorded with musical luminaries including Pauline Oliveros, Hamid Drake, William Parker, Joe Mcphee, David Mott, Stretch Orchestra, Michael Snow, and many others. He has been widely commissioned as a composer and artist. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honours including the 2012 Juno award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) for “Instrumental Album of the Year,” and the Order of Ottawa. In 2017, he was one of five educators in the world honoured with the “D2L Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning.”


His music has been heralded by music critics around the world who have described his work as “truly exciting” (Musicworks 76), “exceptional” (Cadence Oct. 2002), “phenomenal” (Cadence Nov. 1999), “ingenious” (Exclaim! June 2006), and “brilliant” (Truths for Serious Drummers, 2012). “Stewart quietly opens the door for us to a limitless world of delicate sonic beauty” writes Randy Raine-Reusch in Musicworks 97. “Highly recommended ear-cleansing” states a review in Italy's Touching Extremes (2007). “Jesse Stewart is an eloquent and poetically powerful percussionist, composer, improviser and teacher—a man of ideas and inventions,” writes jazz legend William Parker. "Jesse is an incredibly innovative artist. He's a performance artist, he's a jazz drummer, he's an incredible creative force” states Roman Borys, cellist with the internationally acclaimed Gryphon Trio. He has been described as "one of the finest young drummers and percussionists on the scene today" (Frank Rubolino, One Final Note Summer/Fall 2002) and “one of the most innovative musicians in Canada" (OttawaJazzScene, 2015).


He is a professor of music in Carleton University’s School for Studies in Art and Culture and an adjunct professor in the Visual Arts program at the University of Ottawa.