CW: Can you talk about Somewhere there and it’s relation to all the other organizations which operate in the venue, such as A.I.M Toronto?
ST: A.I.M Toronto (Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto) is now almost six years old. It was founded through discussions with Ron Samworth, who is the artistic director of the Now Orchestra, when he came for an early Interface series. He suggested that we start something official with a group of musicians that where (and still are) fairly active in Toronto at the time that included Ken Aldcroft, Joe Sorbara, and Nick Fraser. I was in Guelph at the time, working on my masters, and they asked me to be the fifth member of the board, so when I moved to Toronto I got much more active for the years to come. At the beginning of this year however I resigned amicably, basically because I felt like other projects were taking more of my time and I needed to fry some other fish.
The principle activity of A.I.M Toronto is to put on the Interface Series, which is a three-night concert program, four times a year, featuring a musician with some sort of international stature. It’s a chance for somebody from out of town to come and play with a variety of players from Toronto. Hopefully it challenges local musicians to interact and play really well in the company of these guests. The other thing is that there is always a population of music fans who have every CD imaginable but will rarely come out to see a show of local musicians because there is this categorical assumption that Toronto musicians aren’t as good as those from Chicago, Amsterdam, or wherever. So the interface series is designed to try to draw these people out who would be really interested to hear, for example, a musician like Joe Mcphee, because they have all his records, but then present him in the context of local players and show off how talented they are. The last thing the series does is give the visiting artist a sense of what’s going on in the city and introduced them to some great Toronto musicians and create connections. Aside from A.I.M though, I myself have been booking musicians from out of town at Somewhere There as well and there is also the Now Series running in the space. So there is quite a large flock of organizations and presenters working in Somewhere There now.
CW: The last thing I wanted to ask you about is the residency program at Somewhere There. How did that start and what are your thoughts about it how it functions?
ST: The residency program was always there in my mind and at the core of my plans for the space. It seemed at the time when I decided to start Somewhere There that venues in town like the Tranzac and Now Series where really going strong it was relatively easy to get a one time gig. However, if you had a new group and wanted to rehearse and have a regular gig for a few weeks to get things together it was much more difficult to find the space. So I thought it would be great to give people the chance to have two months of weekly gigs for a project, and I felt the need for that was present in the city. It also makes my job a bit easier as a curator because I can book these residencies a year in advance and have three of the six performance slots in the week covered.
CW: So is to structure of each residency totally open to each participant?
ST: I trust that the people who engage in the residency program will use the time and space in a way that is productive for them as artists. Some people simply improvise with different musicians every week and that’s fine, but when I think of a residency I think of one group playing every week getting something together. I don’t expect people to agree with me and I would never tell them what to do so basically it is totally open for each person and people have done all sorts of things. For example Scott Peterson has some great programming coming up that features a different group every week and it is fabulously interesting.
Check out www.somewherethere.org for more information