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Dive into Open Waters

Upstream Music’s Open Waters Festival blurs the lines between musical traditions and genres in its fifth year on stage.


Lan Tung travels east for Open Waters this year.
  • Lan Tung travels east for Open Waters this year.

"There the jazz archipelago and the classical archipelago. They can be traversed, it's not impassable, there's no barriers between them, except maybe distance," says Lukas Pearse, the artistic director of this year's Open Waters Festival. From Thursday to Sunday, Upstream Music will collaborate with Symphony Nova Scotia, SuddenlyListen and more for 14 extraordinary music events. 

"We're at a time when the boundaries between musical genres and traditions are less steadfast than they used to be," Pearse explains. "With the changes in musical distribution technology, it's easier to listen to different kinds of music." This fluidity has been the navigation plan for Open Waters, which has existed in various forms since the 1990s. Pearse has followed the open-concept program initiated by its former artistic director, Paul Cram. 

"To honour his commitment to Upstream, we have Symphony Nova Scotia performing one of Paul's pieces with the Upstream Orchestra," says Pearse, who will also live his dream of playing electric bass with the Symphony. "Some people would call it third-stream music. It's in that space between classical and jazz." It's one of the several collaborations with Symphony Nova Scotia, along with some very special visiting guests. 

"Open Waters is not only a platform for younger emerging artists, like Andrew McKelvie's group," says Pearse. "But with the Orchestra and the Symphony shows, we're showing what we can do collectively when we collaborate and we're also really excited to bring in great artists from across Canada," including Vancouver's Lan Tung and the Birds of Paradise performance; Sacré Tympan, "very rich and influential Québécois jazz," and Toronto's The Cluttertones, with one of Canada's best trumpeters, Lina Allemano.

"Each of these things are in Open Waters because they're all very different from each other," says Pearse. "There's traditional and non-traditional, improv and composed, and they're all very beautiful."

Open Waters Festival
January 7-10

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