“I’ve had people come up to us at the last Synesthesia, elated, saying they had no idea classical music could sound like this.” ~ Amanda Smith

$20 (General) / $15 (Under 30) at FAWN Opera

Synesthesia is a condition where one kind of stimulus produces both the expected response — hearing a trumpet or smelling an orange, for instance — but also an unrelated experience: Synesthetes can “hear” smells and “see” sounds.

Synesthesia is also the upcoming performance by FAWN Opera, taking place at 8pm tonight (Saturday, May 3), at the Brockton Collective Studio (442 Dufferin Street Studio M). The aim of the performance? To bring contemporary short films and new classical music together.

In collaboration with an online cinema magazine, The Seventh Art, Synesthesia III will pair eight short films by Canadian filmmakers—Sofia Bohdanowicz, Stephen Broomer, Dan Browne, Liam Crockard, Christine Lucy Latimer, Eva Kolcze, Blake Williams—with eight classical pieces, composed especially for each film by Canadian composers Patrick Arteaga, Massimo Guida, Trevor Hewer, James Lowrie, Amanda Lowry, Chris Thornborrow and Patrick Murray, who also happens to be FAWN’s music director.

Spirits in Season by Stephen Broomer

FAWN placed some restrictions on its composers – a fixed set of instruments for which the pieces had to be written. Smith says that without such a restriction, sourcing all the necessary instruments for the ensemble can prove challenging, but adds that it was an interesting experiment to see what different sounds the composers could produce with the same instrumentation.

The non-standard ensemble will feature Michael Bridge (digital accordion), Brenton Chan (cello), Adanya Dunn (soprano), Patrick Power (guitar), Jessica Tse (clarinet) and Eric Woolston (percussion), a promisingly eclectic group of instruments for delightfully different music.

Walking by Chris Thornborrow

Each Synesthesia show explores the interconnections between classical music and another art form. For the first Synesthesia, the visual artist produced pieces based on the libretto of the opera FAWN was creating. The second Synesthesia furthered the interaction between music and visual art, where Smith worked with a visual artist to produce performance art light installations, pairing them with each of the program’s electronic classical pieces.

That performance, she says, was probably FAWN’s most successful show.

“I’ve had people come up to us at the last Synesthesia, elated, saying that they had no idea classical music could sound like this, that this was the most exciting musical experience they had that year”, Smith describes. “In fact, people are still coming up to me and talking about that show.”

Pastoral by Dan Browne

These Synesthesia events are closely linked to FAWN’s full opera productions. Each one touches on artistic elements that are essential to their operatic project, but the tone of the series is more about exploration with the audience, and an opportunity to try out ideas.

Since every Synesthesia performance is a unique exploration of music and other contemporary art forms, no two events are the same, and Smith herself is expecting to be surprised in some respects. The presence of a digital accordion in the ensemble is one such exciting element in tonight’s show.

Smith explains that one of FAWN’s instrumentalists, Michael Bridge, had won a digital accordion as a competition prize and was eager to bring it out in performance. Bridge introduced the composers to the musical possibilities, and audiences can look forward to hearing new works written especially for it.

“It will be interesting to hear what happens. I’ve never heard this instrument before!” says Smith.

After a successful workshop performance of Adame Scime’s L’homme et le Ciel last month, their next opera production will be announced at tonight’s concert. Those who loath to miss this better put FAWN opera on their radar to be the first to hear about the next show.

This is bound to be a sold out event, so to avoid disappointment, be sure to get your advance tickets at BeMused Network.