Artist at the Rodeo

Laurie Anderson was artist-in-residence at the High Performance Rodeo. 
And she took us - and the National Music Centre's instrument collection - on a wild ride.

When Laurie Anderson signed on for a chock-a-block stint as High Performance Rodeo's 2012 artist-in-residence, one of her most anticipated stops was an interactive tour of Cantos/NMC's world-renowned musical artifacts. Anderson, an innovative multi-media musical pioneer, unleashed her boundless imagination upon the unique instruments in the collection, providing the handful of lucky participants with a sonic treat. “Laurie Anderson is a wonderful story teller and it was a thrill to see her weave her unique perspective, experiences and stories through our collection,” says Candace Elder, programs officer at Cantos/National Music Centre.  

Those who were wowed earlier in the week by Anderson's performance series at Theatre Junction Grand – we watched her pop a pillow speaker into her mouth to produce an otherworldly combination of ethereal throat singing and robotic tuning – knew that in her hands (or mouth) anything becomes a musical instrument, and every instrument tells a story. Anderson regaled the gathering with tales of babysitting Steve Martin's Theremin – the early electronic instrument that’s played without being touched – and revealed that the vocoder was initially designed for spying purposes. Then she segued into a perspective on the way current audio compression relates to early wax cylinder recordings.
Anderson is a renaissance artist who doesn’t rest on her considerable laurels. In fact, with four performances of Another Day in America at Theatre Junction Grand, lectures and in-studio interaction with students at ACAD, a gourmet dinner at the Cookbook Company Cooks, and a video installation (The Gray Rabbit) – complete with an in-conversation launch – at the Glenbow Museum, in addition to the interactive tour of the collection at Cantos/National Music Centre, she barely rests at all.
High Performance Rodeo may have been Laurie Anderson's first rodeo, but she roped us in like a pro.