Wooden Speakers Resonate with Sustainability at UBC

Wooden Speakers Resonate with Sustainability at UBC from Metro Vancouver on Vimeo.

What can you do with wood waste? One Vancouver composer has discovered a very musical use for discarded pieces of cedar and Douglas fir.

“I was doing a project around the idea of red cedar, for an installation on the Sunshine Coast,” explains Giorgio Magnanensi, composer and artistic director at the Vancouver New Music Society. “I happened to find myself in this small mill operation on the Sunshine coast, looking for a piece of wood, and, there was a pile of slabs, and I ask, ‘what you do with this wood after you are done?’ And, he said, “after we’re done, we burn everything.”

Sound from Scrap Wood

“And, so I asked, “Can I use some?” And he said, “take what you want”. So, I start slicing them, shaping them, experimenting with sound and so, eventually, I built two, and then I built four, and then I said, “I can build as many as I want”. And, so, I built 16.”

“Each of the speakers is different … it’s an individual voice. Even though, between the maple and the cedar, there are some little difference of resonance. So the maple is denser, so it’s brighter. The red cedar is smoother, and adds some lower resonances to it, which is really nice.”

Speakers Showcased at UBC CIRS building

In March, Manganensi brought his speakers to UBC’s Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) for a unique concert series. The CIRS building was designed as a living laboratory — for research into sustainable building design and technology. But art is not out of place here. Building manager Tim Herron explains why it’s an ideal venue for the event.

“What we’ve been trying to do is curate different kinds of performances in the building as a way of bringing together people within the building and lots of the students that visit the building. We have musical performances, we do art in here. We have all sorts of really interesting demonstrations.”

Unusual Works for a Unique Venue

One of the concert series performers is Juno award-winning composer Jordan Nobles. He is no stranger to unique venues and unusual compositions.

“I’ve made a career out of doing concerts in unusual and interesting spaces,” says Nobles, who collaborated with Metro Vancouver in 2015 for Immersion, ​a new music composition performed inside a giant tank constructed for the Capilano-Seymour water filtration system.

“Tonight I’m going to perform a piece of mine called, “Mobius.” It’s a piece for 16 grand pianos and 16 guitars. It’s actually a much larger work than I’m creating for CD, but I wanted to create a small 10, 15 minute version for these figures here today.”

The Sound of Sustainability

“The fact that this wood can be used in this way,” says Manganensi, “I found it a beautiful thing to do, to bring it back to life.”

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