5 Reasons Why: New Hermitage

Category: music 258

Halifax-based improv ensemble New Hermitage play The Tipsy Muse Cafe this Saturday. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t miss this show. 

Matt Carter

There’s a lot of music rolling through the city these days. Over the past few years Fredericton has gained more than a few new stages that all seem to remain busy, actively booking just about every rock band or solo folk act that passes through town. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, far from it. But this level of frequency can make for some tough decisions when planning your night out. Of the many live music events taking place this week, I think one show in particular deserves a solid pitch as to why, of all the things you could be doing on a Saturday night, you should go out and enjoy a performance by the Halifax-based improv ensemble, New Hermitage.

#1: It will be a show unlike anything you’ve seen or heard before.

New Hermitage play improvised music, music that exists purely in the moment. Sure, the group’s performance will no doubt be guided by a series of cues meant to indicate a shift in dynamic or expression, but no matter how familiar musicians can get with these forms and cues, things often lead in completely unexpected directions. It’s like magic. 

#2: The instruments and the players.

The members of New Hermitage bring together an incredibly wide range of musical backgrounds, each injecting their own influence into the music and its performance. Saxophonist Andrew MacKelvie has been blowing his horn for nearly 20 years now and is a regular performer with the Halifax new music series suddenlyLISTEN. Cellist India Yeshe Gailey’s 2017 solo album was nominated for Music Nova Scotia’s Classical Album of the Year and she holds a Masters in Music from McGill. Ellen Gibling plays the harp. Another McGill graduate, she also has an MA in Irish Traditional Music Performance from the University of Limerick. Finally, Ross Burns, who some may know as the charismatic frontman for the now defunct Halifax world jazz ensemble Gypsophilia, is one of the east coast’s most ubiquitous collaborators having worked with David Myles, Dinuk Wijeratne, Suzi Leblanc, Duane Andrews, Erin Costelo and Rich Aucoin to name just a few. All this to day, the collective strength of New Hermitage is staggering. 

#3: New Hermitage led a Classical coup d’état at this year’s Music Nova Scotia Awards.

New Hermitage are winners of the 2019 Music Nova Scotia Award for Classical Album of the Year, a major accomplishment for any improv ensemble! 

#4: Improv shows don’t happen everyday (in Fredericton). 

Fredericton doesn’t have an improv scene, at least not musically. The closest we’ve come in recent years would probably be the events organized by the New Brunswick Summer Music Festival’s FUZE branch, and the occasional “drone” event here and there. But like everything else, experience takes art to new levels and the members of New Hermitage, in addition to their collective education and history of collaborative music making, are experienced improvisers. It’s what they do. 

#5: Eric Hill is opening the show! 

Eric Hill, known to many as that guy from Backstreet Records, has been dabbling in various sound and music experiments for many years. He runs an indie label specializing in such fringe sounds and curates the podcast Surgery Radio. He has released one full-length album and various singles with his project Counting On Downstairs and is a frequent composer for theatre productions. We may not have a thriving experimental music scene here in Fredericton, but we do have Eric Hill. 

New Hermitage + Eric Hill | The Tipsy Muse Cafe | November 16 | 7 p.m. | View Event 


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