Vale Susan Frykberg (1954-2023)
The World Forum for Acoustic Ecology is saddened at the loss of Susan Frykberg, who passed away in Whanganui, New Zealand on Friday, April 7, 2023. She was 68 years old.
Susan was a much loved and active member of the acoustic ecology community, and was instrumental in the founding of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology and delivery of acoustic ecology courses at Simon Fraser University.
Cat Hope, Susan's PhD supervisor, wrote an obituary for Susan in Australia's CutCommon Magazine, reproduced here with permission:
"Susan Frykberg was an electronic music composer and sound artist whose music practice became an increasingly spiritual one. A citizen of both New Zealand and Canada, she lived most recently in Melbourne where she was a key part of the music scene over the last 10 years. Frykberg composed more than 80 musical works during her life, including music for acoustic, theatre, and religious settings in addition to many electroacoustic works. For her, music was an expression of her creative, intellectual, and spiritual life, and she was involved in key electroacoustic music scenes wherever she lived. She passed away in Whanganui, New Zealand from a terminal illness, amongst her family.
Born in Hastings, New Zealand, Frykberg undertook her undergraduate music studies with a minor in Theatre at the University of Canterbury, where she focused on computer music. Over time, she studied with composers such as John Rimmer, Barry Vercoe, Barry Conyngham, Barry Truax, and took classes with Iannis Xenakis and John Cage. She moved to Toronto, Canada in 1979 where she worked as a freelance composer, collaborating on the Structured Sound Synthesis Project with Bill Buxton at the University of Toronto, with the Canadian Electronic Ensemble and the composing collective Gang of Three. A key work from this period is Transonances (1984), a 50-minute piece characterised by voices subjected to and augmented by a range of treated and synthesised sounds. These were soundworlds she would return to throughout her life, as she sought a way to address what it meant to be a human continually augmented by technology.
In 1986, she moved to Vancouver where she completed a Masters Degree in Electroacoustic Composition at Simon Fraser University. She taught Acoustic Ecology there for several years, immersing herself in what was the centre of soundscape studies at that time, working alongside Hildegard Westerkamp and others. This period would profoundly influence her approach to composition and life thereafter, and she remained in close contact with her colleagues after she moved back to New Zealand in 1998. There she undertook studies in Classics and Theology at the University of Otago, and a five-year hiatus from composing ended in 2002 with the notated a cappella vocal work Virgin Mother, performed by Baroque Voices for RNZ Concert. She moved to Melbourne around 2014.
Frykberg’s music has been performed around the world in radio, concert and academic settings. Key works include Astonishing Sense of Being Taken Over by Something Far Greater Than Me, (1998) from the Astonishing Sense album released on Canadian label Earsay. Featuring violinist Nancy DiNovo, it is a beautiful, deep, and haunting piece that makes part of her extraordinary Audio Birth Project, a collection of works based on interviews with women about giving birth, including her sisters and mother, whose voices feature alongside cello, violin, piano, and soundscapes processed via a wide range of electroacoustic techniques. Women were often at the centre of her works – both conceptually and practically. The project was widely acclaimed, with articles in international publications such as Computer Music Journal, eContact and SplendidZine, and went on to be programmed as part of the 2008 Congress for the International Alliance of Women Musicians in Beijing, China.
More recently Frykberg was the lead composer and librettist for the multiplatform opera by Matthew Sleeth, A Drone Opera (2015-2020), commissioned by Experimenta, Melbourne and premiered at Arts House. The opera developed into a film that was shown at the Sydney International Film Festival (2019), an installation at Carriageworks (2019), Sydney and went on to be shown at Ars Electronica, Austria in 2020. In the words of her close collaborator and vocalist in the opera, soprano Judith Dodsworth, the work was a commentary on our tenuous and complex relationship with technology and its ability to simultaneously seduce and menace us, where the main dramatic thrust focused on the increasing distancing and ‘outsourcing’ of modern warfare as drones are employed to carry out the butchery1. Into what could have become a very stark landscape Frykberg brought reverence, wonder, compassion, and humanity2. Dodsworth remembers Frykberg as constantly curious, searching for connection and meaning, always reaching out to share ideas and collaborate with extraordinary warmth, humour and generosity of spirit3.
Theatre was often a feature in her work. Machinewoman (1985) uses dance, movement and live saxophone, with pre-recorded sound emanating from a portable sound-system as part of the performers costume. Her improvisational group Let The Art Sing (2010-2012) combined instruments from different cultures with electronics that interacted with works of art in various regional galleries across New Zealand. She saw music and theatre as one entity functioning to transform the people within the society.
Frykberg’s other contributions to music are notable. She was a founding member of two core international organisations: the Canadian Electroacoustic Community and the World Forum of Acoustic Ecology, and and received an Honourable Mention in the International Alliance of Women Musicians New Music Competition in 2014. She produced programs about electroacoustic music for Radio New Zealand, and documentaries about Canadian composers for the Canadian Broadcasting Commission program Two New Hours. Her written publications include MusicWorks, Organised Sound, the International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, a range of conference proceedings and a forthcoming co-authored chapter with Dodsworth in the upcoming volume The Composer, Herself: Contemporary Snapshots of the Creative Process edited by Linda Kouvaras, Natalie Williams, and Maria Grenfell. She wrote an academic teaching text entitled Dimensions of Acoustic Communication, on which she based a series of workshops held for the public in Melbourne in 2019. In addition to her teaching in Canada, she also taught in Melbourne at RMIT and Box Hill TAFE.
Susan commenced her PhD in Music Composition at Monash University in 2018, completed shortly before her passing. I had the pleasure to be the supervisor of her project on spirituality and electronic music, alongside Professor Constant Mews. She was working on a range of new compositions exploring the nexus of spirituality and electronic sound, including chants with electronics she had devised together with A Drone Opera collaborators Dodsworth and Hamish Gould. She was also developing larger scale electronic works that examine her own life through time, sounds created in space and the theories of the sixth-century music theorist, philosopher, and theologian Boethius, exploring a wide range of iPad applications for sound synthesis and editing. Other university graduate students note Frykberg’s enthusiasm to collaborate and support others, as someone with a genuine interest in others4, passionate and generous5, kind and caring6.
It is important to acknowledge these wonderful contributions Susan Frykberg made to music worldwide, and their impact closer to home. Whilst this summary by no means considers all her achievements, as I met Susan later in her life, I hope this provides some insights to the importance of her work. The staff and students at Monash University will miss her joyous contributions. We are lucky to her wonderful, adventurous music to remember her by."
Additional commemorations will be published on the WFAE In Memoriam page for Susan.
To share your own memories of Susan here, please email WFAE Secretary Jesse Budel on firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear WFAE Members and Acoustic Ecology community,
We are excited to announce that the final keynote speaker for the upcoming WFAE Conference, ‘Listening Pasts, Listening Futures’ in March 2023 is Claude Schryer.
Claude Schryer (1959, Ottawa, he/him) believes the arts, in the context of decolonization, can play a much more impactful role in shaping our collective future and has dedicated the rest of his life to this vocation. He is a franco-ontarian sound and media artist and arts administrator of european ancestry. He holds a MM in composition from McGill University and was actively involved in the acoustic ecology and electroacoustic music communities in the 80’s & 90’s. From 2000 to 2020 he held management positions at Canada Council for the Arts in Inter-Arts and as a strategic advisor. He currently produces the conscient podcast on art and the ecological crisis. He describes his artistic aesthetic as ‘an exploration of the liminal space between reality, fantasy and spirit’. He is also an environmental activist who volunteers with the Sectoral Climate Art Leadership for the Emergency (SCALE) (chair of the board and member of the Mission Circle) and regularly gives workshops, facilitates meetings, and participates in panels and presentations on art and the ecological crisis. He is grateful to the Gesturing Towards Decolonized Futures collective and the Facing Human Wrongs course for guidance in his learning and unlearnings. He is a zen and qi gong practitioner, son of Jeannine and Maurice Schryer, husband of Sabrina Mathews, father of Clara Schryer and Riel Schryer.
Schryer was a founding member of the WFAE at its inception at the 1993 ‘Tuning Of The World’ International Conference in Banff, Alberta. He joins Amanda Gutierrez and David George Haskell as a keynote speaker.
We also note that the conference Call For Presentations deadline has been extended to 15 October 2022. More information on the conference, registration fees, and CFP can be found on the WFAE website.
Dear WFAE Members and Acoustic Ecology community,
This post is a reminder that it is now two weeks until the close (October 1) of the Call for Presentations for the upcoming WFAE Conference in March 2023. More information on the conference, registration fees, and CFP can be found on the WFAE website.
We are also excited to announce the next of our keynote speakers, David George Haskell.
David Haskell is a writer and a biologist. His latest book, Sounds Wild and Broken, explores the story of sound on Earth. Starting with the origins of animal song and traversing the whole arc of Earth history, he illuminates and celebrates the emergence, diversification, and loss of the sounds of our world, including human music and language. The New York Times selected the book as an “Editor’s Choice”. His previous books, The Forest Unseen and The Songs of Trees are acclaimed for their integration of science, poetry, and rich attention to the living world. Among their honors include the National Academies’ Best Book Award, John Burroughs Medal, finalist for Pulitzer Prize, Iris Book Award, Reed Environmental Writing Award, National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature, and runner-up for the PEN E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Haskell received his BA from the University of Oxford and PhD from Cornell University. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, a Guggenheim Fellow, and William R. Kenan Jr. Professor at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, USA. Find him at dghaskell.com and on social media @DGHaskell (Twitter), DavidGeorgeHaskell (Instagram and Facebook).
Haskell joins Amanda Gutierrez as a keynote speaker.
Dear WFAE Members and Acoustic Ecology community,
This post is a reminder that it is now three weeks until the close (October 1) of the Call for Presentations for the upcoming WFAE Conference in March 2023. More information on the conference and CFP can be found on the WFAE website.
This post also features several announcements related to the conference.
We are pleased to announce Amanda Gutierrez as one of our keynote presenters.
A member of the new WFAE affiliate, REA_MX, and one of the Directors of the World Listening Project, Gutiérrez explores the experience of home, belonging, and cultural identity by bringing into focus details of everyday practices whose ordinary status makes it particularly hard for us to notice their key role in defining who we are. Gutiérrez uses a range of media including sound art and performance art to investigate how these conditions of everyday life set the stage for our experiences and in doing so shape our individual and collective identities.
Approaching these questions from women’s perspective continues to be of special interest to Gutiérrez, who completed her MFA in Media and Performance Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently elaborating on the academic dimension of her work developing her Ph.D. studies in Arts and Humanities (HUMA) at Concordia University in Canada, studying the field of aural technologies in connection with Gender Studies in the urban context. For more information, visit http://www.amandagutierrez.net/
We are also delighted to note that Jacek Smolicki will be Artist in Residence at the Atlantic Centre of the Arts, and will lead a pre-conference workshop on Wednesday, March 22.
Lastly, the 2023 WFAE conference fees are as follows, grouped under three categories:
Registration, with lodging at the Atlantic Centre for the Arts:
Registration, with no lodging at ACA (accommodation to be sought by delegates)
Registration, virtual conference
Registrations for the conference will open on January 6, 2023.
The World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) is happy to announce plans to host an international, in-person conference in March 2023. We will be gathering at Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida USA for three days of presentations, workshops, and concerts.
The 2023 conference coincides with the 30th anniversary of the WFAE, founded in 1993, during 'Tuning of the World: The First International Conference on Acoustic Ecology' at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
We encourage you to start making plans to join us. Please note the following dates:
July 18, 2022 - call for proposals released
October 1, 2022 - proposals due
November 1, 2022 - accepted proposals notified
March 23 to 26, 2023 - conference dates
Dear WFAE Affiliate and Individual Members,
I write to inform you of the upcoming 2022 WFAE Annual General Meeting, which will be held on Saturday 7 May at 12:00PM GMT/UTC (translation to your own time zones can be done at TimeAndDate.com).
Following a successful online AGM last year, the meeting will be held on Zoom.
Additionally, with the recent review and ratification of the WFAE Bylaws, the Executive positions – President, Vice-president, Secretary and Treasurer – are now elected at each AGM by the general membership.
Position descriptions, drawn from the Bylaws, are as follows:
To register your interest in attending, please fill out this Zoom registration form. To optionally make nominations for WFAE Executive positions, please fill out this Google Form.
An agenda will be sent in due course.
Thank you for your consideration, with kind regards,
The WFAE has been undertaking a review of its Bylaws, last ratified in June 1998. Following a consultation period, the finalised amendments are to be voted upon by WFAE membership. Given the international reach of the organisation, voting will be coordinated via an online Google form at: https://docs.google.com/.../1FAIpQLSdfCI31gZe.../viewform....
Members of WFAE Affiliate Organisations and WFAE Individual Members are eligible to vote.
Each amendment is arranged sequentially under its relevant section of the Bylaws, accompanied by an explanation (in parentheses) of changes to each clause and a simple 'yes' or 'no' response for members to cast their vote.
For further context, the full Bylaw Review document is available here: https://docs.google.com/.../18bGb7Wt1xuNFSbwRl4kb.../edit...
As per current bylaws (9.2), each amendment requires an "affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members" to be approved.
There are 30 amendments for consideration, which should take between 10-20 minutes to complete. Voting will close on 20 February 2022.
Thank you for your participation, with kind regards,
First WFAE Associate Member: SVARAM (India)
The WFAE is delighted to announce that SVARAM has been accepted as its first Associate Member.
SVARAM, based at Auroville in Tamil Nadu, India, brings together the rich tradition of Indian Music and Craft and international academic musicology, sound studies and research, contemporary design and innovation with the unique spiritual, futuristic aspiration of Auroville and its experiment of Human Unity.
Having participated over the years in the World Listening Day and thematic sound events and walks, and a co-created performance between Aurelio, (Svaram’s founding executive) and WFAE President Eric Leonardson in the Chicago Arts Center a few years ago, SVARAM is looking forward to create more awareness and activities in their local context in Tamil Nadu and South Asia about soundscape studies, bioacoustics and sonic activism.
The World Forum for Acoustic Ecology is saddened at the loss of Raymond Murray Schafer, who died at his home in Southern Ontario on Saturday, August 14, 2021. He was 88 years of age and is survived by his wife and mezzo-soprano, Eleanor James.
Schafer leaves us with many invaluable gifts, a legacy of music, ideas, and literature for us to examine and celebrate. He will be remembered as one of Canada’s most influential composers and ‘father of acoustic ecology’.
Obituraries have been published by the CBC, New York Times, Times Colonist, The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail.
Many friends and colleagues in the Acoustic Ecology community have shared their memories of Schafer:
More tributes will be shared as they become available.
To contribute your own memories of Schafer's life and legacy, please contact WFAE Jesse Budel at email@example.com
WFAE Bylaw Membership Consultation
Dear WFAE Affiliate and Individual Members,
As you may be aware, the WFAE is in the process of reviewing its Bylaws, which were last ratified in June 1998.
The next stage of this process, as per the current Bylaws, is to provide the WFAE membership with the opportunity to provide feedback on the current proposed amendments.
Due to impracticalities in organising a meeting for this purpose as set out in the current Bylaws (whether in person or online, coordinating across multiple time zones for our worldwide organisation), the Board has agreed that an online forum is appropriate for this next stage of consultation.
As such, a publicly accessible Google Doc of the current Bylaws and proposed amendments has been developed, in which members can provide feedback via comments. This can be accessed here.
Amendments/Additions to the document are highlighted in green, with a comment box to the side of each proposed amendment for you to add commentary. Any additional commentary is also welcome.
To allow for sufficient feedback from current WFAE Affiliate and Individual members, this consultation period will now close Monday 2 August 2021.
Thanks for your input, with kind regards,