WFAE President’s Report by Eric Leonardson
The 2013 issue of Soundscape: The Journal for Acoustic Ecology is being sent to WFAE Affiliates and their members in mid-June. Guest editors Makis Solomos and Kostas Paparrigopoulos present informative and provocative articles from the symposium, "Music and Ecologies of Sound: Theoretical and practical projects for a listening of the world," which was held in Paris in May, 2013. The WFAE thanks Université Paris 8 for its financial support in helping the WFAE produce this volume of our annual professional journal. Planning is underway for this year's and next year's Soundscape. Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Phylis Johnson, and I continue our efforts to return the publication date back to its intended cycle, having the 2014 issue out before the end of this year. Past issues are free to download from the Journal web page. We
welcome both library and individual subscribers. The new journal is
available at no charge for WFAE members.
Recent and upcoming
Invisible Places | Sounding Cities, a WFAE endorsed symposium on sound, urbanism, and sense of place, happens July 18-20 in the charming city of Viseu, Portugal. Keynote speeches by Jean-Paul Thibaud, Brandon Labelle, and Salome Voegelin explore an integrated, holistic approach to understanding and resolving current and future problems addressed by urban planning, architecture, and sound as a public art form. We are grateful for the support of the Mayor of Viseu - Câmara Municipal de Viseu for its support in the annual Jardins Efémeros (Ephemeral Gardens) arts festival. Francisco López is the featured artist, providing a performance and workshop. I look forward to reporting back to you on the discussion on starting a new WFAE affiliate group in Portugal.
The WFAE endorsed, Sound in the Land festival and conference on music and the environment, took place from June 5-8 at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo University, Ontario, Canada. The conference sought new perspectives on Mennonites, and included a culturally diverse participation of First Nations people, scholars, composers, poets, authors, scientists, theologians, teachers, and students. The music ranged from folk, to religious hymns and choirs, classical orchestra, to electro-acoustic, soundscape compositions, and phonography. "Earth Songs" was a superb multi-media production by Korean artist Cecilia Kim using Korean
traditional instrumentation and players, and visual
projections. Students from Hochschule Darmstadt,
Germany, gave informative presentations and served on a panel discussion along with
students from Canada. Matt Griffin and Eric Powell represented our WFAE Affiliate; the Canadian Association for Sound Ecology/Association Canadienne pour l’Écologie Sonore (CASE/ACÉS). Under the moniker, "Electricity Is Magic," Matt and Eric presented their projects, "Half Steps Are Okay" in Chicago and "Under Living Skies: Swede Lake," in Saskatchewan.
Canadian composer and World Soundscape Project founder, R. Murray Schafer and his wife, Eleanor James told us about interspecies communications in sound, and spontaneously engaged us in songs with participants of Schafer's ongoing Wolf Project. From the Biological Sciences, keynote speaker Gus Mills fascinated us with sounds, images, and information from his life-long study of large carnivores of the cat family in South Africa. His wife, Margie Mills, presented her experiences—wonderful and at times tragic—of fieldwork with her husband, of child rearing, of loss, and of helping local people and refugees around Kruger National Park. Professor Carol Ann Weaver organized the conference, the third in a series starting in 2004. Her endless energy and enthusiasm drove the conference. Eight hours after the end of this conference Carol celebrated her retirement from 29 years of teaching at Conrad Grebel. I hope and believe this is the start of great projects for her in our shared futures. (Photo: Dawn Concert on June 8 featuring music by R. Murray Schafer, Jennifer Butler, and Emily Doolittle, performed on and around Columbia Lake, Waterloo, Ontario. Pictured at lef, R. Murray Schafer with his wife Eleanor James)
On March 27 and 28 I had the pleasure to present in the Urban Soundscapes and Critical Citizenship conference at the beautiful campus of University of Limerick. This was not a WFAE endorsed conference, however it deserves mention because of its concern with soundscapes. Many WFAE members from Canada, U.K., U.S., and Germany participated, too. The 17 presentations, including keynotes by Dr. Ursula Hemetek, University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Dr. Giacomo Bottà, University of Helsinki (Urban Studies), Peter Cusack, CRiSAP/University of the Arts, London (Sound Arts Practices), and Milena Droumeva, Simon Fraser University (Acoustic Ecology), provided an in-depth and interdisciplinary look into the social, aesthetic, and technological aspects of this multi-faceted topic. We were essentially our own small audience. This made for especially substantive and memorable discussions. Plans are underway to publish some of the presentations later this year
WFAE leadership update
The WFAE owes a debt of thanks to Secretary Gary Ferrington for his care and dedication to the WFAE. For more than 18 years the WFAE website and this newsletter have been his labor of love. He is retiring from his post at the end of this year. We now seek a new member to carry on in Gary's place. He has been highly active, responsive, skilled, and immensely supportive in my role as President. Gary has been instrumental in organizing, communicating, and publishing the WFAE's online presence, among other Internet resources that help us to function. Are you the next WFAE Secretary? Contact me if you are interested.
To help understand our association, I will provide some explanation. The structure serves to support our relationships as an associated group of societies and organizations around the world. Most are identified by nationality and region, but other identities, e.g. professional, can form the basis for becoming an affiliated organization. These are the many bodies around the world where Acoustic Ecology is applied and made meaningful. The main page of the WFAE website states: "The World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE), founded in 1993, is an international association of affiliated organizations and individuals in Europe, North America, Japan, and Australia that share a common concern with the state of the world's soundscapes. WFAE members represent a multi-disciplinary spectrum of individuals engaged in the study of the social, cultural and ecological aspects of the sonic environment." We are very excited about helping people form new affiliates.
The WFAE's Executive officers, of which I serve as President, is a small group of unpaid volunteers. We serve as non-voting members of the WFAE Board. Members of our affiliates serve as voting Board representatives and any ad hoc committees as needed. Members also serve on the Journal Editorial Committee, chaired by Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Phylis Johnson. Please visit the Journal Editorial Committee page to learn more.
Every conference we are asked to "support," or "endorse," is a unique event. We depend upon the interests, actions, and resources of others, including our Affiliate Organizations to organize them on a local level. Comprehensive administrative protocols for vetting and organizing conferences have yet to be created. Given the various situations in which these events arise, having a "system" that addresses all contingencies is an elusive, time-consuming process. Perhaps this is a task for a new generation of WFAE members who will tirelessly and devotedly volunteer time and ideas to tasks such as these. Until then, we depend on friendly and open communications to conduct WFAE activities in as uncomplicated and straightforward a way as possible.
To reiterate, the WFAE Board is comprised of elected representatives from each of our Affiliates. Every member of an Affiliate Organization is a member of the WFAE. As a WFAE member your ideas, concerns, and participation are welcome and necessary for the WFAE to function and thrive as a network of associated groups. As a WFAE member you have a voice in the WFAE through your Affiliate Representative. I invite you to see their profiles on the WFAE Board Members page.
Groups from, Spain, Brazil, and Peru have expressed their interest establishing affiliates. I am excited and eager to help—likewise for continued discussions on making formal associations with established, like-minded organizations. The WFAE welcomes more input to help coordinate and inform the world about all the exciting and disparate activities happening in and sound and the environment. For information on forming an affiliate please visit the Affiliate Organization page and contact us. to learn about abundant, diverse, and inspired activities of our members, please visit the WFAE News section of this newsletter.
Last but not least, please remember, on July 18, 2014 all are invited to participate, observe, engage, and celebrate ways of listening with care for our sonic environment in the annual World Listening Day. This year's theme is "Listen to you!"