Flowers For Your Heart
My project HUE released our sophomore album, Flowers For Your Heart on May 31st. It features James Meger on bass, Justin Devries on drums and guest vocalist Laura Swankey (Toronto).
Flowers for Your Heart tackles two artistic objectives: firstly, how to create music that is both abstract and accessible; and secondly, how to lead a band with harp in a way does not compromise sensitivity with it’s boldness, or aesthetic beauty with it’s curiosity.
I find this quote from literary critic Mark Abley quite poignant in expressing how I feel about the relationship between tradition and innovation in the arts: “ we have focused so hard on the desire to make our work perpetually new; we have become so suspicious of stale rhetoric; and we have wanted so much to disconnect ourselves from the styles and tropes of the past, that we’ve ended up isolating ourselves from the public” (Prairie Fire, vol. 28, no. 3, 2007). With sentiment in mind, this album uses influence from rock, pop and indie music in combination with my background in avant-garde and free improv with the intention of creating music that challenges the listener in a way that makes them barely aware they are being taken outside of their boundaries.
Our first record, HUE, felt like a bit of a teenage rebellion against the ‘harp’ archetype – I did my best to avoid anything that could be considered ethereal or classically beautiful. With this new music, I tried to let that go of that and embrace ‘beautiful’ in ways that still felt authentic and honest. In some ways, I tried to let go of thinking of myself as a ‘harpist’ and the feeling of being chased by this story of what the harp is supposed to be and my rebellion to that.
Selenotropic release and an upcoming album from Hue!
February 25, 2019
2019 is going to be the year of ALBUMS!
You may recall the band formerly known as Red Moon? Well, I’ve FINALLY finished an album of all those songs called Selenoptropic. Selenotropism is plant growth in response to moonlight, and it felt like the perfect way to name this collection of songs that has been developing slowly and quietly over the course of the past 5 years. One of ideas I was exploring with this music is how to integrate and use the harp as the backbone of a band without it being the ‘elephant in the room’ – can it support the vocals and integrate with the drums and bass in a way that takes advantage of the colour and timbre of the instrument, without taking the spot light or falling into cliche or stereotype? I almost want listeners to forget they’re listening to harp, if you know what I mean!
I’ve released this album softly into the world without much hype, but I do plan to slowly leak into social media content, etc etc etc! I don’t mean to cast it into the wind without care – but I have been quite preoccupied with finishing another album that I am oh-so-excited about! HUE will be releasing our sophomore album, Flowers for your Heart, on May 31st at the China Cloud. Stay tuned for teasers, singles, and more info!
And in case you were concerned about the rest of your year being void of new harp music to listen to, The Giving Shapes as also been in the studio working on our first album, coming out this fall ;)
Summer Festival Announcements
We thought it might never come….but summer has finally arrived! While ardently trying to absorb much vitamin D as humanly possible, I’m finding it very hard to be productive on these sunny days – but I have a lot to prepare for. I’m very excited and grateful to be playing my music at the of the following festivals this summer:
Music Waste | Solo set| June 3rd, 9:45pm @ China Cloud
Campbell Bay Music Festival (Mayne Island) | Elisa Thorn’s HUE | June 24th @ Main Stage
TD International Vancouver Jazz Festival | Elisa Thorn’s HUE | July 1st, 12pm @ Roundhouse Exhibition Hall
Khatsalano Street Party | Gentle Party | July 8th @ West 4th Ave
Vancouver Tap Dance Festival | with Dayna Szyndrowski | August 25th, 8pm @ Orpheum Annex
‘Hue’ album release
The debut album of my Painting Project, Hue will be released on January 14th at the China Cloud (524 Main Street).
The album uses the abstract paintings of my father, Bruce Thorn, as a basis for composition and improvisation for a trio featuring harp, bass and drums. As Bruce explains in his own artist statement, he is:
“working to create a vision that is improvisational, intuitive, contemporary & universal, ” using “abstraction as a mode to reflect upon social and natural environments to create a journey of exploration and invention rather than a predetermined statement.”
In line with his vision, I have created music that explores colour, movement and abstraction. The sparse instrumentation leaves space to highlight the intricate and diverse sonic possibilities of the harp.
The album is available for purchase on bandcamp.
For more information about the project, click here.
Summer Festival Announcements!
I’m very excited to announce a couple of festival performances coming up this summer!
Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival (Montreal)
June 5th with Bozzini Quartet – more information
June 6th with Bozzini Quartet – more information
June 8th with Trading Places Jam Marathon – more information
June 13th with Tony Wilson – more information
TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
June 30th at 12:00pm
Public Market Stage (Granville Island)
David Ward and the Golden Future Orchestra
July 2nd at 12:00pm
David Lam Park
Kaleidoscope: A showcase of contemporary harp music
Kaleidoscope: A showcase of contemporary harp music
February 5th at 7:30pm | The Roundhouse
Tickets $15 here
To celebrate the conclusion of a year-long mentorship with composer Dr. Lisa Cay Miller, harpist Elisa Thorn will showcase a broad spectrum of original music in Kaleidoscope. From jazz to indie to avant-garde, Thorn uses the harp in unconventional, innovative ways.
Awarded an Early Career Development grant from the BC Arts Council in fall of 2014, Thorn has been studying composition and improvisation with Dr. Lisa Cay Miller for the past 1.5 years. During this time, she has written a large body of music for various small ensembles, which will be showcased in this performance.
As part of her Fieldhouse Residency with the City of Vancouver Parks Board, Kaleidoscope will take place on the beautiful stage at the Performance Centre in the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre. Her Fieldhouse partner/collaborator, percussive dancer Dayna Szyndrowski, will be a special guest at this show.
Kaleidoscope will feature original music from Thorn’s projects Gentle Party, Written on the Body, Red Moon and her Painting Project, which uses paintings by her father Bruce Thorn as a basis for musical inspiration. Special guests include James Meger, Justin Devries, Meredith Bates, Shanto Acharia, Jessica Ylirussi, Justin Devries, and Roisin Adams.
Finally, Scott Morgan (better known by his stage alias of Loscil), will be providing live projections during this performance. Using content from his own library, content collected specifically for this show, and Bruce Thorn’s abstract paintings. Morgan will create an immersive environment drawing upon themes of colour, nature and other imagery found within the music.
The concert will conclude with an artist Q & A. Generously supported by the British Columbia Arts Council’s Early Career Development Program.
Reserve your ticket here
Thank you for the feature, Georgia Straight!
I’m tickled to be included in the Fall Arts Preview “Who to Watch” artist feature in this week’s Georgia Straight! Here’s what they have to say:
“Thorn is poised to emerge as a radical harpist, composer, and interdisciplinary arts innovator.”
Click to read the full story here
A few of my favourite things…
For me, falling leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, never ending rain, and crisp air not only marks the beginning of winter, but the (near) end of wedding season. Summer 2014 marked another successful, romantic season that I am so grateful to be a part of. It is such an honour to be an integral part of one of the most important days of so many people’s lives. Reflecting on this past season, I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite things:
Elisa’s favourite wedding things 2014:
1. Open back dresses. Oh. My. Goodness! I saw some of the most beautiful wedding dresses I have ever seen this year. This is my favourite wedding dress I have ever seen to date. And I have seen a lot!
2. Heartfelt speeches/personalized vows. This summer was the first time I ever cried during a ceremony of a client whom I had never met before. After reading their own (beautiful) vows to each other, the both husband and wife read vows to the bride’s daughters, about how they understood it was a hard transition for the girls and how excited they were to build a new family together. It’s these deeply intimate, honest and personal moments that make a wedding ceremony so special.
3. Venues with a view. The coolest wedding I’ve been a part of was at the Vancouver Aquarium – but there are a lot of great spots around town. Capilano Suspension Bridge, Cleveland Dam Field at Capilano Regional Park, Hycroft Manor, Brock House, and Brix Restaurant are a few of my favourites.
4. Quirky, personalized wedding invites (this one came from my cousin – it’s so exciting for me to be invited to a wedding as a guest!)
5. And on that note…personalized music! Nothing makes a moment more special than having the perfect music to set the mood. It makes such a difference when couples request songs that are special to them – whether it’s the song he used to propose, the song they first kissed to, or the favourite song of a loved one who can’t be there to celebrate. I think the quirkiest request I had this year was the Indiana Jones Theme Song for the recessional. Some top requests this year were:
One Thousand Years (Christina Perri)
All of Me (John Legend)
Marry You (Bruno Mars)
Fly Me to the Moon (Frank Sinatra)
At Last (Etta James)
6. Getting to stay for the party. Don’t get me wrong – I love playing for wedding ceremonies – but as a musician it’s so much fun to get to stay and play for the cocktail hour/reception! My amplifier to gives me that needed boost to be able to be heard over chatter, and it’s great to get to stay and play more upbeat contemporary music people are often surprised to hear coming from the harp. Sometimes I even get to bring my friends along to make music with me! Check out my group Ladybird to see what I mean.
Written on the Body
“Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights, the accumulations of a lifetime gather there.”
As you may have heard, I spent part of the winter at the Banff Centre working on composing for a new project – and now that summer is upon us, little bits of and pieces of it are surfacing! Written on the Body is a collaboration between Gentle Party (harp, violin, and cello) with tap dancer Dayna Szyndrowski and vocalist Britt MacLeod. Inspired by text from Jeanette Winterson and Gao Xingjian, it is an interdisciplinary piece with visuals, dance, and music that explores our complex relationship to our bodies.
We performed a very small excerpt of it at the Bc Buds Festival at the Firehall a few weeks ago, and are very excited to perform a 15 minute excerpt of it at the next Dances for a Small Stage at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in a few weeks! The full production will be mounted later this fall.
June 20th & 21st, 8pm
Shadbolt Centre for the Arts
Dances for a Small Stage
You can read more about the project here: www.writtenonthebody.ca
Happy Valentines Day from Banff!
I just wanted to wish you all the most lovely Valentine’s day from one of the most lovely places in the world – Banff, Alberta! I’ve been incredibly privileged to spend the past 3 weeks here at the Banff Centre for a music residency, composing for a very exciting secret project. It truly is creative paradise here! I’ve fallen deeply and madly in love with the mountains.
(Thanks to my friend Jeremiah Marsh for the beautiful photo. I do not have a good camera. Or photography skills.)
Stayed tuned for updates what I’ve been working on here! In the mean time, here is a little Valentine’s day treat from Ladybird.