The Years in Between
The Years in Between is a sound [COLLAGE / OBJECT / EXPERIENCE] composed, performed, and produced by harpist & vocalist Elisa Thorn.
Flowing through different scenes and spaces, the 26-minute piece is a [MEDITATION / ABSTRACT NARRATIVE / EXPLORATION] of Elisa’s relationship with her child self. She plays with her belief that all the versions of oneself exist within us at any given moment – and that it is possible to travel across time to visit our past and future selves. She seeks to REPAIR REFRAME REIMAGINE RESHAPE RECAST
her relationship with her mother by developing a relationship with the mother and child inside herself.
It has been performed only once, at the Women From Space festival in Toronto on March 5th, 2020. It was Elisa’s last concert of the Before Times.
Elisa recorded, edited and produced this project herself with her Camac DHC and Lyon & Healy style 85 harps, a Boss RC-300 looping pedal, and GarageBand. Sometimes you can hear the creak of her chair but remarkably, none of the construction noise from outside her studio space. Endless thanks to Chris Gestrin for his mixing wizardry and final tweaks.
It is meant to be listened to continuously in one sitting. She hopes you LAY DOWN CLOSE YOUR EYES USE HEADPHONES TURN IT UP and come with.
There will be online screenings daily from March 5th (the anniversary of its only performance- Elisa’s last concert) until March 11th (the anniversary of the pandemic). Elisa will be there to introduce the piece, offer suggestions for listening, and also afterwards for an artist talk-back following each showing. It will not be available on streaming platforms, but eventually will be released on cassette by Toronto label Dark Matter.
Like the Mind
Right before the world flipped upside down, I had the immense pleasure of spending a week in Stockholm for a residency with a new super group of women improvisers called Like the Mind, led by Meredith Bates with Peggy Lee, Lisen Rylander Love, Lisa Ullen, and Emma Augustsson. We have released a two track EP with live recordings from our performance there.
To support front line artists in this unprecedented time, and to foster reflections on that time from our musical community, Little Chamber Music has created the Isolation Commissions.
Thank you Little Chamber Music for including me on this amazing project!
So happy to release this collaboration with one of my all time favourite, Laura Swankey on Dec 25, 2019. Click on the image to check it out!
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.
I am humbled and so grateful for the kind attention this project has been receiving. Check out reviews from:
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