An Idyllic Backyard Performance for Nuit Blanche


The term Nuit Blanche (white night) refers to an all-night or night time arts festival. This concept was originally started in France in 1984. Since then, cities around the world have established their own festivals, including Winnipeg.

Ordinarily, this night time festival would have live music performances and displays of art and dance in various locations in the city. Of course, this is not an ordinary year. The threat of Covid-19 forced the festival to go online at the last minute, as the gathering of crowds of audience members was highly discouraged.

This forced a group, led by pianist Madeline Hildebrand, to have to scramble at the last minute to present the works they prepared for this year’s festival. They decided to record in Madeline’s parents’ yard, a lovely spot on the southwestern edge of Winnipeg on the banks of the Assiniboine River.

Idyllic setting

The pieces they had prepared were minimalist pieces for six pianos. One was Six Pianos (1973) by Steve Reich, whose compositions have been performed at Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival. The other piece was Sensitive Spot (2005) by Kate Moore. Both highly demanding pieces to perform.

To enhance the effect of the performances, and in the spirit of a night festival like Nuit Blanche, the recording was done after dark with coloured lights that were MIDI programmed to react to the players’ touch on their electronic pianos as they played. The effect, programmed by electro-acoustician Andy Rudolph, was impressive. The whole experience was captured on video by videographers Julie Epp and Destiny Gulewich. And of course, I was set up a fair distance away recording the audio.

Audio is ready.

When night fell, the six pianists, Madeline Hildebrand, Lisa Rumpel, Everett Hopfner, Naomi Woo, Darryl Friesen, and Theresa Thordarson ripped into these two demanding pieces.

The red light is ON.

To see and hear the finished videos, go to:

Or click the links below.

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