Listening in the library

A youth experimental music project at the Toronto Public Library, autumn 2017

Listening In The Library was a youth experimental music workshop led by Toronto Public Library artist-in-residence Christopher Willes at Scarborough Civic Centre Branch.

The Toronto Public Library holds a unique vinyl LP collection of Canadian experimental music recordings from the 1970's. This project sought to temporarily move that collection out of the downtown (reference library), and explore how a new generation might learn about, reorganize, change and recuperate that history.

Through a weekly workshop five youth artists from Scarborough (an outer borough of Toronto) came together to listen to and discuss the collection, engaging a practice of listening to inscribe new embodied archives. The group also looked a particular histories of experimental turntablism and noise music improvisation, and created their own palate of sounds by making lo-fi cardboard record players and contact microphones. 

The workshop concluded with a performance wherein the group created a live remix of the collection. Diffusing and layering these recordings throughout the library as a collective act, audiences were invited to create a "mix" via the simple act of walking throughout the building and listening.

Performers: Jason Li, Taggart Quinn, Maria Patricia Abuel, Gian Caracciolo, and Nanthini Namasti.

Produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council. Special thank yous to Beau Levitt from the Toronto Public Library, and to Simon Farrington, Patric McGroarty, Phil Melanson, Tobaron Waxman, and Mitch Akiyama.

Photography by Kendra Epik