May 11 – Reflections on Birth

Reflections on Birth
Multi-channel A/V Performance
By Soft Alchemy and Susan Frykberg
May 11, 2024, 7:00 pm
Online via registration. In-person at NAISA North Media Arts Centre, 313 Highway 124, South River, Ontario.
General $12, Click Here to Register

On the eve of Mother’s Day, NAISA presents a hybrid A/V performance with works by Soft Alchemy and the late Susan Frykberg that reflect on giving birth. Susan Frykberg’s Audio Birth Project from 1996-97 consists of works that center around interviews with Frykberg’s sisters and mother on the process of giving birth. Simula by Soft Alchemy is a five movement work that is a reflection on the emotional journey experienced by three Mothers. The Mothers do not know each other, and have never met, yet their experiences are brought together in an inward journey of birth.

This presentation is generously supported by the Canadian Music Centre, Ontario’s concert sponsorship program in addition to support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.


I. Audio Birth Project by Susan Frykberg
The Audio Birth Project consists of a number of different pieces centred around interviews with Susan Frykberg’s sisters and mother on the process of giving birth. Frykberg’s intent was to use interview material as the source for a whole gamut of creative audio responses ranging from abstract composition to sound poetry to narrative to soundscape composition. The works in the series appear on the CD Astonishing Sense on the Earsay label from Vancouver.

The first piece in the series is “Margaret” and it is a three minute work for fixed media.

The second piece is “Astonishing Sense of Being Taken Over by Something Far Greater Than Me” and the 8-minute piece is scored for violin and fixed media. NAISA will present a fixed media version with the violin part played by Nancy Di Novo who originally commissioned this piece in the series. Frykberg says that this piece is based and textually on the process of giving birth. The title is taken from a description by her sister Margaret Bendall of giving birth to one of her sons. Her voice opens and closes the work, and is heard, highly processed, at specific structural points. The tape part also contains granulated violin, synthesized and natural sounds. The work is based on moments of contraction and extension, mirrored by the violinist who in performance alternated playing with prayer.

The third and final piece in the series is the six minute “I Didn’t Think Much About It” which was for piano and fixed media. NAISA will present a fixed media version with the piano part played by Andrew Czink.

II. Simula by Soft Alchemy
Simula is an 8-channel audio-visual work created with the sounds of Mothers giving birth, blended with electromagnetic recordings captured at a hospital during labour. The piece is a five movement reflection of the emotional journey experienced by three Mothers. Each of the Mothers gave birth in different ways, varying time spans, and one even in another province. The Mothers do not know each other, and have never met, yet they are remotely connected through the experience they shared.

Simula attempts to take its audience on an inward journey of birth. Through this composition, we are able to bear witness to the “secret” and “hidden” sounds that happen daily; the sounds that reflect the worry, the visceral pain and the overwhelming emotions of giving birth.

Production Credits for Simula:

Creation/Composition – apè aliermo
Generative Visuals – Sahar Homami
Audio Engineer – Rose Bolton
Technician – Kat Estacio

Soft Alchemy For the last 10 years, playing bass, synths and samplers, Soft Academy (aka apè aliermo) has extensively toured North America, Europe and Asia with her rock and electronic bands, Hooded Fang and Phèdre. In 2018, she begun her solo foray into sound art. She mentored under pioneering sound artist Christina Kubisch at the Darmstadt Summer Course New Music Festival, studying and recording “hidden” electromagnetic sounds as well as learning about site specific, immersive sound installations. As a Filipinx-Canadian artist, she attempts to create sonic works that gently ask one to question socio-political systems and reality in an immersive and meditative way.

Susan Frykberg (1954 – 2023) was a sound-artist/composer and poet whose stated goal was “to balance chi-rho spirituality, creativity and social justice.” Her works have been heard in Canada, the US, Europe, Asia and Australasia. In addition to her sound-art works, Susan composed for a variety of combinations of electroacoustics, instruments, and chant. Some of this work can be heard on her CD Astonishing Sense, available from, and on streaming services. Susan’s spiritual and social justice leanings were satisfied in her later years by her work at Urban Seed, The Big Issue, and the Carmelite Library, (coordinator of a spiritual reading group). Susan was a citizen of Canada and New Zealand and held degrees in experimental music and theatre, ancient languages, and theology. She is a member of the Canadian Music Centre, The New Zealand Music Centre (SOUNZ) and SOCAN, and was a founding member of both The World Forum for Acoustic Ecology and the Canadian Electroacoustic Community.

For complete event details please follow the link provided.

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