17_Polar Bear-4104

by Rick Scholes

On Saturday, September 27, nature/wildlife photographer Bill Pratt and musician/composer Ian Douglas will team up to present Canada Wild, a unique evening of audio and visual entertainment at the Almonte Old Town Hall. The show will celebrate the rugged beauty of Canada’s wilderness.

During the performance, photographs from Algonquin Park, the Yukon, and across the Arctic will be presented as three ‘pieces’, each accompanied by an original musical score, performed live. On stage will be the Raintree Earth Ensemble, assembled specifically for this one-time event. The ensemble is led by Ian Douglas (piano, percussion), and includes Steve Smith (cello), Kelly Sloan (voice), Neil Saungikar (hand-drums), and Steve Reside (drums, percussion). The musicians’ intuitive abilities will augment the written score with inspiration from the images as they unfold during the show.

Bill Pratt began creating A/V shows in the 1990s when he became what he calls a “Canada promoter”, prompted largely by the 1995 Quebec referendum. He took a positive approach to unity by capturing and sharing the beauty of our land. Since retirement from his first career with Parks Canada in 2010 he has pursued his passion for photography full time. His photography expeditions are specifically planned to gather images from exotic and remote landscapes. These trips are usually solo, often involving chartered planes and helicopters and pre-dawn flights to catch those evanescent moments at sunrise. Such adventures come with a significant amount of discomfort and danger. To get a clean image, a photographer usually avoids shooting through a window. Imagine, then, your feelings whilst your pilot “Googles” the question of whether or not his plane can be safely flown with its door removed. Or your reaction, while leaning out of a plane door to shoot as it banked, upon discovering the source of a banging noise is your unbuckled seatbelt flapping against the side of the plane. At times, Bill has endured Arctic temperatures as low as -56°C. To maximize his return on investment he will typically shoot over 1000 DSLR images per day. His very best will be on display at the Canada Wild performance.

The idea for Canada Wild was conceived a few years ago, although some of the seeds were sown as far back as childhood. Both men grew up in the “wilds” of Toronto and enjoyed summer adventures in Algonquin Park. “Returning from canoe trips, I always felt sad to leave such a beautiful place,” said Ian. “The impressions from those trips have certainly stayed with me and so it’s very natural for me to write music for this sort of collaboration.” After meeting about ten years ago and discovering their mutual interests, Ian began recommending recorded music for Bill to use in his A/V shows. As Ian explains, “For a number of years, Bill and I have been working jointly to find soundtrack music for his slide shows. Last year, we decided it would be a creative challenge to compose and perform original music that was directly inspired by the images.” Using images from previous shows, Ian began to compose a score. Once a rough score was written, Bill carefully selected 300 photos for the final cut. The two then jointly assembled the images into the equivalent of three coffee table books and figured out the full score requirements, all the while fine tuning and insuring that the musical and photographic emotions tell the same story.

“Live music will strengthen our connection to the audience,” says Bill. Adds Ian, “There will be more energy — the images and music will enhance each other, and it’s always been a Raintree theme to use images in our shows.”

Canada Wild promises to be a sensory treat for those who enjoy stunning images of the Canadian outdoors and rich, earthy, live music. Doors open at 7:30, show starts at 8pm. The artists will briefly introduce each segment of the show. Tickets are $20 at raintreemusic.com.