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By Russ Cooper
Making noise is what French horn player Jen Reimer does.
Having just returned from a European tour with improvisational music outfit Gambletron armed with her Graduate Diploma in Advanced Music Performance Studies (DAMPS), she’s busy building the name she’s created for herself in the international experimental scene.
This past year, she organized site-specific sound installations in the Square Victoria metro station with fellow classmate Max Stein (see related story in this issue) using pre-recorded material from the space and an eerie, atmospheric composition of horn and live electronics to amplify the sonic environment.
They were performances that caught the attention of Canada Research Chair in Inter-X Arts Sandeep Bhagwati. His respect for her work led him to ask Reimer to participate in his innovative Nexus project (see Journal, May 13, 2010). “She really has an independent voice as an artist and is quite promising,” Bhagwati says.
“I had really supportive professors and the facilities have always been available to me which was helpful in my performances,” Reimer says. “The program gave a lot of space in the curriculum to create freely without interruption.”
That’s pretty much what she’s done. Aside from collaborations with Gambletron and Stein, she plays drums and trumpet in a synth-drum duo called UN with local artist Kara Keith, as well a “noise group” of three sound effect-drenched French horns with Pietro Amato, known for his work with Torngat, Bell Orchestre and Arcade Fire.
Her work inside and outside the classroom helped her earn both the Phil Cohen Award (given to an outstanding DAMPS or Special Individualized Program student demonstrating an innovative musical perspective) as well as the Garnet Menger Award (given to a music student displaying outstanding accomplishment in both academic and student life).
Reimer, who came to Concordia with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Alberta, is quick to dismiss any pre-conceived notions about the French horn and its place in today’s experimental music; its natural resonance and amplification, she says, are timeless.
“The instrument is just another voice to me,” she says. “My voice is constantly changing and developing and moves into unexplored territories. I am always interested in learning and in new exchanges and collaborations.”
For now, Reimer is pleased to have the opportunity to focus on current and future collaborations, and to continue to take her music on the road.