SONGS FOR A LOST POD | by Leah Abramson
Feb. 2 – 3, 2022
The Annex, 823 Seymour St, Vancouver

Presented by

Tickets $39 | Students $20
musiconmain.ca

Music and lyrics by Leah Abramson in collaboration with Antoine Bédard, J.J. Ipsen, Andrew Lee, Aidan O’Rourke, Sandro Perri, Arliss Renwick, Marten Timan
Written by Leah Abramson
Direction and dramaturgy by Megan Stewart
Visuals by Mind of a Snail
Narrated by Barbara Adler
Graphic Design by Kali Malinka
Produced by Leah Abramson, Megan Stewart, Joanna Dundas

Supported by

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Pages from the comic book, illustrated by Taylor Brown-Evans
First performance at the WISE Hall, Vancouver, BC, 2017

Songs For a Lost Pod began as singer-songwriter/composer Leah Abramson’s fourth album of original songs, combining scientific research, orca vocalizations turned into beats, and marine mammal history.

Released in November 2017, the album was accompanied by a comic book illustrated by artist Taylor Brown-Evans, to explain the stories and research behind the songs. Told from the perspective of various whale species, the songs explore inter-species communication, intergenerational trauma, and grief for a polluted planet. Songs For a Lost Pod highlights separation—both animal and human—to one another and to the natural world, with the goal of reconnection through musical communication.

Originally written and composed for her Masters of Fine Arts thesis at UBC, Abramson researched in particular the history of the resident orca near Vancouver and its surroundings. From 1965-1973, groups of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest were regularly rounded up and sold to marine parks. Many died during the process of capture or within a few years of living in captivity. The A5 pod, a family of northern resident salmon-eating orca, lost at least three of their family members to capture on December 11, 1969. This capture story lurks behind the lyrics of the song, “Pender Harbour.”

In the largest sense, many of the songs from Songs For a Lost Pod were also written in collaboration with the A5 pod, as musician collaborators such as Andrew Lee (Holy Hum), Sandro Perri, and Aidan O’Rourke (Lau), were given selected A5 pod orca vocalizations, along with Abramson’s other field recordings, to turn into beats and tracks, which formed the backbone of Abramson’s songwriting process, and the rhythms behind much of the music.

In its first iteration, Songs For a Lost Pod had three performances in 2017-18 with a 12-piece musical ensemble and narrator, directed by Leah Abramson. The show’s narrator, writer Barbara Adler, provided details originally included in the comic book, while also adding original writing to tie the songs together thematically.

From these presentations, Abramson rallied a creative team to continue the development of a full-length stage show: director/dramaturg Megan Stewart, producer and musician Joanna Dundas, and visual team Mind of a Snail.

The Shadbolt Centre has provided a two-week production residency in January 2022 at their Studio Theatre for a production workshop, and the show will be presented by Music on Main and the PuSh Festival at the Annex in February.

Though the song cycle remains at the heart of the performance, a new narrative script has emerged that juxtaposes the whale histories with Leah’s own family and their experience surviving the Holocaust and its aftermath. Mind of a Snail’s handmade projections create an impressionistic and largely non-representational visual world to support the songs and narration, guiding the audience into a space of contemplation.

LEAD ARTISTS

Leah Abramson (Musical Director/Composer/Writer)

Leah Abramson is a singer, songwriter, writer and composer, whose work explores vocal harmonies, soundscapes, and the intersection of humanity and the environment. After touring internationally with indie rock and folk bands for many years, as well as her band, The Abramson Singers, she released the album and comic book, Songs For a Lost Pod, in 2017.

Along with her MFA in Creative Writing from UBC, Leah has studied classical music at Capilano University, and traditional Appalachian balladry. Leah is currently composing for two musicals: Mermaid Spring, an interdisciplinary musical by Barbara Adler and Kyla Gardiner about live mermaid shows in Florida, and A Night with Fern & Kelby, a psychedelic performance set in 1973.

Megan Stewart (Stage Director/Dramaturg)

Megan Stewart is a theatre artist residing and working in Epekwitk (Prince Edward Island), the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people.  A director, producer, dramaturge and performer, much of her practice centres upon large-scale collaborative theatre projects and community-engaged creation. She is the artistic director of The River Clyde Pageantwhich she co-founded in 2016 with Ker Wells. Recent directing and performance creation includes the 2021 River Clyde Pageant: Turn of the TideThe Soley Cove Legacy Project (Economy, Nova Scotia, 2021); and The Flock (Art in the Open, 2020). She is a graduate of Simon Fraser University’s MFA program in Interdisciplinary Arts.

Mind of a Snail (Shadow Puppetry & Projections)

Mind of a Snail is a shadow puppetry duo currently based out of Vancouver BC. Since 2003, Chloé Ziner and Jessica Gabriel have been developing a multilayered style of visual storytelling using overhead projectors as their main light source. Their performances play at the intersection of puppetry, visual arts, clowning & music. As artistic collaborators, they are interested in exploring beyond the boundaries of traditional theatre, and creating magical immersive experiences for their audiences.

Barbara Adler (Narrator)

Barbara Adler is an interdisciplinary artist whose work brings together text-based performance, composition, fibre arts, and event making. Her writing and music have been presented through multiple solo and band albums, publication in spoken word anthologies, theatre and dance productions and performances at major music and literary festivals. In 2016, she joined Cole Schmidt and James Meger to launch Sawdust Collector, a weekly performance series presenting new, experimental and improvised works by established and emerging artists. With the public swoon, Barbara is currently creating Mermaid Spring, a slow-process concept album inspired by Floridan mermaids and climate catastrophe, featuring compositions by Leah Abramson, Peggy Lee and Alician Hansen. She holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies and a BA in Art and Cultural Studies, both from Simon Fraser University.

Joanna Dundas (Production Manager, Digital Producer)

Joanna Dundas is an arts management professional with over 20 years of experience working in Vancouver’s cultural community. Trained as a professional singer, she has also served in a variety of roles off-stage: concert, audio and video producer, video director and editor, project manager, facilitator and digital strategist, among others. Joanna is currently Music on Main’s Digital Content Strategist, where she has produced a number of digital assets, including GLITCH: A Profile on Nicole Lizée, and Discover ISCM2017, a documentary on the largest contemporary music festival in Canadian history, which occurred in November 2017. Joanna is also a producer with Vancouver-based production company, Collide Entertainment.

BAND AND SINGERS

Vancouver International Jazz Festival, June 23, 2018

Band

Meredith Bates (violin), Mark Beaty (cello/bass), Cole Schmidt (guitar/bass), Morgan McDonald (keyboards), Kyle Cashen (drums/percussion/samples)

Singers

Emily Cheung, Robyn Jacob, Emma Postl, Alex Scott, Emily Millard, Shannon Scott