Keep Hope Alive Festival

Keep Hope Alive Festival:
Unexpected Convergences/ New Connections

Live @ Silence Sept 28 – Oct 1 2023

Thursday, Sept 28
evening show | 8-11pm
swim good now + Matt Brubeck

Jon Jasper-Lawless, perhaps better known as swim good now, is at his most comfortable when he’s collaborating and helping vocalists and musicians find their full potential. In the past he has worked and toured with members of Bon Iver, Stars, Born Ruffians and First Rate People, the band he co-founded in his hometown of Owen Sound, Ontario. With his 2018 album Daylight he found the crossroads of his interests and talents - employing a number of unique musicians on each track, from upstart producers and songwriters to JUNO-winners Dan Mangan & Ryan Hemsworth. In 2023, Jasper-Lawless helped with Gia Margaret’s critically acclaimed Jagjaguwar debut Romantic Piano. Additionally, his songs have been featured on CBC and NPR as well as in The Guardian, Pitchfork and Stereogum.

Matt Brubeck is a JUNO award -winning performer/composer specializing in improvisation on the cello. Raised on jazz and classically trained at Yale, Matt is at ease in multiple genres and has taken his cello improvisation skills into diverse musical territories. Matt has collaborated with more artists than he can remember and has had many eclectic musical adventures.

Friday, September 29
afternoon show | 2:30-5pm

A Bright Nowhere: Journeying into Improvisation

featuring Eddie Prévost
+ a lecture/ performance by Alan Stanbridge and Joe Sorbara

The North American premiere screening of A Bright Nowhere: Journeying into Improvisation (dir. Stewart Morgan Hajdukiewicz), a new documentary about a remarkable series of concerts of improvised music at London’s Café OTO. Filmed across four Saturday nights in July 2022 when over 30 musicians joined improviser, percussionist and animateur Eddie Prévost on stage for a residency marking his 80th birthday.

The screening at Silence will feature a lecture/ performance by Dr. Alan Stanbridge (voice) and Joe Sorbara (drums, percussion) in live, improvised dialogue as well as a post-film Q&A.

Friday, September 29
evening show | 8pm

Celebration of Life Concert in memory of Alan Armstrong

On Friday evening at Keep Hope Alive, we celebrate the life of Alan Armstrong. Alan was a Silence board member whose profound influence will be reflected upon by Thea Neufeldt Armstrong, Nathan Klassen, Daniel Fischlin, Scarlett Raczycki, and others.

Nathan Klassen with Ted Warren

Ted's Warren Commission

Nancy Walker (piano)
Brian O'Kane (trumpet)
Kelsey Grant (trombone)
Mark Godfrey (bass)
Ted Warren (drums)

+ artwork by Thea Marie Neufeldt Armstrong

Saturday, Sept 30
noon-hour show | noon-1pm

Ghost Variables

Ghost Variables is a new improvising ensemble based in Hamilton, Ontario who bring a wide range of skills to their music. Connor Bennett is known as a saxophonist with such ensembles as Blue Moss, Ylang Ylang, and Tidal Pool, and as a designer of custom mouthpieces. Gary Barwin is well-known as a performance poet with a PhD in musical composition. Chris Palmer, busy in Hamilton as a guitar teacher and choral soloist, has played with David Lee in the acclaimed Sky Gilbert play “Pat and Skee” at Theatre Aquarius and joins Lee-Palmer-Bennett on their CD “The Phantom Hunter.” David Lee is a veteran bassist in Canadian ensembles and Mike Hansen is a busy sound and installation artist who has recorded with Michael Snow, Glen Hall, and John Butcher. Do they play jazz? The US scholar Thomas Brothers calls “jazz music” the interaction of the fixed and the variable. Ghost Variables, as a musical ensemble, inhabit the region between the fixed – what is known, and the variable – what is yet to be played.

Gary Barwin, Connor Bennett (reeds)
Chris Palmer (guitar)
David Lee (double bass)
Mike Hansen (percussion)

Saturday, Sept 30
afternoon show | 2:30-3:30pm

Jill Francis & Emjay Wright

Emjay Wright & Jill Francis are queer improvisers, creative beings and friends, sharing a collective love affair with sound. Individually they can be found exploring a plethora of mediums and tones, but their duo work is imaginative and conversational, playing with found instruments, objects and the spaces in which they perform. Sometimes Emjay screeches and sometimes Jill slams a shovel on the ground. It's never going to go the same way twice.

SilenceSoloists Series

Transstar sets fire to the Great American Songbook

Saturday, Sept 30
evening show | 8pm

Germaine Liu
SilenceSoloists Series

Hong Kong born, Cantonese-Chinese-Canadian Germaine Liu, is an artist who plays and works in multi-modalities. She is a scenario-maker, composer, percussionist, improvisor, sound artist, and found object explorer. Her work indulges in permeability between touch/movement/sound, and their relationship to topography. She composes multidisciplinary works and often performs in them, inviting players of various abilities, training, and disciplines to come together. She is interested in exploring and sharing in collaborative settings, making joyful spaces that invite participants to be together, negotiating and celebrating interdependent-collectivism. She makes site-specific works in unexpected informal places. Germaine is an Associate Artist with Public Recordings.


Biomimetics is the science of nature-inspired design in which materials and systems imitate biological systems. Think the architecture of Gaudi and seashells. Think Velcro and burrs.  Think termite dens and office buildings. Now imagine a musical improvisation scenario in which paired players on the same instrument interact with each other and others to create new forms and inspired soundings: Biosonics.

Michael Herring & David Lee (basses)
Raphael Weinroth-Browne & Matt Brubeck (cellos)
Claire Maeve & Marlena Pellegrino (violins)
Germaine Liu (percussion)

Sunday, Oct 01
morning show | 11am-noon

Raphael Weinroth-Browne
SilenceSoloists Series

Internationally renowned Canadian cellist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer, Raphael Weinroth-Browne has been celebrated for his emotive and virtuosic playing both on stage and in the studio. Combining his classical cello training with a passion for progressive metal and Middle Eastern music, in 2013 he formed the cello/voice duo The Visit, whose otherworldly compositions earned them coveted slots at prestigious festivals such as Wave Gotik Treffen (Germany), 21C (Koerner Hall, Toronto), and the Cello Biennale Amsterdam (Netherlands).

In 2014, Raphael formed East-meets-West duo Kamancello. In 2019, they performed their own concerto ‘Convergence Suite’ as soloists with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. In 2016, Raphael was recruited by Norwegian progressive rock icons Leprous. His cello has since been featured prominently on their latest three albums; he has played over 150 shows with them in Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

For over a decade, he has been composing music and playing cello in Musk Ox, whose acclaimed releases blur the line between classical chamber music, progressive rock, and dark folk. Appearing on over 150 studio albums, including the Juno Award-winning Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light (Woods of Ypres), Raphael has also produced cello renditions of prog/metal songs that have been praised and reposted by Opeth, Steven Wilson, and Chris Adler (Lamb of God).

In 2020, Raphael’s debut solo album, Worlds Within — a 40-minute composition created entirely on cello — was released to critical acclaim.

Sunday, Oct 01
afternoon show | 1-2pm

Joni Nehrita
SilenceSoloists Series

Joni NehRita invites listeners to feel, move and think more with her gift for writing catchy melodies dressed in jazzy chords ready to hit the beach- south of the border, of course! This knack for sun-drenched melodies and infectious grooves help her message of equity, social change and the cultivation of compassion to be received like a cool drink on a sweltering day. She leans in toward fearless self-expression and the complexities of what it is to be a human striving to be better. The path isn't easy or linear, but that doesn't mean it can't be joyful along the way.

She also spins her music and message into arts-based facilitation workshops and is a regular guest lecturer at post-secondary institutions including Wilfrid Laurier University and The University of Guelph covering topics such as improvisation, Circle Music, songwriting and using art to change the world. She is a TEDxED speaker, panelist and is often called on to give keynote addresses.

Joni is currently working on an Ontario Arts Council funded project called “Songs For Community”- an album and songbook complete with contemporary choral arrangements. This spring three choirs in Waterloo Region sang songs from this project while NehRita aims for fall spring 2024 for its official launch.

Sunday, Oct 01
evening show | 8pm

Almost Alchemy

Following the creation of the ground-breaking performance “Who’s There?” this spring, Almost Alchemy returns to Silence to further explore, skew, and perform models and permutations of presence through improvising together — and with the complex dimensions of live AI, theatre, dance, and music. Michael F Bergmann, Lucas Carravetta, Matt Endahl, and Aimée Dawn Robinson come together in Guelph from different backgrounds, mediums, and geographies, and are excited to be part of the local artistic ecology of this place. A multidisciplinary group that foreshadows Silence’s artistic direction in bringing together multiple forms of improvisation into dialogue. A variety/cabaret-type evening that you will see lots more of as Silence rolls out its 2023-24 programming.