Since 2010 Winnipeg’s Cluster festival has been engaging, and entertaining Winnipegger's in thoughtful and ground-breaking presentations of integrated arts that make use of dance, sound exploration, art and video all fused together.  

Featuring artists of today’s generation, the festival, which happens at a variety of venues around Winnipeg, displays the new vistas that artists are exploring, all the while encouraging audience members to think, live and feel their surroundings. 

This year’s Cluster Festival runs from May 31st to June 9th. There are four performance-based shows that are meant to be an immersive experience for the audience member. 

The first concert happened on Friday, May 31st. Called Hyperfemme Galactica, the performance featured the DJ and sound artist Konjo. It turned Room 201 on the second floor of the Forks Market into a space for dreaming and dancing. Ashley Au is the Artistic Director of Cluster, as she says of the event, "It was this incredible, lively participatory event consisting of audio-visual work. Konjo is a multi-disciplinary artist... There was a lot of interesting video collage work that was happening...and the music itself was like a collage of various electronic music forms. It was a really great start to the festival.” 

The second event happens on Thursday, June 6th at the West End Cultural Centre. Called Pulse, this event features artists Debashis Sinha, Jason Tait and Compost. “This program of music all focuses on the meditative qualities of sound,” states Au.  

The show Pulse will have many elements that will engage audience members. Debashis Sinha from Toronto will be making use of quadraphonic sound to envelop listeners in his drone-based soundscapes. Coming from all four corners of the West End, members will hear the music in diverse ways depending on where they are in the space. Jason Tait is an analog synthesizer wiz and will be improvising on modular and analog synths in real time to entertain audiences and use his wizardry to create remarkable moments. Lastly, Compost is a band that will perform a multi movement piece called Decomposed that focuses on growth and decay. Adding to the mood, there will be elapsed time projections that will be shown behind Compost provided by local filmmaker Joel Penner.  

The next event happens on Saturday, June 8th in Room 201 on the second floor of the Forks Market. Called Parallel Motions, the show will feature three amazing artists, Domo 11, Meanspath and Zorya Arrow. They will be performing a four-part structured improvisation called Symphony of Self. “We will have a projector and screen...there is going to be a camera that is manipulated live, and then the soundscapes. It will be done in the round so audiences will have that really up-close experience,” States Au. The second part of Parallel Motions show will feature saxophonist Olivia Shortt from Toronto and Winnipeg based multidisciplinary artist Jaime Black. They will perform new work that they did in collaboration. Au describes them both as being simply “fantastic.” 

The last performance event will be happening on Sunday June 9th at The West End Cultural Centre. Called Reframe this show will explore all things keyboards. Fender Rhodes, toy pianos, prepared piano will all be used. As Au says, “They are really taking it all across the map of keyboard repertoire.” 

Reframe will highlight pianists Madeline Hildebrand and Everett Hopfner, as well as cellist Natanielle Fellicitas, and soprano Sarah Jo Kirsch. 

One fascinating work on the program will be a piece by Kate Soper called Sensitive Spot. As Au describes the piece, “That work will have a surround situation for the audience. It’s the same piece played and recorded 12 times. Each recording is played on a different speaker...and then... the live pianist plays that same you get this really interesting phasing that happens...the performer is playing with things like time and precision. I think it is going to be really sonically striking!” 

As part of The Cluster Festival, there will also be an interactive art installation that will open at The Poolside Gallery on Friday, June 7th. Called Enviromental Machine Shop. The work encourages patrons to touch... learn and interact with the exhibit while also reimagining their relationship with the Red River by playing with different water samples collected from several sites along the Red. 

This year’s Cluster New Music and Intergrated Arts Festival is sure to be a fantastic experience for all visitors. It will be a sensory feast that will push the bounds of what you thought was possible for an audio and visual experience. 

For more details on Cluster 2024 visit Cluster’s Website.