April 27 - May 13

Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza
Opening event on April 27 at 8pm in the Festival Tent on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza.
Five Octave Range runs from 8pm until 11pm every evening of Vancouver Opera Festival.

About Five Octave Range
Recent winner of the Audain Prize, veteran artist, and multimedia provocateur Paul Wong presents a free public art work designed specifically for the 2017 Vancouver Opera Festival. 


Artist Statement from Paul Wong about Five Octave Range
In early March 2017, I invited four opera singers to come to the studio and perform for the camera and me.  They were told it would be a cappella, no rehearsals were needed, they would be recorded in front of a green screen, and to wear a costume they would normally perform in.  

The four, two men and two women were selected to provide a diverse and dynamic range: a baritone, a tenor, a coloratura-soprano, and a mezzo-soprano singing in English, French, German, Italian, and Kwak'waka..

They were recorded in a very live-sounding industrial warehouse space. Each artist did a warm-up for the camera and then performed a signature, conventional piece of opera from their repertoire that best highlighted their vocal range. In addition, they each performed a piece that they most liked or identified with. Each performance was one take. 

The performers were aware of my intended experimental approach. I was not interested in representing a song or literal performance. My interest is in playing with vocal and visual gestures, repetition, decay, resonance, motion, mashing, and mixing.

This work is created in the editing process. Listening to the sound of the vocalizations and rhythms and looking at the gestures and the camera’s framing of the performers told me what to do and where to go with the sound and images. It’s a visceral response. I am not a trained musician nor am I all that familiar with opera. I just know what I like. The voice is a magical instrument and these performers are finely tuned.  I think of these as portraits.

This work is created as a site-specific piece that will be presented outdoors on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza.  It will be presented as a multiscreen video installation on four round screens; these portals will provide viewers access to an up-close experience with opera. It is a series of non-synchronized video and sound loops that will create their own relationships. Much like jazz, it is freeform and abstract.

Five Octave Range is made possible thanks to a generous grant from The McGrane - Pearson Endowment Fund.

Photo by Ross Den Otter


About Paul Wong


Vancouver-based Paul Wong is an acclaimed visual, media, and interdisciplinary artist with a career spanning four decades. Known for pioneering early visual and media art in Canada, he has founded several artist-run groups, spearheaded lively discussions around public arts policy, and has organized events, festivals, conferences, and public interventions since the 1970s. Wong has shown and produced projects throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. His works are in many public collections, including those of the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Canada Council Art Bank (Ottawa), and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Recently, he was commissioned to create a major work for the entrance of the new Audain Art Museum, in Whistler, B.C.

In addition to the 2016 Audain Prize, Wong has won several prestigious awards, including the Bell Canada Award in Video Art for outstanding contributions to the field of video art, the Transforming Art Award from the Asian Heritage Foundation, and the inaugural Trailblazer Expressions Award, in 2003, jointly created by Canadian Heritage, the National Film Board, and CHUM Limited. In 2005, Paul Wong received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Art for outstanding contributions to the field.