Olivia Shortt (She/her/hers: Anishinaabe from Nipissing First Nation) is a Tkarón:to-based artist who works as a saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist, improviser, composer, sound designer, theatre artist, teacher, activist, curator, and producer.
She has performed in a variety of places and venues found up, down and all-around. She made her Australian debut in 2017, performing new Canadian and Australian works for saxophone and Ondes Martinot, in Melbourne, with keyboardist Jacob Abela; she made her Lincoln Center debut in New York City, performing Michael Pisaro’s A Wave and Waves, with the International Contemporary Ensemble; she made her film debut, acting and playing saxophone, in acclaimed filmmaker Atom Egoyan’s upcoming film Guest of Honour; and recorded her first album of music with her duo Stereoscope, consisting of Fragments Noirs by Robert Lemay, two kilometres underground in the SnoLAB (an underground laboratory specializing in Neutrinos and dark matter physics in Northern Ontario, Canada). Her own performance-art-storytelling-work has been featured multiple times at Native Earth's Performing Arts' Weesageechak Festival in Toronto, Canada.
As a winner of the University of Toronto Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition, she performed with the University of Toronto Saxophone Quartet in Michael Colgrass’ “Urban Requiem” with the University of Toronto Wind Ensemble.
She has performed with Polaris Prize Winner Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq in Toronto at The Carlu, Nathan Phillips Square, The Great Hall and Massey Hall as a member of the Element Choir (under the direction of Christine Duncan).
Her duo Stereoscope was presented by 5-Penny New Music Concerts (under the direction of Robert Lemay) in Sudbury, Canada. Stereoscope has commissioned and premiered many Canadian and International works. They have been featured as part of the Music Gallery’s Emergents Series and The Open Ears: Festival of Music & Sound in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada.
The Dialectica Saxophone Quartet was featured at The Music Gallery, during the X Avant XI Festival of New Music, opening for Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld; she performed in the Ottawa premiere of Julia Mermelstein’s RE:Connect with dancer Kathleen Leggasick (choreography by Sarah Hopkin); and produced a show called Tales from Turtle Island, produced by Spectrum Music, consisting of an all-star cast of Indigenous performers and new compositions.
She has attended several festivals including The Montreal Contemporary Music Lab, where she collaborated with and performed in the premieres of the works of composers Ben Wylie and Luis Fernando Sanchez Gooding, at the Montreal Conservatory. As a fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, held in North Adams, MA at MASS MoCA, she spent 3 weeks learning from members of the Bang on a Can All Stars as well as other faculty members and coaches from Eighth Blackbird and Alarm Will Sound. She performed in the premieres of works by fellows Finola Merivale, Stephen Feighenbaum and Erik DeLuca as well as performed in recitals featuring the music of David Lang and Michael Gordon. For two summers she learned from amd collaborated with the International Contemporary Ensemble at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity.
Olivia has performed in Toronto with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, the Heliconian Choir and Orchestra, the Excelsior Ensemble as well as participated in masterclasses with saxophonists Timothy McAllister (USA), Serge Bertocci (FRANCE), Jean-Michel Goury (FRANCE), and the Quasar saxophone quartet (CANADA).
She studied at the University of Toronto during her Bachelors of Music Performance degree and Advanced Certificate in Saxophone Performance, as well as during her Master’s in Performance. As a two time recipient of the David and Marcia Beach Summer Study Award she has studied with Jean-Marc Bouchard and Marie-Chantal Leclair in Montreal and Michael Duke at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Australia.
Her work in theatre has allowed her to explore composition and sound design. Most recently, she composed, sound designed and performed in Welcome To My Underworld, produced by RARE Theatre and Soulpepper Theatre Company.
As arts administrator, she co-founded and was an organizer of The Toronto Creative Music Lab. Previously she was an Administrator at the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance as well as an Artistic Producer with Spectrum Music. She was awarded a Metcalf Foundation Performing Arts grant and is interning in producing at Nightswimming and Signal Theatre.
As an activist, she works in a number of capacities as a consultant, and is an alumnus of the 2018 cohort of the artEquity facilitator training program (New Orleans), as well as a member of the 2019 cohort of the Toronto Arts Council’s Leaders Lab and was an organizer and co-founder of the Toronto Creative Music Lab (TCML).
*Current as of July 2019*