SHHH!!… a powerful utterance designed to draw attention forward… creating space and awareness… opening ears to something important.
Percussionist Zac Pulak and pianist Edana Higham are the two members of SHHH!! Ensemble, a duo carving a space for themselves as electrifying performers of new music. With a keen ear for experimentation and exploration, SHHH!! has been deemed “truly virtuosic and intense” by Toronto’s Confluence Concerts and called “a beautiful discovery” following their debut with the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec.
Formed in 2017, SHHH!! Ensemble began developing their signature “avant-accessible” style through residencies at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and the Canadian Music Centre. Since then, SHHH!! has continued to develop innovative repertoire for their ensemble by commissioning and premiering new works by Kelly-Marie Murphy, John Beckwith, Frank Horvat, Jocelyn Morlock, Noora Nakhaei, and Monica Pearce, among many others.
SHHH!! Ensemble’s provocative “Spirits” program, premiered in January 2020 at the Canadian Music Centre, has since toured at concert series and festivals across Canada, including the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound, LUMINA, Ottawa Chamberfest, and the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec’s Montreal New Music Festival. Featuring music by J.S. Bach, Andy Akiho, Jocelyn Morlock, Monica Pearce, Micheline Roi, and others, “Spirits” is a journey through composers’ reflections on the nature of creativity, meditation, Scotch whisky, and The Beyond.
SHHH!! Ensemble’s creativity and vitality were especially notable through the pandemic with one critic commenting “This virtuoso duo are so agile and inventive… I doubt anything short of a geological cataclysm will shut them down” (The WholeNote). 2020-2022 saw major highlights such as the duo’s acceptance into the prestigious Evolution: Classical career development residency at the Banff Centre, a National Arts Centre #CanadaPerforms concert, the world-premiere of JUNO-winning composer Jocelyn Morlock’s Spirit Gradient with the Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival in Newfoundland, and a nationally broadcast recital on the CBC Radio 2 program “In Concert”.
In February 2023 SHHH!! Ensemble “enthralled” (Winnipeg Free Press) in their debut as soloists in the world premiere of Kelly-Marie Murphy’s concerto Machines, Mannequins, and Monsters with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. A repeat performance of that concerto the following week with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra was met with a standing ovation.
As co-Artistic Directors of the Ottawa New Music Creators, Zac and Edana take pride in their role as presenters of weird and wonderful new sounds in the National Capital Region, curating programs known for cutting-edge invention drawing from local and international artists.
SHHH!! Ensemble’s debut album Meanwhile (Analekta) was released in October 2022 to critical acclaim, reaching top positions on Apple Music and Spotify playlists, as well as being nominated for Classical Recording of the Year at the 2023 East Coast Music Awards. The title track, Meanwhile, was the first piece written for SHHH!! by composer John Beckwith.
Currently, SHHH!! Ensemble is preparing to record their second album, a large-scale commissioned work by Frank Horvat entitled An Auditory Survey of the Last Days of the Holocene, to be released in the fall of 2023 on the Leaf Music label