Closing a decade-long chapter on a festival Bridge Songs gave artists a chance to share work

On June 18, Bridge Songs will celebrate its 10 year anniversary and its last year.

Bridge Songs focuses on music, poetry, and visual art and has given artists an opportunity to gain exposure.

“It feels like the right time and it’s felt like the right time potentially for the last couple of years,” said Dave Von Bieker, event organizer. Many early artists are either no longer making music or have become established. Von Bieker is also getting busier with his art gallery, Bleeding Heart Art Space.

“Bleeding Heart carries out that same function [as Bridge Songs] more regularly and on a broader scale, while Bridge Songs was once a year.”

The festival began when songwriters at Urban Bridge Church wanted to share their music. “It soon became much more than that, with more and more artists not from that original church community.”

For the past nine years, the festival has focused on a theme which artists interpret. During that time, Bridge Songs had its share of memorable years.

IMG 4 BridgeSongs HowardCameron
Co-producer Heather Ritz and performer Eli Ritz check out the art at 2012’s New Eyes. Credit: Howard Cameron

A few years ago, the theme was Dear Edmonton. One songwriter re-recorded the song she wrote to place on her own album. That same year, Mary Pinkowski, Edmonton’s previous Poet Laureate, read a poem that had the audience in tears.

Another year, the festival was held in Avenue Theatre. “It was a remarkable space. One of the artists constructed a camera obscura.”

Von Bieker said relationships are the most important thing to come from Bridge Songs. He’s met artists he’s continuing to perform with into the future. “Personally, it was a huge learning curve. It was the first place I ever shared poetry,” he said. “It was also the thing that introduced us to St. Faith’s Anglican Church.”

Bridge Songs was scheduled in the Alberta Cycle Building, which ended up being condemned. Organizers had to find another venue: St. Faith’s Anglican Church. The loss of the Alberta Cycle Building led to a productive relationship with the church.

Fans can expect some changes to the festival. While the musicians normally record an album, there won’t be one this year, although music from past years will be available online.

“I invited anyone who’s been involved for two years or more,” said Von Bieker. “This year ends up being our strongest work over the past nine years, the greatest works of people who were still able to be involved [from the beginning]. We’re trying to honour all the 100 plus songs we’ve done.”

During the performance, Bernice Caligiuri will read poetry. Afterwards, a gala and group art show will feature artists from past years, with Caligiuri’s exhibit on display at Bleeding Heart Art Space across the street.

While Von Bieker sees this last year as a clean break, he liked that the festival was themed. “I have a dream about a podcast that would happen live once or twice a year. The idea of bringing artists together to speak on a topic was super valuable and I’d like to see that continue.”

10th and Final Bridge Songs

When: June 18, 7:30 pm
Where: St. Faith’s Anglican Church
11725 – 93 Street
Tickets online at bridgesongs.ca


Header Image: Left to right: Andrew Williams, Dan Sabo and Dave Von Bieker perform at 2014’s Dear Edmonton. Credit: We Are YEG

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