It was at Nocturne, 2011, that Rae and I met each other the first time. I honestly can’t think of a more important day that I’ve lived. It was also my first day in Halifax. I arrived on a plane and at some point that evening, from the street, I saw her through a window, sitting in a cafe, looking sophisticated and gorgeous (out of my league), and there was that thing about her that set her apart from everyone else–that thing poets always turn to words. The cafe smelled like very old potpourri when I entered but the coffee was decent. I was wearing cargo shorts and my fuzzy ‘kangaroo hoodie’. I still don’t understand how I got the girl, but I can assure you it wasn’t my first impression that won her over. I’d (probably) have dressed better had I known it would be such a life-changing evening.
Rae and I also met our amazing friend Amy Lorencz that night (check out the portrait session we did of Amy here). I would NEVER guessed that 4 years later, Rae and I would be married, running our own photography business, and that Amy would be the Communications Director for Nocturne and would help us become the official photographers for this incredible event (we even got our own ‘official photographers of Nocturne’ badges, which I flashed more often than was necessary). Life is the ultimate curator of the unexpected. But I don’t want to turn this blog into the Topher and Rae story. I guess I got a little nostalgic. Wine does that to me.
Photographing this event opened our eyes to the immense dedication, perseverance, vision, enthusiasm, paperwork, coordination, and year-long planning behind this unusual, compelling, and FREE event. We got to meet the outstanding Board of Directors who curate, plan and deliver Nocturne to Halifax and Dartmouth. These people, and others, are the one’s behind the curtain, who grease the wheels and tend to the engine of this annual, fleeting, beautiful vehicle.
I can only imagine the amount of work this group goes through to harness grants (from all 3 levels of government) and community sponsorship to pay for the event, never mind actually planning it, sorting out legalities, scheduling, and all the endless things I’m not even thinking about. Nova Scotia is lucky to have these folks. And they’re successful. Attendance keeps growing (over 25,000 attendees last year!). I keep hearing how Nova Scotia is resistant to change, is down and out financially, and needs a reason for its young people to stay. Nocturne (and similar events) is one of those sparks of vitality that seems to speak to the outlandish potential here. More about that below.
In the days leading up to Nocturne, we got a tiny, tiny glimpse at a tiny, tiny fraction of one piece of the preparation for the event. It was like seeing a small organ of the great beast. Well, two organs I guess. The first was at NSCAD, where Rose Zack (Nocturne’s founder and 2015 curator), Lindsay Ann Cory (Nocturne’s Acting Chair & Director) and Anna Sprague (Nocturne Artist and Professor at NSCAD) dialogued with Anna Sprague’s art class–a small but dedicated group of young artists, creating costumes that they were to wear at Sprague’s Nocturne piece. I got to hear some of what was said. I don’t think I’m giving away the show too much when I say that the Nocturne organizers sought to temporarily transform the city from the 9-to-5, census-reality, work-a-day routine into something different, something deeper, freer and more reflective. The next time you look at Citadel Hill, you might see the ghost of a ferris wheel scene that was there for one day. They’re trying to make art so hard to avoid that it’s reality-expanding fragrance can’t be ignored.
If Nocturne peaks your interest, check out how to be involved on their website: http://nocturnehalifax.ca/