“For proof that Vancouver is no longer the wild and crazy place it once was, consider the course of the Sonic Boom festival. In its early, unjuried days, the annual celebration of local composers sometimes strayed into performance-art territory, with pieces that used tarot cards to determine what would be played, or that featured a pair of Godzilla robots duking it out while electroacoustic music blared from the speakers. Such spectacles were exciting, to be sure, but the event’s come-one, come-all approach meant that even music critics could have their experimental tape compositions heard, and the less said about that, the better. (Trust me: I’ve repented.)

Now, though, Sonic Boom’s standards are higher. Which is generally laudable—although as 2019’s composer in residence, Rodney Sharman, notes, this professionalism has come with a cost…”