January, 2015

  1. Gary Garritan

    January 30, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield

    Tectoria has a connection with the man who made one of the most significant advances in piano technology since the 1800’s.

    The Garritan/Abbey Road Virtual Concert Grand Piano has been honored with the most coveted award in the music tech industry – a 2015 Electronic Musician Editor’s Choice Award, which recognizes the best, most groundbreaking music technology for musicians, producers, and performers.

    The founder  of Garritan is one of the world’s leading providers of quality virtual software instruments, is located right here in Victoria.

    “It was a wonderful experience working with the legendary Abbey Road Studios to produce this most advanced state-of-the-art Virtual Grand Piano,” says Gary, who resides in Victoria. “Fourteen years ago, I began my career in music technology by earning an Editor’s Choice Award for an orchestral project we recorded at Lincoln Center. As I now go into retirement, it is a nice crowning touch to leave it with another EM Editor’s Choice Award.”


    “There’s a plethora of piano libraries already in existence,” says Gary in an interview with Music Tech. “We counted over 100 sample-based libraries the last time we checked. Since Henry E. Steinway in the 1800s there hadn’t been any major advances in piano technology until more recently with the Yamaha CFX piano from the CF series. The CFX created a new standard and no-one has sampled it yet.”

    Having the opportunity to sample music at the one-time stomping grounds proved to be irresistible for this Tectorian.

    “Abbey Road Studios is the best location in the entire world to record a library like this,” says Garritan. “We worked with the best piano, studio space, gear and engineers to create a package that’s above and beyond what’s already out there.”

    Born in New York, Gary has revolutionized music creation by ensuring that professional-quality software instrument sounds are within every musician’s reach. He’s has decidcated his life’s work work to creating convincing, sampled orchestral sounds that always offer an intuitive and playable interaction

    He’s known the world over as a leading innovator in music technology. He has been a pioneer of software musical instruments for the past dozen years and his soundware is bundled with MakeMusic Finale, Apple GarageBand, SONY Acid Pro, Cakewalk SONAR, Microsoft Songsmith, AKAI EWI, and other well‐known music software.

    Garritan software instruments have won numerous industry awards, have set many standards in the industry, and are endorsed by many well‐known composers and performers.

    He succeeded in his mission to make high‐quality software instruments accessible for every musician, especially students and teachers. And he is responsible for notation software playback which allows musicians to hear realistic renditions of their compositions and arrangements within notation programs.

    Gary Garritan recently sold his business to MakeMusic, Inc, the makers of Finale, and currently serves as their Director of Instrumental Sciences.





  2. Ground Control Cafe Has Blasted Off

    January 23, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield

    “Every tech sector needs jet fuel to access the Right Stuff that’s needed to blast through to the other side of crunch time.” – Chuck Yeager.

    All in all it was just over 5 months from when we purchased the building in March, 2014 to when we blasted off and opened Fort Tectoria at the beginning of September.

    fort tectoria

    During the whirlwind of activity in spring and summer 2014 getting the building open, and then the “fitting out” phase in fall making things just right, we just didn’t have a chance to get the coffee shop up and running.

    But as of today, Ground Control is fully operational.

    Ground Control Cafe at Fort Tectoria

    The tech workers who call four-storey Fort Tectoria home need coffee, and we knew we had to get the coffee shop operational.

    And we also knew that having a coffee shop in our lobby would also attract the general public – it would be yet another way to connect the tech community with all of Greater Victoria.


    Ground Control has comfortable chairs, tables to work at, and most importantly, awesome WiFi. It’s the perfect place to grab a drink, meet someone, or even get some work done on your laptop.



    The beans come from our friends at Victoria’s own 2% Jazz roastery. The baristas are Nik Øvstaas and Jill Kingsley. The dynamic duo of demitasse artistry have a background in fine cuisine and coffee, and have traveled all over Canada. Both are Tectorians born and bred, but have spent a lot of time in Montreal.

    We’re happy they came home to help us launch Ground Control Cafe.

  3. Colin Goldblatt, UVic’s Resident Astrobiologist

    January 16, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield

    Remember the first-ever Earthlike exoplanet that was discovered earlier this month?

    There’s a Victoria connection: with reports  prepared for NASA’s astrobiology institute titled “Stellar Effects on Planetary Habitability and the Limits of the Habitable Zone” UVic researcher Colin Goldblatt’s research is playing a key role understanding life in other parts of the universe.

    Goldblatt also active on Reddit.

    Goldblatt is one of the researchers that is making UVic and Victoria where people turn to to understand whether or not exoplanets can have earthlike atmospheres and support life, but also whether or not our own planet is going to be able to support life in the far future, or if Earth will fall victim to runaway climate change.

    Another cool paper: “The Runaway Greenhouse: implications for future climate change, geoengineering and planetary atmospheres.”

    Tectoria’s own Colin Goldplatt is recognized as an expert on the runaway greenhouse effect, where C02 levels trap heat in an increasingly severe feedback loop causing temperatures to rise to lead-melting temperatures – precisely what happened on Venus.

    The good news according to Goldblatt?

    “The good news is that almost all lines of evidence lead us to believe that is unlikely to be possible, even in principle, to trigger full a runaway greenhouse by addition of non-condensible greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.”

    That bad news? We don’t have enough evidence to know for sure and, according to Goldblatt’s interview on NBC, may be easier to trigger on Earth than other planets.

    Basically, when people talk about the effect of greenhouses gases on the Earth’s climate, they rely on the cutting-edge research of scientists like Goldblatt at UVic.

    UVic researcher Goldblatt’s affiliation with NASA also helps to put Victoria on the map as a centre for research into global warming – Goldplatt frequently takes interview requests from the media about the greenhouse effect and climate change.

    In recent years, as extrasolar planets have been detected, the big question is: do any of these planets harbour life?

    The only way to know is to look at the exoplanet’s atmosphere, and that’s where Goldblatt’s research is making science fiction a reality.

    Goldblatt points out that by analyzing faint variations an exoplanet’s atmosphere it may even be possible to tell if life is present. Goldblatt’s research at UVic is providing the basis for understanding whether or not life exists in other parts of the galaxy.

    Bonus Link:

    Colin Goldblatt’s awesome TEDx Victoria Talk: “How to find life on other planets”

  4. Darth Fiddler: the Origin Story

    January 9, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield

    New York City has an accordionist who dons a Boba Fett helmet. Victoria has Darth Fiddler.

    In fact, there are a lot of people all over the world who know who he is – he has helped put Victoria on the map as a fun and quirky destination – especially if you like street buskers.

    In fact, The Zone 91.3 FM gave him his own radio show, where he played music from his Darth FiddlerCD and gave a stunning live performance.

    But how many people know Darth Fiddler’s back story?

    We know for sure that Victoria loves Darth Fiddler. In 2011, when thugs randomly attacked the street musician and destroyed his instrument, locals were quick to come to his defense.

    A social media campaign using the hashtag #helpyyjvader prompted local Larsen Music to replace the Sith Lord’s damaged instrument, complete with a light saber bow.

    Until the incident, not much was known about the mysterious fiddle player, who always performs with his face concealed by a replica Darth Vader helmet.

    After that, Darth Fiddler’s cover was blown. He’s a 40-something transplant from the Maritimes named Randy McKenna who is well-known in local music stores like Larsen’s for coming in to replacing his violin strings.

    Darth Fiddler: the Origin Story

    How did Darth Fiddler come to be?

    According to McKenna, more than a decade ago, he found a floppy old Vader mask at the Salvation Army. He bought it, went busking on the spot, and it was an instant hit.

    The persona has an attraction for people, he says, and he had never ever received that much attention playing as himself.

    What about the rest of the costume?

    McKenna says the costume has evolved over time.

    He purchased one of the sturdier masks that came out when Episode III was launched. The cape is from a Dracula costume, the padding from an old football uniform.

    Everything is sewn together from leather scraps, kind of like Frankenstein’s monster.

    McKenna is so popular that he has inspired his own “Busk Stop” sponsored by the Downtown Victoria Business Association. He was also featured in a humorous Skit For Brains comedy sketch titled Darth Vader vs. Mike.

    If you want to keep up to date with the goings-on of this famous Victoria busker, McKenna has a Darth Fiddler Facebook page and (somewhat unbelievably in this day and age) a MySpace account.

    His image has even shown up on a door at the hip Hotel Max in Seattle, Washington.

    Other interesting tidbit:

    McKenna is a Micronauts fan