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Volume 19 Issue 2 - October 2013

  • Text
  • October
  • Toronto
  • Choir
  • Concerts
  • Jazz
  • November
  • Arts
  • Orchestra
  • Musical
  • Symphony

the somewhat sacrosanct

the somewhat sacrosanct territory of the musical masters.Quartetski is a perfect example of what I’m sensing is becomingmore and more standard — music that defies being pigeonholed intoneat and tidy categories. And interestingly, the Canada Council for theArts is getting in on the discussion. On October 13 there will be aninterview and Q&A with one of their music officers (Jeff Morton) todiscuss the new priorities and criteria for funding this music that isincreasingly happening along the edges of traditional boundaries, adirection they describe as “genrelessness.”But back to the second scandal-associated work that has beenprogrammed. On October 12,Morton Feldman’s six-hourlong String Quartet No.2 willbe performed by New York’sincredible FLUX Quartet.So what’s the scandal?The piece was originallycommissioned by NewMusic Concerts in 1983 andwas broadcast live on CBC,performed by the then-unknownKronos Quartet. Butas the hours went by, CBC hadto make a decision whether tocut it off to make way for thenews broadcast. They decidedto stick it out and no riotsensued. The piece ended justbefore the 1am blackout. Thephysical and mental rigours ofperforming such a long workdemand extreme dedication bythe performers.FLUX, who take their namefrom the 1960s’ Fluxus movement,perform the work aboutonce a year, making it into abit of a speciality. No doubtthey are so dedicated becauseEsprit Orchestrareturns to Koerner Hall October 24.Quartetski.of what they receive from performing it. Feldman’s music offers atruly intimate encounter with the substance of sound, unfoldingsubtly, calling out for your attention. It’s been said that you don’treally listen to the music, but rather you live through it, breathe withit. In other words, it is truly an immersive bodily experience. To createa sensitive listening environment, the Music Gallery will be transformedinto two chill out rooms, with accompanying food vendorsand installations in the nearby OCADU student gallery. Added to that,CIUT-FM will be broadcasting the entire performance as a nod to theoriginal premiere. You can create your own unique listening environmentif you live within radio signal range. It will be a “slow-motionrave.” Feldman himself called it “a fucking masterpiece.”Other festival highlights include a rare appearance by the legendaryminimalist Charlemagne Palestine on October 13, renowned for hishigh voltage piano-cluster music, and music by composers RoseBolton (October 13) and Scott Good (October 20). Improv duo Notthe Wind Not the Flag will partner with bassist William Parker onOctober 17; and the festival’s ensemble-in-residence — EnsembleSuperMusique from Montréal — will perform their revolutionaryMusique Actuelle on October 18. The following night, A Tribe CalledRed lets loose their version of urban abstract. Mixing Pow Wowsounds with pan-global influences, their beats have roared onto thescene and opened up new territories in the conversation aroundcultural exchange. Partnering with this concert is the ImagineNativeFilm Festival, which will be screening images from all aspects of FirstNations life. Closing the festival on October 20 will be Hamiltonborntabla player Gurpreet Chana, whose influences stretch fromDJ culture to classical South Asian. He will be transforming histablas into a digital interface controlling an array of hardware andsoftware to extend the sound of this much-loved instrument intounknown waters.SEASON OPENERSOctober is full of season openers for many of our local new musicpresenters. In Waterloo, NUMUS is offering two events in Octoberquite different from each other. On October 4, the exceptionalGryphon Trio and guest clarinetist James Campbell will performthe epic Quartet for the End of Time, a 50-minute work by OlivierMessiaen, written while the composer was imprisoned during WWII.This will be partnered with Alexina Louie’s Echoes of Time whichwas inspired by Messiaen’s piece, along with music by the Ukrainiancomposer Valentin Silvestrov. All three pieces are on the Trio’s latestCD release For the End of Time. And on October 25, NUMUS contributesto the genrelessness orientation with a cabaret featuring the13-piece Slaughterhouse Orchestra performing ten songs in a widerange of styles. Each song explores various novels written by theAmerican writer Kurt Vonnegut.Esprit Orchestra launches their “new era” on October 24 withClaude Vivier’s shimmering Zipangu, R. Murray Schafer’s tonguein-cheekNo Longerthan Ten (10)Minutes, andtwo orchestralworksby MontrealbornSamyMoussa, whonow enjoys aFLUX.career as bothcomposer andconductorin Europe. The program rounds out withRussian composer Alfred Schnittke’sViola Concerto.New Music Concerts’ season begins onOctober 6 with a concert that received extensivecoverage in September’s WholeNote. OnNovember 1, they will present an electricevening of interactive works, highlightingtwo by David Eagle and others by CanadiansJimmie Leblanc, Anthony Tan and Anna Pidgorna, and Germancomposer Hans Tutschku. Interactive compositions are like a greatsonic playground where the acoustic sounds of the live instrumentsare transformed in real time with the aid of the technology.October also heralds the beginning of a new chamber ensemblewith the delectable name of Dim Sum, a group dedicated topresenting new compositions for Chinese instruments. Their debutconcert, “Xpressions,” on October 27 features several world premieresby local composers. Another recently founded ensemble, the ThinEdge New Music Collective, will be performing works by John Zorn,Allison Cameron and others on October 25, while the Toy PianoComposers celebrate the beginning of their fifth season on October 12at Gallery 345.The Canadian Music Centre continues its concerts of contemporarypiano works on October 3 and 13, as well as hosting “ATouch of Light” with piano music and visuals during Toronto’sNuit Blanche on October 5. And to finish off, this month sees anumber of concerts celebrating Benjamin Britten’s 100th anniversary.The Canadian Opera Company will be presenting two noon-hourconcerts of his vocal music on October 9 and 23. His Violin Concertowill receive a performance by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra onOctober 10, while his War Requiem will be performed by severalKitchener-Waterloo area choirs in a concert presented by the GrandPhilharmonic Choir on October 19.The experimental pot is stirring and I encourage you to get outand support the blossoming of the new sounds of urban abstraction,wherever they may show up. Also, check out the WholeNote’s onlineblog for up-to-the-minute reports for some of these events.Wendalyn Bartley is a Toronto-based composer and electro-vocalsound artist. She can be contacted at sounddreaming@gmail.com26 | October 1 – November 7, 2013 thewholenote.com

Beat by Beat | World ViewThe Beat Goes OnANDREW TIMARFall has already made is chilly presence known in SouthernOntario and not just in terms of the weather. Sad news greetedme on September 17. My friend, the composer and veteran radiomusic broadcaster Larry Lake, passed away; more on his career elsewherein this issue. Larry had a hidden side. He was an “early adapter”of world music in a few of his compositions, a little-known engagementI may write about in a future column.As is almost always the case I’ve had to omit, with regret, a numberof concerts on my short list. This column could easily have beentwice as long.12TH ANNUAL SMALLWORLD MUSIC FESTIVALCONTINUESLast issue I wrote about the 12thannual Small World Music Festivalwhich began September 26, andcontinued October 2 at LulaLounge with what was billed as a“one-of-a-kind musical mashup,”featuring the award-winningjazz and hip-hop Toronto trumpeterBrownman, playing withNagata Shachu.the Cuban rappers Ogguere andTelmary best known for theirground-breaking Cuban genre fusions of mambo, son, cha cha chaand rumba, underscored by hip-hop and reggaeton.October 4 the group Mashrou’ Leila, Arabic for “an overnightproject,” plays Lee’s Palace in their Toronto debut. Acclaimed as “thevoice of Arabic youth” and “one of the most significant young bandsin the Arab world,” the six-musician Lebanese group use politicallycharged lyrics and absurdist videos to ride the wave of youthful optimismgenerated around the Arab spring. Hamed Sinno, the group’sleader and main lyricist, addresses the current social revolution withpositive social messages and art-school ironic detachment. Theirinstrumentation of violin, bass, two guitars, keyboard and drum setdoesn’t betray the ethnic Middle Eastern origins of the band but ratherserves to connect their audiences to the familiar transnational popularculture they feel part of.October 6 DakhaBrakha closes the Small World Music Festival witha concert at the Revival Bar. The Kyiv quartet has invented a kind ofworld music which infuses their theatrical interpretative reworkingof Ukrainian village music — folk costumes and all — with a rockandeven at times a trance-like sensibility. Their core instrumentationof closely miked cello, floor tom, djembe, darabuka, harmonicaand Jew’s harp, along with occasional keyboard synth lines, supportthe group’s soaring village-inflected vocal solos and powerful closeharmony refrains. I attended their 2012 North American debut concertat Luminato. Their songs were in turn emotionally intense, chilled out,but then delightfully stylistically odd-ball. Moreover you don’t haveto understand DakhaBrakha’s Ukrainian lyrics to appreciate the sheerquirky emotive force of their music making.MORE PICKSOctober 5, at the First Baptist Church in Barrie, at 2:30pm, theColours of Music Festival showcases the music of banjo virtuosoJayme Stone and his band in “The Incredible Banjo.” I have writtenadmiringly of Stone’s music before in this column. I suspect thereforethat many readers — and of course his fans — have a good feel for thevast range his music projects encompass, including Bach, Appalachiancovers, a banjo concerto and explorations of the banjo’s Malianconnections. Sidemen trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, cellist AndrewDowning, Joe Phillips on bass and drummer Nick Fraser provide thedeliciously dexterous musical backing.October 8 at noon “Sketches of Istanbul” performed by the AnahtarProject graces the Canadian Opera Company’s World Music Seriesat the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. For his Anahtar Project,award-winning composer and cellist Andrew Downing has bookedpercussionist Debashis Sinha and clarinettist Peter Lutek. The threeCanadians are joined by the Turkish oud virtuoso and composer GüçBaşar Gülle in a cross-cultural collaboration. Inspired by the mosaicof cultures and people of the ancient city of Istanbul, audiences canexpect explorations fusing Turkish-Ottoman classical makam musicwith Western performance sensibilities and musical forms. Jazzprocedures are also prominent. Here’s some tantalizing insider news:the group will be “playing challenging and beautiful compositions byAndrew Downing and Güç Başar Gülle.”October 10 the COC’s World Music Series continues with “Hibiki!Echoes of Japan” performed by Toronto’s favourite daiko group NagataShachu at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Celebrating its 15thseason, Nagata Shachu is one of ourcity’s musical treasures, hailed by theToronto Star as “... one of the world’smost interesting Japanese taiko drummingensembles.” Its music includesnot only a wide range of heartbeatquickeningJapanese drums but alsovarious bamboo flutes, stringed instrumentsand voices. I’ve seen the group,led by Canadian-born taiko masterKiyoshi Nagata, several times overits history and its performances areinvariably filled with a high level ofensemble musicianship coupled withmental and corporeal discipline.UMA NOTA FESTIVAL OF TROPICAL EXPRESSIONSRunning from October 17 to 20, the third annual Uma Nota Festivalof Tropical Expressions is the biggest yet. The festival features Afro-Brazilian, Caribbean, Latin, funk and soul music performed by bothlive acts and DJs from Brazil, U.K. and New York in addition to thecream of the local scene. Out of four days chock full of events, I havespace here only to dip into its engaging family-friendly “CommunityCultural Fair.” For the rest of the concerts check The WholeNote listings,or the festival’s website which offers detailed information.Sunday, October 20 the Uma Nota Festival offers an ambitiousdaylong Community Cultural Fair at the Lula Lounge. It begins withlive music performed by Toronto’s Tio Chorinho, a choro ensemble ledby mandolin player Eric Stein. Choro, a melodically and harmonicallyadventurous instrumental genre from Brazil which came of age in Riode Janeiro in the 1920s, has been described as “the New Orleans jazzof Brazil.” The highly regarded Brazilian “fingerstyle” guitar masterRick Udler, one of Brazil’s first-call guitarists, follows. If you had anydoubt that the brass band form is making a comeback in jazz justlisten to the Heavyweights Brass Band featuring five young Torontomusicians taking the stage next. This favourite among the Uma Notaand local jazz audiences plays New Orleans style jazz, but also funk,Latin, soul, and reggae favourites which are guaranteed to inspireimpromptu dancing. The sets continue with Forrallstar, the Uma NotaFestival-produced “super band,” comprised of the city’s top Brazilianforró players led by singer/guitarist Carlos Cardoso. DJ Mogpaws closesthe concert spinning recordings of Brazilian soul, funk, jazz, reggaeand electronica from the studios, fairs and streets of Rio and São Paulo,plus the states of Bahia and Pernambuco.At 2:30pm talks and workshops take the Lula floor. A few sessionsof interest: son jarocho and other Mexican folk dances and musicled by the Café Con Pan duo, and Coco de Roda, a NortheasternBrazilian dance/game led by Maracatu Mar Aberto and Professor Sapoof Capoeira Camara. BTW, while it may be a bit early in the day, I’mtempted to take in the Caipirinha-making workshop.TWO MORE CONCERTSBack at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on November 5, thethewholenote.com October 1 – November 7, 2013 | 27

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