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Volume 20 Issue 7 - April 2015

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  • April
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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and combines techno,

and combines techno, psychedelic rock and spectral techniques. It’sdescribed as the Doors meet Pierre Boulez, with the Doors definitelywinning out. Written by the late Italian composer FaustoRomitelli, this piece has created a cult following with its appealingmix of hypnotic ritual-like repetitions while riding the wave betweenorder and chaos. His work is seen as having a major influence on awhole generation of younger composers. The evening also includesThe Michael Eckert Large Earth Ensemble, who combine elementsfrom various world cultures with classic rock guitar and synth sounds.For rock and roll fans who like an experimental edge to their music,this entire evening is not to be missed. Other Music Gallery eventsin April include British improvised music masters Trevor Watts andVeryan Weston on April 24; and the Blythwood Winds present their“Hogtown Roundup” concert featuring three world premieres byToronto composers Barnes, Rowson and Lau on April 13.John Tavener: One of Britain’s most distinguished liturgicallyinspired composers Sir John Tavener will be honoured bySoundstreams in a concert on April 16 to commemorate his passing in2013. Tavener’s Song for Athene, performed at the funeral of PrincessDiana, exemplifies the skill of this composer who knew how to createcontemporary works that were accessible to many. Tavener wrote over30 works for British soprano Patricia Rozario, who will be performingfour of them in the Toronto concert along with Choir 21 and theToronto Children’s Chorus. Christos Hatzis (Canada), JonathanHarvey (Britain), and Vanraj Bhatia (India), all of whom create musicthat expresses a spiritual dimension, will also be represented in theprogram. Tavener’s The Lamb is part of a Mooredale Concerts eventon April 12 that features the Dublin Guitar Quartet and also includescompositions by Philip Glass, György Ligeti and Leo Brouwer.Infiltration! This month also offers several opportunities forconcertgoers of classical and baroque music to hear premieres of newCanadian works. Here’s a listing of these events:The Toronto Symphony Orchestra premieres Ararat by MychaelDanna, which is a newly created suite of music from the soundtrackoriginally written for Atom Egoyan’s film by the same name. April 22.Tafelmusik premieres a newly commissioned work entitled“Snow White” by Michael Oesterle in their concert entitled BaroqueMisbehaving. The concerts run from April 23 to 28.Sinfonia Toronto performs Alice Ho’s “Mira for Violin andOrchestra” on May 2.Syrinx Concerts Toronto presents Sofya Gubyak performing JeanCoulthard’s Piano Sonata No.2 on May 3.Women’s Musical Club of Toronto presents a world premiere byChristopher Mayo, a WMCT commission, performed by the pianoquartet Ensemble Made In Canada.In With The New (Briefly):And finally, a listing of other concerts ofnew music happening in Toronto and beyond:New Music Concerts: The Ukrainian-Canadian Connection, withdompositions by Silvestrov, Pauk, Pidgorna, Kulesha, Tsepkolenko,April 4. (see my March WholeNote column for more details).Canadian Music Centre: Amarok Ensemble performs works byMorlock and Murphy, April 14.Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society presents thePenderecki String Quartet in a concert of Serbian and CroationChamber Works, with works by Katarina Čurčin, Michael Pepa,Norbert Palej, and Sanja Drakulić, April 15.Sara Constant concert, with works by Denisov, Lutosławski:,Meijering, Stockhausen, and Tanabe, April 24.Music Gallery at Arraymusic: Tim Berne’s Snakeoil plus BarnyardDrama, April 29.Royal Conservatory:Glenn Gould School New Music Ensembleperforming works by Canadian composers Alexina Louie and AndreRistic, and others. April 30.JunctQin Keyboard Collective performs works for piano solo,piano six hands, toy piano, melodica and electronics, including apremiere by Jason Doell, winner of the 2014 Emerging ComposerAward, May 3.Wendalyn Bartley is a Toronto-based composer and electrovocalsound artist. sounddreaming@gmail.com.Beat by Beat | World ViewToronto to Tbilisi:Zari Trio Keeps theSong AliveANDREW TIMARLet’s call it a personal rite of spring. Along with those first warmsunny days, I also look forward to engaging with the largerworld in concerts at several of our region’s universities andconcert halls.This season, my first focus falls on Toronto’s award-winning vocaland instrumental trio Zari, which performs April 25 at the little jewelof downtown venues, Musideum. Composed of Shalva Makharashvili,Andrea Kuzmich and Reid Robins, Zari (meaning “bell” in Georgian)draws on the rich regional repertoire of the polyphonic songs of theRepublic of Georgia. Standing at the crossroads of Europe and Asia,their ancient country is called Sakartvelo by Georgians.Declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCOin 2001, Georgian vocal polyphony, with its close harmonies anduntempered scales, is characterized by three-part singing in a varietyof regional styles. The songs range from the haunting melismaticmelodies of the Eastern provinces, to the wild, explosive counterpointof the West. They also include more recent romantic urban ballads.Like many other groups I’ve highlighted in this column who havemusical affiliations to another part of the world, Zari was madein Toronto. I spoke with the singer, ethnomusicologist and groupco-founder Andrea Kuzmich to get the skinny on Zari.“It was formed in 2003. We met each other a few years earlier at thedowntown Toronto living room singing sessions of Darbazi” (Canada’sfirst Georgian choir). Kuzmich quickly identified a key feature of thegroup, its dedication to studying the older strata of Georgian musicin its birthplace. “We want to deepen our understanding of andfeeling for this musical treasure. When Zari performs, we embrace theprofundity of Georgian culture: its roots embedded in ancient times,its strength and courage to survive and its inspiring hospitality.” Tothat end the trio plans to return to Georgia this October for anotherround of studies and concerts.And like numerous Canadian groups that reference other geoculturalmilieus, Zari is perhaps better known there than here.Kuzmich notes that during past Georgian tours, “we have performedat the Chveneburebi festival, Festival of Megrelian song, FirstInternational Festival of Gurian Song and other festivals that havetaken us around the country.” They have also been featured at the“best performance halls of [the capital] Tbilisi, such as the OperaHouse, and the Philharmonia Concert Hall.”In addition to formal concert venues, Kuzmich points out thehard-to-overstate significance of the supra. It’s the traditional, oftenepic, Georgian feast which serves as an important locus for Georgiansocial culture – and singing. “You know ... there’s a saying that thebest performances happen at the supras after the concerts. We can’treally predict how many supras we’ll attend or which ones will bemost educational.” And the supra is such an integral part of Georgianculture that it’s not easy to separate the supra from what happens eachday. “There will be [formal] toasting every day, if not multiple times inthe day, perhaps even around a table while we’re learning a song. Inthat case the line between supra and lesson gets blurred.”She gives an example of how such productive blurring canevolve. “[One day] we were all set to have a lesson, but instead hadan impromptu midday supra at a small local house-restaurant inMakvaneti, the village of our Gurian [region of Georgia] teachers ….At the supra they sang many songs, interlaced with stories aboutmusic-making from when they were little boys, during Soviet times,18 | April 1 - May 7, 2015 thewholenote.com

IRAKLIZari performing at the Capitol International Festival of Megrelian Song inKhobi, Georgia, 2007.Left to Right – Andrea Kuzmich, Reid Robins and Shalva Makharashvili.and today. We sang with them too, sometimes trading off at innercadence points. We probably sat there for over three hours. All three ofus [in Zari] felt inspired and very connected to the tradition [after thatexperience], and we learned so much in that one sitting.”I asked about Zari’s Musideum set list. “We’ll be performing songsfrom several regions of the country,” said Kuzmich. She mentioneda few songs on their long list. One of the Gurian songs is ChvenMshvidoba (Peace to Us). “We are in the process of learning a fourthor fifth variant, though in performance we tend to just let the improvisationhappen.” Maglonia, a lyrical song from Samegrelo, featuresaccompaniment by the panduri, a prominent Georgian three-stringlute. “There are a few versions we are listening to, but the one wemostly base our version on is by Polikarpe Khubulava, the Georgianmaster singer who passed away on January 1, 2015,” she added. “Wewill also do songs from [the regions of] Imereti and Achara, which aresimilar, though Imereti has more parallel thirds in the top voice, plusone of those dense Svaneti chordal songs. It’s a place which is snowboundfor eight months of the year and the songs, like the people,are rugged.”Zari feels the need to regularly re-connect with those wellspringsof the oral musical tradition they’ve been born into – or as in the caseof Kuzmich, chosen – in order to fuel their inspiration and artistry.Their Musideum concert is part of a series of fundraisers to help getthem back to Georgia to study with elder master singers, some wellpast retirement age. In addition to such venerable living connectionsto the past, the trio also plans to re-connect with researchers atthe Conservatoire, including colleagues at the EthnomusicologyDepartment and the Research Centre for Traditional Polyphony.“Giorgi Donadze, the leader of Basiani [a prominent choir], is alsothe director of the State Folk Centre, so we’ll be connecting withthat institute,” adds Kuzmich. “And we always try to meet up withAnzor Erkomaishvili, who endows us with new publications onGeorgian music.”It’s always exciting to hear such a depth of passion and engagementfrom an artist. I plan to catch Zari’s Musideum show to hear the latestin the evolution of Georgian music, Toronto style.World music in the university: April 1 the University of TorontoFaculty of Music holds its annual spring concert of World MusicEnsembles at Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building. This season it’sthe African Drumming and Dancing, Latin American Percussion andSteel Pan student groups’ turn to shine. Kwasi Dunyo, the Ewe masterdrummer from Ghana who has for two decades been teaching inuniversities and schools in Canada and the U.S.A. from his Torontohome base, leads the first ensemble. The Latin American percussiongroup is led by the accomplished Mark Duggan, an orchestral percussionist,composer and jazz musician. Even 32 years ago his highlyhoned skills were in demand: he was chosen to play with Canada’sfirst gamelan, the Evergreen Club. Michelle Colton, an emergingmulti-percussionist and educator, directs the Steel Pan ensemble.The next day, on April 2 at noon, the world music focus shifts to theMaureen Forrester Recital Hall, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo,where the Conrad Grebel Gamelan Ensemble performs, directed byMaisie Sum. Introduced into the university as a course only two yearsago by Sum, the gamelan semara dana, a kind of Balinese tunedpercussion-rich instrumental ensemble, is the first of its kind inSouthwestern Ontario. In an interview with The WholeNote a yearago professor Sum reported an enthusiastic reception for the musicamong the students. “Enrollment for the ensemble doubled in thewinter term, so we currently have two groups.”After the excitement of the noon-hour Waterloo Balinese set, there’sstill plenty of time to get down to St. Catharines’ Brock Universitythe same day for an evening concert. Jaffa Road performs at theSean O’Sullivan Theatre, Centre for the Arts. The JUNO short-listedToronto world music group offers an amalgam of sacred and secularJewish song, jazz, Indian and Arabic music, with touches of electronicaand dub.Brazil’s musical ambassador: April 7 the Royal Conservatory ofMusic presents “Gilberto Gil: Gilberto’s Samba” at Koerner Hall.Hailed as “Brazil’s musical ambassador,” for more than 40 years thesinger, composer, guitar player – and former Minister of Culture –has enjoyed an extraordinary career. Gil is perhaps best known as anPEGGY BAKER DANCE PROJECTSA new full-evening workcreated by choreographer Peggy Bakercomposer and musician: John Kameel Farahvocalographer: Fides Krucker and dancers: Ric Brown,Sarah Fregeau, Kate Holden, Sean Ling and Sahara MorimotoApril 24-26, 29-30, May 1 -3Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis StreetTickets: www.peggybakerdance.com1-800 838-3006 Book early bird tickets by April 3using promotion code EARLY20 for $20 tickets!The creation of locus plot is made possible by the generosity of our donors.Season Supporter: BMO Financial Group. Lead underwriters: Martha Burns, Joan & Jerry Lozinski,The Bennett Family Foundation, and The McLean Foundation. Supporting Underwriters: Gail Drummond,Robert Sirman, Craig Thorburn & Cindy Caron Thorburn, and The Hal Jackman Foundation.Live music bySoundstreamsComposerin-Residence(2013)an Ontario government agencyun organisme du gouvernement de l’OntarioJohn KameelFarahthewholenote.com April 1 - May 7, 2015 | 19

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