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Volume 27 Issue 1 - September / October 2021

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Blue pages and orange shirts; R. Murray Schafer's complex legacy, stirrings of life on the live concert scene; and the Bookshelf is back. This and much more. Print to follow. Welcome back from endless summer, one and all.


MILESTONES Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and his Party performing at the 1985 WOMAD festival “STILL FEELS BEAUTIFUL EVERY TIME” SMALL WORLD MUSIC @ 25 ANDREW TIMAR ANDREW CATLIN/ REAL WORLD RECORDS ALAN DAVIS Twenty-five years is a respectable milestone for an organization dealing with culturally diverse music, and Toronto’s veteran leader in this category, Small World Music, is celebrating in style. It has launched “25 for 25”, an ambitious yearlong festival, with the initial September 13 to 19 event lineup consisting of eight online and in-person concerts, plus a panel discussion, Beyond Community, co-presented with BLOK (Eastern European music summit). Three of the events are online, three in-person at Lula Lounge and the rest at DROM Taberna with its patio/parking-lot stage; the musicians being showcased range from emerging to well-known, and include both local and international talent. The Founder’s Journey When I reached Alan Davis, Small World Music’s founder, on his cellphone he was relaxing at a Georgian Bay cottage, BBQ-ing and soaking in the last hot days of summer. His comments in our wide-ranging talk on his “baby,” Small World Music, were understandably framed within his founder’s perspective. He was eager to share thoughts on his music curating career, with its roots going back to Alan Davis his days at Toronto’s Music Gallery beginning 35 years ago. As long as I’ve known Alan, his passionate appetite for musical exploration and expression has been fundamental. I reminded him that he was among the first cohort to join Gamelan Toronto in 1995 when I was invited to organize that large community music group by the Indonesian Consulate General, Toronto. “It’s very funny that you mention that,” he replied, “because I literally just had a conversation about it with a new friend last evening, ... about my music practice and how it intersects with Small World, about playing gamelan at the Indonesian Consulate.” Going further back, Davis grew up on rock music and came to love jazz, appreciating its complexity and nuance as a kit drummer. “Frankly, I was never a trained musician, but was intuitive and very enthusiastic. In fact right now at the cottage I have my clarinet, darabuka, cajon and glockenspiel, and a good friend is coming tomorrow with his bass guitar, keyboard and accordion to jam. So I’m still doing and thoroughly enjoying music all these years later! “I think it’s not an exaggeration to say that to a certain extent I channelled my desire and passion to be a musician into Small World. I probably realized I didn’t have what it took to be a professional musician, but putting music on stage gave me almost the same feeling. That musical charge never gets old.” Small World origins The impetus to start Small World didn’t arise from nothing, David tells me. “It really started well before SW, because while working at the Music Gallery in the late 80s and 90s I had an opportunity to put music from other cultures on its stage. Coming from a rock background, I discovered this music through people like Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel, especially through the latter’s WOMAD festival, which was a huge personal influence.” Among his pivotal memories, he says, is watching the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan family qawwali party at Harbourfront Centre’s WOMAD. “I found myself watching them in performance in an intimate room where I was no more than ten metres from the star singer himself, being profoundly moved. I realized I may not understand what he was saying but the spirit and energy in the room was so powerful that it 14 | September and October 2021

In the spring of 1997, I presented the first concert under the name Small World featuring the Vancouver Vietnamese duo Khac Chi, along with a Georgian choir. That’s the concert I’m tagging as the beginning of our 25-year run. — Alan Davis left a lasting impression. It really opened my eyes, ears and mind to the power of ‘pure’ musical experience. “Essentially what it came down to was that I was learning about what was going on in the world outside my own purview, my own culture. Furthermore, I wanted to share that powerful experience and I had a platform to do it at the MG. So that’s where I started.” After a decade at The MG it was time to move on, he says. “Coincidentally, it was exactly at that moment when Montreal booking agent and friend Patrick Darby called and suggested I arrange a concert for a touring Vietnamese group on my own. I’d never considered such a thing, so I slept on it. But in the spring of 1997, I presented the first concert under the name Small World featuring the Vancouver Vietnamese duo Khac Chi, along with a Georgian choir. That’s the concert I’m tagging as the beginning of our 25-year run.” Next steps Our conversation turns again to November 1997, when he and I collaborated on the Gamelan Summit in Toronto. “SW was still in its infancy,” he says, so it was actually a very ambitious project with over 75 performers from across Canada and the US playing in three Harbourfront concerts and participating in a week of workshops Duo Khac Chi, more recently at the Indonesian Consulate General. Luckily it turned out to be a tremendously successful ‘kickstarter,’ if you will, showing everyone that we’re capable of bigger and bolder endeavours. It led to more growth.” But it wasn’t all smooth sailing by any means. “Up until the 2000s I was running everything out of my house. It was a one-man shop DUO KHAC CHI OUR SEASON TO CONNECT Jean-Sébastien Vallée Artistic Director Tickets for in-person and online will go on sale in early October. @TMChoir COMING TO CARRY ME HOME NOVEMBER 2, 2021 with Toronto Symphony Orchestra Jonelle Sills, soprano Brett Polegato, baritone The Chariot Jubilee Nathaniel Dett Ein deutsches Requiem Johannes Brahms FESTIVAL OF CAROLS DECEMBER 1, 2021 with Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra Lauda per la Nativitá del Signore Ottorino Respighi Carol selections SACRED MUSIC FOR A SACRED SPACE APRIL 13 and 15, 2022 with Nathaniel Dett Chorale All-Night Vigil Sergei Rachmaninoff Selected works Nathaniel Dett ENDANGERED MAY 28, 2022 with Chamber Orchestra Creation Barbara Assiginaak TMC commission In the Beginning Aaron Copland Mass for the Endangered Sarah Kirkland Snider Canadian premiere September and October 2021 | 15

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