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Volume 17 Issue 3 - November 2011

  • Text
  • November
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • December
  • Arts
  • Symphony
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
  • Choir

TAF and Teeming

TAF and Teeming WatersBefore wading into the teeming waters of this month’s events,a moment’s reflection on the recognition of world music andof the general stature accorded to the arts in this town: Theoccasion that brought both together for me was the 2011 Mayor’sArts Awards lunch. Presented by the Toronto Arts Foundationon Thursday October 20 at the Bay’s Arcadian Court, While thiswas the sixth such awards event, it was to have been Rob Ford’sfirst — that is, if he had chosen toattend the ceremony named afterhis office. But that would havemeant delegating his high schoolfootball coaching duties (finalgame of the season you know). Themayor’s choice was not lost on themedia covering the event or on thearts insiders who did attend. Buthis absence did surprisingly littleto sour the mood, thanks in nosmall part to the deft emceeingof playwright, novelist and actorAnn-Marie MacDonald and abrace of earthy and soulful songsfrom blues singer and songwriterextraordinaire Rita Chiarelli ledandrew TIMARthe proceeding with a brace of earthy and soulful songs, the secondtapping her Italian roots. Then the awards rolled out.More than 300 guests had cleared their busy agendas. Theenthusiastic crowd consisted of seasoned artists, politicians, businessleaders, arts patrons, bureaucrats and arts media. They gathered tocelebrate artists, arts administrators and supporters who have helpedbuild Toronto’s vibrant civic and cultural life. Five awards, withcash prizes totalling more than ,000, were presented.The Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (previously widelyknown as Canadian Childrens Dance Theatre) won the Arts forYouth Award. In her acceptance speech artistic director DeborahLundmark praised not only the key choreographers, teachers anddancers in her company, but also composers like the late MichaelBaker who contributed significantly to the company’s success.The Muriel Sherrin Award for international achievement in musicwent to the mrdangam and kanjira drummer, composer and YorkUniversity music professor Trichy Sankaran. Indian born Sankaranhas been an active fixture on the Toronto, and indeed on the globalworld music scene, for 40 years. He has tirelessly taught music,performed his native Carnatic classical music of South India, andhas collaborated with a vast array of leading musicians from manygenres. I see this award as a milestone, recognizing a lifetime ofachievement. It’s also a recognition that world music has come ofage in our town.As for Sankaran’s contribution to the Toronto scene, it’s noexaggeration that he has taught and inspired dozens of musicianswho have gone on to notable careers. One of them, ’80s Sankaranstudent, saxophonist Richard Underhill (best known as the leader ofthe bop rap jazz combo Shuffle Demons), was sitting to his formerteacher’s left. (On a personal note, Trichy Sankaran is one of thereasons I’ve pursued a career in inter-cultural music.)Echo: spotted among the “seasoned artists” at the aforementionedArts Awards luncheon were Allan Gasser and Becca Whitla, theorganizational glue of many a true community arts venture, amongthem Toronto’s Echo Women’s Choir. At the beating heart of mostcultures around the world is the practice of community music anddance. These are too often sidelined in the public and media gaze,however, in favour of polished staged professional presentations, thekind that appear in large venues in cities. For 20 years the EchoWomen’s Choir has been “keeping it real” by cultivating songs frommany places — including our own — with passion, musicianship and asmall-town activist community spirit.So there’s no need to get out of town to celebrate the harvest seasonbecause on Saturday, November 5 you can do it at the heart ofdowntown. The Echo Women’s Choir is serving up an old-fashionedcommunity square dance at the Church of the Holy Trinity, besidethe Eaton Centre. I’ll be getting in touch with my inner square danceras caller Lorraine Sutton guides dancers through the steps andCape Breton fiddler Dan Macdonald and keyboardist Kate Murphyprovide the essential live musical incentive. In true Echo Women’sChoir tradition, there’s more: craft activities for children, homemadepreserves for sale and a gourmet home-baked pie raffle. I’m holdingout for a tart and, hopefully, heritage apple pie.And there’s SO MUCh MORE!From November 1 through 6,Mirvish Productions presentsFela! at the Canon Theatre. Fela!is a dramatization of the story ofNigerian Afro-beat pioneer, FelaAnikulapo Kuti, whose powerfulmusic ignited a generation; it isdirected and choreographed bythe Tony Award winning BillT. Jones. Fela Kuti dedicated hislife and music to the strugglefor freedom and human dignity.The Broadway buzz is that thistriumphant and athletic productionchock full of Kuti’s propulsivemusic, Jones’ book and explosive choreography ends up as aninspirational evening.The Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Seasons Centre forthe Performing Arts, continues its series of free noon concerts. OnNovember 3, Nova Bhattacharya, dancer and Ed Hanley, tabla,present a programme titled “Bharatanatyam Beat.” On November 23,“In the Shadow of the Volcano,” featuring the traditional music ofsouthern Italy, is performed by the Vesuvius Ensemble with tenorFrancesco Pellegrino. Indigenous music genres include the villanelle,tarantella, fronna and tammurriata.On November 4 at Koerner Hall, the Royal Conservatory presentsstar Spanish flamenco and tango singer Diego El Cigala. The showtitled “Cigala & Tango” serves up an “evening when tango andflamenco join hands.” El Cigala is joined by leading Spanish andArgentine musicians. The same night at the Music Gallery, MinorEmpire performs a concert co-produced by Small World Music.Minor Empire is a band with unabashed Turkish roots yet embracingthe language of electro jazz. The group is manned by localmusicians including Orgu Ozman, vocals; Ozan Boz and MichaelOcchipinti, guitar; Chris Gartner, bass; Debashis Sinha, percussion;Ismail Hakki Fencioglu, oud; and Didem Basar, kanun.Beyond the GTA, the University of Waterloo Department ofMusic hosts a free noon concert on November 16 called “HonkyokuDuet.” Traditional Japanese shakuhachi solos and contemporaryduets are rendered by shakuhachi master Gerard Yun and KathrynLadano, bass clarinet, at the peaceful Conrad Grebel UniversityCollege Chapel.November 18 to 20 will be auspicious days for Nagata Shachu.The Japanese taiko group performs at the Fleck Dance Theatre,Harbourfront Centre. John Terauds noted in the Toronto Star, “It’sanother credit to this cosmopolitan city that one of the world’s mostinteresting Japanese taiko drumming ensembles hails from Toronto.”Not only will it unveil its second DVD video, but Nagata Shachu isalso premiering a new show, Hana. Rooted in the folk drummingtraditions of Japan, Nagata Shachu’s principal aim is to rejuvenatethis performance art by producing innovative and exciting musicthat speaks to today’s audiences. Its production of Hana strives tostrip away the superficiality of typical concert performances andto reveal the essence of each performer to the audience throughCelebrating at the TAF Awards.12 thewholenote.comNovember 1 – December 7, 2011

the use of many kinds oftaiko, flutes, shamisen, voice,and movement.Over the past few yearsGallery 345 has proven itselfto be a modest venue withan ambitious programmingpolicy. On November 18,multi-instrumentalist, singerand oud virtuoso Mel M’rabetpairs up in concert with theillustrious Cuban-Canadianpianist Hilario Duran. Melhas performed internationallywith musicians suchas Cesaria Evora, StevePotts, Omar Sosa and ChebMami. Still at Gallery 345,the November 20 concertat 3:30pm is titled “DavidLidov. Recital Number Six.” The world music aspect of the eveningis in the form of the premiere of Lidov’s Obedient Ears for sulings(Indonesian bamboo ring flutes) and piano. Performers includeDavid Lidov and William Wescott on piano, the Annex StringQuartet and yours truly on sulings.On November 25, Small World Music presents Naseer Shamma& the Magnificent Strings at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040Yonge St. And plucked strings are undoubtedly what you will hear.Naseer Shamma, a renowned Iraqi oud player, is joined on stageby Pakistani sitarist Ashraf Sharif Khan and Andalusian flamencoguitarist Romero Iglesias.Judging from the next concert, it seems we’re already ramping upto the holiday season. On November 26 at 1 pm Small World Musicpresents “Celebrate! Holidays of the Global Village with ChrisNagata Shachu.McKhool & Friends” atTrinity-St Paul’s Centre. Thisfree multi-cultural musicalmosaic includes musicalguests Ernie and MaryemTollar, Suba Sankaran,Shannon Thunderbird,Jordan Klapman, AvivaChernick and the members ofSultans of String.My world music alsoincludes the music of theFirst Nations. The Universityof Toronto Faculty of Musicpresents “World MusicVisitor: Pura Fé,” in aconcert of First Nationscontemporary music onNovember 26, 7:30pm, atWalter Hall, Edward JohnsonBuilding. The award-winning vocalist Pura Fé is a founding memberof the native woman’s a capella trio, Ulali, and is recognized forbringing Native contemporary music into the mainstream.November 27, the Batuki Music Society presents BassekouKouyate and Ngoni Ba at the Great Hall; 1087 Queen St. W.Bassekou Kouyaté is a virtuoso musician and singer whose workoverlaps West African and American roots music. The ngoni, his instrument,is a “spike lute” and considered one of the ancestors of thebanjo. Deeply anchored in the griot tradition, Kouyaté has collaboratedwith many musicians in and outside of Mali. He was part of TajMahal and Toumani Diabaté’s “Kulanjan” project, as well as servingas one of the key musicians on Ali Farka Toure’s posthumous albumSavane (2006). He also toured and recorded with master banjoistBela Fleck on the Grammy winning Throw Down Your Heart. I sawCourtesy Herschel Freeman AgencyNovember 1 – December 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 13

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