7 years ago

Volume 18 Issue 6 - March 2013

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • April
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Quartet
  • Musical
  • Ensemble
  • Symphony
  • Concerts


On March 19, the touring Grinnell Singers, from Ohio’s GrinnellCollege, presents a concert that includes A Bluegrass Mass. I’ve neverheard this work, but I love it already. This concert is also free, andtakes place at the Franciscan Church of St. Bonaventure in Toronto.Does Toronto hold special appeal to Ohioans? Ohio’s Avon LakeHigh School Chorale also performs a free concert at Kingston RoadUnited Church on March 22.On March 23 the Mohawk College Community Choir performsworks by two late 19th century European organist/composers: MauriceDuruflé’s very appealing Requiem and Josef Rheinberger’s setting ofthe Stabat Mater. The Metropolitan Festival Choir also performs theDuruflé work on Good Friday, March 29.For those who would like to further explore French choral repertoire,the Victoria Scholars Men’s Choral Ensemble performs “TheFrench Connection” on March 3, with music by Caplet, Debussy, Fauré,and Poulenc.On March 5 the Toronto Children’s Chorus takes part in “FujiiPercussion and Voices,” an event presented by Soundstreams. Thisconcert sounds fascinating. Canadian musicians team up with thevirtuoso Fujii family of Japan to perform modern works by Canadianand Japanese composers. The Fujii family are percussionists whospecialize in the sanukite, a mallet instrument fabricated from anunusual volcanic stone located in the Sanuki region of Japan.Ben Stein is a Toronto tenor and theorbist.He can be contacted at his website at this time in late winter, I long for signs of lengthening daysand gentle warm breezes. Snowy cold snaps alternating withwarm thaws, the weather in the GTA has been a tease this season.Hoping for an early spring, I looked to the shadowy results ofGroundhog Day, among ourmore lighthearted commercialcalendric customs. The twocelebrity rodent prognosticatorson both sides of the border,Wiarton Willie in Bruce County,Ontario, and PunxsutawneyPhil in Pennsylvania, haveforecast an early spring. Giventhat cold, slate-grey skies andfrozen white ground continueto dominate our winterlandscape, however, I remainunconvinced.One cheery and as yet uncommercializedsignal of thepromise of longer, warmerdays is the striking sight of ourresident northern cardinals.Often seen flittering in and outBeat by Beat | World ViewA World of Chuffs,Chirps and ChurrsANDREW TIMARAna Moura.of protected backyard hedgerows and under dense parkland tangles,the imposing 22cm male birds brighten up our urban winter drabnesswith their crested crimson coats. But it’s the repeated brief whistlinglate winter call that has caught my attention today. Often transcribedas a high-pitched “whoit ... whoit,” the brief ascending glissando hasabout an octave range, twice sung per call. Later in the season cardinalsadd other melodic motifs (slow trills, chuffs, chirps and churrs)to their repertoire of 16 or more sounds. Both the cardinal male andthe mixed olive-persimmon feathered female begin to call aroundValentine’s Day, a clear signal of the approach of the vernal equinox,this year falling on March 20.In a YouTube video titled Birding by Ear: Northern Cardinal Songcurator Greg Budney of the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab ofOrnithology shares his insights into these calls and the longer, morecomplex songs they sing later in the season. He also illustrates howbirds produce their songs via a paired internal structure called the“syrinx.” Surprising to me is that while we poor humans are restrictedto sounds produced in our one larynx (voice box), a bird can producetwo independent sounds in its twin membrane syrinx.Little wonder that for thousands of years our musical imaginingshave been impressed and inspired by the complex sequences ofmulti-layered melodies of songbirds and master mimickers like parrotsand the aptly named superb lyrebird of Australia. Males of thelatter species have been recorded accurately reproducing the soundsof birds and other animals they have heard in their habitat. Even moreremarkable perhaps is that they can realistically mimic human voicesand a wide range of human-operated instruments like camera shutters,chainsaws, drills and hammers. They have furthermore beendocumented incorporating all these sounds in their extensive courtingdisplays. Such avian vocal virtuosi far outstrip homo cantantes (akawe the people) in the sheer ability to imitate and reproduce complexsounds. Is there any reason a lyrebird for example could not embeda fragment of Portuguese fado, of Hindustani raag Darbari on sitar, orother music of our species in his song repertoire, once he heard it?Those who wish to differentiate us from the beasts of the air maycounter that birds only sing, drum and winnow to stake out and pro-26 March 1 – April 7, 2013

tect productive territory, to attract and bond with mates and to aidcommunication between offspring and parent. Deep down, however,is that so different from some of the motivations for ourown musicking?That being said, here are a few of my non-avian world music concertpicks this month in Toronto and beyond. Happy winnowing.The Canadian Opera Company continues its various free noon concertseries at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, among whichis a healthy helping of localexpressions of world music.Kongero.Shivkumar Sharma, left,and Zakir Hussain.March 5 “Tounkande” byBallet Creole featuresguest musicians AmaraKante, djembe, andReimundo Sosa, percussion,highlightingthe song, dance anddrumming of Guineaand the deep-rootedculture of Malinke(aka Mandinka) peopleof West Africa.March 21, the groupFaia, with award-winningcomposer and multi-instrumentalistLouis Simão, Bill McBirnie, jazz flute,and percussionistDanielStone, performsin the amphitheatre.Usingthe improvisatoryspirit andorganizationalstrategies of jazz,the trio collectivelyexploresthe crossroads of Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) music sourcedfrom Portugal and its former colonies Brazil, Cape Verde and Angola.March 6, the recently opened intimate venue Q-Space, a bookstorecafé,is host to an unusual concert straightforwardly titled “WomenSing Traditional Women’s Songs.” Judith Cohen sings Sephardic,Balkan, and Portuguese songs, while Marisa Buffone covers Italian andAnastasia Baczynskyj Ukrainian polyphonic work songs, narrativeballads and wedding songs.March 8, Small World Music and the Corporation of Massey Halland Roy Thomson Hall present the multiplatinum-album-sellingfadista Mariza at Massey Hall. Born Marisa dos Reis Nunes, she is perhapsthe most celebrated singer of her generation of fado, Lisbon’smusical gift to the world. Armed with a powerful voice and dramaticstage presence, Mariza has toured fado around the globe in major concerthalls, both in its “traditional” guise as well as mixed with a varietyof other genres including jazz, flamenco, Latin and African music.Judging from her recent videos, her current direction has taken herback to her fado roots. In the hands of such a master of saudade, it’sbest to relax at her concert and submit to its bittersweet emotions.Further afield, Sunfest of London, Ontario, presents three concertsat the Aeolian Hall in downtown London. March 8 Pierre Bensusan,the award-winning Algerian-French acoustic guitarist and composerperforms his music, a laid-back fusion of world, classical, jazz, andfolk-inflected solo guitarism. March 15 Kongero, the female a cappellaquartet from Sweden, takes the stage. Consisting of four folksingers — Lotta Andersson, Emma Björling, Lovisa Liljeberg and AnnaWikenius — Kongero collectively fosters a tight harmonic vocal blend.They have performed their repertoire of traditional and self-pennedlove songs, dramatic medieval ballads and spirited dance melodiesat major Swedish and European folk music festivals. This is their firstNorth American tour. And April 6 Sunfest and the Aroma Restaurantpresent the young star Portuguese fado singer Ana Moura. Moura sayswith pride that though it was first fostered in the culture of the urbanworking class and marginalized people, “in Portugal, fado is for everyone.”Moura is emerging as a leading voice of 21st century fado; themusic is enjoying a renewed popularity at home and at major festivalsand concert halls throughout Europe and the USA. She will alsobe singing on April 5 at Mohawk College’s McIntyre Performing ArtsCentre in Hamilton.World at York: There’s plenty of musical diversity on show whenYork University Department of Music showcases the students of itsnumerous world music studio courses in its pre-spring “World MusicFestival.” March 11 at 5:30pm the World Music Chorus conducted byJudith Cohen sings at the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, AccoladeEast Bldg. March 14 the festival continues from 11am to 8pm at varioushalls in the Accolade East Bldg. Featured groups are the KlezmerEnsemble, directed by Brian Katz; Celtic Ensemble, Sherry Johnson,director; Ghanaian Ensemble, Kwasi Dunyo, director; Escola deSamba directed by Rick Lazar; and West African Mande Ensemble,Anna Melnikoff, director. March 15 from 11:30am to 8:45pm the festivalwinds up with the Chinese Orchestra, Patty Chan, director;Caribbean Ensemble, Lindy Burgess, director; Korean Drum Ensembledirected by Charles Hong; and the Middle Eastern Ensemble, BassamShahouk, director.Small world: March 28 Small World Music presents ShivkumarSharma on santoor and Zakir Hussain on tabla, in its “11th AnnualAsian Music Series: Indian Classical Masters” at the George WestonRecital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts. Sharma is the acknowledgedmaster musician of the santoor (North Indian hammered dulcimer).He developed this once obscure Kashmiri folk instrument into onecapable, in his hands, of playing “classical” and “semi-classical”Hindustani music. The Grammy award winning Hussain — plain“Zakir” to his legions of fans — long ago moved beyond his classicaltabla lineage (his guru and father was the noted tabla player AllaRakha) onto the world music stage. Zakir has pursued a verysuccessful international musical career since his teen years, earninghim worldwide acclaim particularly for his live fusion concerts andalbums. Audiences can expect sparkling virtuoso performances fromthis duo of now senior musicians perhaps including expositions ofraags and renditions of folk songs, all marked with fleet flights ofmusical imagination.Finally, bringing up the rear of my picks, on April 6 Small WorldMusic and Wine Dine Africa present “Oliver Mtukudzi and BlackSpirits: The Voice of Zimbabwe” at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre.The Zimbabwean Mtukudzi is a renowned guitarist with an expressivehusky toned voice, as well as a bestselling songwriter. Major themes inthe lyrics of his songs reflect the concerns and struggles of his country’speople. He is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Easternand Southern Africa, pursuing young people’s development and HIV/AIDS prevention. Mtukudzi has been richly rewarded by his public.“Tuku” as he is known — along with Hugh Masekela, Angelique Kidjoand Ladysmith Black Mambazo — is among the most widely popularand commercially successful African recording artists. His 61 albums(an astonishing number) have sold hundreds of thousands of unitsover a 35-year career and set the bar high for future African popularmusic recordings.Andrew Timar is a Toronto musician and music writer.He can be contacted at 1 – April 7, 2013 27

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