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Volume 18 Issue 8 - May 2013

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Toronto
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  • Concerts
  • Musical
  • Jazz
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Includes the 2013 Canary Pages choral directory.

Beat by Beat | World

Beat by Beat | World ViewUrban FolkANDREW TIMARThe high park sakura trees are finally in full bud — soon to be inglorious bloom–and spring is in the Toronto air. For OrthodoxChristians this time marks Easter Sunday celebrated this yearon May 5. And there is a springtide connection here with a new folkmusic scene with a distinctive pan-Slavic flavour that has been emergingamong local young adults in the last few years. It’s attractingthose of Eastern European, especially Ukrainian, descent but alsofolks from other ethnicities.Whether called third wave folk revival,urban folk, or post-folk music, such descriptionsare eventually bound to fail, relying asthey do on older, shaky, stereotypes. A securedefinition eludes even the wiliest ethnomusicologist.One thing is certain though,trained and amateur musicians and OCADUartist grads alike are gathering in privateand public spaces in groups such as the KosaKolektiv, Lemon Bucket Orkestra and theFedora Upside-Down, the latter“an urban folkmovement, with 11 bands, four art collectivesand two performance collectives.” As that selfrepresentationillustrates, this scene includesthe plastic movement and the often-neglectedcommunal arts, as well as the purely sonic.The women’s Kosa Kolektiv, barely three years old, expands thatscope even further, aiming to revitalize and reinterpret the entireweb of peasant folklore in an urban context. “We do this by singingsongs, sewing, cooking, planting, crafting, putting on workshops andsharing ideas over tea and good food. There’s something to be saidfor the simpler pleasures in life, and Kosa Kolektiv embraces them.”Kosa means braid in Ukrainian. Young women traditionally wore longbraids, or kosy, before marriage and this group uses it as an effectivecentral image of cultural fusion, the braiding of old and new. “We seekto re-learn forgotten songs, rituals and stories, and to bring them tolife in a relevant way within our urban communities,” they write ontheir website.For the past two years the Kosa Kolektiv has hosted a string ofchoral folk song workshops focused on Slavic village music.The latestLULAWORLD 2013MAY 10-31 LULA.CAone titled “Vesnianky — Songs of Spring” taught Ukrainian springritual songs, as well as the hailky, a group activity which includessongs (haivky)performed while dancing and playing traditional gamesat (Orthodox) Easter.You can take part along with the Kosa Kolektiv in the St. NicholasChurch community hailky on Easter Sunday May 5 at 4pm in TrinityBellwoods Park. They will be joined by the members of the LemonBucket Orkestra, collectively leading village-style singing andcommunity dancing. Not to worry if your Ukrainian is rusty, thedances will also be called in English. And one more thing: you’reinvited to bring a blanket, your Easter baskets and nibbles to livenup the communal picnic. How fitting that the town where MarshallMcLuhan coined the phrase is host to an exemplar of the global village.Musideum around theKosa Elsewhere downtown,the cozy venueMusideum continuesits multi-genre musicprogramming. This monthalone I count at least sevenconcerts with world and/or folk music credentials.Here are just a few:May 6 Toronto’sDebbie Danbrookperforms on shakuhachiwith Ottawa’ssound shaman MarkDaniel on crystal bowlsin a program titled “HealingMusic Mediation.” This concert reminds us of music’sother side: its calming gifts. Danbrook, the first professional femaleshakuhachi (Japanese end-blown bamboo flute) player to specializein the healing- and meditation-aiding abilities of her instrument, hasrecorded 14 CDs specifically for that purpose. Her music, embracedby healers and spiritual practitioners, aims to bring its audience intoa calming, peaceful and meditative state. Many of us could benefitfrom a deep relaxation of the body and mind allowing us, even for theduration of a concert, to let go.The sitarist Partha Bose performs twice at Musideum, May 26 andJune 2, the second time with Indranil Mallick on tabla, a leadingstudent of the renowned Swapan Chaudhuri. Bose represents thenewest generation of concert sitar players of the Maihar gharana(school or lineage) of Hindustani music which was propelled onto theinternational stage and record market by two musical giants, the lateRavi Shankar and his brother-in-law, Ali Akbar Khan.May 30 local folk fiddle stalwart Anne Lederman leads a fiddle triowith Emilyn Stam and James Stephens called “Eh?!” Acknowledged atthe 2011 Canadian Folk Music Awards, Eh?! mashes established fiddletraditions with composed and improvised music. They perform notonly with three five-string violins, but also with piano, mandolins,accordion, guitars, kalimba and their voices. As their name suggests,Canadian fiddle music from Newfoundland, Quebec and Manitobaforms the group’s musical backbone–but with a twist: frequentdetours to incorporate European and African models too.Asian Heritage Month picks: In 2002 the Canadian governmentdesignated May as Asian Heritage Month and Small World Musicwas quick out of the blocks to mark the occasion. Its 11th AnnualAsian Music Series continues May 4 with a concert featuring RajeevTaranath on sarod (also spelled sarode, an Indian fretless lute) atthe Maja Prentice Theatre in Mississauga. Taranath displays a brillianttechnique, a wide emotional range and a disciplined strategy indeveloping a series of raags, the melodic types at the core of classicalHindustani music.May 12 is Mother’s Day and Small World is commemoratingit with Ramneek Singh’s vocal performances of Indian classicalvocals in various genres, khayal, thumri, shabad-kirtan, sufianaand folk, also at the Maja Prentice Theatre. It’s a rare treat to have aconcert with five such genres represented by a single vocalist who isamong the GTA’s most accomplished Hindustani classical singers, a22 | May 1 – June 7, 2013

epresentative of the Indore Gharana.Palmerston Library Community Asian Arts Fusion Festival:To celebrate Asian Heritage Month, the Toronto Public Library isoffering a wealth of live programs at various branches of which thePalmerston Community Asian Arts Fusion Festival on Saturday May 11at the Palmerston branch just north of Bloor St. is perhaps the largest.It all starts at 11am with a street procession led by SamulNori Canadaperforming traditional Korean drumming in and in front of thelibrary, animating the Koreatown neighbourhood. Tsugaru shamisenmusic follows played by Gerry McGoldrick a Canadian expert of thisJapanese folk tradition. Choral music from the Republic of Georgiatakes the stage at 1:30pm sung by the Darbazi choir representingmusic from the crossroads of Europe and Asia. They’re directed by thetenor Shalva Makharashvili who passes on a deep understanding andpassion for the music of his Georgian motherland.One of the centerpieces of the festival is the 11:40am performance ofthe 15-member Toronto group Gamelan Kayonan performing Balinesedance accompanied by live gamelan music co-led by the dancer KeikoNinomiya and John Carnes. It’s followed by Javanese masked dancerWiryawan Padmonojati, while his young son Rafifkana DhafathiPadmonojati reinterprets the ancient art of Central Javanese shadowpuppet theatre for Canadians. The Global Trio follows, serving upworld music Toronto style, with a fusion of Persian, North Indian andIndonesian instrumental styles. And to cap off this Asian fusion afternoonIsshin Daiko (One Heart) of the Toronto Buddhist Temple soundsits thundering drums at 3pm to dispel all malevolent thoughts. Visitthe Toronto Public Library’s website for more details on this and otherAsian Heritage Month concerts, activities and reading suggestions.Other picks: Those wishing to extend their May 11 world musicimmersion should visit the “World Music Collaborations Concert”at 3pm, presented at SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival atHarbourfront Centre. Suba Sankaran, who among several other rolesis the singer with Autorickshaw, is acting as music director for theconcert. She’s teaching a selection of South Indian-focused vocalmusic to be interpreted by an eclectic group of participants includingthe Georgian trio Zari, Judeo-Spanish soloist Aviva Chernick, Tuvanthroat singer Scott Peterson and Lizzy Mahashe, a South African singerand gumboot dancer. For the finale Sankaran is preparing an arrangementthat draws on the strengths of each of these diverse singers. Aninsider informs me the new work’s provisional title is WorldsKaleid.On a personal note I am excited to be performing in concerts withone of Toronto’s senior world music groups, the Evergreen ClubContemporary Gamelan (ECCG), at Arraymusic’s bright new studio onWalnut Street. The concerts on May 18 and 19 are titled “In the Cage,”celebrating the group’s 26-year-old connection with American iconoclastcomposer John Cage secured by the group’s commission of hisHaikai (1986). The concerts also feature Cage student James Tenney’sRoad to Ubud (1986) for prepared piano and gamelan degung, aswell as Gamelan Klavier (2009) for the same instrumentation bythis year’s Governor General’s Award recipient Gordon Monahan.Emerging Toronto composer Elisha Denburg’s new work scoredfor the percussion ensemble TorQ and the ECCG receives its worldpremiere on May 19.Andrew Timar is a Toronto musician and music writer.He can be contacted at by Beat | Jazz NotesDanube BluesJIM GALLOWAYLong-time readers of The WholeNote might have noticed thatI am usually in Vienna at least once every year. Well this year isno exception — here I am, but seeing this lovely city from a quitedifferent perspective — from that of a hospital bed! To make a longstory short, if this were the précis for a horror movie a working titlemight be “The Return Of The Dreaded Cellulitis,” or “Lost Limbo.” It’sthe return of a condition for which I was first treated over three yearsago and if not cured can result in the loss of a limb or even limbs,which would leave me legless and I don’t mean drunk!The loss of limb thought opens up possibilities for dark humour.Please don’t be offended by my making jokes about something whichis really no laughing matter, but keeping a sense of humour goes along way in helping to cope with problems.I decided to follow the advice of an Eric Idle song title and “lookon the bright side of life,” so that if worst came to worst and I wasminus a lower extremity, I could, for example, learn to play bass drum,cymbals, harmonica attached to some sort of neck-piece and becomea one-man group called “Stump The Band” and go out not on onenightstands but one-leg stands performing such songs as “Knee UpMother Brown,” “Peg Of My Heart,” “I Only Have Thighs For You.”A suitable condition, too, if you want to be a “legend” inyour own time.I played a number of times with Benny Waters who, in his lateryears, lost the sight of one eye. He then included in his standard repertoire“Please Don’t Talk About Me One Eye’s Gone.”Pianists Eddie Thompson, George Shearing and Joel Shulman allcoped successfully with blindness and were known for their highlydeveloped senses of humour. Art Tatum did have some light passinginto his eyes but such minimal vision as to be considered blind.I used to have musical competitions with Eddie to see who couldplay the most quotes during a song. I remember that on a few occasionsthere was actually a scorekeeper in the audience! But some ofthem were much too subtle for the average listener. If one of us playeda really obscure quote the other would call out “Yellow Card!”Shearing had a really funny version of The Lord’s Prayer. I can’tremember it word for word but it went something like this:Our Farnham, who art in HendonHarrow be Thy nameThy Kingston come; thy Wimbledon,In Erith as it is in Hendon,Give us this day our daily BrentAnd forgive us our WestminsterAs we forgive those who Westminster against us.And lead us not into Thames DittonBut deliver us from EwellFor Thine is the Kingston, the Purley and the Crawley,For Esher and Esher.Crouch End.St. Philip’s Anglican Church● Sunday, May 12, 4pm | Jazz VespersLara Solnicki Triowith Ted Quinlan + George Koller● Sunday, May 26, 4pm | Polka VespersWalter Ostanek the Polka King● Sunday, June 9, 4pm | Jazz VespersJoe Sealy + Paul Novotnywith special guest Barbra LicaSt. Philip’s Anglican Church | Etobicoke25 St. Phillips Road (near Royal York + Dixon)416-247-5181 • May 1 – June 7, 2013 | 23

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