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Volume 20 Issue 2 - October 2014

  • Text
  • October
  • Toronto
  • Choir
  • November
  • Concerts
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Arts
  • Orchestra
  • Theatre
Includes the 2014 Blue Pages Member Directory

Dacks goes on to talk

Dacks goes on to talk about a pivotal 2004 WOMEX award acceptancespeech by Marc Hollander, who in Dacks’ words, aimed to “getaway from definitions which were starkly dualistic.” The founder of theboundary-breaking and successful independent Belgian label CrammedDiscs, Hollander used the metaphor of a “meadow, not ghetto” to illustratehis label’s “pathologically eclectic” music mix. “Instead of multiculturalism(where each group retreats in its little enclosure),” Hollandersaid, “let’s have more inter- or transculturalism ... more mixtures.”Dacks’ X Avant 2014 theme builds on the MG’s (and Toronto’s) reputationsince the 1970s as a seedbed for such cultural multiplicity andemerging hybridity. It also emphasizes another over-arching MG goal –to ensure that its concerts are affordable. “We made the X Avant festivalpass only for five shows, wanting to ensure a low barrier to entry,”a chuffed Dacks points out.Looking aheadWhat’s in store for 2015/16, the MG’s 40th anniversary season? Well,one new direction will be to “eliminate music genre streams. We feel thatthis reflects how people consume music today,” said Dacks, echoing thevenue’s response to the general trend of “fewer CDs, but more YouTubeand streaming audio being consumed.” Perhaps there’s also an echohere of his DJ background, in which the immense database comprisedof all recorded musics over the last 125 years – the field or meadow, ifyou wish – can theoretically be re-heard, sampled, sequenced, superimposedand mechanically and/or electronically altered in live performancefor an audience.Is the MG “upstream” from “the mainstream?” Perhaps it doesn’tmatter much in the end. Yet I can’t help wondering, two generationson, if the incipient de-genrefication of its music programming as articulatedby its present AD is not so much ahead of its time as in some waysa return to, or at least a reverberation of, the Music Gallery’s foundationalethos.Andrew Timar is a Toronto musician and music writer. He can becontacted at worldmusic@thewholenote.com.Pianos at Remenyi House of MusicGermany’s renownedSeiler Pianos are now moreaffordable than ever.See the entire family ofSeiler Pianos: tone andmusical sensitivity to inspireplayer and listener alikeMusical Instrument Experts and Makers Since 1890210 BLOOR ST. WEST 416-961-3111 www.remenyi.comTransculturalism:All Music is fromPlanet EarthWENDALYN BARTLEYAs the writer of this column over the last year and a half, I’veoften brought to your attention how “music of the new” straddlesall sorts of boundaries and traditional genres, movingbeyond a Eurocentric concert music focus. The word “genreless” haspopped up more than once. And now this month, the Music Gallery’sX Avant series is challenging us to consider the term “transculturalism”as a way to understand what’s happening with musicians fromdiverse backgrounds and influences who share a love and passion forplaying on the edges of sound experimentation. In the previous storyAndrew Timar exploreshow artistic director DavidDacks defines transculturalismand how that sitswithin the evolution of theMusic Gallery’s mandate.Here in this column, we’lldig a little deeper into howthis vision translates intothe actual programmingchoices for this years’ XAvant festival, now in itsninth season.X Avant IX: The festival’schallenge to all of usas listeners and audiencemembers is to look againat how and why we putmusic into various boxes –to question how we listenand make sense of themusic before us. BeginningBeat by Beat | In With the NewLaraajiwith the first concert on October 16, we are introduced to the musicof zither and autoharp virtuoso Laraaji and his fusion of the new ageand world music categories. The description on the Music Gallery’swebsite for this concert speaks about the similarities between thesetwo musical categories and also notes that new age music is on therise while world music is on the decline. Two provocative statements,I thought. So what are the similarities between world and new agemusic? Laraaji’s music provides one perspective.Laraaji first rose to international attention through his collaborationwith Brian Eno, who released the strumming rhythms ofLaraaji’s music on the 1980 album Day of Radiance, part three ofEno’s groundbreaking Ambient series. By introducing the sounds ofhammered dulcimer and open-tuned zither we’re already moving intoan acoustic soundworld distinct from the typical European concertexperience and one often associated with folk or world music traditions.From this initial collaboration with Eno, Laraaji has gone onto become one of the major voices of the ambient/new age genre,but he’d rather use the term “architectonal music.” For him, it’s allabout how music affects our consciousness, or the “architecture of theimagination” and how the power of sound and music acts as a “carrierwave of our intention.” These themes of a more spiritual focus are alsopresent in the underpinnings of world music. (As for the decline ofworld music, I’ll get to that later.)Laraaji will be performing solo and in collaboration with localmusicians Brandon Valdivia and Colin Fisher (aka Not The Wind NotThe Flag) and Scott Peterson. The entire evening, which also features18 | October 1 - November 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

ROCIO RODRIGUEZ SALCEDAMontreal kora player Diely MoriTounkara, is co-produced withthe Toronto-based Batuki MusicSociety, whose mandate is topromote African music and art andprovide career assistance to localAfrican-heritage artists.The ambient/new age themecontinues on October 17 with“Drums and Drones,” the name ofa project between Brian Chase andUrula Scherrer that was originallyinspired by the light and soundinstallation Dream House createdby minimalist icon LaMonte Youngand his colleague Marian Zazeela.Chase’s music explores the powerof drones to affect and changeJace Clayton (DJ/Rupture)brain wave states using the soundsources from drums and percussion and altering them through electronicprocessing and the use of the just intonation system. Scherrer’simages contribute to creating altered states of perception with abstractarchitectural forms created from light and shot footage. The dronestate of mind is the ultimate goal of this union of sound and image.Also performing on the same evening will be Phrase Velocity, whosemusic combines tabla rhythms, synthesizers and pure waveforms.It’s the events of October 18 that really bring home the theme oftransculturism and the mixing up of musical styles. Beginning at 3pm,a roundtable discussion will address the question of how Canadianethnocultural diversity affects contemporary musical composition.Then at 5pm, an interview with a key figure in the musical transculturismmovement, DJ/Rupture, will uncover more about theglobal musical exchange between pop and classical music. These twodialogues will set the stage for the main evening concert event – theJulius Eastman Memorial Dinner, a 70-minute performance piece fortwo pianos, live electronics and voice focused on the music and life ofJulius Eastman, a NYC-based gay African-American composer, pianistand vocalist. Eastman’s minimalist-inspired music spanned the late1960s into the 1980s and he was one of the first to integrate improvisation,classical quotations and pop music into his work. The performanceis the brainchild of Jace Clayon (aka DJ/Rupture) who has takenon the telling of Eastman’s painful life story by reinvigorating twoof Eastman’s largely forgotten compositions, and adding to the mixtheatrical vignettes and material of his own. The evening concludeswith a chance to dance out the cross-cultural vibrations with DJUshka at the Mojo Lounge.Getting back to the assertion that world music is on the decline: it’sreally more that the term itself is being rejected as culturally biased,highlighting as it does a distinction between the European traditionand the rest of the world. As Talking Heads founding member DavidByrne argues in a New York Times article “I Hate World Music” back in1999, all music is from planet Earth. This cause of distancing oneselffrom colonial notions of world music is one passionately embracedby Colombian-Canadian trickster and priestess Lido Pimienta, whoseconcert on October 19 will close out the X Avant festival. Pimientapromises to push the edges with her fiery orations on the issues ofequality, gender roles, motherhood and cultural stereotypes: “Torontois an international place, we are still segregated and not integrated.Patriarchy in Canada has it so we’re next to one another but notwith one another,” she states. She will be joined by her musical- andvisual-artist collaborators to create a hot-house evening of ritual-likeperformance art.Sound and Image: Many of the performances in the X Avant festivalgo beyond the blending of musical genres to also include projectedimages as an essential ingredient of the artistic message. Sometimesthis way of working has a staggeringly long gestation period. Such isthe case with Toronto experimental filmmaker Gary Popovich andhis work Souvenir, which will be premiered on October 19 and 20as the opener for Continuum Contemporary Music’s new season.Twenty years in the making, the film began with the commissioningthewholenote.com October 1 - November 7, 2014 | 19

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