7 years ago

Volume 20 Issue 4 - December 2014

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  • December
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Hu Xaio-ouimportance of

Hu Xaio-ouimportance of this work and theneed for us to rethink our relationshipwith the earth and inparticular, the waters. The restof Trio d’Argento’s concert thatevening blends together a workby Beethoven, a piece by Frenchcomposer Jacques Ibert and afunky, jazz/world music-inspiredpiece by Minnesota-basedcomposer Russell Peterson. Theevening will also be a celebrationof Trio d’Argento’s new CDjust being released on the OpeningDay label that includes the Ibertpiece. To learn more about thisrising virtuosic ensemble, I encourage you to check out their website( in DecemberNew Music Concerts: On the theme of new music talents namedBarbara, the January 20 New Music Concerts joins with Music TorontoJanuary 20 to present a program performed by Halifax-based pianistBarbara Pritchard. In 2009 Pritchard was awarded the CanadianMusic Centre’s Music Ambassador title for her work in promoting andperforming the music of Canadian composers. This concert includes11 Canadian works by composers primarily from the Atlantic region,and an aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Prior to this event onDecember 11, New Music Concerts joins up with the Music Gallery topresent two Canadian premieres of pieces by Italian-German guestcomposer Marco Stroppa, along with a new commissioned work fromPaul Steenhuisen and a performance of Elliot Carter’s final work entitledEpigrams written in 2012. Stroppa worked for part of his career asa composer and researcher in Paris at IRCAM, an institution devotedto computer music. He will bring his electronic expertise to thisconcert, performing alongside trombonist Benny Sluchin and saxophonistWallace Halladay.More in December: In amongst all the traditional holiday musicavailable in December, the Music Gallery is offering a unique way totune into the holiday spirit with “Unsilent Night,” an outdoor walkingevent created by Phil Kline on December 19. Audience members areinvited to bring their own portable sound system (boom box, etc) toplay back one of four tracks of music, while being led on a guidedwalk through alleyways, crowded streets or empty spaces. You willexperience your own unique mix of the tracks and the specific acousticsof each place visited. (And after the walk, at 9pm, you can returnto the Music Gallery for a festive fundraiser with the O’Pears a femalea cappella trio performing folk, R&B, celtic, and bluegrass music.)Up on St. Joseph St., on December 13, the Canadian Music Centrepresents festive Canadian music in its 21st century Virtuoso serieswith tenor Sean Clark. December is also CD celebration time at theCMC, with two concerts of new releases: on December 12, composerand turntablist Nicole Lizée with her Bookburners launch and onDecember16, composer and oboist Elizabeth Raum with her Myth,Legend, Romance CD.And speaking of CD-related concerts, I’ll be presenting worksin 5.1 surround sound from my Sounddreaming CD at Array Spaceon December 5. Another celebration, also at Array, salutes theiconic work of experimentalist Udo Kasemets spread over two dayswith screenings of Kasemets’ videos December 6 and a concert onDecember 7. These concerts are part of this season’s ArrayMusic’sconcert series.JanuaryThe University of Toronto’s New Music Festival: Moving intoJanuary/February, we have the U of T annual New Music festivalrunning from January 30 to February 8. This year’s festival wasinspired by a meeting between University of Toronto’s Faculty ofMusic composer Norbert Palej and China’s Hu Xiao-ou during theBeijing Modern Music Festival a few years ago. What began as a friendshiphas grown to a cultural exchange. This past October, Palej travelledwith 11 colleagues from the Faculty of Music to China and HongNorbert PalejKong presenting lectures, masterclassesand concerts of musicfrom U of T faculty composersand students. Now, Palej is organizingthis year’s New Music Festivalto present the works of Hu andseveral of his students from theSichuan Conservatory in Chengdu,as well as a work by Wendy Lee,who currently teaches in HongKong. Both Hu and Lee will be inattendance in Toronto, and interestingly,both have Canadian connections.Hu is a part-time resident ofVancouver and Lee was a formerstudent at U of T studying withChan Ka Nin. The concerts on February 4 and 5 will feature chambermusic by the guest Chinese composers, including the performance ofa new work by Hu by the Cecilia Quartet.The festival will finish off with a collaboration Palej developedwith the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. On February 6 and 7, theorchestra will perform concerts featuring the world premiere of Hu’snew pipa concerto with Lan Weiwei as soloist. Also on the programwill be the premiere of Palej’s Shan Shui Miniatures based on Chinesefolk themes, and the winning pieces of the Friendship OrchestralComposition Competition. Other festival events include concerts onJanuary 30 and February 1 of student operas based on a libretto byMichael Albano and on February 2, works by international emergingcomposers performed by the Ecouter Ensemble. The festival will finishon a lighter note with a modern jazz concert on Sunday February 8.The full schedule of events will be on the Faculty of Music websiteearly in December.Esprit Orchestra: Esprit’s January 29 concert brings us the worldpremiere of English composer Philip Cashian’s the world’s turninginspired by the sculptures of Stephen Vince. The visual themecontinues with Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason’s Over Light Earthwhich pays tribute to painters Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Theprogram is rounded out with works by New Music Concerts’ artisticdirector Robert Aitken, whose Berceuse explores the balance of Yinand Yang while commemorating those “who sleep before us” and anEsprit-commissioned new work by Canadian Samuel Andreyev titledThe Flash of the Instant.Overview: And finally to finish off 2014 and move into 2015, anoverview of other noteworthy new music concert events for Decemberand January.Canadian Music Centre: December 18 with the Toronto GuitarSociety. Premiere of works by Leggatt, Oickle, Sandquist and Tse.January 13 the CMC’s 21st Century Virtuoso series presents works fromMessiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux and Gilles Tremblay’s Musique del’eau performed by Ryan MacEvoy McCulloughMusic Gallery Emergents Series: December 4 curated by MelodyMcKiver. Works by Clarinet Panic Deluxx and Cris Derksen, twocellist/composers. January 30 curated by Felicity Williams: Dan Fortinand Robin Dann/Claire Harvie.Exultate Chamber Singers: December 5. Works by Canadiancomposers in their “A Canadian Noël” concert.Spectrum Music: December 6. Concert titled “Journeys” with worksfor guitar and string quartet by Alex Goodman and Graham Campbellwith the Ton Beau String Quartet.Syrinx Concerts Toronto: December 7. Concert includes Stillness ofthe 7th Autumn by Brian CherneyToy Piano Composers: January 24. Concert titled “Grit” with worksby Brophy, Labadie, Pearce, Puello, Tam and others. Performances byChelsea Shanoff and Nadia Klein with the TPC of 27: January 30. Concert includes Voyageur by AndrewStaniland.Wendalyn Bartley is a Toronto based composer and electrovocalsound artist. | December 1 2014 - February 7, 2015

Beat by Beat | World ViewAutorickshawTours South AsiaANDREW TIMARMy last column, highlightingthe music programming atthe Aga Khan Museum, notedthe concert appearance of Toronto’saward-winning group Autorickshaw atthe AKM auditorium on November 15.I attended the show to get an overviewof their current repertoire, therange of which is wide and the boundariesfluid.In addition to arrangements ofSouth Indian classical and folk songs,original songs and numbers based ontala principles (overlapping Carnaticsolkattu and Hindustani tabla bols)alternated with good-humouredironic takes on 1970s Bollywoodhit film songs. “Autorickshawified”hybrid adaptations of songs by JoniMitchell and Leonard Cohen – “Birdon a Wire” rendered in a relaxed 7/4 –and the jazz standard “Caravan” wereamong my personal favourites. Whilevivacious vocalist Suba Sankaran, theheart of the group, claimed front stagecentre for most of the concert, theAutorickshaw(from left) Dylan Bell,Suba Sankaran, Ed Hanleyskilled band comprised of Dylan Bell (bass/keyboards/beatboxing),Ed Hanley (tabla), with Ben Riley (drum set) and John Gzowski(guitar) stepping in for the night, shone in solos. “Caravan” was arollicking example.Well into Autorickshaw’s second decade of genre-blendingmusicking, summing up its repertoire, which is very often multigenreand transnational in reach, is not an effortless undertaking;especially so for a persnickety listener like me. Autorickshaw’swebsite nevertheless helpfully weighs in, situating its music “on thecultural cutting edge, as contemporary jazz, funk and folk easily rubshoulders with the classical and popular music of India.”That statement makes such hybridization sound like an easy reach.It’s anything but. Anyone who has seriously attempted it, or listenedto fusion experiments where genres from across the world “easily rubshoulders,” knows how easy it is to fail to satisfy musical expectations– and for many reasons. In fact it is one of the most difficult forms ofmusical alchemy to pull off effectively and gracefully. Having perseveredas a group for a dozen years Autorickshaw is proof that diligentwork in the transcultural song mines can pay off. In their case it’sbeen rewarded with two JUNO nominations for World Music Albumof the Year and the 2005 Canadian Independent Music Award. In 2008they were awarded the John Lennon Songwriting Competition GrandPrize in World Music, in addition to the CAPACOA Touring Artistof the Year.Autorickshaw’s web statement also accurately geographicallylocates the overlapping bi-continental musical territories the groupprimarily explores: North America and the Indian subcontinent.Furthermore testing the effectiveness of such transculturalism in thefire of international audiences via touring seems an essential part ofthe group enterprise. Autorickshaw has done just that. It’s been on theroad exporting its “Canadian-made Indo-fusion” not only across itsCanadian home base, the U.S.A. and Europe, but also to India during athree-week tour in late 2006.As I write this the Autorickshaw Trio consisting of Sankaran,Hanley and Bell is preparing for an unprecedented two-monthsubcontinent-wide tour of at least two dozen dates in ten projectedcities in India and Nepal (in Pokhara and Kathmandu). DepartingToronto on November 28, “we are acting as our own agents, mainlycold-calling our way to India and Nepal” wrote Sankaran in an emailinterview, building on “contacts [made] the last time we toured India.”She further predicted that “once on the ground, we will likely beapproached to do other performances in the various regions we aretouring. This happened the last time around as well, so we’re trying tobuild some buffer time for that.”I asked about the sort of venues they will be playing.Sankaran commented on their diversity. “We are doinga variety of shows, from soft-seaters to outdoor festivals,from clubs to hotel dates, house concerts, workshopsin ashrams, and collaborating with stringand choral departments in schools; the majorityare performances, [but] we’re offering some workshopsas well.”The incentive for the tour initially came from thegroup’s desire to commemorate, on December 3, 2014the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal “gas tragedy,”widely considered the world’s worst industrial disaster.Sankaran and Hanley have a personal commitment tothe affected people of that city. In 2009 they co-wroteand recorded the song “The City of Lakes.” All proceedsfrom the song go to the Bhopal Medical Appeal whichfunds two local clinics offering free healthcare to thousandsof survivors. While in Bhopal the AutorickshawTrio will also appear as the opening act at the Indianpremiere of the motion picture about the disaster,A Prayer for Rain, starring Martin Sheen. Anotherfocal point of the tour is the promotion of songs fromits strong new album Humours of Autorickshaw, innewly-minted trio arrangements.CAMERON December 1 2014 - February 7, 2015 | 23

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