8 years ago

Volume 20 Issue 4 - December 2014

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  • December
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • January
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  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Bloor
  • Theatre
  • Orchestra

In an emailinterview

In an emailinterview withHanley I wonderedhow exportingAutorickshaw’shybrid musicto South Asiacompared toperforming andmarketing it domestically.He repliedwith insight andhumour: “There maybe weight to theCanadian adage thatyou can’t ‘make it’at home until youmake it elsewhere.I’m not sure whythat seems to betrue, but anecdotallyit does seem to bethe case. We’re nottrying to make it in India, but perhaps to lay foundations for futuretours … The fact that we incorporate a lot of traditional Indian classicalelements in our music seems to be a gateway for South Asianaudiences. It’s [also] always nice to represent Canada and Canadianmusic,” on the international stage, therefore “we’re looking forwardto playing some Autorickshawified Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen andCanadian folk songs (“J’entends le Moulin” with solkattu and tablabols anyone?)”I asked Hanley how he expected the various genres their repertoireexplores to resonate with tour audiences. “We will definitely adaptour repertoire to the venue and audience. For example we’re doingsome Christmas carols with local musicians in Darjeeling – at theirrequest. That should be fun!” He added: “New audiences are always anadventure. There is a magic in performing for people who know, andperhaps like, your music, but there’s a very different kind of magicplaying for an audience who has never heard you before, hearing themusic … for the first time.”As for South Asian sales of Autorickshaw music mediated viaphysical product vs downloads, Hanley noted that they “will takesome CDs, and will ship a box ahead. We will carry a lot of downloadcards, which we can give away as a musical business card, or sellmuch cheaper than a physical CD. [Plus] all our music is online [andwe’ve uploaded] lots of videos onto our YouTube channel.”Hanley neatly summed up the music scene in India: “It’s reallyhappening [with] clubs popping up. There are festivals galore, withlots of bands producing original music. What we do might come froma different place simply because we grew up in Canada and have astrong Western foundation in various forms such as pop, jazz etc. Andwhy are Indian presenters eager to present us? I’m not sure. Could itbe our [unique] Canadian perspective on our blend of styles?On one hand Autorickshaw’s two-month tour sounds like a grandadventure in (re)encountering the roots of some of the musicalstreams it has been exploring throughout its collective career. It willalso no doubt expand the awareness among South Asian audiencesof a Canadian world music accent. I for one will enjoy reading thetrio’s “reports from the road,” vicariously experiencing their musicaltravels which will take them on December 15 to the KathmanduJazz Conservatory, Nepal, and on January 26 to SpringFest inKharagpur, India.Following are some of the stories I would likely have written aboutin depth had I not been sidetracked into talking about covert worldmusic elements embedded in Canadian Christmas repertoire (AaronDavis, page 14) and Canadian world musicians about to embed themselvesin South Asia.Small World Music Centre: December 5 Nazar-i Turkwaz (MyTurquoise Gaze), four leadingsingers and instrumentalists onthe Toronto world music scene,take the Centre’s stage. BrennaMacCrimmon, Maryem Tollar,Sophia Grigoriadis and JayneBrown are the remarkable musicianswhose appearance at theAga Khan Museum I wrote aboutlast month. Having collected,performed and recordedsongs from Turkey, the MiddleEast, Greece and the Balkansfor decades, you can expectmasterful renditions of thisrepertoire, “cultivating a sweetsonic union” along the way.December 6 may wellmark a first in my column: amusical film screening. TheCentre presents two films byEnsemble PolarisAmerican director MatthewDunning collectively tilted TheStirring of a Thousand Bells (2014), released on DVD by the hipsterSeattle, Washington label Sublime Frequencies. This fascinating nichepublisher focuses exclusively on “acquiring and exposing obscuresights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontiers.”Its roster encompasses audio field recordings, repackagedfolk and pop compilations, radio collages and DVDs, mostly fromSoutheast Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.Dunning’s films take viewers on a musical-visual journey of lifein Central Java, Indonesia, focussing on gamelan music, a regionalorchestral practice unbroken – though continuously shifted geographically,refreshed stylistically and hybridized – for some four centuries.In the city of Solo, where a Sultan still reigns, gamelan and its meditativepalace dances remain a part of everyday life. I’ve been to Javafive times studying and playing gamelan, and still feel like a beginnerin the face of the complex interactive music’s inner workings andemotional life. The director will be present to contextualize his owngamelan practice and his films.Ensemble Polaris: January 18, 2015 at 2pm the Gallery Players ofNiagara present Ensemble Polaris in “Definitely Not the Nutcracker” atthe Silver Spire United Church, St. Catharines. This fun concert celebratesTchaikovsky’s popular music for the ballet but with a whimsicaltwist. Arrangements by the Ensemble alternate with songs andinstrumentals from the Russian folk tradition. The instrumentationgives a hint of what they’re up to. Marco Cera (guitar, jarana barroca);Kirk Elliott (violin, Celtic harp, mandolin); Margaret Gay (cello, guiro);Katherine Hill (voice, nyckelharpa); Alison Melville (baroque flute,recorders); Colin Savage (clarinet, bass clarinet); Debashis Sinha(percussion, birimbao) and Jeff Wilson (percussion, musical saw). Thisnew year why not stretch your musical legs, travel to St. Catharinesand experience something other than customary?Master Shajarian: January 31, 2015 Persian master singer, composer,teacher and instrument innovator Mohammad Reza Shajarian takescentre stage at Roy Thomson Hall. Shajarian has been widely celebratedand decorated at home and internationally. UNESCO inFrance presented him in 1999 with the prestigious Picasso Award,one of Europe’s highest honours. In 2006 he was decorated with theUNESCO Mozart Medal and he has twice been nominated for theGrammy for Best World Music album. I had the privilege of hearinghim sing about a decade ago and was impressed with his mastery ofthe difficult classical dastgah idiom. His vocal performances are justlysavoured for their technical beauty, power and strong emotional presence.This concert is another good way to celebrate your good luck inreaching 2015 in good nick.Andrew Timar is a Toronto musician and music writer. Hecan be contacted at | December 1 2014 - February 7, 2015

Beat by Beat | Choral SceneA Non-ShoppersGuide to CarolsBENJAMIN STEINThe term “Christmas carol” has become a kind of catchall fora multifarious group of songs from many parts the world andabout 500 years of history. These songs emerge from hiding oncea year, saturate our brains like an aural snowstorm and then retreat totheir lairs for another ten months.Christmas music, much of it beautiful, serene and profound, iscommonly used by stores of all types to attempt to move product andit’s not surprising that people’s frustration with the hard sell becomesanger at the music itself. I’m not blaming the businesses, who havetheir own bills to pay, but carols really ought to be for singing, notfor shopping. This is where choirs have a crucial role, because as I’vewritten in the past, carol concerts are one of the few areas left inmodern life where audiences of non-musicians are invited to participatein music making.Christmas saturation brings with it musical anachronism, ascarol singers hired for the holidays often find themselves wanderingthrough 21st century malls, dressed up in garb that is meant toevoke late 19 th -century England, while warbling tunes written by anAmerican composer from Pennsylvania in 1951. Here’s a quick guideto help you differentiate one Christmas song from another.Carols. Rarer than you’d think, carols are thought to have originatedfrom dances; the words were sometimes cadged from pre-Christiansources and retro-fitted to coincide with Christmas celebrations.There were carols for all seasonal and liturgical occasions of the year,and it is only in the last couple of centuries that carolling becamesolely associated with Christmas. Carols often tell stories, have livelyrhythms and a directness of expression that has actually causedchurch authorities to ban them on occasion. “The Holly and the Ivy,”with its pagan imagery and dancelike tempo, might be considered atrue carol.Christmas Hymns. Often mistaken for carols, Christmas hymnstend to be grander, statelier, with more ornate and even stuffylanguage. The classic familiar ones were often written by professionalpriests and clerics, such as Wesley’s “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Attheir best, such as in the work of John Goss (“See Amid the Winter’sSnow”), Christmas hymns combine brilliant lyrics with pellucid songcomposition.Christmas Anthems. Compositions with a Christmas theme, oftencomposed or arranged specifically for choral performance, and notmeant for group singing. Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols andmuch of the work of John Rutter fall into this category.Christmas Songs. This is almost an entirely American,20th-centuryphenomenon that exploded with the rise of recording technology.Like hymns, Christmas songs tend to tell us what we ought to befeeling, albeit from a secular perspective: excitement, anticipation,HANNAFORD STREETSILVER BANDWelcome Christmas IIDecember 16, 2014 7:30 p.m.Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge St.Back by popular demand! Orpheus and the incomparableHannaford Street Silver Band join forces once more fora sparkling and festive Christmas celebration – a seasonalgift of big brass and song!Tickets: ; senior; Ontario government agencyBMO Financial Groupun organisme du gouvernement de l’OntarioFinancial GroupBMOFinancial GroupThe Vern and Frieda Heinrichs FoundationThe Jackman FoundationFinancial December 1 2014 - February 7, 2015 | 25

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