4 years ago

Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • April
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Orchestra
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Performing
  • Ensemble
From 30 camp profiles to spark thoughts of being your summer musical best, to testing LUDWIG as you while away the rest of so-called winter; from Scottish Opera and the Danish Midtvest, to a first Toronto recital appearance by violin superstar Maxim Vengerov; from musings on New Creations and new creation, to the boy who made a habit of crying Beowulf; it's a month of merry meetings and rousing recordings reviewed, all here to discover in The WholeNote.

Mar 17 the World Music

Mar 17 the World Music Festival kicks off with the Cuban Ensemble conducted by Rick Lazar and Anthony Michell, followed by West African Drumming, Ghana, led by Kwasi Dunyo. That afternoon Lazar’s Escola de Samba rules the Sterling Beckwith Studio, followed by West African Mande, Anna Melnikoff, conductor. Mar 18 Irene Markoff conducts the Balkan Music Ensemble at 7:30pm at the Tribute Communities Recital Hall. Earlier that day performances by the Celtic Ensemble conducted by Sherry Johnson, Chinese Classical Orchestra directed by Kim Chow-Morris, Caribbean Ensemble conducted by Lindy Burgess and Charles Hong’s Korean Drum Ensemble will echo in various Accolade East Building halls. It’s a World Music Festival wrap Mar 21 with the World Music Chorus conducted by Judith Cohen, a course I greatly enjoyed a few years ago when I returned (yet again!) to my music studies at York. Please consult The WholeNote listings for times and venue details. University of Toronto Faculty of Music: York University is certainly not the only world music game in town. Apr 7 the U of T Faculty of Music presents its World Music Ensembles in concert at Walter Hall. Featured are the African Drumming and Dancing Ensemble, Latin- American Percussion Ensemble and Steel Pan Ensemble. I’ve been attending these concerts since their inception and have never failed to be inspired by the enthusiasm and musical skill demonstrated. Quick Picks Mar 2 the COC’s noon-hour World Music Series presents Avataar. Directed by saxophonist and composer Sundar Viswanathan the allstar Toronto group often includes Michael Occhipinti (guitar), Justin Gray (bass), Felicity Williams (voice), Ravi Naimpally (tabla) and Giampaolo Scatozza (drum set). They’ll be playing selections from their recently released album Petal. Arrive early. BRASH: It is just the sort of weather, however unseasonable, for “BRASH! A Badass Brass Festival,” presented by Lemon Bucket Orkestra (LBO) and Small World Music, on Mar 11 and 12 at the Opera House on Queen St. E. LBO with its high hipster street cred needs no further introduction in these pages. Ratcheting up the badass quotient a notch will be Toronto’s Rambunctious and Montreal’s Gypsy Kumbia Brass Band. Mar 11, 12 and 13 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre the Raging Asian Women (RAW) Taiko Drummers perform an evening of stories from the drummers’ lives, in collaboration with Asian Canadian performers Teiya Kasahara (voice) and Heidi Chan (percussion and flute). "Crooked Lines: Stories in Between" involves video vignettes along with the taiko drummers' trademark ferocity and spirit. Mar 26 the Small World Music Centre presents a smaller, more intimate and reflective musical experience, though in no way any less passionate: the Dilan Ensemble directed by Shahriyar Jamshidi, a kamancheh (bowed lute) player, composer and vocalist, now settled in Canada. "In the Shadow of the Fatherland" is a cross section of the repertoire the Iranian Kurdistan native has devoted his career to preserving and transmitting. Jamshidi is joined by the tombak (goblet drum) master Pedram Khavarzamini. Apr 2 and 3 The Aga Khan Museum continues its impressively inclusive concert programming, partnering with the venerable presenter Raag-Mala Music Society of Toronto in two concerts titled Raags of the Gharana Tradition. Apr 2, Maihar gharana (musical school, lineage) sitarist Anupama Bhagwat and Agra gharana singer Waseem Ahmed Khan render a selected few of the vast set of Hindustani evening raags. Apr 3 at 3pm it’s time for a much rarer section of afternoon raags; many “classical” ragas/raags are associated with four three-hour timeframes and for maximum effect are performed at those prescribed times. Sarangi player Ramesh Mishra, a disciple of Ravi Shankar (of the Maihar gharana), shares the concert with the vocalist Devaki Pandit who has studied with gurus of both Jaipur and Agra gharanas. Also on Apr 2 Nagata Shachu, with Kiyoshi Nagata as its music director, joins one of the city’s leading percussion ensembles TorQ in concert at the Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre. Expect an engaging, polished Japanese, Western and world percussion music mix. Beat by Beat | Jazz Stories Changing Directions ORI DAGAN Dollars to doughnuts Amanda Tosoff will win jazz piano fans in a flash with her stupendously swingin’ version of Rodgers and Hart’s There’s a Small Hotel from 2013’s Live at the Cellar with Jodi Proznick on bass and Jesse Cahill on drums. But aside from the odd standard or bandmate’s original tune, most of Tosoff’s recordings to date have focused on her own original compositions, including 2008’s Wait and See which was followed by the prestigious General Motors Grand Jazz Award at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Designed to showcase some of Toronto’s finest local jazz talent, the TD Discovery Series is a year-long initiative of music and educational performances created by Toronto Downtown Jazz, producers of the Toronto Jazz Festival, and supported by TD Bank Group. This year, Amanda Tosoff’s Words Project is the first of four TD Discovery Series Special Projects. It finds the pianist, composer and arranger echoing a welcome tradition in Canadian jazz and creative music: setting poetry to music with stunning results. As great as the sum of its parts, the project features the following artists: Felicity Williams, voice; Amanda Tosoff, piano; Alex Goodman, guitar; Jon Maharaj, bass; Morgan Childs, drums; Rebekah Wolkstein, violin; Amy Laing, cello. As is always the case, this will be an evening not to be missed, and advance tickets are highly recommended. Amanda Tosoff is a daring improviser and gifted composer. Words, her fifth release, is a bold move, as evidenced by words taken directly from her website. “The desire to challenge oneself (and the audience) is a key component of the DNA of a true artist.” The concept of setting music to poetry was not planned; it was itself an improvised result of a composition exercise: “One day I just decided to find a poem and write a melody to it – the song on the record called Owl Pellet by Tim Bowling. I had such a great time doing this that I decided to continue on with this idea, eventually choosing a bunch of poems that resonated with me. I have to admit that I hadn’t really checked out much poetry since high school, but this project has definitely made me more interested in poetry, and how poems can provide a great starting point for composition. They give you moods, images, emotions and phrasing to start with. I definitely feel that this has expanded my composition skill and also my approach to style. I really look forward to exploring this more.” May the fans of William Wordsworth worldwide check out the opening track Daffodils – it is available for listening on Tosoff’s YouTube channel. Other sources of text include Canadian poets Carole Glasser Langille and Laura Lush and song lyrics from talented songsmiths (and members of Tosoff’s family), Melissa Mansfield and Lloyd and Ted Tosoff. At first listen, and very much at the forefront of this project’s Andrew Timar is a Toronto musician and music writer. He can be contacted at 26 | March 1, 2016 - April 7, 2016

ORI DAGAN Amanda Tosoff and Galen Weston success, is vocalist Felicity Williams, a musician who shines consistently. Much admired within the communities of creative music, jazz, pop and beyond for her pure, unaffected sound, intense vocal range and endlessly inventive improvisational ability, the York University Music alumna has worked with a wide range of projects, from Bahamas to Hobson’s Choice. “Felicity is amazing,” says Tosoff. “She’s such a great musician and was perfect for this project. As soon as I wrote the first piece I heard her singing it. I think it is her beautiful pure tone, but also, perhaps, her range too. I have to admit that when I was writing these pieces I was singing a lot to figure out how I wanted my melodies and phrasing to go. I think that her voice was most similar to mine in range and the way I wanted the melodies sung – so I guess I wrote these pieces for myself, but needed a fantastic singer to bring the songs to life! Says Felicity Williams: “Amanda found a way to make the music spring up through the words, as though both music and words were flowing from the same point of origin. I think that’s what you have to do when you take someone else’s poems and set them to music. If you make yourself receptive to the rhythm and the phrasing of the words themselves, you can get on their wavelength. And then you extend the creative process, by making something new.” Amanda Tosoff’s Words CD release concert takes place at the Music Gallery on March 10 at 8pm, or in advance; and March 11 at 8:30pm at The Jazz Room in Waterloo. Readers who find the setting of poetry to jazz interesting will want to check out a previous TD Discovery, the Sarah Yeats Project, a contemporary chamber jazz group that features the poetry of William Butler Yeats. With original music and arrangements by Sarah Jerrom, the featured poems are arranged for nine-piece instrumentation comprised of strings, woodwinds, brass and a traditional jazz rhythm section. This is a highly ambitious project and Jerrom invites you to join her crowd funding campaign to complete the recording of The Yeats Project through her Kapipal page: visit Plugged-In Weston: Meanwhile, at you can find Plugged In, the latest recording from innovative fusion jazz guitarist Galen Weston (“Not that Galen Weston,” jokes his publicist, citing no relation to the current executive chairman and president of Loblaw Companies Limited). This Galen Weston, owner of a beautiful new recording studio called the Rose Room ( has an extensive business background, although the music came first: “I graduated from Humber College in 1997; they were nice enough to introduce me to jazz and ruin my life,” he jokes. “Prior to that I was rocking it out, twohand tapping. I loved instrumental rock – Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, I was a huge guitar fan - then I got there and I had to learn all this vocabulary, speak this new language – but I fell in love with it. I never achieved what I wanted to achieve in college – I wasn’t getting out there and getting to tour with Gary Burton – or anyone, for that matter. So I wasn’t sure what I would do because I had this desire to play jazz and fusion and that’s what I wanted to do, but my ability wasn’t in line with my desire at the point of doing it professionally. My reading was strong, so I would have been good enough to lose my mind in a pit band or something, but I was broke, too. Student loan debts meant that a good paying job for me at that time was eight dollars an hour at a gas station. And I wanted to stay in Toronto so I needed a job to make money.” As a determined self-taught, self-made entrepreneur, Weston went from making 350 phone calls a day selling penny stocks to becoming RBC’s most successful rookie. “The whole company came in and they made me talk about how I got so successful, and then the next day I quit, it just wasn’t me. I had enough money to pay off my student debt, but I needed another plan. I liked Lead Generation and working with the internet, and I really ETHAN HAWKE “Hawke gives a riveting performance from first scene to last.” CARMEN EJOGO ROGER HUMBERT St. Philip’s Anglican Church Sunday, March 6, 4:00 PM | Jazz Vespers Barbra Lica Quartet with Barbra (vocals), Joel Visentin (piano), Tom Fleming (guitar), Marc Rogers (bass) Sunday, March 20, 4:00 PM | Jazz Vespers Lou Pomanti Trio with Lou (piano), Marc Rogers (bass), Davide Direnzo (drums) Sunday, April 3, 4:00 PM | Jazz Vespers Tribute to Duke Ellington with Mike Murley (saxophone), Mark Eisenman (piano), Pat Collins (bass), Barry Elmes (drums) St. Philip’s Anglican Church | Etobicoke 25 St. Phillips Road (near Royal York + Dixon) 416-247-5181 • • free will offering WWW.BORNTOBEBLUEMOVIE.CA EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT STARTS MARCH 11 AT TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX March 1, 2016 - April 7, 2016 | 27

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020
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