3 years ago

Volume 23 Issue 5 - February 2018

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • February
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Performing
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Orchestra
  • Quartet

Amahl Arulanandam (left)

Amahl Arulanandam (left) and Bryan Holt. The second Beethoven sonata is like – really, really, heavy metal. Like it’s metal before metal. A: Hunter came to mind immediately because we had played a duo of his that he wrote – one of the first non-pop tunes that we ever did. And we picked Raphael because we loved his music, and because he and I both really connect [because of our interest] in metal. The second Beethoven sonata is like – really, really, heavy metal. Like it’s metal before metal. And Raphael was the first guy that sort of jumped out when we were thinking about that sonata. H: And then with Andrew and Matt, we both worked with them in the jazz context. I think we both had lessons with Andrew at some point. And we’ve both taken lessons with Matt Brubeck, to learn how to improvise on the cello. Have you two been playing together for a long time? A: We’ve known each other for a long time, and we’ve played together in other contexts, other chamber ensembles and cello ensembles. But we’d never really played together as a duo. A few years ago, Bryan got contacted by a friend of a friend who was an event planner and was looking for a cello duo to do some Michael Jackson and Guns N’ Roses, that kind of stuff. So we got together and did that. And it was fun. And did a few more of those, and realized “Hey, we work well together in this context. Let’s see what else is out there.” We started off as a cover band, and then– H: –We’re still a cover band. A: –We’re still a cover band. Just of different stuff. How has your process changed over the last couple of years of playing and rehearsing together? H: I think we’ve become a lot more efficient at rehearsing. It was a little too much like best friends hanging out, at the beginning. And [we’ve become] better at delegating tasks between the two of us. We’ve figured out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. A: With rehearsing – it just gets more efficient each time. The last few rehearsals we’ve had, we’ve kind of just gone with it, and before we realized it, two and a half hours had gone by. We’re now more able to separate the business and being friends...and we can get things done. Quicker. After the Music Gallery, what’s next? A: We’ve thrown all of our focus at this right now. But we also have these germs of ideas that we need to put into motion. We’re hoping to go into the studio in April and record all five of these commissioned works. We want to put those down and release an album. H: There are also a few commissions [in the works], and some possibilities of projects with dance as well. And there are other cellistcomposers [who we plan to work with]. We’ve been in touch with a couple others, whose names I won’t reveal – but there are a lot of possibilities. This is only the beginning. VC2 presents “Beethoven’s Cellists” on February 2 at the Yamaha Recital Space at Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu, Toronto, followed by a two-week tour in Atlantic Canada. For tour dates, visit Sara Constant is a flutist and music writer, and is digital media editor at The WholeNote. She can be reached at 10 | February 2018

FEATURE HUMBER AT 50 A Celebration Through Music COLIN STORY Laila Biali at 50: A Celebration Through Music” took place on the evening of January 17 at the RCM’s “Humber Koerner Hall, just under 20 kilometres east of Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus, which houses their Creative and Performing Arts school. The choice to host the event at Koerner Hall was wise, for multiple reasons. The first: Koerner, with a capacity of 1135, was almost completely full, with current Humber students, faculty, staff and alumni comprising a significant portion of the audience. The second: from each level of Koerner’s lobby, attendees had a clear view of the CN Tower, which was lit up in Humber’s blue and gold colours. Not immediately visible, but equally illuminated, was the Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square, which was visited during the day by Mayor Tory for a photo op with the Humber Hawk, the college’s mascot. Although the event was a celebration – through music – of the 50th anniversary of Humber College as a whole, it also served as a de facto celebration of Humber’s music program, which was established in 1972, following the founding of the college by a mere five years. This predates the beginning of jazz courses at the University of Toronto, which were first introduced in the 1979/1980 academic year. With the exception of special guest artist Kurt Elling – who, in fairness, has worked and performed with Humber students in the past, as part of the school’s annual artist-in-residence initiative – the evening’s performers were all faculty and alumni of the music program. Moreover, eight of the program’s 14 pieces were either arranged or composed by faculty and alumni. The proceedings were emceed by Garvia Bailey, host of JAZZFM.91’s Good Morning, Toronto, and the performances were structured in roughly chronological stylistic order. The first half of the concert was played by the Humber Faculty Big Band, led by Denny Christianson, the director of the music program, and began with Arlen and Mercer’s 1942 hit That Old Black Magic. Arranged by trombonist Al Kay – who was in attendance, although unable to play, due to an injury – the song featured trumpeter John MacLeod, who was amongst Humber’s early graduates in the mid 1970s, and Ted Quinlan, head of the Guitar Department. Next up was Duke Ellington’s Fantazm, arranged by John LaBarbera, with an excellent performance by Pat LaBarbera, whose soprano sax was balanced and exciting both in his treatment of the melody and in his solo, and by Nancy Walker, whose selfpossessed, evocative playing was particularly well-suited to the eerie solo piano section in the arrangement’s middle section. Following the beautiful 3/4 Calendula – composed by, and featuring, tenor saxophonist Kirk MacDonald – special guest vocalist Kurt Elling joined the big band for the remaining four songs of the set, beginning with Mike Abene’s decidedly Lydian treatment of Joe Jackson’s Steppin’ Out. Elling is a confident, natural performer, whose easy command of the stage drew an enthusiastic response from the The Ken Page Memorial Trust and WholeNote Media Inc. invite you to this month’s Happy Hearts performance by JIM GALLOWAY’S WEE BIG BAND UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF MARTIN LOOMER featuring special guest Mike Murley on soprano saxophone with tributes to the music of Duke Ellington and more, this fabulous swing band will certainly have you in the mood for toe-tapping and even dancing your way through the night! Thursday 15 th February 2018 from 7:30 to 10:30 pm The Garage, ground floor, CSI Building at 720 Bathurst Street Licensed Premises • New quick service menu • Street parking Doors 7:00 pm for Open Seating Tickets each, cash only please Questions: Anne Page at: 416 515 0200 or email: The special appearance of Mr. Murley is made possible through the generosity of David Stimpson This concert is dedicated to the memory of saxophone master, Jim Galloway, the band’s founder and leader for 35 years and to members passed February 2018 | 11

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