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Volume 25 Issue 6 - March 2020

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  • Toronto
FEATURED: Music & Health writer Vivien Fellegi explores music, blindness & the plasticity of perception; David Jaeger digs into Gustavo Gimeno's plans for new music in his upcoming first season as music director at TSO; pianist James Rhodes, here for an early March recital, speaks his mind in a Q&A with Paul Ennis; and Lydia Perovic talks music and more with rising Turkish-Canadian mezzo Beste Kalender. Also, among our columns, Peggy Baker Dance Projects headlines Wende Bartley's In with the New; Steve Wallace's Jazz Notes rushes in definitionally where many fear to tread; ... and more.

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Classified Advertising | a little help learning your notes or rhythms? Or experience the joy of singing duets? Treat yourself! Private and group lessons available near Woodbine subway. Call or text Sheila at 416-574-5250, or woodbine.joyofsinging@ FLUTE, PIANO, THEORY LESSONS. RCM Certified Advanced Specialist. Samantha Chang, FTCL, FLCM, LRAM, PGDip, ARCT. Toronto, Scarborough 416-801-9196, www. LESSONS FOR ALL! Friendly and firm - I’m an experienced musician and mom teaching piano and singing to children (and the young at heart) in my Toronto home (East Leslieville). To discuss your child’s need for music-making please contact kskwhite@ SIGHT-SINGING WORKSHOPS: sacred/ secular Renaissance music, on the last Monday of the month. 7:30-9:30pm. Drop-in . Free for members of the Toronto Early Music Centre. All levels are welcome. Near Woodbine subway. Call/text 416-574-5250. SERVICES ACCOUNTING AND INCOME TAX SERVICE for small business and individuals, to save you PRECIOUS MEMORIES & PERFORMANCES transferred to CD, DVD. records | tapes VHS | Hi-8 | mini DV slides | photos | clippings RESTORED & PRESERVED ArtsMediaProjects 416-910-1091 BUSINESS CLASSIFIEDS Economical and visible! Promote your services & products to our musically engaged readers, in print and on-line. BOOKING DEADLINE: MARCH 19 time and money, customized to meet your needs. Norm Pulker, B. Math. CMA. 905-251- 0309 or 905-830-2985. DOG BOARDING (near Woodbine subway). Heading away for a while and can’t bring your favourite canine companion? I take just one dog at a time and give it a very special vacation. Your dog will pull you to my door on repeat visits! Call or text Sheila at 416-574- 5250 or RESTORE PRECIOUS MEMORIES lost on old records, tapes, photos etc.? Recitals, gigs, auditions, air checks, family stuff. on 78’s, cassettes, reels, 35mm slides etc?. ArtsMediaProjects will lovingly restore them to CD’s or DVD’s. Call George @ 416-910-1091. VENUES AVAILABLE / WANTED ARE YOU PLANNING A CONCERT OR RECITAL? Looking for a venue? Consider Bloor Street United Church. Phone: 416-924- 7439 x22. Email: STUDIO RENTAL IN EAST YORK - Home/ studio with piano available September-June. Long or short term rentals. Great acoustics. Free street parking. Wednesday or Thursday evenings. Suitable for unplugged vocal or instrumental rehearsals. Max 12 people. NEED HELP WITH YOUR TAXES? Specializing in personal and business tax returns including prior years and adjustments HORIZON TAX SERVICES INC. • free consultation • accurate work For CRA stress relief call: 1-866-268-1319 DO YOU DRIVE? Do you love The WholeNote? Share the love and earn a little money! Join The WholeNote’s circulation team: 9 times a year, GTA and well beyond. Interested? Contact: ADVERTISE music-related needs, skills and services Recruit new members for choirs, bands, orchestras. Find a new music director | Find a music teacher | Buy or sell Just for the first 20 words. .20 for each additional word. Discounts for 3x, 5x and 10x insertions. INQUIRE BY MARCH 21 for the APRIL edition. WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S CHILDREN WHO IS APRIL’S CHILD? MJ BUELL Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, 1976 A rare moment of sitting quiet – these days he’s always on the move! Adventures so far this season include: Love & Murder (with Northern Début Nord, Sudbury); The Marriage of Figaro, as Bartolo (Edmonton Opera); La Bohème as Schaunard (Calgary Opera); La Cenerentola, as Don Magnifico (Vancouver Opera) Hope he travels with his Overcoat! (Toronto 2018) When gardening season returns, in April, he’ll be reprising a role that had everyone rocking in 2016, in an award-winning production with Tapestry New Opera. Know our Mystery Child’s name? WIN PRIZES! Send your best guess by March 22 to CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS! Aaron Davis’ Circle Of Friends, March 26: 8pm. Composer and keyboardist Aaron Davis performs original compositions from his upcoming new recording, in collaboration with Suba Sankaran, Lori Cullen, Maryem Tollar, Gabriel Davis, Dylan Bell, John Johnson, Rob Piltch, Davide Direnzo and others at the Lula Lounge, Toronto. A pair of tickets awaits RICHARD SMITH at the door! Confluence Concerts: The Mandala, May 9: 8pm. Their final show this season is curated by Suba Sankaran: words and music inspired by an enduring image, with Ed Hanley, Dylan Bell, Sheniz Janmohamed and others, at St. Thomas’s Church, Toronto. A pair of tickets each, for MARGARET OLDFIELD and CELIA HARTE Sing! In Concert – O Canada! We Are The World, May 29, 8pm. Suba Sankaran and Dylan Bell are co-artistic directors of the 2020 SING! THE TORONTO VOCAL ARTS FESTIVAL (May 19 to 31). Sankaran and Bell’s own genre-bending duo, FreePlay, will host the May 29 concert, celebrating the many cultures that comprise Canada, using nothing but their voices and innovative live-looping techniques for an a cappella concert of astounding variety. The concert will feature Tom Wilson and include East Coast shanty singers Pressgang Mutiny, and others. At Young People’s Theatre, Toronto. A pair of tickets to JOAN SAYER 70 70 | | March 2020

March’s Child is Suba Sankaran Suba Sankaran is a vocalist, choral director, arranger, educator and composer. People use the word “fusion” a lot when they talk about her work, for want of a word that was especially coined for what she does. Her body of work lovingly embraces a wide world of disciplines and performance genres, and an even wider world of musical traditions. Most recently you may have noticed her as a performer and creative collaborator, in Alison Mackay’s The Indigo Project, with Tafelmusik. Sankaran performs across North America, Europe, the UK, Asia, Australia and Africa with the trio Autorickshaw; with her father, master drummer Trichy Sankaran; with her husband, Dylan Bell as the FreePlay Duo; and with Retrocity, an octet a cappella revue. Sankaran composes and produces music for theatre, film, radio and dance. She currently teaches in the jazz department at Humber College, co-directs Toronto’s City Choir, is an artistic associate at Confluence Concerts, and is co-sound designer, composer, and performer with Why Not Theatre/Shaw Festival’s upcoming production of the epic story, Mahabharata. When you look at your childhood photo today? I think about the curiosity and joy that is behind the mildly serious look on my face. I spent a lot of time alone, just singing to myself or playing with toys, or creating my own play space (especially when my sister was in full-day school and I in half-day school). It shows my happy independence. Suppose a friendly child asks what your job is? I eat, sleep and breathe music. I love my work so much that it doesn’t feel like work at all, so hopefully, when you get older, you will also find something that brings joy to your life. People and music in your childhood home? My father is master drummer and professor/founder of South Indian music studies at York University, Trichy Sankaran. My mother, Lalitha Sankaran, in those early days felt like a Jill-of-all-trades and right hand to my dad, They married in ’69, had my sister, Bavani, in ’70, then uprooted in ’71 to Toronto, with .00 in hand in the (original) Trudeau years. This is a typical yet fascinating immigrant story. I am the only one in my family (of my generation) born and raised Suba Sankaran lives in a 100-plus-year-old home in east Toronto with her husband who is also her partner on and off stage, Dylan Bell. While they are without children, their Steinway and myriad of plants are their de facto children. Beyond music, Suba enjoys dancing, movie-watching, cooking, gardening, walking, reading, and being close to water, mountains and forest wherever and whenever possible. She tours and travels whenever the opportunity arises. in Toronto (Willowdale/North York). Many musicians from India visited from time to time, and they would be welcomed in our home. As per the South Indian music tradition, the senior musicians were expected to teach the children of the house some songs – a way of passing the torch and maintaining and sustaining the guru-kula (guru-disciple or teacher-student) tradition. I learned from the best of the best, from my father on down! What’s your absolute earliest memory of hearing music? I think my first memory is of my father’s mrdangam playing. It’s such a specific and beautifully melodic sound for a percussion instrument. I found it so soothing that as a child I notoriously fell asleep during many of his solos in concerts! Your very first recollection of making music by yourself? I started singing when I began talking, at or before the age of two. I was taught the basic South Indian Karnatak exercises and short songs (called geethams) as well as regular children’s songs from the West from my parents and from children’s albums like Sharon, Lois and Bram, Raffi, Sesame Street, and the like. Where else did hearing music generally fit into your childhood? We listened to albums of many kinds (Indian classical, Western classical, jazz, world music and popular music), as well as what was playing on the radio – music or talk radio – generally CBC and other pop music stations that I would find on my own. An early memory of an audience? My first experience on stage was in the US when I was four. It was for the Navaratri festival (nine nights of celebration of various Hindu Goddesses) at Wesleyan University. I was one of four children selected for a solo performance on stage, and I sang the hymn Santhatham Paahimaam – the Tamil version of God Save the Queen, composed by the Saint-composer Dikshitar, only it translated to something more akin to “Save Everyone!” I remember feeling my attraction to the stage and for connecting with large audiences in this moment. When did you start composing? I started composing and arranging in high school when I attended Claude Watson. Before I really knew much about improvising as an art form, I would make songs up and simply call it “The Game”. We would do this in groups and create fugue-like songs, madrigal-type polyphony and more far-out music and would simply brush it off as part of “The Game”! What experiences helped to form your adult musical preferences? It’s a mix of my upbringing in my somewhat traditional South Indian household, having a master musician for a father, along with my experiences in an arts school, and a general hunger for wanting to make up music for fun, to create, experience and hear new things. Indian music has a huge scope for improvisation as does jazz and other art forms as well. I think I gravitated to these styles in part because they have a lot of creative freedom. Connecting and communicating, trusting the musicians around me and creating new music, is very important to me. What would you say to parents/grandparents hoping their young children will grow up to love and make music? Everyone will come at music in a different way. It can’t be forced. That being said, it’s good to send the message that music is communication. Music is storytelling. Music can be your best friend. Music is healing. Music will be here long after we are gone. Music is in the cosmos and it’s all around us. We just have to listen. Suba Sankaran’s full-length interview, which includes an astounding list of upcoming projects and appearances, can be read at musicschildren. LUCIE KALATOVA Over 100 artist profiles and full-length interviews can be read at Digital back issues in their original magazine format are also available online: March 2020 | 71

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