2 years ago

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020

  • Text
  • Ensemble
  • Classical
  • Concerts
  • Singers
  • Choral
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • September
  • Choir
Choral Scene: Uncharted territory: three choirs finding paths forward; Music Theatre: Loose Tea on the boil with Alaina Viau’s Dead Reckoning; In with the New: what happens to soundart when climate change meets COVID-19; Call to action: diversity, accountability, and reform in post-secondary jazz studies; 9th Annual TIFF Tips: a filmfest like no other; Remembering: Leon Fleisher; DISCoveries: a NY state of mind; 25th anniversary stroll-through; and more. Online in flip through here, and on stands commencing Tues SEP 1.

Tara Kannangara FEATURE

Tara Kannangara FEATURE being discussed, he told me that the group has “rarely run into major issues.” For Keita, the “concept of jazz education in itself is inherently broken”; he doesn’t see the possibility of reform within the current academic model. In response to the issues that have been brought to the attention of the administration, the U of T Faculty of Music has formed a committee to address anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion issues (AREDI). Kannangara – a sessional faculty member for the Jazz Studies program – is serving on the committee, along with fulltime faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students and other sessional faculty. The Jazz Area (U of T’s formal administrative title for its jazz program) is also forming its own AREDI, which, according to Jazz Area head Mike Murley, “will provide advice on how to make our program more inclusive, providing input on such matters as curriculum, workshops/masterclasses, recruitment of students, faculty and guest instructors, and overall student experience.” Not without challenges The work of the committee is not without its challenges. It is easy, and not unfair, to point the finger upwards to university leadership when discussing equity issues. But, as Kannangara told me, “barriers are all around us, not just with our leadership.” Faculty and executives in postsecondary arts organizations tend to be liberal and invested in the idea of social progress; but systemic issues, no matter how severe, tend to be invisible, as if they’ve become “part of the furniture,” and introducing a new critical lens through which to see them can seem impossible. Another major challenge, as Kannangara told me, is that so-called “diversity committees” tend to have “a lack of objectivity” amongst their membership. “Having a personal stake in policy outcomes,” as she put it, “is definitely a strength in some ways.” But, “it can be difficult to be efficient when you have your own personal grievances to air.” Though sharing these stories may be a necessary part of the process, she said, it’s important that they don’t hamper the committee’s capacity to “start making significant changes to the operations of the school.” Another invisible issue: compensation for committee members. Committee members, Kannangara maintains, “should absolutely be paid. This work is extraordinarily labour intensive and to some committee members, retraumatizing. After a lot of conversation, I believe U of T is starting to take this seriously and I believe they are working on this point.” In one sense, it’s easy to see the quarantine of 2020 – and the uncertainty attending the upcoming scholastic year – as yet another complicating factor in the fight for equity within post-secondary jazz programs. But, as Keita put it, some “people just started caring because they had time to [care] during the pandemic.” Though it comes at a significant cost, this year has afforded us all a rare opportunity to take time to pause, reflect and reform. What 2020 will mean for the future of jazz programs remains to be seen; hopefully, it will have been time well spent. Colin Story is a jazz guitarist, writer and teacher based in Toronto. He can be reached at, on Instagram and on Twitter. SEMINAL An Array for Challenging Times ANDREW TIMAR When I wrote about Arraymusic five years ago in a WholeNote series on Toronto concert spaces, I described it as a “seminal venue”— one that maintained a strong place as both a presenting organization and as a rental space for experimental music in Toronto. Now in the midst of the 2020 pandemic, the same remains true. Despite unprecedented challenges, Arraymusic continues to search for new ways of supporting local experimental music and its affiliated performing art forms—and to find relevance in the changing musical fabric of the city. Array’s Early Years Years before it managed a concert venue, Arraymusic was an experimental music ensemble and presenter dedicated to commissioning and programming “full spectrum multimedia works, electronic events, group improvisations, music and dance collaborations.” The group was launched April 20, 1972 by a cohort of University of Toronto composition students. By the early 1980s, the group’s growing activities moved to a refurbished garage on a leafy upper Annex avenue. From 1991 to 2012 Arraymusic rented a multifunctional space in an Artspace-run building. It was among a cohort of artists and organizations which reinvented Liberty Village as an epicentre of creative sector employment. I spent many happy hours rehearsing with the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan and several other groups there, as well as leading community gamelan music workshops. By the time that era came to an end, Arraymusic artistic director Rick Sacks had scouted a promising new loft location in another weathered-brick industrial building in the Queen and Niagara Street area. After extensive renovations, the Array Space now comprises a 1,200 sq. ft. main studio for rehearsals and performances with a 18 | September 2020

VENUES capacity of 60, space equipped for audio and video recording, and offices, three of which are rented out to community artists. The Arraymusic Studio—now called Array Space—opened for business in 2013. A year later blogTO ranked it among Toronto’s “top five experimental music venues.” Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength. the pleasure to program our 50th anniversary season,” Schotzko says, over the phone with a smile in his voice. The spike in Array Space use over the last year or two is a reflection of heavy community need and use, he says. “That’s been an extremely positive development. Here’s how it looked by the numbers in 2018/19: according to our best figures, we hosted an impressive 660 workshops, rehearsals and concerts by 345 groups, involving 2,650 diverse artists. Last year the Space was so consistently booked that I had to take my vibraphone to my house to practise for the group shows – and I’m an Array Ensemble percussionist! Then suddenly on March 25, 2020 we had to shut the space down entirely, and lock the door behind us.” That being said, Array is perhaps better positioned to weather the storm than some others. “In 2012 our artistic director Rick Sacks had a vision of creating a mixed office and performance-ready venue,” Schotzko adds. “Due to Rick’s tremendous effort our rental revenue has allowed Array to grow in ways that [other new music ensembles] for instance cannot do, thanks to our initial investment in our space. Our venue has allowed us to grow in so many ways. Rick later installed high-definition video cameras with which we can livestream Array Ensemble shows. We’ve been doing that for years.” So when COVID-19 happened, they found themselves set up in an unique position. “We didn’t have to pivot to livestream because we’ve been doing it already. As for rentals, prior to the lockdown the office and Space rental revenue more or less balanced out the expenses to run the space.” Issues of Community “We talk about Array as a creative hub, a community hub,” notes Schotzko. “Our vision was a place that our colleagues, peers, as well as those we don’t know yet, could all use. It was initially built on the community with roots in the experimental music and the new composition scene, but the breadth of what happens here now has David Schotzko Rick Sacks Current Challenges That was before the current COVID-19 lockdown slammed the brakes on live concertizing. With many music organizations having cancelled their seasons, and some struggling to keep the lights on, I reached percussionist and current Array artistic director David Schotzko at his home on a hot August afternoon to ask how Array is faring. “The organization has grown organically over the decades, and I have While you’re waiting... Who said “I feel that only if you know your roots can you then imagine how to create something new.”? (Vol 21 no 1, page 10) Vol. 21 no. 1 Vol. 22 no. 2 Vol. 23 no. 5 Vol. 24 no. 8 Vol. 25 no. 9 BROWSE 25 YEARS AT KIOSK.THEWHOLENOTE.COM September 2020 | 29 September 2020 | 19

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