7 months ago

Volume 26 Issue 6 - March and April 2021

  • Text
  • Contemporary
  • Orchestra
  • Album
  • Toronto
  • Quartet
  • Ensemble
  • Jazz
  • Composer
  • April
  • Musical
96 recordings (count’em) reviewed in this issue – the most ever – with 25 new titles added to the DISCoveries Online Listening Room (also a new high). And up front: Women From Space deliver a festival by holograph; Morgan Paige Melbourne’s one-take pianism; New Orleans’ Music Box Village as inspiration for musical playground building; the “from limbo to grey zone” inconsistencies of live arts lockdowns; all this and more here and in print commencing March 19 2021.


COMMUNITY ARTS SU RYNARD two CDs of original music and has performed with artists from a variety of other cultural backgrounds and traditions. Laurel MacDonald’s performance project Videovoce integrates live voice, live electronics and projected visuals. It will be interesting to see how her performance is adapted to the Holobox since she is also a video artist. “Sci-fi turntablist”, composer and mentor SlowPitchSound (Cheldon Paterson) will be collaborating with Laura Barrett, singer, songwriter, composer and music teacher, in another exciting set. Dancer Mairi Greig will also be performing alongside them, making this a second night of interdisciplinary collaboration. April 11: Sarah Thawer + Tara Davidson, Fides Krucker + Tania Gill, Maya Kuroki + Natasha Poon Woo, Kayla Milmine + Bea Labikova This year’s festival wraps up with a schedule likely equally wellsuited to the holographic stage. Sarah Thawer, JUNO-Award nominated drummer, and Tara Davidson, multi-JUNO-Award nominated saxophonist, composer and bandleader, will be performing together, with the versatility of both artists making this pairing especially exciting. Singer, interdisciplinary creator, educator and writer Fides Krucker is joining forces with Tania Gill, jazz and improvisation-based pianist and composer, combining the worlds of contemporary opera and voice with contemporary jazz and creative music in what looks to be another wonderful set. Maya Kuroki, musician, performer and visual artist, will be collaborating with dancer and dance educator Natasha Poon Woo. With a background in BRENDAN MARIANI Eve Egoyan theatre and experimental rock, Kuroki has collaborated with dancers in the past, so this looks Sarah Thawer like another exciting program. And, appropriately, festival co-founders Kayla Milmine, soprano saxophonist and improviser, and Bea Labikova, saxophonist and improviser (and the visual artist behind the Women From Space Festival artwork), will perform together, “weaving their distinctive approaches to the instrument into a single sonic fabric.” Women From Space 2021 runs online from April 9 to 11, 2021, and can be viewed as standard online video or via hologram illusion. Please visit for festival details, and for purchasing information for The Holobox Theatre. Camille Kiku Belair is a Toronto-based classical guitarist, composer and writer. They are currently pursuing an MFA in Composition and Experimental Sound Practices at California Institute of the Arts. Inside out as the best way forward Musical playgrounds, virtual and real RICHARD MARSELLA This global health pandemic has certainly illustrated the old Italian proverb, “tutto il mondo è un paese” – indeed, all the world is a village, and every village needs a playground. In my capacity as the executive director of the Regent Park School of Music, I have noticed us, of necessity, growing closer with other community music schools across North America since COVID hit. We have met periodically to discuss the multitude of challenges we have collectively faced, from online learning policies to uses of new technology – a sharing of knowledge between us that has remained open and collaborative, with the greater good of our students in the fore. Many of us in community music seem to be facing the same challenges, so in this article, I will unpack some of these immediate challenges, and also look forward, as best as any of us can, to a postpandemic landscape that enfolds both music education and community development. At time of writing this, I had just submitted my PhD dissertation to the University of Toronto, as part of which I ran an instrumental case study of the Music Box Village in New Orleans. Similar to the Reggio Emilia educational movement that developed in Italy the aftermath of World War Two, the Music Box Village was born out of Hurricane Katrina as a response to the social impacts and trauma of its community. This alternative music space wore many hats, functioning partly as a music venue, a learning space, a playground, and much more. Observing Grade 4 children playing in the space, I noticed that it accepted and fostered multiple intelligences. As an alternative music space, the Music Box Village itself can act as the third teacher, where a student, a teacher and the space itself can simultaneously inform the learning outcomes. With COVID impacting like a hurricane on the global village, there is something to be learned from the New Orleans experience about musical playgrounds in general and how they can act as a vehicle for community building in the current pandemic’s aftermath. But we are not there yet! Pandemic Challenges As we cling to the technology we currently have at our disposal, music educators have quickly realized that the covenant between teacher and student can still be honoured in Zoomland or whatever platform you fancy. To me, the importance of space has always been less significant than those who occupy it, and that also translates to a virtual setting. I am always more interested in the concepts being developed inside of any space, and the humans that bring them to life. Without the people inside the space, it is not much more than an empty shell. Of course, nothing is better than in-person encounters, but there are enough complaint pieces on that subject. For now, let us focus on 8 | March and April 2021

The Music Box Village, New Orleans what is possible during this important period in our existence. At the end of all of this, our relationships will remain the bedrock that will get us through it, and out the other side. They are what we will retain, those human moments in the midst of the chaos – like the mother entering the Zoom shot to give her daughter a hug after her trumpet performance in a virtual recital. Music helps us to access and connect those human moments. Over the last year, Regent Park School of Music, along with so many of our community music colleagues, have worked to create safe and accessible spaces, albeit virtual, for students to thrive in, a luxury that the pandemic from a hundred years ago did not have. That safe space could be a virtual open mic night in Zoom, or a file-sharing collaboration that creates something totally new, using the varied technologies at our disposal. Virtual safe space has also opened up collaborative potential between geographically unconnected neighbourhoods (such as Regent Park and Jane and Finch), and also between cities, as we explore ideas with our colleagues at Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Vancouver, and also at The People’s Music School in Chicago, to name a couple. And on the other side One thing is certain. The ways we end up teaching and learning will come out of this pandemic looking much different. This is an opportunity, as we all continue to prioritize health and safety, for a reset on the field of music education. Education at large will keep a door open to virtual learning long past this global health challenge. TODD SEELIE We can now begin to imagine a world more accessible. If it is easier for you to attend your music lesson virtually for the most part, and in person periodically as required, why would we not accommodate that approach? During this period, children are not necessarily learning math or music online. In this dire era of human existence, they are learning resilience, more so now than ever before. Students of all ages are learning the art of pivoting, wearing multiple hats on multiple platforms, and all at once! We are learning how to make art with the technology we have access to, or providing more access so that relationships between teachers and students can still thrive. As we look at new communities forming among different organizations, networks, cities, we are beginning to look at collaborative projects and outcomes with fresh (and tired) eyes. Also, the very constraints we are each of us faced with play a role in shaping our musical output – using what we have at our disposal, to remain connected. Might be an old phone, might be one microphone, might be patchy Wi-Fi – it all adds to the look and sound of this new era we find ourselves in. It is all part of the creative recipe for coming out stronger on the other side: the self-expression of a mother reading her poems and editing videos, while her son makes beats and creates the musical backdrop; collaborations within a home that took a pandemic to help incubate. The imagination soars: new music rooms, new musical instruments, virtual reality music rooms, musical playgrounds, new outcomes and collaborations! I’m not anti-physical space; of course, great things can happen in well-thought-out, accessible spaces. But let us continue to reimagine what the music room can look like when it isn’t necessarily a room. In some cases, let’s remove the walls, or let’s have walls that can be instruments themselves. Inside out is the best way forward. When we take such an open approach, who else will find their way into our music classrooms? The Music Box Village Earlier on in this article, I mentioned research I conducted on the impact of the Music Box Village project in post-Katrina New Orleans. What drew me to this particular research was that I already hoped to explore a different path for music educators. Why does a musical curriculum need to be so standardized? Who does really need another Winter Recital? Let us dream of new musical instruments; of projects, collaborations, deliverables, outcomes; of spaces, indoor and out, for musical play. As more and more formal publicly funded music programs are being cut from elementary and high schools there is a growing need for alternative music education models to fill this gap. Where can a musical playground fit into all this? The answer is it can function in any city, and will take on a distinct reflection of that Piano, Voice, Guitar, Harp Strings, Woodwinds, Brass Conducting, Composition Awards, Prizes and Scholarships Recitals, Concerts, Workshops Career advancement Marketing and promotions | 905.604.8854 | March and April 2021 | 9

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