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Volume 27 Issue 1 - September / October 2021

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Blue pages and orange shirts; R. Murray Schafer's complex legacy, stirrings of life on the live concert scene; and the Bookshelf is back. This and much more. Print to follow. Welcome back from endless summer, one and all.


POETRY FROM PERSIA From left: Hossein Alizadeh, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Kayhan Kalhor and Homayoun Shajarian, in 2005 where I was doing everything. A moment which illustrates that was at a show at The Reverb at Queen and Bathurst where I booked an awesome Tuvan rock band called Yat-Kha. Naturally, I was doing box office (that is after I had shopped for food for the band, because I didn’t have a volunteer pool at the time). But when I looked at the mere handful of people in the room I felt totally despondent, thinking, ‘Why am I doing this? Nobody really cares.’ Ready to throw in the towel, at those low moments I really wondered what the hell I was doing. But then you persevere.” An important milestone, he says, was getting SW’s first Trillium grant which enabled him to rent office space, to hire an administrator, to formalize the SW structure, and to move SW out of his house. “Let’s not forget that those early years were marked by tremendous sacrifice. As you’d remember, the arts were a place of poverty; we lived in a culture of poverty. We were the last to be paid; everything had to be paid first, the artists, marketing and venue. Fortunately things have changed substantially. Today SW is doing comparatively well, with a team of around a dozen people.” Another turning point in SW’s growth was his connection to top Iranian artists through two close friends. “Through them I was able to present the great vocalist Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, and virtuoso kamancheh and setar player Kayhan Kalhor and their colleagues on major stages.” Suddenly SW was functioning at an entirely other level in terms of audience exposure, professionalism and revenue. “We took them to the Toronto Centre for the Arts, sold out shows there, and the next year to Roy Thomson Hall. On the other hand as you know too, doing concerts for Canadians is one thing, but doing them for internationals is another entirely. Suddenly you’re talking about visas, hotels, transportation, accommodation, hospitality, special meals and international currency exchanges.” All the stress he took on was exhausting at times. “For instance, at that Toronto Centre for the Arts sold-out Shajarian show, I sat in an usher’s chair at the back because there were no house seats – thankfully. But when the wave of emotion from the band on stage reached me, I literally began to weep from feelings of being overwhelmed, combined with release and relief offered by the power of the music. At the intermission a woman I knew well came up and said, ‘Congratulations. But have you been crying?’ ‘Yes, I guess I have,’ I confessed. I still can’t help feeling very emotional when I tell these stories. I still can’t say what made me keep doing it. Insanity or sheer passion for the music? From there to here Two major factors have changed the Toronto scene substantially since those early years, he explains, dictating that SW change shape. “For me the key change is that SW today is a more diversified organization, in which presenting is only one thing that we do,” he says. He points to two key changes. “First of all, in the last two decades The eighth of Small World Music's "25 for 25” concerts features Beny Esguerra, at Lula Lounge. other organizations have entered the arena. Today we have the Royal Conservatory, Koerner Hall, Aga Khan Museum and others who can put diversity on stage and make money at it. … It was a pretty open field back when I started. Today it’s a more competitive and thus difficult environment.” The second factor he points to is that the communities themselves are much more organized and better equipped to do it themselves. “In this context Tirgan comes to mind. It’s the largest Iranian festival in North America happening right here in Toronto. It’s clear the Persian community doesn’t need SW’s help. They can deal with it themselves. Community music presentation has shifted significantly over the years.” One way SWM has responded to this changed situation has been with intensive strategic planning, an area where he points to SW’s new executive director Umair Jaffar’s pivotal guidance in formalizing what they had been doing before. “A good example is artist development. I’ve always helped, advised, mentored and tried to nurture artists who come to this country and are launching their careers. Now we have a structured program like Emergence that has funding just for that.” Another pivotal moment for the company happened in 2014 when they opened the Small World Centre in the Shaw Street Artscape building. “Although the room is small, it has provided a platform for many young and emerging artists to stage their first professional show, also a place to do high quality audio recording and shoot video. Today we have a near state-of-the-art video production facility by virtue of the emergency COVID funding from various funders.” But some things don’t change, even after 25 years. “Even during times when the challenges feel overwhelming, a special, sometimes transformative moment for me begins when the band goes on stage. It’s particularly when the audience gets up to start dancing or roars its approval that I can really relax and get the sense of, ‘Oh yeah, this is why I do this.’ And it still feels beautiful every time … it still feels beautiful every time.” Returning for a moment to the first eight events of SW’s “25 for 25”, Beny Esguerra and New Tradition Music, based in Toronto, close the lineup with a Sunday, September 19 concert at Lula Lounge. Esguerra mashes up bilingual socially conscious spoken word, Columbian kuisi bunsi (flute), turntablism, beatboxing and salsa with Afro-Cuban and Colombian drumming. Opening the evening is Nimkii Osawamick from Wiikwemkoong, Unceded Territory in Ontario, a renowned hoop dancer and drummer/singer who blends traditional singing, drumming and dancing with contemporary music and modern dance. Please visit the Small World Music website for detailed information on the musicians, venues, tickets and times. Andrew Timar is a Toronto musician and music writer. He can be contacted at 16 | September and October 2021

CLASSICAL AND BEYOND The Esmé Quartet SIMON FRYER, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR 2021 2022 SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 | 1.30 PM BLAKE POULIOT Blake Pouliot, violin; Hsin-I Huang, piano CAREER DEVELOPMENT AWARD RECITAL Take the plunge now? Or wait and see? PAUL ENNIS As various musical presenters of all sizes either hunker down for another few months or take a deep breath and take the plunge for a return to live concertizing, it’s particularly heartening to see Music Toronto, going into their 50th season, among those diving right in. So I started out by speaking to Music Toronto’s artistic producer, Jennifer Taylor, for her take on the new season. WN: With the Parker Quartet opening the strings section of your season on October 21 and David Jalbert opening the piano portion on October 26, I wonder if you can tell me how you approached building your line-up for this special anniversary. You must have acted during the depths of the pandemic. JT: We originally planned years 49 and 50 together – 2020/21 and 2021/22 – choosing many artists we considered friends of the house, so much of the planning was done before the pandemic. Then COVID meant we cancelled all of 2021/22. So some artists – such as Stephen Hough, Vanessa Benelli Mossell and the Miró Quartet – we had planned in 2020/21 we asked to move to 2021/22. We always welcome back the St. Lawrence Quartet and the Gryphon Trio; we also wanted to include the Lafayette and Ensemble Made in Canada. The legendary Juilliard are enjoying a renaissance in the 75th year of the franchise, and the young all-female Korean quartet, the Esmé, fulfil our mandate to always introduce new artists to Toronto. The Parker gave us a bright and energetic opening, and we asked David Jalbert to play the work we commissioned from Kelly-Marie Murphy for our 50th. NOVEMBER 25, 2021 | 1.30 PM BEVERLEY JOHNSTON & FRIENDS Beverley Johnston, percussion Aiyun Huang, and Russell Hartenberger, percussion Susan Hoeppner, flutes Marc Djokic, violin MARCH 3, 2022 | 1.30 PM ANDREW HAJI Andrew Haji, tenor; piano TBA 125 TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON LAUNCH AT 12.15 PM MARCH 31, 2022 | 1.30 PM CAMERON CROZMAN Cameron Crozman, cello; Philip Chiu, piano PREMIÈRE OF WMCT COMMISSIONED WORK BY ALLAN GORDON BELL APRIL 28, 2021 | 1.30 PM META4 QUARTET Antti Tikkanen, violin; Minna Pensola, violin Atte Kilpeläinen, viola Tomas Djupsjöbacka, cello PREMIÈRE OF WMCT COMMISSIONED WORK BY RUSSELL HARTENBERGER 124 TH Season Subscribe to Five Thursday Afternoon Concerts | In-person + online: 0 Online access only: 0 Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, 80 Queen’s Park (Museum Subway) 416-923-7052 September and October 2021 | 17

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)