Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Signature Theatre New York City Presents August Wilson's The Piano Lesson to December 16 2012

From a media release:



- Signature Theatre is pleased to announce a one-week extension for THE PIANO LESSON by August Wilson and directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson. The production will now play through Sunday, December 16. The production will begin performances on October 30 and open on November 18 in The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues). Very limited availability remains for the production’s initial run. Tickets during the extension week are $75 each.

The cast includes Eric Lenox Abrams (HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”) as Avery, Chuck Cooper (Finian's Rainbow) as Wining Boy, Brandon J. Dirden (Clybourne Park, Signature’s The First Breeze of Summer) as Boy Willie, Jason Dirden (Signature’s The First Breeze of Summer) as Lymon, Alexis Holt (South Pacific tour) as Maretha, Mandi Masden (Off-Broadway debut) as Grace, Roslyn Ruff (Signature’s Seven Guitars, The Help) as Berniece and James A. Williams (Signature’s My Children! My Africa!) as Doaker.

Signature returns to the rich body of work of its 2006-07 Playwright-in-Residence August Wilson with a new production of his Pulitzer Prize-winning THE PIANO LESSON. In Pittsburgh’s Hill District in 1936, the Charles family battle their surroundings and each other over their shared legacy – an antique piano. The fourth play of August Wilson’s epic Century Cycle, The Piano Lesson is a stunning and moving drama of family, history, and survival.

The design team includes Michael Carnahan (Scenic Designer), Karen Perry (Costume Designer), Rui Rita (Lighting Designer), David Van Tieghem (Sound Designer), Bill Sims, Jr. (Original Music), J. David Brimmer (Fight Direction), Valerie Gladstone (Wig & Hair Designer),  and Vinnie Bagwell (Sculptor). Rebecca Goldstein-Glaze is Production Stage Manager.

To purchase tickets for all Signature productions, call the Signature Theatre Box Office (212-244-7529) or visit

The Piano Lesson
Extended Through December 16, 2012!
DATES: October 30 – December 16, 2012

VENUE: The Irene Diamond Stage
New Block of Tickets On Sale Now!
Guarantee your $25 Signature Ticket Initiative ticket to The Piano Lesson by subscribing now! 

IMAGE: August Wilson. Photo by David Cooper.

Toronto Downtown Jazz Special Projects Accepting Applications to November 30 2012

From a media release:

TDJ Special Projects Is Looking For A Few Good Musicians
Applications are now being accepted for special jazz projects in need of marketing support
Deadline: November 30, 2012

• For complete details, including eligibility requirements and the complete list of support being offered, please visit the website

Toronto - Designed to encourage the creation, development and presentation of special projects by local jazz musicians, the TDJ Special Projects Initiative is now accepting submissions until November 30, 2012. Entering its third year, the Initiative provides successful applicants with marketing and public relations support, including a bursary, from Toronto Downtown Jazz (TDJ) and JAZZ.FM91.

"We're pleased to be supporting some of the outstanding jazz musicians who call Toronto home" states Artistic Director, Josh Grossman. "Promoting an event is a big job and can be time-consuming for an independent musician - especially when preparing for a big show. With the TDJ Special Projects we're excited to be promoting the events, and hopefully we're providing each musician with more time to concentrate on his or her project."

Eligible projects must take place between February 1 and April 30, 2013 and they must fall outside of the usual scope of an artist's work. Individual musicians and ensembles of any size are encouraged to apply; however, leaders must be active members of the Toronto jazz scene. All applications will be evaluated through a juried process, with the three successful projects announced in the new year.

Past participants have included Fern Lindzon, Ernesto Cervini, the Barry Elmes Quintet, the In the Current Ensemble, the Andrew Downing / John Southworth collaboration Easterween, Tova Kardonne and Barnyard Records.

For complete details, including eligibility requirements and the complete list of support being offered, please visit the website

Indie Film: Manborg Opens in Toronto November 2-8 2012 & Across Canada

Update November 30 2012 -New screenings:

Thanks To Raven Banner Entertainment and Ultra 8 Pictures
MANBORG Returns to The Royal - 608 College St.
November 30, January 11, February 1 & March 1

(November 26, 2012 - Toronto, ON) – Back by popular demand, Raven Banner Entertainment and Ultra 8 Pictures announced the return of Steven Kostanski’s Manborg in an exclusive late night run at The Royal on the following dates: November 30th, January 11th, February 1st, and March 1st, all at 11:30pm. Detailed listings are available on The Royal’s website.
From a media release:

Raven Banner Entertainment and Ultra 8 Pictures
are proud to announce
Opens Theatrically in Toronto November 2nd 2012
at The Royal - 608 College St.
and other Canadian cities (see below)

Toronto, ON –
Raven Banner Entertainment and Ultra 8 Pictures are set to unleash demonic dictators and a vigilante cyborg on Canada with the theatrical release of Steven Kostanksi’s Manborg. Shot as a throwback to ’80s sci-fi horror action films, Manborg tells the story of a dead soldier who finds himself reanimated as a cyborg killing machine, which Twitchfilm calls “a creative and hilarious love letter to the VHS sub culture”.

Half-man, half-cyborg: Manborg. Killed while battling the forces of hell, a super-soldier is brought back from the dead in order to fight an army of Nazi vampires and demons led by the nefarious Count Draculon. There’s an Australian punker, a knife-wielding anime chick, a kung fu master (voiced with deliriously pitch-perfect stoicism by Kyle Herbert, the narrator from Dragon Ball Z), and of course the titular Manborg, a literal cinematic Frankenstein of pulp sci-fi pop culture references.

Manborg, is directed by Steven Kostanski, the special effects prodigy of Winnipeg’s filmmaking collective Astron-6 (Father’s Day), who deftly juggles co-writing, editing and directing duties on a micro budget of below $2K with the ambitious creation of an extraordinary barrage of elaborate miniatures, iconic costumes and delirious stop-motion creatures. Most impressively, despite drawing from so many sources, Manborg’s universe remains unmistakably original, and as a director, Kostanki’s vision is unquestionably unique and his talent impossible to deny.

Executive produced by TIFF Midnight Madness guru Colin Geddes (Ultra 8 Pictures) and Toronto After Dark's Peter Kupowsky, Manborg celebrated its world premiere at Austin’s 2011 Fantastic Fest, and also impressed fans at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Fantasia, and has played more than 30 major film festivals worldwide including Whistler, Lund in Sweden, Boston Underground, U.K. Sci-Fi, and Neuchatel in Switzerland. Also playing with MANBORG is Kostanski's brand-new short film BIO-COP, an epic emulation of 80s-era cop movie trailers, meticulously recreating the experience of watching VHS-era cheese with full-tilt gonzo gusto.

“Manborg is an incredible achievement” says Don McKellar, and calls the film: “A glorious mixture of claymation, computer graphics, practical effects, make-up and a DIY ethic that’s above and beyond most science fiction movies being produced. Manborg is a total  hoot.”

Gearing up for theatrical release of the cult hit film Manborg, Raven Banner Entertainment has just commissioned a new poster by the incredibly talented Toronto artist, Jason Edmiston (right), whose fondness for pop culture, especially movies and toys, often creep into his work and makes him the perfect artist to illustrate the awesome power of Manborg.

Manborg is being screened theatrically in the following cities:

Oct 26 - Nov 1 - Winnipeg Cinematheque
Director Steve Kostanski and actors/Astron 6 members Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney & Meredith Sweeney in attendance Oct 26 & 27.

Nov 2 - 8 – Toronto, The Royal
Director Steve Kostanski & poster artist Jason Edmiston in attendance Nov 2.
Actor/Writer Jeremy Gillespie in attendance Nov 3.

Nov 3 – Ottawa, Mayfair Theatre
Director Steve Kostanski in attendance.

Nov 4 - Vancouver Rio Grand (as part of Rio Grind Film Fest)
Skype Q&A with director Steve Kostanski.

Nov 10 – Halifax, Arclight
With an introduction by Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun)

Nov 16 – Hamilton, The Staircase
Director Steve Kostanski in attendance.

More dates/cities to be announced!

Manborg will have an official release on DVD in 2013 by Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada and Raven Banner Entertainment

About Raven Banner

Toronto based Raven Banner Entertainment represents innovative and compelling genre driven independent feature films and filmmakers for North American distribution and the international marketplace. For more about Raven Banner please visit:

About Ultra 8 Pictures
With an understanding of international festivals and markets, Ultra 8 Pictures offers consulting services in areas of acquisition, production, representation, sales and festivals for filmmakers, producers and distributers. For more information please visit:

Recent Release: VERY BE CAREFUL - ¿Remember Me From The Party?

From a media release:

VERY BE CAREFUL - ¿Remember Me From The Party?
October 9th, 2012 (Downtown Pijao)

If you ever experienced Very Be Careful’s live show, you certainly remember them as some unapologetically untameable vallenato wildmen.

¿Remember Me From The Party? is VBC’s 6th studio album and in it, the Los Angeles-based quintet keeps exploring the roots of authentic vallenato music in their characteristic style that’s at the same time respectful of the Afro-Colombian traditions while adding high-octane doses of punk unpredictability to the mix.

Inspired by their parents record collection, brothers Arturo and Ricardo Guzmán, Dante Ruiz, Craig Martin, and Richi Panta founded Very Be Careful and set out to play exclusively accordion-driven Colombian vallenato back in 1997, ages before cumbia crossed over to the cosmopolitan crowds of the northern hemisphere. Keeping true to the original mission 15 years later with the same five original members of the band they have toured the US and the world as the undisputable ambassadors of the genre.

Some of Very Be Careful’s biggest fans live in Japan, where it tours often as well as the UK. And the group’s sound has been embraced by pop-culture lightning rods like Kronos Quartet and Vampire Weekend, which they performed as openers including Jack White recently. At home the band makes a grand occasion for sin and their loyal heterogeneous fans are used to expect the unexpected from them.

On their newest album they include five covers of classic Colombian vallenatos and seven original compositions with topics such as  “a mosquito that bites you at night and needs to be killed” on El Mosquito and “advice about not mixing it up too much” on El Revuelto (wise advice coming from the ones who fully embrace the “vallenato lifestyle” of living, loving, and learning).

Arturo claims they find inspiration for their songs on a variety of topics including “animals and party animals, monsters and party monsters, Speedy and Gonzalez, The Three Stooges, memory loss and babies having babies.” Surprisingly most of those influences become evident when listening to their music, but more so when joining them at the madcap parties their shows almost always turn into. Some unforgettable parties indeed, even if none of us can remember the details. ¿Remember me from the party? is out on October 9, 2012 on Downtown Pijao.

Montreal's Infinithéâtre Presents Trench Patterns - Continuing to November 18 2012

From a media release:

Trench Patterns
Written by Alyson Grant
Directed by Guy Sprung
Tues. October 23 – Sun. November 18, 2012

“Round-the-clock care and three meals a day- all at the Canadian taxpayers’ expense. What’s not to be happy about?”- Jacqueline

Montreal - Infinithéâtre is privileged to present the world premiere of Alyson Grant’s Trench Patterns, the winner of their 2011 Write-On-Q! playwriting contest, from Oct. 23-Nov.18 at Bain St. Michel. Directed by Guy Sprung, the show stars Patricia Summersett as returning Afghan soldier Jacqueline (last seen in Centaur Theatre’s Intimate Apparel). The talented cast also includes Diana Fajrajsl (fresh from Metachroma Theatre’s Richard III), Zach Fraser (The Game of Love and Chance, Centaur Theatre) and James Soares-Correia (Salt-Water Moon, Raise the Stakes Theatre). The playing space at Bain St. Michel becomes the Royal Victoria Hospital as seen in Jacqueline’s mind through the inspired creativity of the design team.

Jacqueline is a wounded Canadian Forces combat officer returned from Afghanistan after a mission gone fatally wrong. She is angry, intelligent and funny, traits she uses to keep her mind from the violent events of the day that broke her. Solace comes from ghostlike visitations including her great grandfather, Jacques, a French Montréaler conscripted into World War One and executed for desertion and cowardice. As she recedes into his haunted world, we see her slowly move closer to her own. Poetic, powerful and ripped-from-the-headlines relevant.

Director Guy Sprung is delighted with this play from a very exciting Write-On-Q! winner, “First-time playwright Alyson Grant’s work is a moving piece of writing about an issue front and centre in the Canadian psyche.” For Sprung, Trench Patterns asks the questions; it does not attempt to provide easy answers, “Is there such a thing as a ‘just’ war and a ‘good’ soldier? Alyson Grant has given us Jacqueline, a Québecoise heroine who is a metaphor for the soul-searching the whole country should be engaged in. How did a first time playwright write such an entertaining play about such a dark subject?”

Playwright Alison Grant, head of the English Department at Dawson College, was drawn to writing this play while increasingly feeling a media-drenched numbness hearing news about Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and their often troubled readjustments once home, “The play takes a very current and complex reality- soldiers back among us after their time in Afghanistan- and explores the complicated ways in which those who come home broken might heal.” She continues, “I was surprised at first to find this funny, sarcastic character making her way onto the page and then helpless as she brought me into some very dark and uncomfortable places.” What resonates for Grant are the various issues around these circumstances, “On one level, we have the big questions about war and its effect on the individuals who fight in them, and on the other we have a play about families and the stories that run through them.”

Patricia Summersett, who plays Jacqueline, grew up in small town Michigan and many of her childhood friends went into the military. She became an artist, and always wondered how that happened, “When did we actually make those decisions for ourselves? What does it mean for us now and what it will mean for us in 50 years? How do we get to celebrate each other? I love that this play is about people, about relationships.” She adds, “Jacqueline also reminds me that I should make more jokes.” This is James Soares-Correia’s first professional role, for him “the play is a beautiful mix of shocking reality and haunting imagination.”

Set designer Cassandre Chatonnier was touched by this play that deals with the passing down through the generations, beyond genes, “History and the wounds of war are transmitted from generation to generation- my own great-great grandfather was in the first world war, my great grandfather in WWII, and my grandfather in the war in Algeria. The story of an entire family is marked by these events.” The design is completed with Audrey Chikhani’s authentic war costuming, Julien St-Pierre’s effective lighting and Nikita U’s original score and video design. Michael Panich is the stage manager. Many thanks to military advisor Major Victor Knowlton (Retired) for his invaluable help maintaining the veracity of this important piece.

“Why doesn’t it worry you when I feel pain in a limb that no longer exists, might even be talking to it, but it does worry you when I talk to my phantom friend?”- Jacqueline

Trench Patterns
Bain St-Michel, Oct. 23-Nov. 18, 2012
5300, rue St-Dominique (corner Maguire)
Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00 pm
Sunday matinee at 2:00pm

Regular: $25
Students/Seniors/Canadian Forces: $17
Infinithéâtre 6Packs available (6 tickets for $68)
Box Office:
514 987-1774 ext. 104 with PayPal
Ticket sales at the door are CASH ONLY
Sunday, November 11 FREE for Canadian Forces, 2pm
Talkback Tuesdays: a post-performance informal discussion with the artists

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Manhattan Hong Kong Music Festival October 30 to November 3 2012

From a media release:

October Festive: Manhattan Hong Kong Music Festival Showcase of HK's finest musicians and music creation in Manhattan
Manhattan Hong Kong Music Festival
October 30 - November 3, 2012
Many concerts are free of charge

- As music blossoms, a legacy begins.

The Manhattan Hong Kong Music Festival, co-presented by Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC) and Manhattan School of Music (MSM), will be held in Manhattan, New York from 30 October to 3 November 2012.

The Festival is the first of its kind from ADC to bring forth the finest musicians and music creation to one of the world’s leading music centers – New York. A series of music concerts and activities will be staged by musicians from both Hong Kong and Manhattan during the Festival. The ADC initiates this project with a mission not only to reflect the diversity and vitality of musical Hong Kong, but also to create and facilitate cultural exchanges between the two metropolitan cities.

Professor Johnny M Poon, Artistic Director of the Festival, has put together six very special concerts in various locations in Manhattan, including the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and various concert venues at Manhattan School of Music. Participating artists and composers from Hong Kong include Richard Bamping, Victor Chan, Chan Wing-wah, Pius Cheung, Barbara Fei, Yuki Ip, Fung Lam, Warren Lee, Li Chuan-yun, Andrew Ling, Nancy Loo, Richard Tsang, Mary Wu, Nina Yip and Samson Young.

Violinist Li Chuan Yun

Highlights of the programme include Cutting Edge in Hong Kong to feature the works by Hong Kong composers of different generations, and Chinoiserie Moderne: Beyond Exoticism to present the works of five outstanding American-Chinese composers, where renowned soprano Ms Barbara Fei will make a special appearance.

Check out the full programme at the link

To enrich the programme, a video installation/sound performance will be staged by multi-media artist cum composer Samson Young at the Lincoln Center. Fringe activities including a master class, meet-the-artist session and composition forum which will also be held to foster exchange and communication between the artists of Hong Kong and Manhattan.

Sincere gratitude goes to the Festival’s major sponsor the Home Affairs Bureau,and to the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York and Asian Cultural Council for their support. Also, special thanks go to The Pawn for being a venue sponsor of the press conference.

To share the joy of the Festival with people in Hong Kong who might not be able to be present at the Festival, all concerts together with artist interviews will be broadcast by Radio 4 in four consecutive weeks in November. Details will be announced at the ADC's website

Pianist Nancy Loo with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra

Friday, October 26, 2012

Art Toronto 2012 - October 26 to 29

Art Toronto 2012
October 26-29, 2012
at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre

I had a chance to preview the vast Art Toronto show just before the hordes of people started to line up at about 11:30am (not kidding about the hordes).

The show is set up in sections, with emerging galleries in one area, more established galleries and traditional art in others.

There's way too much for this to be a "best of" - just a bit of a sampling. It's a real art junkie's heaven, with a cross section of just about everything there is on the market, albeit with a leaning towards paintings and photography. Young Canadian artist Clint Neufeld's playful sculpture/installations (at the Derrell Bell Gallery in Saskatoon) were a notable exception.

The galleries come from all over North America, Mexico and South America, Europe and Australia along with a great sampling of Asian art in the Focus Asia feature of this year's show, where galleries representing artists from China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, India and Southeast Asia were invited to participate.

The results are wonderfully varied. Some of the other special features:

- The Next Section of emerging galleries and edgy artists
- the Canadian Art Magazine area with exhibitions that will change daily and a talk each day at 2pm
- along those line, many talks and guided tours
- at the Contemporary Art Galleries Association booth, (and organization based in Montreal,) artist Jim Holyoak began a piece on site Thursday night that he'll be completing over the weekend
- a bookstore on site right beside a publications lounge featuring some of Canada's stellar art magazines
- a roboticized gamelan - the Gamelatron - specially commissioned for the show from Brooklyn based artist Taylor Kuffner that consists of a series of gongs set up at mezzanine level along the railing (you'll see what I mean when you get there!)

Some other stuff that caught my eye:

At the Jonathan Cooper, Park Walk Gallery (London, U.K.) - I was struck by Simon Gales' vivid and very design oriented paintings and a wonderful pair of hand hewn ceramic rabbits by Tanya Brett - you can check her out at work in a video at this link.

The Pegasus Gallery of Canadian Art from Salt Springs, BC, who specialize in historic and investment quality Canadian art, including the usual suspects - Group of Seven, Painters Eleven, Cornelius Krieghoff and more as well as Northwest Coast First Nations Art.

Naturally, the Robert Rauschenberg BMW Art Car is a focal point and includes riffs on classical art like Ingres reclining nude on the side.

The Focus Asia features added a lot of depth to what has grown into a truly international show. I was drawn to the pieces in many of the galleries, including the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) from China, Gallery Sumukha from Bangalore, India and Galerie Pici from Seoul, South Korea, among others.The work is vibrant and has a thoroughly contemporary sense of identity that has little to do with any preconceived notions of 'what is Asian'.

There's also a solid contigent of Montreal galleries with some outstanding work, including Galerie de Bellefeuille and Art Mûr.

Perhaps the best news of all is that I was hearing about sales already before the show had formally begun, including one of Tanya Brett's hare sculptures. The piece specially commissioned for the show and sold in support of MoCCA is a really gorgeous aluminum cut out piece by Toronto artist Ed Pien - and only one was left as the show opened.

- the Robert Rauschenberg BMW Art Car
- Xianjing Yan, Cloudscape (part of the curated 'Beyond Geography' exhibit)
- Clint Neufeld at the Darrell Bell Gallery (Saskatoon)
- Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
- Paresh Maity at Gallery Sumukha
- Galerie Pici
- Art Mûr


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Estrogenius 2012: New York City's Women's Arts Festival November 8 - December 1

From a release:

manhattan theatre source presents

A Celebration of Female Voices
November 8 – December 1, 2012
in New York City

Can’t wait til November 8th? Well, then we have GREAT news for you. Come check out
Stand-Up for Estro’s early opening, November 2nd & 3rd at 8pm.

NEW YORK CITY - Manhattan Theatre Source’s EstroGenius Festival, an annual celebration of female voices, is one of New York City’s largest women’s arts festivals.

We take open submissions from around the world and are committed to providing opportunities to female artists – in a variety of disciplines – ranging from the emerging to the seasoned professional.

We’re really excited about this year’s festival (our 13th!), which will take place November 8th through December 1st at TBG Theatre in Midtown.

Founded by Fiona Jones in 2000, the festival debuted with a program of 10 short plays and music. Since then, it has grown into amulti-week event including short plays, solo shows, music, visual art, dance, stand-up comedy, teen performances and support for African girls’ education.

Completely volunteer run, the EstroGenius Festival has provided more than 1,600 artists the chance to shine; showcased award-winning playwrights Sheila Callaghan, Quiara Alegria Hudes, T.D. Mitchell and Melissa Maxwell; presented Bessie Award-winning choreographers Marta Renzi and Jennifer Nugent; and provided scholarships for girls to attend school in Niger, ranked the poorest country in the world by the United Nations.

The festival's mission is to support the development of new works and emerging artists in a variety of disciplines. We accept short play submissions from across the country and around the world, from male and female, gay, straight, transgender, white, black, Latino and Asian artists ranging in age from twelve to eighty years old. Production decisions are tempered by the knowledge that diverse contributions strengthen our artistic integrity. Similarly, directors, designers, actors and others are pulled from all walks of life and the subject matters addressed span sexual and cultural boundaries.

EstroGenius embodies Manhattan Theatre Source’s four "house rules":

• Principles before personalities
• Practice generosity of spirit
• Share your information
• Clean up after yourself

Theatre is, by its nature, collaborative, and EstroGenius is a showcase of collaboration at its very best. We start with a team of committed producers, and we add great scripts, inspired directors, talented actors, magical designers, supercompetent stage managers, and a flock of other support. The result is a festival that is absolutely first-rate and gets better every year.

Short Plays
Our short play series anchors the EstroGenius Festival. For each week of the festival, we present the New York premieres of a series of throught-provoking short plays. Past plays have included a fairy-tale zombie apocalypse, a body dysmorphic costume comedy, a tale of two conjoined twins finding their independence, and the story of a disgruntled grandmother with wanna-be road rage. (Check the link for schedule)

Sola Voce
Sola Voce is a powerhouse program of solo shows. From hilarious to heart-wrenching, Sola Voce is a eclectic showcase of the art of solo performance. (Check the link for schedule)

Women in Motion
commissioned dance works

Women in Motion commissions and presents new works from women choreographers. The producing team, made up of former WiM commissioned choreographers, is Esther Palmer, Melissa Riker, Amber Sloan, Anne Zuerner. Women in Motion was founded as part of EstroGenius by Melissa Riker.

Women in Motion Performances:
NOVEMBER 14 at 8pm
NOVEMBER 17 at 6pm

Stand-Up for Estro has assembled an awesome line-up of comics for your amusement.

Stand Up for Estro is back for the EstroGenius 2012 Festival! We will be featured at the Festival twice each week.

We kick of the month long festival with EstroGenius 2012 Stand-Up for Estro Opening Weekend! Friday, November 2nd and Saturday, November 3rd.  Both shows are at 8 pm at the Weist Baron Studios located at 35 West 45th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues) New York, NY 10036.  We will have hard and soft beverages for purchase along with raffle prizes and surprises galore!

The dates we are performing at TBG (Home of this year’s Estro) are Friday, November 9th; Saturday, November 10th; Friday, November 16th; Saturday, November 17th; and Friday November 30th.  All nights 10 PM. Tickets are $5 buckaroos. There is not a drink minimum at TBG.

CD Release & Free MP3 Download: Egyptian Project (October 30 2012)

From a media release:


Free download at this link
Get the album here

With all the news that’s been coming out of Egypt over the last year, it’s surprising that more music has not been circulating. Years before the terms ‘Arab Spring’ was coined, French producer Jérôme Ettinger devoted himself to exploring, preserving and spreading the sound of the North African country he fell in love with. Assembling world-class musicians and layering in tasteful electronic rhythms beneath virtuosic playing, his Egyptian Project debut, Ya Amar (Six Degrees Records), is the most potent album to arise from this country since the political upheaval began.

‘My idea was to mix electronic, acoustic and Egyptian traditional music,’ he says from his Nantes house. ‘I chose one string instrument player, one singer, a percussionist and rababa player. They are all my family now—I manage and organize everything for all of them.’

The 34-year-old native of Nantes, France began traveling to Cairo to study the arghul, a clarinet-like, double-pipe, single-reed woodwind instrument, that has a long history in Arabic music. His teacher, Mostafa Abdel Aziz, performed on the famous Egyptian orchestral recording of Mozart’s work, as well with Peter Gabriel. During this time Ettinger founded Zmiya, an electro-world band that sometimes explored Egyptian melodies, rhythms and lyrics.

As his passion for Egyptian culture and music grew, Ettinger assembled a team of renowned artists for a touring band: percussionist Ragab Sadek, rababa player/violinist Salama Metwally, (oud player Ihad Radwan and) singer Sayed Eman, whose epic vocals decorate many of this album’s 10 songs. With all musicians between the ages of 50 and 60, Ettinger has played an important role in introducing these incredible artists to the world beyond the Nile.

Using Ableton Live during live shows—they’ve played many times in France and Egypt in the three years since the band’s founding—Ettinger records and samples percussive and melodic parts, laying them into the beats he’s creating on stage, which he admits was no small feat.

‘In the beginning, it was not easy to mix electronic and Egyptian music,’ he says. ‘The rababa player had never played this way. I told him that he only had eight measures to play, but he wouldn’t stop. It took a while to teach him to work in that construction.’

Patience is a virtue, however, and working with sound engineers Jean Paul Romann (Tinariwen, Lo’Jo) and Rodolphe Gervais (Desert Rebel, Ray Charles), Ettinger recorded and mixed the album at Studio du Faune in Montauban de bretagne, France. The merging worlds of digital music and classical performance immediately shine on ‘Ya Amar,’ a song discussing how the world’s diverse cultures all see one moon at night—a beautiful tribute to a nation in transition.

Like much Arabic and especially Sufi poetry, couplets are repeated over and over, each time colored by Emam’s grand voice. ‘Ya Sahbi,’ with its building electric guitar, violin and drum kit, discusses betrayal.

‘The song is about a problem between friends, dealing with betrayal,’ Ettinger says. ‘All the lyrics speak about very simple things, like the hurt that happens between two people. The general idea is that if you betray somebody, you will be betrayed.’

Sayed Emam is not hard-set on repeating lyrics verbatim. He once called Ettinger and said that he could not sing the same lyrics that night, as he didn’t feel those emotions that day. Ettinger told him that as long as he stayed within the beat structure, he is always free to improvise. He also knew that while Emam might occasionally change a lyric, the meaning on his poetry remains intact. Regardless, you never know what will happen at any Egyptian Project show.

Ettinger himself often sings melodies behind Emam. Originally trained by a blind guitarist Hervé Masson, he was taught to feel the music in a way someone with sight would have difficulty transmitting. While Massive Attack is one of his favorite electronic music bands, his real passions have been for the folk musics of the world: Malian kora, Australian digeridoo, Western European hurdy-gurdys, as well as various forms of French music. Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky round out his eclectic list.

Taking three years to record Ya Amar, Ettinger wanted to respect Egypt’s traditional sound and not force it to fit into his electronic context—the fundamentals had to remain the same. By all accounts, he’s succeeded splendidly. With plans of adding a Gypsy female vocalist from Cairo to round out the live band’s presence, he is excited to open up touring possibilities to other countries.

Ettinger’s other initiative is also helping in both outreach and economics. ‘The arghul is a dying instrument. The instrument will soon be seen only in museums. That’s why we’ve been organizing meetings with journalists and going into schools to hold workshops with children. We want to share the musical history of Egyptian music.’

Afrofunk Politics & Party Grooves: Elikeh Live Dates in November 2012

From a media release:

Drums Are Burning: Afrofunk Politics and Party Grooves Fall into Place on Elikeh’s Between 2 Worlds
November 1 in Boston, November 2 in New York City, November 30 in Pittsburgh
Concert details below

“Let’s go under the tree; the drums are already beating. Hey! Wow! Look at how people are shaking their things already!” cries bandleader and songwriter Massama Dogo of Washington DC’s cross-cultural Afropop party, Elikeh. “In Togo, when people are drumming, people say the drummer is burning. Let’s go! He’s on fire.”

The eight-member group knows how to get the fire burning. They channel that energy into funkified pop anthems and thoughtful critiques of corruption, ignorance, and cultural neglect. Now on Between 2 Worlds (Azalea City Recordings; release: August 23, 2012), the group digs deep into the African vintage pop inspiration, the reggae vibes, and the current craze for African-inflected funk and blues on an album that easily straddles two continents.

With bold brass, interlocking percussion, and a sixth sense for the groove, Elikeh mixes precision with just enough raw power to pack a punch. Joined by Malian guitar whiz Vieux Farka Toure (“Alonye”) and jam guitar master John Kadlecik (Furthur, Dark Star Orchestra; “Nye’n mind na wo”), Between 2 Worlds moves from Togolese roots and beats to purring organ and hot grooves, from immigrant alienation to exhortations to keep one’s culture and sense of self (“Know Who You Are”).

“I always describe Elikeh’s music as like taking Fela Kuti and mixing him with Bob Marley. Put in a pot and stir for three minutes and add some Osibisa and Togolese traditional music to it and let it all boil for two more minutes,” Dogo laughs. “Then you add a sprinkle of rock and you have Elikeh.”

Elikeh, Between 2 Worlds (Azalea City Recordings):
Tour Schedule

November 1, 2012
Boston, MA          
Lizard Lounge
1667 Massachusetts Avenue
Show: 9:00 pm
Ph. 617.547.0759

November 2, 2012
New York, NY
85 Avenue A
Tix: $12 adv./$15 door, Doors Open: 9:00 pm, Show: 9:30 pm
Ph: 212.777.1157

November 30, 2012
Pittsburgh, PA
4023 Butler Street          
Thunderbird Cafe
Tix: $10, $8,
Ph: 412.682.0177

K'NAAN at the Highline Ballroom NYC November 1 2012

From a media release:

Thursday, November 1, 2012
at the Highline Ballroom, New York City
Showtime @ 9:00 PM
Doors open @ 8:00 PM
Tickets $25

Get his latest album 'Country, God or the Girl' here

“Love is harder than war,” says A&M/Octone recording artist K’NAAN, explaining the direction he takes on his new album, Country, God Or The Girl. “I’ve had the chance to write about my experiences in a difficult and violent life. But when the suffering and the pain is something that comes from within me, it’s harder to react and to write about that.”

With his new songs—including the album's irresistible, empathetic first single, "Is There Anybody Out There?," featuring Nelly Furtado—the Somalian-born, Canadian-based singer and MC turns his attention to the most universal emotions and experiences of them all: the personal relationships which everyone struggles with and rejoices in. At the same time, though, he never loses the greater sense of the world that has defined him as an artist. On Country, God Or The Girl, K’NAAN says, marks his attempt to address “the internal wars, rather than the external ones, which I'd been preoccupied with on my previous albums.”

The album is K’NAAN’s first full-length work since his multi-platinum global smash single, “Wavin’ Flag.” After a remixed version of the song was selected as Coca-Cola's theme song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign, the song reached #1 on iTunes in 18 countries around the world.

 “’Waving Flag’ made me more confident in how I approach music,” says K’NAAN. “No one believed that song could reach so many people or become such a phenomenon, which made me doubt myself a bit, because I really thought it could touch people. So now any reaction to a song of mine doesn't bother me, because I think it’s more likely that people really do hear it the way I'm hearing it.”

The enormous success of the single opened up countless doors for K’NAAN, as reflected by the caliber and range of guests who appear on Country, God Or The Girl, from Nas on “Nothing to Lose” to Bono on “Bulletproof Pride,” plus appearances by Will.I.Am, Keith Richards, and B.O.B. But it was the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, which traveled to 86 countries, that the singer claims made the greatest impact on his music.

“I went to 22 countries in Africa, back to back,” he says. “Seeing Africa to that degree freed me from having a narrow message in my music.

“A friend told me about working in refugee camps during the Rwandan genocide,” he continues. “When people settled into the evening, though, nobody talked about the horrific tragedies that were happening. They were talking about their lost loves. And that hit me so deeply—how human beings are having the same conversations everywhere, even in times of war and famine. Their favorite songs are always love songs. And I wasn't speaking to them in the place that was most important to them.”

This focus is evident in such songs as “Hurt Me Tomorrow” (one of several tracks produced by hit machine Ryan Tedder, who has worked with such megastars as Beyonce and Adele) and “The Sound of My Breaking Heart.” K’NAAN says that he hopes his lyrics offer a perspective that has become too rare in today’s music.

“The vulnerability in a song like ‘Hurt Me Tomorrow’ is not from a macho place, it's about putting yourself at the mercy of someone else's love,” he says. “I think people are tired of hearing the same stories on the radio, about wealthy people who are always winning. It’s like nobody is allowed to have a bad day anymore, which I don't find believable or attractive at all.”

The product of a creative family, K’NAAN fled Mogadishu with his family at age 13. After learning English, partly by immersing himself in the classic hip-hop albums of the ‘90s, he came to prominence in 1999 with a spoken word performance at the United Nations that caught the attention of Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour.

K’NAAN’s debut album, 2005’s The Dusty Foot Philosopher, won the Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year, and was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize. He signed with A&M/Octone and released the follow-up, Troubadour, in 2009, which won two more Junos, for Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. Along the way he has collaborated with the likes of Mary J. Blige, the Roots, Adam Levine, Mos Def, Keane, and Damian Marley.

Beyond the expansion in the scope of his writing, K’NAAN points to several other songs on Country, God Or The Girl as breakthroughs of a more musical kind. “More Beautiful Than Silence” sees him looking both back and forward. “That really goes back to the tradition of more hard-edged street rhymes, juxtaposed with romantic hooks—like French melodies against war-torn raps,” he says. “Pre-Troubadour, I was known for my unapologetic rhymes, for being able to call out a situation without political compromise. But I didn't have the melodic chops to execute that, and I’m able to do both now.”

Celebrated for his dynamic live performances, K’NAAN feels that one song truly captures that side of his work in a new way. “I think ‘The Seed’ gets that sound of mine that's so hard to describe—it’s like punk-rock reggae, with lyrics that are direct, where the story follows a chronology. It feels like you're in front of me on stage, like a real experience of my show, and it’s the first time I've been able to record that feeling in a song.”

On Country, God Or The Girl, K’NAAN offers a vision in which the personal is the political, but the personal is also the personal. “Being known for my consciousness and activism can be limiting,” he says. “I do care about the state of the world, but it’s no less true that I care about love and betrayal, heartbreak and pain and loyalty. It's dishonest to ignore parts of yourself just to sustain the idea that people have of you. It would be comfortable for me to just write about politics and consciousness and stay where my fans know me. But to progress musically, I had to open myself up.”

At the same time, though, he warns against the idea that music is something that can be controlled, that it’s possible for any of his work to be fully planned or calculated. “Music is so far beyond the ideas that we have of it,” says K’NAAN. “It’s a mistake to think you can create music. The true thing is that it reveals itself to you, and you're lucky to witness that.”

Pageantry & Puppets: The 13th Annual Night of Dread October 27, 2012 in Toronto

From a media release:

Clay & Paper Theatre presents
The 13th Annual
Saturday 27 October, 2012 ~ Dufferin Grove Park

lease join Clay & Paper Theatre on Saturday 27 October for the 13th annual NIGHT OF DREAD, when we will parade our private and collective fears through the darkened streets of Toronto. NIGHT OF DREAD is an unforgettable evening of pageantry, music and masquerade, towering puppets, fire-spinners and fearful masks. The interactive parade begins in Dufferin Grove Park at 6pm. Admission is PWYC ($10 suggested) and all are welcome.

The hour-long procession then returns to Dufferin Grove Park for an evening of ceremonial festivities that allow us to call on, mock and banish the fears that unite and divide us in these times. Each year we select a “Big Fear of the Year” as a theme; 2012’s big fear is WAR: Big, ugly, oppressive war … but all your fears are welcome to attend and be banished!

On this year’s NIGHT OF DREAD we will introduce “Big Ugly” - a newly-created giant puppet – who orchestrates his irresistible phalanx of offensive F35 fighter jets, and together they frighten and drive the masked People of the World around the circle past the point of all hope…

When such a point is reached, when the powers lined up against us are so overwhelming, force is not an option.  Only music and dance can drive such ugly war-mongering spirits away.  You will be surprised at how powerfully and beautifully all the Dread-ers are able to win the night!

This much-loved community celebration incorporates international folk and theatrical traditions, drawing inspiration from festivals of death and remembrance around the world. Parade and dance in the streets with our city’s finest musicians, puppeteers, dancers and fire spinners … then return to the park where together we’ll laugh at our fears, waltz with death, eat the bread of the dead, and remember those who have gone from our midst.

Out amongst the community bake-ovens and lush gardens of Toronto's Dufferin Grove Park, Clay & Paper Theatre has been changing the world since its birth in 1994. This is theatre on the ground, for the groundlings, in the park and on the street. This is theatre of exaggeration, of giant puppetry, of satire and wit gone awry. This is a little theatre company asking big questions with humour and irreverence. For more info:

Schedule of Events for NIGHT OF DREAD 2012
DATE: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - Dufferin Grove Park
TIME: 4:00pm - Participants begin assembling in Dufferin Grove Park
6:00pm - Parade begins
7:30pm – Parade returns to Dufferin Grove Park for pageantry and celebration.
Clay & Paper has many costumes and puppets available for the public to wear in the parade. Come early to the Dufferin Grove Park Rink House to avoid disappointment!
DRESS CODE: Black & White & Dreadful
ADMISSION: Pay-What-You-Can / $10 Suggested

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Opera Atelier opens with Weber’s Der Freischütz Oct 27 - Nov 3 2012

From a media release:

Season opens with Weber’s haunting Der Freischütz (The Marksman)
Opera Atelier lays claim to a new period with iconic German Romantic opera

DATES: October 27, 28, 30, 31, November 2 and 3, 2012 – including a Halloween show!
TIMES: 7:30 P.M. (*with the exception of Sunday matinee at 3 P.M.)
TICKET PRICES: Tickets start at $35.
BOX OFFICE: Ticketmaster at 1-855-622-ARTS(2787) or at
VENUE: The Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge Street, Toronto)

Opera Atelier’s 2012-2013 season opens with a brand new production of Der Freischütz (The Marksman), OA’s first production from the Romantic period in the company’s history. Premiered in 1821, Weber’s Der Freischütz (The Marksman) is based on German folklore and is widely considered the first important German Romantic opera. This is an artistically bold move into uncharted territory for Opera Atelier, which has previously dealt exclusively with Baroque and Classical work from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is part of the company’s ongoing mission to shake off the preconceptions about “period production” by reimagining and revitalizing the great works of the entire operatic canon.

Der Freischütz (The Marksman) is the story of Max, a young man who must pass a test of marksmanship in order to win his love’s hand and claim his position in the community. Frustrated at practice, Max enters into a Faustian deal for seven magic bullets: six will unerringly hit their intended mark, and the final one is at the command of the devil. With its emotional intensity, integration of German folk legend, and depiction of nature as sublime and untamable, Der Freischütz (The Marksman) is a quintessential work of the Romantic era.

Der Freischütz (The Marksman) is a powerful vehicle for Croatian tenor Kre¹imir ©picer (who played the title roles in OA’s productions of Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito) as the title marksman Max. He is joined by baritone Vasil Garvanliev, soprano Meghan Lindsay, soprano Carla Huhtanen, baritone Curtis Sullivan, bass-baritone Olivier LaQuerre, baritone Michael Nyby, and bass Gustav Andreassen. Der Freischütz (The Marksman) will feature the full corps of the Artists of Atelier Ballet.

The creative team includes director Marshall Pynkoski, choreographer Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, set designer Gerard Gauci, costume designer Martha Mann, and lighting designer Bonnie Beecher. Music Director David Fallis conducts the Tafelmusik Orchestra. Sung in German with English Surtitles.

2012-20123 Season Sponsor: Sun Life Financial
Der Freischütz (The Marksman) Production Underwriter: Michael A. Wekerle of Difference Capital Inc.
Der Freischütz (The Marksman) Production Sponsor: BMO Financial Group

Opera Atelier also gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.

Opera Atelier is Canada’s premier Baroque opera/ballet company, producing opera, ballet and drama from the 17th and 18th centuries. While drawing upon the aesthetics and ideals of the period, Opera Atelier goes beyond “reconstruction” and infuses each production with an inventive theatricality that resonates with modern audiences. Since 1985, lead by founding artistic directors Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, Opera Atelier has garnered acclaim for its performances at home as well as in the United States, Europe and Asia. The 2012-2013 season begins with Der Freischütz (The Marksman), Oct. 27-Nov. 3, 2012, followed by a revival of Mozart’s wildly popular The Magic Flute, Apr. 6-13, 2013.

• Aaron Ferguson. Photo: Bruce Zinger 2012.
• Design of the Freischütz scrim by Gerard Gauci

Broadway World Premiere: The Performers Previews Begin October 23 2012

From a media release:

Porns Stars Are People Too

David West Read's new Broadway comedy starring

World-premiere set to begin previews Oct. 23, 2012
prior to opening November 14, 2012 on Broadway at Longacre Theatre

Get The Performers Tickets

- Producers Robyn Goodman, Scott M. Delman and Amanda Lipitz announce that Alicia Silverstone is joining Cheyenne Jackson, Ari Graynor, Daniel Breaker, Jenni Barber and Henry Winkler in THE PERFORMERS, completing the cast of David West Read’s new Broadway comedy. THE PERFORMERS will begin preview performances October 23 prior to its official opening night November 14 at the Longacre Theatre (220 W. 48 St.) in New York City.

THE PERFORMERS will be directed by Evan Cabnet (WARRIOR CLASS, ALL-AMERICAN), who also directed David West Read's play THE DREAM OF THE BURNING BOY, a critical and popular hit when it debuted in March 2011 at Roundabout Theatre's Underground Series, produced by Robyn Goodman.

THE PERFORMERS is a romantic comedy about two high school friends (Cheyenne Jackson and Daniel Breaker) -- and the women in their lives (Ari Graynor and Alicia Silverstone, respectively) -- who reconnect at the Adult Film Awards in Las Vegas. When the night takes an unexpected turn and relationships are threatened, Chuck Wood (Henry Winkler), the hardest-working man in the business, steps in to lend a hand.  Sex, love and Barry Manilow intersect in this comedy about the ups and downs and ins and outs of love.

Alicia Silverstone is best known for her roles in Hollywood films such as CLUELESS and her portrayal of Batgirl in BATMAN & ROBIN.  Her performances have garnered Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and she won National Board of Review.  She is also a New York Times bestselling author.

On Broadway in 2010 she starred with Laura Linney in Donald Margulies' play TIME STANDS STILL.  She made her Broadway debut in 2002 as Elaine Robinson in THE GRADUATE.  She has worked with David Mamet on his plays SPEED THE PLOW and BOSTON MARRIAGE at Geffen Playhouse.

This fall she will star alongside Krysten Ritter and Sigourney Weaver in the romantic horror-comedy film VAMPS, written and directed by Amy Heckerling (CLUELESS).  Also this fall she will star in the film comedy BUTTER with Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Garner.  This spring she co-starred on ABC's hit comedy series "Suburgatory" along with her CLUELESS CO-STAR Jeremy Sisto.

Ms. Silverstone made her feature film debut in THE CRUSH in 1993, winning two MTV Movie Awards -- Best Breakthrough Performance and Best Villain.  She had additional breakthrough success in the Aerosmith videos "Cryin," "Amazing" and "Crazy," leading to her role in CLUELESS, a critical success and sleeper hit in 1995.  For her performance Ms. Silverstone won the National Board of Review Award for "Best Breakthrough Performer," the MTV Movie Award for "Best Female Performance" and "Most Desirable Female," and the American Comedy Award for "Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture."

She played Batgirl in BATMAN & ROBIN in 1997 and starred in the dark comedy EXCESS BAGGAGE, which she also produced.  Other film credits include BEAUTY SHOP, BLAST FROM THE PAST, Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST, STORMBREAKERS, SCOOBY DOO 2 and SCORCHED.

Her television credits include NBC's "Miss Match" for which she was nominated for a Golden Glove, and voicing the lead character in the animated series "Braceface," for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award.  She has been executive producer for 75 episodes of the series.

In 2009, Ms. Silverstone released her first book, "The Kind Diet:  A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving the Planet," which was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in hardback and returned to The Times' bestseller list in paperback in 2011.  Ms. Silverstone is a dedicated advocate of the planet and its animals and even bared all in PETA's first-ever naked veggie testimonial PSA in 2007.

In addition to THE PERFORMERS and THE DREAM OF THE BURNING BOY, Mr. Read is the author of the play HAPPY FACE, presented at South Coast Rep in 2010.

THE PERFORMERS is Mr. Read's first play on Broadway, and also marks the Broadway directing debut for Mr. Cabnet.

Tickets to THE PERFORMERS are on sale now via Telecharge and patrons can purchase by calling Telecharge at  212 239 6200  or online at or

Persian Classical Music: Sepideh Raissadat & Hamid Motebassem w/ Mezrab Ensemble Oct 26 12 in Toronto

From a media release:


WHO: Sepideh Raissadat & Hamid Motebassem w/ Mezrab Ensemble
WHAT: A classical Persian music-lover’s dream concert / Launch of Canadian – European Tour
WHERE: St. Andrews Church, 73 Simcoe St, Toronto, ON
WHEN: Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 7:30pm until 10:00pm.
TICKETS: $45 adv. / $50 Door /  $25 **Student Online
Also available at Pegah Book Store: 416-223-0850, Super Khorak: 416-221-7558, Pars Video: 416-512-2414, Soundscapes: 416-537-1620 

    TORONTO – Amid the current political climate and strained Canadian/Iranian relations, it is always the musical voice that rings out with reason. To that end, Link Music Lab and Godot Art Production proudly presents the beautifully defiant vocalist SEPIDEH RAISSADAT, one of the most celebrated Iranian-Canadian artists today, in concert with HAMID MOTEBASSEM, one of Iran’s best loved tar and setar masters. Flanked by the distinguished Iranian all-star MEZRAB ENSEMBLE, the two perform Persian classical music at its finest when they launch their Canadian-European tour on Friday, October 26 at St. Andrews Church, 73 Simcoe Street in Toronto. Doors will open at 7:30 pm. For more information please visit

Persian classical vocalist and musician SEPIDEH RAISSADAT began her recording career at the age of 18, which is no small feat considering singing in public is forbidden amongst women in her native Iran since the 1979 revolution. To her credit, the courageous and rebellious Sepideh was the first female vocalist to have a solo public performance in Iran, in 2000.

With such a dynamic beginning, and having studied with many of the musical greats – such as Iranian Diva Parisa and renowned masters Parviz Meshkatian and Mohammad-Reza Lotfi – Sepideh continued her musical studies at the University of Bologna, in Italy. This led to numerous performances in Europe, notably with Italian musicians Franco Battiato and Andrea Parodi. As well, her stunning vocals and setar performance can be heard on the 2007 movie soundtrack Terra Sancta (Holy Land), recorded in Bologna. She has since garnered many invitations to perform at prestigious institutions, including UNESCO, the Vatican and international media such as BBC and RAI. With three critically acclaimed CDs of her own and guest appearances on numerous albums, she is currently based in Toronto, continuing her academic research in Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto.

Iranian-born composer, tar and setar player HAMID MOTEBASSEM was raised in a musical family, where violin and tar were mainstays. His father was among an impressive list of teachers that included the masters Habiballah Salehi, Zeydallah Toloie, Houshang Zarif, Hossein Alizadeh and Mohammad Reza Lotfi. One of the original members of Aref Ensemble, he founded the now defunct Dastan Ensemble as well as Ensemble Chakavak, Mezrab & Pardis upon emigration to Germany in 1986. Now based in Amsterdam, his most current project is Simorq, in collaboration with the renonwned singer Homayoun Shajarian (the son of the famous Mohammad Reza Shajarian.)

Motebassem is the founder of The Society of Tar and Setar and has, since 1994, organized annual seminars dedicated to the two instruments. He has performed on numerous albums of contemporary Iranian composers, and his own works include compositions for traditional instruments.

A Canadian since 2010, the Iranian-born percussionist NAGHMEH FARAHMAND is the daughter of leading master percussionist Mahmoud Farahmand. She has studied Iranian traditional rhythms on tonbak under the supervision of her father, while learning Sufi and Kurdish rhythms on daf and dayereh from teachers Bijan Kamkar and Masoud Habibi. Also fully skilled in other percussion instruments, such as santoor, darbuka, djembe, udu, kanjira, cajon and drumset, Naghmeh has performed with well-known ensembles in Iran and at festivals and concerts around the world. She is the founder of the Sharghi percussion ensemble, and is in the process of completing her CD Drums and Dreams that will be available for release soon.

Sepideh Raisadat: Vocals
Hamid Motebassem: Tar & Setar
Arman Sigarchi: Barbat
Pejman Zahedian: Setar
Ramin Azimian: Bam-Tar
Naghmeh Farahmand: Percussion

Nnenna Okore at the Contemporary African Art Gallery New York City

From a media release:

Nnenna Okore: Transfiguration
Contemporary African Art Gallery
330 West 108th Street (at Riverside Dr.)
New York , New York 10025

The Opening
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
6:00 - 9:00 pm

Open Hours
Saturday October 27 & November 3  12:00 noon- 6:00 pm
Thereafter By Appointment
Bill Karg and Reese Fayde

When I opened Nnenna Okore's first exhibit in New York in 2007, one of the gallery visitors remarked that she needed more seasoning. There was no arguing that Nnenna was young, at still under 30; however, "more seasoning" did not resonate. Five years later, I now understand. Nnenna's work has developed in both aesthetic complexity and meaning. I have installed a work that the gallery purchased five years ago as part of the exhibit. See if the earlier work is recognizable.

What has been perceptible over these five years is that Nnenna is rarely identified as the student of El Anatsui. As an artist she has always had her own, and very independent, voice. She now also has a maturing reputation to accompany it. During the last five years she has indeed become an artist with an international reputation, having been in shows in the United States, England, France, Denmark, Brazil and, of course, her native Nigeria.

The show is a fusion of works of paper and bark, which place a sharp focus on the physical world, fused with ceramic works, which impart more human manipulation and more deliberate sculptural form. The ceramic works, juxtaposed against the more amorphous natural paper and bark forms, bring a Zen-like configuration with each technique accentuating what the other is or is not.

We have heard much about the cycle of life and just as often the end of that cycle is not portrayed or, if so, not in a beautiful way. Nnenna exalts the beauty of aging and deterioration in a way that brings beauty to all that nature offers us. She offers it in the way-of-the-artist; compelling us to look more closely.

Nnenna Okore's process grows, appropriately, from her African observations: weaving, sewing, dyeing, rolling and twisting fabric. Her broad definition of "fabric" adds the unique quality to her work. 

Similar to the veins in a leaf claiming an intricacy that can take the breath, the filigree that Nnenna captures with burlap and cloth give nothing less in beauty and intricacy to a similar process in gold. Do we have kind of reverse alchemy here?

To say that Nnenna Okore is one of the most innovative young artists to emerge from Africa is an understatement. In a relatively short period of time she has built an international following and finds herself in the permanent collections of, to name a few: The Newark Museum; The Jean Paul Blanchere Foundation, France; The Royal Collections, Abu Dhabi and the Daraja Foundation, London.

Nnenna is on a Fulbright in Nigeria so she will not be able to join us; however, we hope you will.

• Conjoined (48" x 42" x 7")
• Threads of Time (57" x 59" x 10")
• Ndidi (68" X 50" X 10")