Wednesday, September 25, 2013

jazz@riverside presents Jeremy Pelt September 30, 2013 - 7pm at the Riverside Theatre (New York City)

From a release:

jazz@riverside presents
Jeremy Pelt
September 30, 2013 - 7pm

at the Riverside Theatre (New York City)

Buy tickets here
Buy Jeremy's latest CD Water And Earth here

The Riverside Theatre is excited about working with its "Resident Partner: Jazzmobile" in presenting jazz@ riverside. First in the (returning) series is internationally acclaimed and Jazzmobile performer - Jeremy Pelt.  The program starts at 7 and ends at 8:30, 90 minutes of non-stop fabulous music!

Jeremy Pelt has become one of the preeminent young trumpeters within the world of jazz. Forging a bond with the Mingus Big Band very early on, as his career progressed, Pelt built upon these relationships and many others which eventually lead to collaborations with some of the genre's greatest masters. These projects include performances and recordings with Cliff Barbaro, Keter Betts, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Ravi Coltrane, Frank Foster, Winard Harper, Jimmy Heath, Vincent Herring, John Hicks, Charli Persip, Ralph Peterson, Lonnie Plaxico, Bobby Short, Cedar Walton, Frank Wess, Nancy Wilson and The Skatalites, to name a few.

Pelt frequently performs alongside such notable ensembles as the Roy Hargrove Big Band, The Village Vanguard Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Big Band, and is a member of the Lewis Nash Septet and The Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band featuring Louis Hayes. As a leader, Pelt has recorded ten albums and has toured globally with his various ensembles, appearing at many major jazz festivals and concert venues.

Pelt's recordings and performances have earned him critical acclaim, both nationally and internationally. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal by legendary jazz writer and producer, Nat Hentoff, and was voted Rising Star on the trumpet, five years in a row by Downbeat Magazine and the Jazz Journalist Association. Pelt is currently touring throughout the United States and Europe in support of his latest release, "Water And Earth" (High Note Records, January 2013).

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Work By Three Trailblazing African Choreographers @ New York Live Arts - September 25 -28 2013

From a media release:

New Work By Three Trailblazing African Choreographers
New York Live Arts - September 25 -28 2013

Boyzie Cekwana and Panaibra Canda - The Inkomati (dis)cord - Sept 25 – 26 at 7:30pm
Bouchra Ouizguen - Ha! - Sept 27 - 28 at 7:30pm

Boyzie Cekwana and Panaibra Canda
The Inkomati (dis)cord
Sep 25 – 26 at 7:30pm

Making its U.S. premiere, The Inkomati (dis)cord is a work made collaboratively by South African artist Boyzie Cekwana and Mozambique artist Panaibra Canda. In 1984, the Mozambique of Samora Machel and the South African apartheid state signed the Nkomati accord, a non-aggression pact. The Inkomati (dis)cord is Cekwana and Canda’s referral to this failed historical agreement, as well as the river that lent its name to it. In an attempt to break through artificial borders and traverse territories, using their own bodies, skins, identities and histories, the choreographers explore the internalized colonial boundaries that still alienate shared histories and aspirations.

Sep 25 at 6:30pm -Come Early Conversation: Destabilizing Reality, A Discussion on African Surrealism, moderated by Awam Amkpa, PhD (Associate Professor, NYU; author of Theater and Postcolonial Desires
Sep 26 immediately following the performance - Stay Late Discussion: DiscussingThe Inkomati (dis)cord, Simon Dove, Co-Curator of Crossing the Line, in conversation with Boyzie Cekwana and Panaibra Canda

Bouchra Ouizguen
Sep 27 - 28 at 7:30pm

Inspired by the quatrains of Persian poet and Sufi mystic Djalâl ad-Dîn Rûmî, Ha!, the latest creation by Bouchra Ouizguen, is an exploration of madness. Using the same working method that led to the success of Madame Plaza (presented at New York Live Arts in September 2012 as part of Voices of Strength), Ouizguen returned to Morocco, her homeland, gaining additional inspiration from the cultural terrain that has enriched the movement, ritual, singing and language in this new work.

Sep 27 at 6:30pm - Come Early Conversation:Aïtas and the Art of Vocal Rebellion moderated by Lili Chopra, Artistic Director of FIAF and Co-Curator of Crossing the Line

Sep 28 immediately following the performance - Stay Late Discussion: Ha!Performing Across Cultural Borders, Carla Peterson, Artistic Director at New York Live Arts and Adrienne Edwards, Associate Curator of Performa Institute in conversation with Bouchra Ouizguen.

New York Live Arts Box Office
219 West 19th Street, NYC

Both productions co-presented with the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) Crossing the Line 2013 festival

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fast Fashion - What Do You Think?

Fast Fashion

Just something to think about - we all want trendy clothes cheap, but we should know by now that cheap always comes at a price.

Created by

Jazz CD Release: Moppa Elliott's Mostly Other People Do the Killing Releases Red Hot on Hot Cup Records September 24 2013

From a media release:

Moppa Elliott's Mostly Other People Do the Killing
Releases Sixth Studio Album
Red Hot on Hot Cup Records, September 24, 2013

Buy it here

El Intruso Jazz Group of the Year, 2011
DownBeat Critics' Poll Winners: Rising Star Ensemble

Featuring: Peter Evans (Rising Star Trumpet), Jon Irabagon (Rising Star Alto Saxophone) Dave Taylor (NARAS MVP Virtuoso), Brandon Seabrook (2012 Best Guitarist, Village Voice), Ron Stabinsky, Moppa Elliott (Rising Star Composer), Kevin Shea (2012 Best Drummer, Village Voice)

NEW YORK CITY - On its newest album Red Hot, to be released on Hot Cup Records on September 24, 2013, Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK) - a fearless ensemble that is one of the most acclaimed jazz groups working today - draws on the melodies and forms of late 1920s and early 1930s jazz and blues artists in music composed by bassist/bandleader Moppa Elliott.

For this project, MOPDtK has expanded its lineup to a 7-piece version which adds veteran New York journeyman Dave Taylor on bass trombone, Brandon Seabrook on banjo, and Ron Stabinsky on piano, each of whom has a lengthy history with MOPDtK.Their inclusion amplifies and clarifies the already well-known and acclaimed approach of the band.  They fit seamlessly with the band's eclectic aesthetic, as each soloist demonstrates a deep understanding of music history, the ability to seamlessly incorporate extended techniques, and a propensity to juxtapose disparate musical styles.

Despite sounding wildly different, Red Hot follows the same conceptual approach as MOPDtK's previous Hot Cup release, Slippery Rock.  For both projects, Elliott immersed himself in the music of a specific time period and searched for musical elements that were unique to each genre.  In the case of  Slippery Rock, the source material in question was classic smooth jazz of the mid 1970s to 1980s.  For Red Hot, Elliott investigated the formal structures of jazz and blues recordings of the late 1920s and early 1930s. He highlighted  the frequent use of modulations, stop-time sections, alternating solos and tutti passages, uneven phrase lengths and shifts in meter as essential elements to that time period's music that are underutilized by early 21st century jazz composers.

Yet rather than attempting to simply recreate the music of 80 years ago, Elliott incorporated these idiomatic structural elements into his own unmistakable compositional style.  Anachronistic juxtapositions occur frequently but are somehow unified, as music spanning all of the last 80 years is shaped into a decidedly contemporary composite sound.  Of particular note is Elliott's use of unaccompanied solos in the form of introductions, cadenzas and stop-time passages to allow the compositions to be partially defined by the whims of his band members.  Elliott's Ellingtonian arrangements make full use of the orchestral palate the expanded ensemble offers him while highlighting the specific talents of each musician.

The opening track, "The Shickshinny Shimmy," utilizes an idiomatic double-time feel while the saxophone intones the melody before settling into the slower tempo.  Relaxed swing alternating with hard rock power chords serves as the accompaniment for a trombone melody before transitioning to a shout chorus.  The soloists first improvise over a modal vamp before moving on to the coda, a constantly rising vamp based on the idea of the Shepard tone.

"Zelienople" is introduced by drummer Kevin Shea after a lengthy drum solo in which he explores the large, 1930s vintage Slingerland drum set he plays throughout the album.  The jaunty opening melody stated by Peter Evans on trumpet is surrounded by collective improvisation and wild shifts in tempo and style by Shea's drums.  The second theme, a unison banjo and bass trombone melody, is played at a half-time tempo before the trombone returns to the opening phrase punctuated by stop-time figures in the ensemble.  Dave Taylor's bass trombone solo continues over a stride piano accompaniment before the rhythm section re-enters and this solo form is repeated for Evans' trumpet.

The title cut opens with a banjo and electronics solo in which Brandon Seabrook manipulates sine waves while interjecting acoustic banjo phrases.  The composition itself is a mash-up of at least five different songs by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band that profoundly influenced composer Elliott during his formative years in the early 1990s.  Other compositional elements such as the double-time piano solos and some formal elements were derived from the Jelly Roll Morton compositions for his band, The Red Hot Peppers.  Most of the expropriated melodic material has been adapted to blues harmonies and each member of the ensemble is given ample solo space.

After a masterful opening solo by Ron Stabinsky that contains more quotations and references than this space allows, "King of Prussia" begins with a series of piano cadenzas before being joined by the C melody saxophone to intone the slow swing theme.  The second statement of the theme by Seabrook's bowed banjo segues into an improvised trio with piano and drums that veers into radically different musical territory.  Seabrook brings the ensemble back in for a stop-time trumpet solo in which each solo break is of a different duration.  Trumpeter Peter Evans explores a wide variety of sounds before the coda brings the tune to a close with erie electronic effects by Seabrook.

Bandleader Elliott opens "Turkey Foot Corner" with an unaccompanied bass solo interweaving gilssondi, double-stops, triads and large intervalic leaps.  Once a steady pulse is stated, the rest of the band enters, improvising around the steady quarter note tempo.  The harmonized melody seems to get stuck like a skipping CD for a different number of beats on each chord before it is clearly stated.  The opening quarter note motif briefly recurs as a lead-in to an unaccompanied bass trombone solo by Dave Taylor in which he makes use of his collection of personally modified mutes.  After the original tempo returns, a trumpet solo leads the ensemble to the coda.

"Seabrook, Power, Plank" is a three-Pennsylvania-town named adaptation of the name of Brandon Seabrook's power trio, "Seabrook Power Plant."  This composition seems to set up a stop-time solo which abruptly cuts out, leaving the soloists, in this case Jon Irabagon on C melody saxophone and Brandon Seabrook on banjo, to their own devices.  These cadenzas are interrupted by a deliberately awkward Latin jazz motif that bridges the divide between the two stop-time sections.

With a title that adapts a Pennsylvania town name to reference a Charles Mingus title, "Orange is the Name of the Town" is a waltz modeled after Paul Whiteman and other "sweet" dance orchestras of the late 1920s.  After the Whiteman-esque opening melody, a bridge culled from the wreckage of Disney soundtracks leads to a 3/4 vamp reminiscent of the Africa Brass sessions by John Coltrane.  Pianist Ron Stabinsky is then charged with transitioning from a McCoy Tyner-esque foray into the world of pentatonics and fourths to a Vienese waltz, a feat managed with great aplomb.  Seabrook's banjo, in the role of descant soloist, swirls around the tutti ensemble shout chorus and continues after all the other members have packed up and gone home.

The 12/8 blues, "Gum Stump," opens with a duet between Evans' trumpet and Irabagon's soprano saxophone.  The tempo is introduced by one of many adaptations of guitarist Robert Johnson's idiomatic interjections.  Johnson's country blues style is often characterized by the addition of beats to certain measures to conform to his fills and interjections.  This idea serves as the basis for Elliott's composition which regularly adds beats to certain measures in which sax and trumpet imitate Johnson's guitar behind a melody stated emphatically by bass trombonist Dave Taylor.  Taylor continues as soloist over several choruses to invoke the history of the blues from Johnson to André 3000 before restating the melody.

If any Pennsylvania town name begged to be adapted into a jazz composition title, it is the village of "Bird-in-Hand."  This up-tempo composition features two main themes, one major and one minor, and explores the pre-bebop jazz vocabulary as well as elements of Gershwin's "An American in Paris" and "Rhapsody in Blue."  Irabagon's soprano saxophone is the lone soloist on this closing number which brings the proceedings to an abrupt and emphatic end.

In 2010, trumpeter Peter Evans was named as one of the 5 "Musicians of the Year" for the second year in a row by All About Jazz New York. Evans performs with two collaborative trios (Mary Halvorson and Weasel Walter, and Tim Dahl and Mike Pride), his own quartet and quintet, and a variety of other ensembles in addition to releasing music on his own label, More is More Records.

Ubiquitous saxophonist Jon Irabagon, winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, recently launched Irabagast Records, his own label.  Irabagon continues to perform with legendary drummer Barry Altschul in duo and trio settings and recently became part of trumpeter and composer Dave Douglass' new quintet.

Dave Taylor is one of the most prolific and sought-after bass trombonists in history.  Over the course of his forty year career he has performed or recorded with everyone from Duke Ellington to Pierre Boulez to the Rolling Stones to Jay-Z.  Recently he has performed Daniel Schnyder's bass trombone concerto and toured with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Brad Mehldau.

Brandon Seabrook was chosen by the Village Voice Best of NYC issue as the city's top guitarist, but he is best known  for his banjo playing.  As the leader of his own ensemble "Seabrook Power Plant," he has recorded two albums for Loyal Label, the most recent of which was called "a manic clusterfuck of merciless banjo torture" by the Village Voice.

Ron Stabinsky is a mercenary pianist based in northeastern Pennsylvania.  When not crisscrossing the northeast from gig to gig in his Prius, Ron presents concerts at St. Stephen's Church in downtown WIlkes-Barre and performs with a variety of improvising ensembles including the Peter Evans Quartet.

Bandleader, bassist, and composer Moppa Elliott spends most of his time educating and coaching his students at St. Mary's High School.  His Hot Cup Records label has released Jonathan Moritz Secret Tempo and MOPDtK's Slippery Rock this year.   He has appeared in the Downbeat Critics' poll several times as a "Rising Star Composer".

Drummer Kevin Shea has been a mainstay on the experimental music scene since the mid 1990s.  His duo Talibam! with Matt Mottel has released two recent albums: Atlantass, a theatrical piece featuring Sam Kulik, and Puff Up the Volume, a foray into the world of rap and hip-hop.  Shea was recently named "Best Drummer" in the Village Voice's Best of NYC issue for 2012, a title he has deserved for over a decade.

DANCE:Access Presents Da-On Dance 'Thirst' September 26-28 2013 in New York City

From a media release:

Da-On Dance
September 26-28, 2013

at Danspace Project
St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery (New York City)

Thursday-Saturday at 8:00PM
$20 General / $15 Danspace members

Buy tickets

DANCE: Access is a self-produced series administered by Danspace Project.

NEW YORK CITY - Jin Ju Song-Begin is a choreographer, dancer, and dance teacher from Seoul, Korea, whose work has been presented internationally in Korea, Japan, and the U.S. She founded Da-On Dance in 2012. Song strives to create and convey truthful experiences within the performers, through the stage, and into the audience. Her vision is to offer impetus for thought, emotion, and something less definable. This evening marks the premiere of the company's first evening-length work.

Thirst is structured on themes drawn from Dante's Inferno, such as desire, greed, punishment, incessant chase, loss of self, suffering, and the nature of hell. As Song and dancers explore the possibilities offered by these ideas, they create tableaux characterized by thoroughly different structures and movement qualities.

The work features music composed by Jerome Begin and features musician Loren Dempster. The score is written for cello, synthesizer, and various sound-producing objects, all amplified and processed electronically.

Dancers: Esme Boyce, Giulia Carotenuto, Kevin Fay, David Gonsier, Breanna Gribble, Karen Harvey, Kyungjoon Lee, Elliott Reiland, JinJu Song-Begin.
Composer: Jerome Begin
Musicians: Jerome Begin and Loren Dempster
Lighting Designer: Brian Jones

at Danspace Project
St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery
131 East 10th Street - New York, NY 10003 - at the corner of 2nd Ave. inside St. Mark's Church - 6 to Astor Place; N/R to 8th Street; L to 3rd Ave

NB - the video is from their Kickstarter campaign - which has already reached its goal.

Tickets Selling Fast for Robert Lepage's Needles and Opium on Stage November 22 - December 1 2013 in Toronto

From a release:

Canadian Stage Presents:
Needles and Opium

Nov 22 - Dec 1, 2013
Bluma Appel Theatre
Robert Lepage
Starring: Marc Labrèche & Wellesley Robertson III
An Ex Machina production presented by Canadian Stage
With support from The Power Corporation of Canada

TORONTO - One of Canada’s most renowned figures in performing arts, Robert Lepage creates a new production of his acclaimed Needles and Opium. Presented as a hypnotic series of vignettes, this fascinating, introspective show explores the complex relationships between displacement, drug addiction and the creative drive, as revealed through the lives of Parisian poet/filmmaker Jean Cocteau on his way to New York, and American jazz legend Miles Davis during his stay in Paris in 1949. The most startling technical wizardry at the service of a true emotional journey.

One night in 1949, on the plane bringing him back to France, Jean Cocteau writes his Lettre aux Américains in which fascination and disenchantment intertwine: he has just discovered New York, where he presented his most recent feature film L’Aigle à deux têtes. At the same time, Miles Davis is visiting Paris for the first time, bringing bebop with him to the old continent. Parisian jazz fans are ecstatic. As the notes of Je suis comme je suis linger in the air, Juliette Greco opens her arms to him.

Forty years later, at the Hotel La Louisiane in Paris, a lonely Québécois tries in vain to forget his former lover. His emotional torments echo Cocteau’s dependence on opium and that of Davis’ on heroin. There begins a spectacular withdrawal experience where the drawings of the prince of poets and the blue notes of the jazzman accompany his leap into nothingness, the desperate effort of a man looking inwards in order to vanquish his pain and liberate himself from his love addiction.

Through highly visual staging, which is as much magic as it is theatre, Robert Lepage revisits, 20 years after its first production, Needles and Opium. New scenography, original images, and the Miles Davis character onstage complement Cocteau’s words and Marc Labrèche’s sensitive and ingenious performance. The result is a production with mesmerizing effects, a journey into the night that puts us under a spell and leads us into the light.

"A theatrical masterpiece" - USA Today

1 hour and 45 minutes. no intermission.

Canstage Presents Yukonstyle on Stage October 13-27 2013 in Toronto

From a release:

October 13 - 27, 2013
Berkeley Street Theatre
BY Sarah Berthiaume

TRANSLATED BY Nadine Desrochers

A Canadian Stage production in association with the Theatre Department, Faculty of Fine Arts at York University

Toronto, ON – Canadian Stage opens the 2013.2014 theatre season at the Berkeley Street Theatre with two plays by Québécois playwright Sarah Berthiaume, directed by the inaugural graduates of York University’s MFA Program in Theatre - Stage Direction in Collaboration with Canadian Stage, Ker Wells and Ted Witzel. The Flood Thereafter, a twisted fairytale stretching from the historic roots of ancient Greece to a small village in Quebec today is helmed by Wells and is on stage September 22 to October 6. Yukonstyle (directed by Witzel) begins previews October 13.

“Sarah Berthiaume is one of the most interesting voices to come out of Quebec these past 20 years. Her writing is startlingly original, incisively poetic and very meaningful,” said Matthew Jocelyn, artistic & general director of Canadian Stage. “Pairing these bold plays will enable audiences to discover the great range of this essential new voice of Canadian writing, brought to the stage by the two first graduates of York's MFA program in stage directing in collaboration with our company. We are incredibly honoured to present this work for the first time in English outside Quebec.”

An arrestingly honest and poignant exploration of what it means to be a young Canadian living in the north, in Yukonstyle, three unlikely roommates are enduring the harsh Whitehorse winter as the 2007 Robert Pickton murder trial plays out on the TV. One of them, Garin, must confront the mystery of his missing aboriginal mother's identity as his father dies of liver failure and threatens to take her story with him.

Yukonstyle is a play for the new generation of Canadians who are less concerned with what it means to be “Canadian” than they are with how to get by in this country of mountains, bison, fast food, serial killers, and snow.

COC Free Concert Series September 26 2013 to June 4 2014 in Toronto

From a media release:

September 26, 2013 to June 4, 2014
Toronto –
The Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre kicks off an eighth season of dynamic programming this fall, bringing together established artists and rising young talent from Canada and around the world. In a popular Free Concert Series tradition, the first concert of the 2013/2014 season introduces audiences to the opera stars of tomorrow with a performance by the artists of the COC Ensemble Studio on September 26, 2013 at 12 p.m.

The 13/14 season features over 400 artists in 79 concerts and dance performances, including five world premieres featuring Canadian bass Robert Pomakov and the internationally acclaimed Gryphon Trio; the cutting-edge young musicians of The Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble; young American pianist Kara Huber; percussionist Rick Sacks of the inventive contemporary music collective ArrayMusic; and champions of new Canadian music, the Canadian Art Song Project.

For a second time, the Free Concert Series partners with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s New Creations Festival. Audiences will experience two important and exhilarating works of the contemporary two-piano repertoire: American legend John Adams’s iconic Hallelujah Junction and acclaimed German-born composer Hans Thomalla’s Noema. Thomalla makes a special appearance in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre to provide personal insight into his composition. Award-winning young contemporary specialists Ryan MacEvoy McCullough and Claudia Chan come together for the first time to perform both of these influential works.

First-time Free Concert Series appearances include performances by world-renowned baritone Sir Thomas Allen, acclaimed American tenor Paul Appleby, Holland’s hottest new saxophone ensemble Amstel Quartet, Canadian jazz icon Joe Sealy, Canadian harpsichordist Hank Knox, and three-time JUNO nominee and jazz vocalist Elizabeth Shepherd. After its overwhelming popularity last season, the Free Concert Series’ all-ages March Break programming returns with two interactive experiences featuring artists of the COC Ensemble Atudio and Jeng Yi Korean Drumming Ensemble.

The Free Concert Series brings diverse artistic experiences to 15,000 people annually from September to June in what has become one of Toronto’s most vibrant cultural hubs, the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Performances take place most Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12 p.m., and some Wednesdays at 12 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes prior to each performance and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Free Concert Series presents artists of the highest calibre in six varied series running throughout the season:

International opera stars and rising young talent perform in 19 noon-hour recitals throughout the season. Several artists featured in the COC’s 13/14 mainstage season make highly anticipated appearances in the Vocal Series, including Canadians baritone Russell Braun, mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy and soprano Tracy Dahl, English baritone Sir Thomas Allen, American tenor Paul Appleby, and Ensemble Studio alumna soprano Simone Osborne.

In addition to the season opening concert on September 26, the artists of the COC Ensemble Studio appear in a variety of concerts throughout the year, including a program of highlights from Mozart’s wry comedy Così fan tutte and two musical tributes to Benjamin Britten in honour of the centenary of the composer’s birth.

The series also presents the world premiere of a new song cycle commissioned by the Canadian Art Song Project, under the direction of distinguished Ensemble Studio alumni Lawrence Wiliford and Steven Philcox, and a rare performance of Gagliano’s 17th-century gem, La Dafne, featuring Baroque music specialists Capella Intima and Toronto Continuo Collective. Students from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music Opera Division and the young artists of Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal showcase the bright future of Canadian opera.

The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra returns for a third season of concerts, curated by COC Music Director Johannes Debus. Five concerts feature the orchestra members in various combinations and showcase the works of classical music’s greatest composers, including Bach, Beethoven and Britten. Members of the COC Orchestra also join forces with young artists of the COC Ensemble Studio and artists of the COC’s 13/14 mainstage season in three special presentations in the 13/14 season.

Rounding out the series of 17 concerts are notable local and international artists and ensembles, including percussionist Rick Sacks of ArrayMusic, the all-female piano quartet Ensemble Made in Canada, Netherlands-based saxophone ensemble Amstel Quartet, cellist Yegor Dyachkov, violinist Mark Fewer, The National Ballet Brass Quintet, and ensembles from The Glenn Gould School.

Brilliant pianists from Canada and around the world present a richly varied repertoire in 13 concerts this season. Highlights include first-time appearances by Kara Huber with a world premiere from emerging American composer Natalie Draper, Chinese virtuoso Haiou Zhang in a rare Toronto appearance, award-winning young Canadian Leonard Gilbert, genre-bending Canadian pianist and composer John Kameel Farah, and one of Canada’s hottest new piano teams, Duo Volando. Rising stars returning to the series include Alexander Seredenko, Mehdi Ghazi and Ryan MacEvoy McCullough.

The Jazz Series presents Canadian legends and emerging talent on the Toronto jazz scene in 14 sizzling and soulful performances. In a season featuring a broad repertoire of jazz standards and edgy new compositions, drummer Morgan Childs kicks off the series with his award-winning new quartet in a high-octane hour of swinging standards and original tunes. Back by popular demand, powerhouse pianist Robi Botos reunites with Cuban pianist Hilario Durán for another meeting of extraordinary musical minds. Additional highlights include Michael Occhipinti and Shine On’s tribute to the music of John Lennon, students and faculty of Humber College, the Shirantha Beddage Quartet, the Elizabeth Shepherd Trio, and the Joe Sealy Trio.

This season’s seven dance performances showcase some of the city’s most inventive dancers and choreographers, drawing from a variety of cultural and dance traditions. Styles range from the traditional Indian Kathak dancing of Infusion Dance, to the urban street moves of Gadfly Dance. Signal Theatre’s preview of choreographer Michael Greyeyes’ powerful new work, A Soldier’s Tale, and excerpts from Opera Atelier and Atelier Ballet’s Persée, a lavish retelling of the classic Greek myth, also display the diversity of the series. The Free Concert Series welcomes return appearances from the University of Toronto’s Dharma Santi with their distinguished guest artists from Bali, and notable Canadian companies Peggy Baker Dance Projects and Ballet Jörgen.

Nine world music performances bring sounds and rhythms from around the world to the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Audiences begin this global musical journey in Turkey with Andrew Downing’s Anahtar Project in a tribute to Istanbul with oud player Güç BaÅŸar Gülle, and finish in Russia with domra virtuosa Iraida Erokhina and acclaimed accordionist Alexander Sevastian on bayan. Additional series highlights include Nagata Shachu’s heart-pounding taiko drum beats, The Sicilian Jazz Project’s cross-cultural blend of Sicilian folk music and modern jazz, and Indo-jazz meets classical Indian fusion group Monsoon:Synthesis.

Small World in the Square September 28 2013 in Toronto (Part of Small World Music Fest Sept 26-Oct 6)

From a media release:

Small World in the Square
Saturday, September 28, 2013 - FREE

• Part of the Small World Music Festival - September 26 to October 6, 2013
• Info on all events at the link

The Line-up:
Jamaican Reggae Legends Third World, noori (Pakistan), Briga (Poland), Punk Marching Band What Cheer? Brigade (USA), Kobo Town (Canada/Caribbean Calypso Reinvented), Raging Asian Women Taiko Drumming, Global Bollywood by Bageshree Vaze & Ensemble, Roberto Lopez (Afro-Colombian), Quique Escamilla (Mexican Rock), Afrafranto (West African Highlife)

The Beat of the Globe pulses in the heart of Toronto as the 3rd Annual Small World in the Square takes over Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday September 28th from 1 pm on. This free, family-friendly event will showcase internationally renowned musicians who will get the crowd jumping to genres including Balkan, Calypso, Afro-Colombian jazz, Funk, Mexican rock and more. Between main stage performances, the InterAction Stage features hands-on workshops where participants can have unique one-on-one experiences with the artists. The centre piece of the 12th Annual Small World Music Festival, this cross-cultural community celebration will be a day to remember!

From September 26th through October 6th, we're preparing another ten-day audio adventure across the city's stages. Iranian rock star Mohsen Namjoo brings his Persian blues/rock fusion on Friday, September 27, and here's another tidbit we can mention - the Jorge Drexler concert Thursday October 3rd, has been made even better with the addition of Lenka Lichtenberg as opener. This is going to be a really special night at St. Andrew's Church. Winner of an Academy Award for his musical contribution to 'The Motorcycle Diaries', Jorge's return to town after several years will showcase his compelling songwriting. Lenka, will be highlighting music from her just released her CD 'Embrace'. Check the link below for more about the whole festival line-up.

• Tickets are on sale now at
• More info on the festival at

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Love, Sex and Obsession - Buddies in Bad Tmes Opens 35th Season with Pig - on Stage to October 6 2013 in Toronto

From a media release:


Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents the World Premiere of
by Tim Luscombe

How far would you go for love? PIG follows three gay couples as they stretch the boundaries of their relationships in the quest for deeper levels of intimacy. Through acts of emotional domination, sexual submission, compulsion, and violence, these men delve into the space where the lines between shame, hatred, love, and obsession cease to exist. A provocative account of contemporary sexuality told by UK writer Tim Luscombe.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre launches its 35th Anniversary Season with the world premiere of PIG by British playwright Tim Luscombe. Based in Berlin, Luscombe has had a successful and varied career abroad which has included productions of his play The One You Love at The Royal Court and Thomas Ostermeier’s Baracke Theater in Berlin, his musical EuroVision, which was produced by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, and his recent adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park which has toured the UK to great acclaim. This production is directed by Buddies' Artistic Director Brendan Healy (Blasted, The Maids, Arigato, Tokyo) and features Bruce Dow (Of A Monstrous Child at Buddies, Jesus Christ Superstar at Stratford and on Broadway), Blair Williams (nineteen seasons at the Shaw Festival, Blithe Spirit at The Segal Centre, Julius Caesar at The Citadel), and Paul Dunn (East of Berlin at Tarragon, Dangerous Liaisons, Peter Pan, Anthony and Cleopatra at Stratford). The show also welcomes a fresh team of designers to the theatre, with set and costumes by James Lavoie, sound by Antoine Bédard, and lighting by Rebecca Picherack.

In the tradition of “in-yer-face theatre” (pioneered by writers such as Sarah Kane and Tracy Letts), Luscombe offers a raw and confrontational take on sex and love, in a world where sexual liberation and new technologies allow us to explore the furthest limits of our carnal desires.

The play casts its three actors as a series of men striving to achieve deeper levels of physical and emotional intimacy in their relationships. From a couple struggling to maintain a monogamous ‘traditional’ marriage to a pair of sex workers caught in an abusive relationship and a sadist seeking increasingly brutal encounters with his partners, these men find themselves caught in webs of addiction, domestic abuse, prostitution, violent sex, and sexual violence. As the lives of these characters begin to intersect and overlap, the line between romantic ideal and addictive hell ceases to exist and the audience is asked to consider whether the even most horrifying acts can be expressions of love.

Much like the revolutionary works of The Marquis de Sade and Anne Desclos' The Story of O, PIG presents a brazen look at our darkest physical impulses and stretches our understanding of sexuality, power, violence, and love.

PIG addresses familiar and long-standing themes found in queer theatre such as HIV/AIDS, marriage equality, covert sexual behavior, discrimination, and civil rights, but recontextualizes these issues within a present-day reality. The play courageously tackles barebacking subcultures, “pig” sex, domestic abuse within the gay community, the eroticization of HIV/AIDS, extreme sado-masochistic relationships, and the relevance of marriage equality to gay culture. It takes a hard look at how the devastating forces of shame and discrimination persist in the community and continue to shape the ways in which we love each other. It asks tough questions about how the pursuit of civil rights can lead to assimilation, and examines how recent advancements in the management of HIV interact with the community's roots in sexual liberation.

Buddies is committed to presenting theatre that can be a catalyst for growth and understanding within our community. With this in mind, the company has partnered with The AIDS Committee of Toronto to present a special panel discussion about some of the sexual practices depicted in the play following the matinee performance on Sunday, September 22. Further discussions about the political, aesthetic, and social implications of the play will take place in post-show artist talks (specific dates to be announced on our website) and an online “Think Series” on Buddies’ blog that will feature prominent queer writers reflecting on the production (a list of guest writers to be released shortly).

OPENING NIGHT – Opening night is Thursday, September 19 at 8pm.
PANEL DISCUSSION – Buddies and the AIDS Committee of Toronto will present a free panel discussion on issues of pig sex, barebacking, and other sexual health issues on Sunday, September 22nd. Speakers include Rui Pires, Duncan McLaughlin, and Dr. Francesco Ibáñez-Carrasco.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents

by Tim Luscombe
directed by Brendan Healy
starring Bruce Dow, Paul Dunn & Blair Williams
Previews September 14, 15, 17 & 18 | Opening Night September 19 | Closes October 6
Runs Tues-Sat 8pm, Sun 2:30pm. All previews 8pm
Tickets PWYC - $37
Box Office 416-975-8555 or
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street, Toronto ON

Afropop Celebrates 25 Years On Public Radio with Gala Concert September 19 2013 in New York City

From a media release:



“Afropop Worldwide does unique and visionary work in bringing awareness of African and Diaspora musical cultures to Americans and the global online community.” –Harry Belafonte

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - On September 19th at City Winery in New York City, public radio’s Afropop Worldwide celebrates 25 years of introducing Americans—and a global online community—to the most exciting music on the planet. The gala concert features Grammy Award Nominee and ngoni (African lute) virtuoso Bassekou Kouyate from Mali and his electrifying band Ngoni Ba. Special guest artists include Mali’s Mamadou Kelly (pictured below) and Sudanese singing star Omer Ehsas and others. Harry Belafonte is Honorary Chair of the gala.

From its start on NPR in 1988, APWW coined a new term, “Afropop,” and gave Americans their first exposure to now-iconic artists: Youssou N’Dour, Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita, Khaled, Chico Science, Cesaria Évora, Thomas Mapfumo, Oumou Sangare. Today, the program explores the dynamic youth music scenes on the continent—from hiplife and azonto in Ghana, to kuduru in Angola, and bongo flava in Tanzania.

Hosted by broadcast personality Georges Collinet from Cameroon, and distributed by PRI Public Radio International to over 100 stations in the U.S., this award-winning program takes listeners and web users to intriguing musical destinations—Senegal, Tanzania, Ghana, Egypt, Nigeria, Brazil, Morocco, Haiti, Colombia, Madagascar, South Africa, the Dominican Republic, and beyond. The New York Times’s Jon Pareles calls the program and its companion website,, “a well spring of African and world culture,” adding, “no other organization I know does so well in helping it reach the listeners it deserves.”

Gala headliner Bassekou Kouyate is a living legend. His instrument, the ngoni, is a staple of Malian tradition, but Bassekou has brought it center stage, filling out his ensemble Ngoni Ba with four ngonis that lock, weave, and improvise with rock god prowess, while singer Ami Sacko showers the ensemble’s spiky grooves with high-flying griot vocals. At the gala, Bassekou—a friend of the show since 1991—will be inducted into the Afropop Hall of Fame. This award recognizes African artists for their exceptional artistic talent and for their major roles in connecting American audiences to Africa through their music.

Longtime accompanist to and protege of Ali Farka Toure, singer/songwriter/guitarist Mamadou Kelly is one of the most powerful young voices out of northern Mali today. His acoustic guitar playing is superb, he sings like an angel, and his songs address the multi-cultural realities of his troubled region. Backed by other veterans of Ali Farka’s legendary ensemble, Mamadou Kelly leads an ensemble with the nuance and precision of a string quartet, and the visceral rhythmic pull of a grade-A dance band. This music lifts spirits and inspires hope for the future of the Malian desert. Representing East Africa will be Sudanese singing star Omer Ehsas.

This gala concert will benefit the research and production work of Afropop Worldwide, and further the program’s ongoing evolution to a multi-platform service centered around an award winning web site with fresh and unique content published daily, Hip Deep programs, original videos on a dedicated YouTube channel, weekly e-Newsletter, and more. Sean Barlow is the creator and Executive Producer of Afropop Worldwide. The program’s talented and dedicated production team includes Banning Eyre, Ned Sublette, and Michael Jones.  Funding comes in part from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Arabic Jazz: CD Release & Launch Party for Brian Prunka, Nashaz - September 17, 2013 in New York City

From a media release:

Brian Prunka, Nashaz Oud Awakening: Nashaz Furthers the Tradition of Blending of Jazz and Arabic Music
(Ziryab, release date September 17, 2013)
CD Release Party: DROM, New York City - September 17, 2013

A puzzling and intriguing challenge from an Egyptian cab driver in New Orleans inspires an impulse purchase of an alluring album in a used CD store. The album inspires a search for a difficult to find instrument, which in turn takes a jazz player to a radically different approach.

Arresting and compelling, Nashaz will immediately engage fans of Arabic music, jazz, and masterful oud playing. Prunka’s 1930s Nahat oud takes center stage, and moments like the declamatory opening phrases of the oud solo on “Hijaz Nashaz”; the mysterious melody of “City of Sand”; and the fiery solo on “Jurjina” reveal a depth of understanding of ornamentation and phrasing that prove Prunka as a serious contender on the instrument. As a composer, Prunka successfully blurs the lines between two sonic worlds, creating music that showcases the best of both, while striking out in stirring new directions.

At first, Prunka was somewhat puzzled when the cab driver who was just taking him to the next jazz gig suggested that Prunka play the pear-shaped, lute-like oud because “it is the most beautiful instrument in the world”. But not long after this encounter, Prunka stumbled upon an oud album in a used record store and was instantly hooked. “It just resonated with me, connected in a way that I can’t quantify.” Prunka explains his lifelong attraction to Middle Eastern music: “it was simple things, at first”—a snippet of Arabic music in a film, a moment of exoticism in a Beatles tune. “Whenever anything like that happened, a little light would go on. When I finally heard the real thing, it was like ‘oh, so this is what I wanted to hear’.”

It wasn’t long before Prunka came to realize that the Arabic music he was enamored of had more in common with jazz than it seemed on the surface. “[There’s] a lot that is potentially in common in the two musics,” Prunka states. “Both prize improvisation and rhythm. There are these concepts in Arabic music of intertwining ecstasy and melancholy—it can’t be purely happy or sad. I think great jazz also often has that kind of intertwining, though it might not be described that way.”

Prunka became the next step in a loosely established tradition of fusing Arabic music and jazz, starting as early as 1958 when Thelonious Monk’s bass player, a New York native of Sudanese descent named Ahmed Abdul-Malik, put out Jazz Sahara, the first in a series of oud-meets-jazz records that he would release well into the 1960s with bands that combined die-hard jazzers like saxophonist Johnny Griffin with some of New York’s finest Arabic musicians. That first oud record that Prunka found was Rabih Abou-Khalil’s Al Jadida, which featured Sonny Fortune and other musicians who he knew from their jazz work. These collaborations thrilled Prunka and he took up the challenge of melding two very different approaches to musical creativity.

A composer as well as an instrumentalist, Prunka began writing for his new musical interest as he learned about it, and the compositions on Nashaz reflect his training in Arabic music while keeping one foot firmly planted in the jazz world. He tends to avoid the jam session-inspired ‘head-solo-head’ format of most small group jazz formats in favor of through-composed pieces that glean more from the Ellington/Mingus big band tradition than from hard bop-flavored combo jazz. “Composed and improvised sections tickle different parts of the brain,” Prunka muses. “It gives people a break, so they don’t get bored with either one. I try to write the music in such a way that the improvised sections become part of the composition.”

These compositional influences are evident throughout Nashaz. Khartoum, with its loping 6/8 rhythm, could be from North Africa—but there’s that Mingus style call and response in the middle, a technique also found in a kind of old Arabic song called muwashshah. The humorously titled “Qassabji's Nightmare” is reminiscent of Ellington’s longer suites, rapidly evolving through several different modulations in honor of Mohammad el-Qassabji, the beloved Egyptian oud player and composer who was fond of throwing in seemingly jazz-inspired chromatic lines into his songs. “I imagined Qassibji having a dream where he time travels to now, hearing this piece of music and being slightly bewildered and horrified by what he inspired,” Prunka jokes.

From the melting pot of the Big Easy to that of the Big Apple, from playing improvised American jazz to improvising over original Arabic inspired compositions… maybe it’s not such a strange trip after all. “All I can do is reflect my own cultural background and experience,” Prunka states. Nashaz reflects the best of both worlds and fans of jazz, Arabic music, and great instrumental playing and composing will find much to enjoy on this release, due out Sept 17.

Friday, September 13, 2013

AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize Finalists on View to January 5 2014 in Toronto

From a media release:

Jury selects four outstanding photographer finalists; public vote for $50,000 Prize begins today
On view to January 5, 2014
Walker Court, Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas St W., Toronto, ON

Vote for the winner here

(Toronto, ON) —
Aimia, a global leader in loyalty management, and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) announce the four artists who have been shortlisted for the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize, Canada’s leading international contemporary photography award. The winner of the $50,000 Prize is chosen entirely by public vote, and online is open now at and, for the first time, on the Prize’s Facebook page. Visitors to the AGO can also cast a vote inside the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize 2013 Exhibition, on view at the AGO from Sept. 11, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2014.

The finalists are: Edgardo Aragón (Mexico), LaToya Ruby Frazier (U.S.A), Chino Otsuka (Japan/U.K) and Erin Shirreff (Canada). As a group, these four artists represent a snapshot of current directions in photography and video, in which images are used to build powerful, complex and often personal narratives.

“One of the approaches I use to process what is happening around me is to use art as a tool for understanding the world.” – Edgardo Aragón

Edgardo Aragón was born in Mexico, and his work invites reflection on the history of violence in his homeland. Deeply engaged with political and social histories of Oaxaca, the province where he was born and still lives, his video and photography often document performance and sculptural interventions against landscapes that appear at once serene and foreboding. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneo (MUAC), Mexico City; MoMA P.S.1, New York; and the Luckman Gallery, Los Angeles.

"Relentlessly documenting encounters with Grandma Ruby (b.1925-2009), Mom (b.1959) and myself (b.1982) enables me to break unspoken intergenerational cycles. We are wrestling with internalized life experiences, perceptions of our-selves and familial personas developed by sociopolitical baggage.” – LaToya Ruby Frazier

LaToya Ruby Frazier was born and raised in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Her work is informed by late 19th- and early 20th-century modes of representation in documentary practice. She uses the conventions of social documentary and portraiture to expose untold stories of post-industrial decline in the United States, filtered through the experiences of her own family and community in Braddock. Her work has been shown at the Brooklyn Museum; the Whitney Museum of American Art; MoMA PS1; and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. In 2012 Frazier was appointed critic in photography at Yale University.

“The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history.” – Chino Otsuka

Chino Otsuka was born in Tokyo, Japan, and moved to the U.K. at the age of 10 to attend school. Often mining her own autobiography, Otsuka uses photography and video to explore the fluid relationship between memory, time and photography. She has also published four books in Japan as a writer and published her first autobiographical book at the age of 15. Her works are found in public collections including National Media Museum, U.K., Wilson Centre for Photography, U.K., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Huis Marseille Museum for Photography and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

“Photographs work in two ways: they freeze a specific moment, but then are carried forward in time and accrue these different meanings and relationships. I think in some psychological sense that duality mimics an experience I have of myself, my body – of being both in time and somehow outside of it.” – Erin Shirreff

Erin Shirreff was born in 1975 in Kelowna, B.C., and now lives and works in New York. Her work interweaves photography, video and sculpture to extend and explore the act of looking, asking questions about the often paradoxical relationship between time and space and the image, and the impact of perception on the location of meaning. Recently her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.; White Cube, London, U.K.; Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Ont. Her work is also in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others.

A jury of three—made up of lead juror Elizabeth Smith, former AGO executive director of curatorial affairs and current executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in New York; Urs Stahel, director, curator, and editor of Fotomuseum Winterthur; and artist Kader Attia—selected the four finalists from a long list of 14.

“The jurors were delighted with the strength and diversity of the long-listed artists,” said Smith. “In choosing the four finalists, we responded most to qualities that made the work fresh, powerful and original in some way. We looked for strength, coherence and consistency in the interplay of imagery and content and selected the artists whose work made the most pronounced impact on all of us.”

These artists will receive a fully funded six-week residency in Canada next year, and their work will be exhibited at the AGO beginning Sept.11, 2013. A free public launch party will be held at the AGO that night, with presentations by nominators and members of the jury about each of the four artists. The following evening, Sept. 12, 2013 at 7 p.m., the four artists will speak at a special panel event at the AGO alongside Smith; AGO associate curator of photography Sophie Hackett; and nominators Jennifer Blessing, senior curator of photography at The Guggenheim; and Helga Pakasaar, curator at Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver. Tickets to the event are available now.

The winner will receive $50,000 CDN and the three remaining finalists will each receive a cash honorarium of $5,000 CDN. Online voting begins today at and is open until 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2013. For the first time, voters can also make their choice via Facebook at Users who vote on Facebook can also enter for a chance to win a trip to the winner announcement event on Nov. 7, 2013, at the AGO’s popular First Thursdays art party.

Previous winners of the Prize, formerly titled The Grange Prize, include British photographer Jo Longhurst (2012), Gauri Gill of India (2011), Canadian photographer Kristan Horton (2010), Marco Antonio Cruz of Mexico (2009) and Canadian photographer Sarah Anne Johnson (2008).

Images:• LaToya Ruby Frazier, Self-Portrait (March 10a.m.)from the series Notion of Family, 2009, gelatin silver print, 50.8 cm x 60.96 cm 
 • Chino Otsuka, 1982 and 2005, Paris, Japan from the series Imagine Finding Me, 2005, chromogenic print, 305 mm x 406 mm
• Erin Shirreff, Lake, video still, 2012, color video, silent, 44 minute loop
• Edgardo Aragón, Tinieblas, 2009, 13 channel video, 7:50 min, courtesy of the artist and Proyectos Monclova.

For updates on the Prize, further details on the shortlisted artists and additional information, please visit and follow @AimiaAGOPrize on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra Launches 2013/14 Season September 18 2013

From a media release:

The TSO Launches the 2013.14 Season and
Celebrates Peter Oundjian’s Tenth Season as Music Director

September’s programmes include works to celebrate Benjamin Britten’s centenary,
performances by Itzhak Perlman and a Gala Evening with Lang Lang

Tickets on sale here

Peter Oundjian launches his tenth season as Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, with a feast of rich and powerful music. On September 18 and 19, the inaugural concerts of the season will feature the first of several works by Benjamin Britten to be performed this season in honour of the revered English composer’s centenary.

One of Britten’s best-known pieces, Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell (The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra) is paired with Antonín Dvořák’s lyrical Symphony No. 7. Guest cellist Alisa Weilerstein, who "performs with soulful expression and physical abandon," (The New York Times) will take centre stage for Elgar’s Cello Concerto. 

The celebration of a new season continues on September 21 with a dazzling Gala evening, featuring renowned pianist Lang Lang as he performs two Mozart Piano Concertos (No. 17, K. 453 and No. 24, K. 491). The evening’s repertoire also includes the stirring Overture to Wagner's Tannhäuser. Following the concert, everyone is invited to stay for a special post-concert lobby party with DJ Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene.

Few soloists would tackle Tchaikovsky's violin concerto when it was first composed in 1878, yet today it remains an admired classic. A beloved guest of the TSO, Itzhak Perlman takes on Tchaikovsky’s piece for two engaging evenings of Masterworks performances, September 25 and 26. The programme also includes a fascinating clarinet concerto that Britten began composing during World War II for Benny Goodman, but never finished. The final arrangement by Colin Matthews will receive its Canadian première with the TSO, conducted by Peter Oundian and featuring TSO Principal Clarinet Joaquin Valdepeñas. Pre-concert Chat in the Lobby at 7:15pm on September 25.

On September 28, the first Casual Concert of the season marks the TSO début of young violinist Ray Chen in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, the composer’s last large orchestral work. In 2011, The Times of London wrote, "[Ray Chen] plays with a maturity that scarcely suggests someone still only 21. Colours dance, moods swing, and Chen's artistry blazes."

• Casual Concerts  are performed without an intermission and are followed by a party in the lobby with more live music.

The same programme, with the addition of Britten’s Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell, is repeated at the George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts, on September 29.

Join the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for a behind-the-scenes look at how the Orchestra prepares for a concert. Culture vultures are invited to a special Culture Days Open Rehearsal on Saturday, September 28th at 10am, led by TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian. The Orchestra is joined by violinist Ray Chen as they prepare Mendelssohn’s dramatic Violin Concerto. Culture Days participants will have a special opportunity to sit in the choir loft, allowing for an up-close look at the rehearsal process.

• Seating is limited, to avoid disappointment, please RSVP in advance to RSVP@TSO.CA or call 416.598.3375.
• Access Roy Thomson Hall through the backstage entrance off Wellington Street West at Simcoe Street.

Friday, September 6, 2013

CaribbeanTales Film Festival Continues to September 14 2013 in Toronto

From a media release:

September 4 – 14, 2013

The 8th Annual CaribbeanTales Toronto Film Showcase begins at the CNE with the Gems of the Caribbean screening series from August 17-30. The festival also hosts an intensive five-day Incubator Program (September 3-9), that provides world-class training to filmmakers, and culminates in a “Pitch Breakfast” at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. There will also be special community screenings of selected films over the course of the festival.

The Harbourfront Centre leg of the festival takes place from September 4-14, where ten feature-length films and 30 short films will be screened in Official Competition. The diverse selection includes features and documentaries from 25 countries. Directors will be in attendance throughout the duration of the festival, giving the audience a chance to participate in feedback sessions. The full film schedule can be found below.

Tickets to Harbourfront Centre screenings can be purchased by calling CaribbeanTales at 416-598-1410 or Harbourfront Centre Box Office at 416-743-4000. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased online at, or in person at the Harbourfront Centre Box Office, located at 235 Queens Quay West. The Box Office is open Tuesday through Saturday 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on evenings of performance.  For information about getting to Harbourfront Centre during the Queen’s Quay revitalization, please visit

Ticket Prices:
Centrepiece Films (at Harbourfront Centre): $20
Other Harbourfront Screenings: Free


6:30 p.m.
The Cool Boys– Michael Mooleedhar (Trinidad & Tobago)

Feature: Chrissy  - Marcia Weekes (Barbados), 87mins, 2012.
A 10 year-old girl facing discrimination from her peers and teachers at school, must stay strong in faith and relentlessly pursue academic success to get her family out of the dumps.

9 p.m.
Five Bones  - Tyler Johnson (Bahamas); Diary of an Immigrant– Satya Collymore (Barbados)

Feature: Payday – Selwynne “Get Busy” Browne (Barbados), 75 mins, 2013, World Premiere.
A comedy-drama/buddy film about aspiring mechanics Romie and Pack, who make the down-payment to own a garage. But Romie's love-life, and Pack's need for cannabis, create hilarious complications.


6:30 p.m.
No Creo Que Somos Iguales - Dominique Telemaque (Haiti/Dominican Republic); Conversations with the Dead– Haiti Reporters (Haiti); Stilt Walker– Francisco Montas (Dominican Republic)

Feature: Adopted ID  - Sonia Godding-Togobo (Canada/Haiti) 60 mins, 2012.
Abandoned at birth, a Haitian girl adopted by Canadians bravely returns to the impoverished nation to find her parents.

9 p.m.
“WARRIORS” Program
Women’s West Indies Diaspora– Steve and Stephanie James (Guadeloupe)

Feature: Garifuna in Peril – Ali Allee and Ruben Reyes (Honduras), 2013,  99mins (International Premiere)
A Garifuna language teacher fights to keep his endangered language alive in the face of personal betrayal and tourism's encroachment.


6:30 p.m.
Things I see– Shirley Bruno (UK); Mom– Ryan Singh (Canada / Trinidad & Tobago)

Feature: Kingston Paradise – Mary Wells (Jamaica/Canada), 86 mins. 2013.  World Premiere
When Rocksy, the street hustling taxi-driver, devises a not-so clever plan to steal a fancy car right under the Lebanese owner’s nose in order to sell its parts, chaos naturally ensues.


9 p.m.
Jab in the Dark – Robert MacFarlane (Trinidad & Tobago)

Feature:  El Medico – Daniel Fridell, (Cuba), 85 mins, 2012, Canadian Premiere.
A young Cuban man has to choose between his duty to the State, and to his mother, and fulfilling his own ambitions to become a hip hop artist.



Closing Night
3 p.m.
“NEW VOICES” Program
Midnite Affair – Ryan Khan (Trinidad and Tobago); Remembering Maroonage- Ashley Alexis McFarlane (Canada/Jamaica); Hope– Shaundelle Phillips (Guyana)

Feature: ABO SO (Only You) – Juan Francisco Pardo, (Aruba), 75 mins, 2013 (International Premiere)
Aruba’s first ever feature-length musical recunts the conflicted star crossed love between conservative middle class Tatiana and the quirky native Santiago. 

6:30 p.m.
Healing Power of Jamaica– Kalmplex (Jamaica); Tickle Me Rich– Sonja Dumas (T&T); Mizz Jinnay (T&T) by Randy Stanley

Feature: Elliot Loves – Gary Terracino, (Dominican Republic/USA) 2012, 95 mins. (Canadian Premiere)
A delightful romantic comedy about a young boy’s transition from island life with his mother to finding romance in the Big Apple.


9 p.m.

Shorts: Wake Up- Jeng Leong and Ken Wolff (Aruba); Stain  - Karen Chapman(Canada)

Feature: Songs of Redemption – Miquel Galofre, (Jamaica) 2013, English, 74 mins.  (Canadian Premiere)
Entertaining, heartbreaking, moving and at times funny, this extraordinary documentary tells the story of inmates at General Penetentiary, Kingston who use music  to heal from the  “dark place,”  through recording and producing their own songs.


Van-Anh Vo's Groundbreaking Vision for Vietnamese Tradition Sings on Her Debut CD - Three Mountain Pass (Innova; Release September 24, 2013)

With material from a media release:

CD Release
The Vivid LIfe of the Left Hand:
Van-Anh Vo's Evocative, Groundbreaking Vision for Vietnamese Tradition Sings on Her Debut, Three Mountain Pass (Innova; Release September 24, 2013)

It's a shame it took me all summer to have the time to give a proper listen to Three Mountain Pass, the debut release of Vietnamese born/California-based Van-Anh Vanessa Vo. Van-Anh plays traditional instruments like 16-string danTranh—a zither with moveable bridges and the springy, bending tones resembling the koto—and the pitch-bending monochord danBau. She also plays the đàn tam thap luc 36-string hammered dulcimer, the đàn T'rung bamboo xylophone, the klông pút, traditional trong drums, and Chinese guzheng. Her mastery of so many traditional instruments is rare and she truly seems to play from the heart of each instrument.

The music is rhythmically compelling - it weaves a story through the notes; a walk in mysterious woods or whatever the imagination can conjure up. She sets an 18th century poem adapted from the Ho Xuan Huong to the music of a newly invented instrument (the Hang) in the title track and does a version of Satie's Gnossiennes you may not recognize.

Finding the freedom and well of feeling in long-standing forms and age-old instruments comes naturally to Vo, who grew up surrounded by a near cacophony of different music, streaming from the windows and apartments of her childhood neighborhood in Hanoi.

Vo’s father worked as a musician to keep up morale in the North Vietnamese army during the war, accompanying himself on the guitar. Her family was eventually given housing in Hanoi’s remarkable artists’ quarter, where musicians lived choc-a-bloc and a dozen different genres and traditions entwined.

"We’d get up and start to hear people practicing, very early in the morning,” recalls Vo fondly. “In front of me I’d hear Western opera and behind me I’d hear traditional music, traditional opera, people practicing voice and instruments. On my right I might hear western-style pop and on my left I’d hear someone practicing traditional instruments. It all came to me, and I thought it was very inspirational.”

The Kronos Quartet contributes to Green  River Delta, a piece that seamlessly twists the various stringed instruments from East to West into a vibrantly layered sonic exploration.

The music is quite hypnotic in nature, the notes of the stringed instruments in particular so malleable they can express a range of emotion in a single wavering note.

As an instrumentalist and composer Van-Anh Vanessa Vo knows where the soul of her music lies: in her left hand.

“It brings out all the colours, everything you want to hear, the bending and sliding notes. Otherwise, with just the right hand, the melody feels so dry,” explains Vo. “The right hand is the father who sired me, but the left hand is my mother who raised me.”