While many music presenters celebrate the close of their concert seasons, others are just starting up. And with the arrival of warmer weather, it’s nice to know that there is at least one outdoor venue offering a series of free concerts. The Toronto Music Garden (475 Queens Quay West) is in its tenth year of presenting concerts on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons, running June 28 to September 20. Glancing at the schedule of events (curated by artistic director Tamara Bernstein), it’s interesting to see the way in which “world music” has seeped into the fabric of general concert programming, without necessarily being labelled as such. Perhaps we’ve become less self-conscious of our own multiculturalism, something we increasingly take for granted in the “global village” that is our city.

Global village: Muhtadi International Drum Festival, June 6,7

Read more: A climate change

Sometimes I feel like I'm wearing too many hats..... as advertising coordinator for this publication, as a freelance oboist... and then there's this column, dear to my heart, but not always given the time and depth it deserves. But there are too many things coming up this month and a “highlights in brief” summary is better than nothing!

April 3, Roy Thomson Hall presents Scotland the Brave, an extravaganza featuring over 100 performers including full orchestra, highland dancers, choir, pipe-band, drum corps, Celtic fiddlers, and young tenor Greg Moore among the soloists.

World Music photo Apr 09
Alireza Ghorbani

Small World Music presents Bajofondo, an 8-piece electronica-infused tango rock band whose members hail from Argentina and Uruguay, April 5 at the Mod Club; Small World also presents Alireza Ghorbani, one of Iran's top vocalists, and Shiraz (classical Persian music ensemble), part of the Sounds of Persia series, April 9 at Harbourfront's Enwave Theatre. Cape Verdean singer Carmen Souza performs at the Lula Lounge, April 22 (see www.myspace.com/carmensouza).

Toronto's Ensemble Polaris, so named because it performs music inspired by and features instruments from northern countries, presents a program titled Viking Vacation Destinations, April 24 at the Edward Day Gallery. Scandinavian and Mediterranean influenced music is brought to you on guitar, violin, bagpipes, cello, hurdy-gurdy, nyckelharpa, recorders, seljefløyte, etc. I've heard this ensemble and they're pretty unique! York University's Department of Music presents its World Music Festival featuring its student ensembles. The Cuban, Klezmer, Mande drumming, Ghanaian drum and dance, and Brazilian Samba groups perform on April 30, and the Caribbean Ensemble, African American Piano Players, Chinese Orchestra, Korean Drum Ensemble, and Japanese Ensemble perform May 1. The Canadian Opera Company's noon hour series of free concerts presents an Introduction to South Indian Violin, with Subhadra Vijaykumar, May 7 at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.


Beyond the GTA: the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society presents the Orchid Ensemble in contemporary arrangements of Chinese music as well as works by Vancouver area composers, April 4, 57 Young St. West in Waterloo. And last but not least, Kitchener's Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound (April 24-May 3) presents a number of world music ensembles this year: The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band performs April 25 at the King St. Theatre Centre; Safa, comprised of Sal Ferraras (percussion), Francois Houle (clarinet), and Amir Koushakni (Setar, Tar, vocals), perform both improvised and composed works, influenced by Turkish and Judeo-Arabic traditions, but mostly based on Persian repertoire, April 30 at Zion United Church; Red Chamber, a quartet performing on traditional asian instruments has a repertoire from 917 AD to the present, spanning many world cultures. They're at Church of the Good Shepherd on May 1; Nagata Shachu Japanese Taiko Ensemble performs May 2 at Your Kitchener Market; and The Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan is featured in Gamelan (and on): The Enduring Legacy of Lou Harrison, May 2 at the King St. Theatre Centre. They'll perform both contemporary and traditional works.



 

Pick of the month:

The Silk Road was a series of trade routes linking ancient China to the Mediterranean and Europe. Not only were silks transported along these roads, but also ideas, technologies and cultures, linking East and West. The Silk Road Ensemble, a pet roject of world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, seeks to do the same, in music.

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Wu Man, pipa

Made up of around sixty or so musicians, composers, artists and storytellers from around the world, the ensemble, now celebrating its tenth anniversary, performs in various configurations, transcending musical genres. The ensemble’s mission is “to connect the world’s neighborhoods by bringing together artists and audiences around the globe”. “Every time I open a newspaper” writes Yo-Yo Ma, “I am reminded that we live in a world where we can no longer afford not to know our neighbours.”

Among the Silk Road Ensemble’s instruments is the Chinese pipa, a 2000-year-old pear shaped lute, played by virtuoso Wu Man. She has performed as soloist with many of the world’s great orchestras, and has an extensive discography, including several recordings with the Kronos Quartet. In addition to performing with Silk Road at their Roy Thomson Hall concerts on March 19 and 20 (they’re presenting two different programs), she’ll also be the soloist in the Canadian premiere of Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto with the Toronto Symphony, as part of the New Creations Festival, March 7.

Read more: Silk Road Stops in Toronto

Alan DavisSince 1997, Alan Davis, curator of Small World Music, has been introducing Toronto audiences to some of the finest non-Western musicians from around the world. We missed acknowledging Small World’s tenth anniversary season, but there’s no time like the present to have a chat with Alan about what’s been, and what’s coming up.
How did Small World Music come into being?

Small World grew out of my love of forms of music from outside the culture I grew up with. Rock and jazz had always been my ‘world’ and remain very important to me, but somewhere around the early 80’s my ears were opened, largely by some very influential ‘mainstream’ artists - Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno. Without a doubt, Gabriel’s creation of WOMAD, the festival which still takes place in various locations around the globe each year, was a sea change in music for many people. The festival’s presence in Toronto for several years at Harbourfront was a huge revelation to me and many others, who discovered a world of sounds that, while sung in languages we didn’t understand, touched a spiritual place that resonated deeply.
Read more: Small World, Big Difference
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