As we head into the colder and greyer months, there’s no better way to stave off the winter blues than with a concert of Brazilian music. On November 15, legendary singer Gal Costa will grace the stage of Massey Hall, joined by Romero Lubambo, on Brazilian violão. Born Maria da Graça Costa Penna Burgos in 1945, and an icon of the Brazilian “Tropicalia” style of music, she has produced over 30 recordings.

26b_costa “We’re really excited about this show,” says Alan Hetherington of Samba Toronto, who are presenting Ms. Costa. “Gal is a legend, from the family of Brazilian performers that include Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Maria Bethania. Even more exciting is that my band (Sambacana) will be opening the evening with our mentor, and musical genius, Filo Machado.” This is Gal Costa’s Canadian debut, and she’ll be singing the music of some of Brazil’s greatest composers, some of whom wrote songs inspired by her.

Also at Massey Hall, “Bollywood” musician Kailash Kher and his seven-piece band Kailasa perform on November 12. Having performed in over 60 Indian films and on soundtracks, Kher is also devoted to the Sufi tradition of using music as a way to get closer to God. Formed with two of his brothers, the band Kailasa combines classical Indian Sufi folk traditions with modern rock, funk and electronica.

27a_nagata_photo_sandra_symondsIn conjunction with Holocaust Education Week (Nov 1 - 11), Opera York  presents the North American premiere of And the Rat Laughed, an Israeli opera by composer Ella Milch-Sheriff based on a novel by Nava Semel. Sung in Hebrew with English surtitles, the opera tells the sory of a young girl hidden during the second world war with a family of Polish farmers. The opera features Israeli soprano Einat Aronstein who sang in the original production, and runs November 5, 7 and 8 at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Arts. For more events associated with Holocaust Education Week, visit www.holocausteducationweek.com.

Small World Music presents an on-going series of concerts this month. Co-presented by the Diaspora Film Festival, American composer David Amram will be at the Revival club on November 3 to celebrate the Toronto debut of the documentary film “The Frontier Ghandi,” for which he composed the soundtrack. The concert will feature a program of music drawing on the cultures of Brazil, Puerto Rico, Quebec, Greece, Egypt, Ireland and other places. Amram himself will be perfoming on a variety of  instruments and will be joined by a small ensemble. The next evening at the Lula Lounge, Poland’s Warsaw Village Band perfoms folk tunes with a modern sensibility. Formed in 1997, they’ve performed in over 30 countries and have garnered several Grammy nominations, as well as BBC radio and European Broadcasting Union awards. November 15, Zimbabwean pop star Oliver Mtukudzi performs at the Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne). He sings in both Shona and English, on themes of social and economic issues. For more information on these and other Small World presentations, visit www.smallworldmusic.com.

Other items in brief:

Africa New Music presents Marie Musamu, gospel singer from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 7 at College Francaise, 100 Carlton St., 5-10 pm. Also on November 7, local group Sapovnela presents a concert of Georgian music at the Heliconian Hall. Toronto’s own Japanese taiko ensemble Nagata Shachu (formerly the Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble), gives three concerts at the Al Green Theatre, Nov. 27, 28 and 29. And the universities wrap up their fall terms with student concerts: York’s world music ensembles perform on November 5 and 6, and the U of T Faculty of Music’s play on November 30, December 2 and 4.

Karen Ages can be reached at worldmusic@thewholenote.com

18aOctober opens with the continuation of the eighth annual Small World Music Festival which began in late September. Remaining shows include Beyond the Pale klezmer fusion band at Lula Lounge, October 1; and Parno Graszt gypsy band, October 2, also at Lula.As well, there’s Music, Movement and Mythical Creatures, a childrens’ show with bellydancer Roula Said and friends, October 3 at Harbourfront’s Lakeside Terrace; Saeid Shanbehzadeh, Persian music and dance, also October 3, at the Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre; and Celebrate! Holidays of the Global Village, a multicultural kids’ show with Chris McKhool, October 4 at the Lakeside Terrace.

Also on October 4, Africa New Music presents Festival Bana y’Afrique, a free outdoor celebration of African music and culture, at Metro Hall Square (near King and John streets). The line-up of performers includes JP-BUSE from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Blaise La Bamba, also from Congo, Madagascar Slim & Kintana Gasy, Valu David from Angola, Njacko Backo and Kalimba Kalimba (Cameroon), Akwaba Cultural Dance Group (Ivory Coast), Kgomotso “KG” Tsatsi (jazz singer) and more. The festival runs from 1 to 10 pm. See www.africanewmusic.org for more details.

18bProbably the most exciting event in Toronto’s musical landscape this fall has been the opening of the Royal Conservatory’s new concert venue, Koerner Hall. And to celebrate this event, a concert series featuring local, national and international stars has been launched and continues throughout this season. A number of world music acts have been programmed – and among them, none other than world renowned sitar player Ravi Shankar will grace the stage on October 17, along with his daughter Anoushka Shankar. The elder Shankar is probably India’s best known musical ambassador, and for over five decades he’s collaborated with the late renowned violinist Yehudi Menuhin, flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal and composer Philip Glass, and has composed three concertos for sitar and orchestra. An accomplished sitarist in her own right, Anoushka Shankar has explored musical linkages between Indian classical music and electronics, jazz, flamenco, and western art-music.

The same evening at Roy Thomson Hall, Spanish guitarist Paco Peña presents a show titled A Compás (Primal Pulse), with his troupe of three dancers, a singer, three guitarists and percussion in an exploration of flamenco rhythms.

The month comes to an end with another African drum and dance festival: Baobab Afrikan Arts presents Mandingue Summit, October 29 to November 1. Mandingue refers to the people of the ancient empire of Mali, which in the 13th century encompassed the countries known today as Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso. The festival presents local artists who specialize in the Mandigue style of drumming and dancing, as well as film screenings, cuisine, and drum and dance workshops. Visit www.baobabafrikanarts.org and our listings for more details.

Karen Ages is an oboist who has also been a member of world music ensembles. She can be contacted at: worldmusic@thewholenote.com.

 

Looking to expand your own musical horizons but don’t know where to start? Below is a short list (by no means comprehensive) of commuity education organizations offering classes in a variety of world music traditions.

28Sora

But first, some concert highlights for this month. The 8th Annual Small World Music Festival runs September 24 to October 4 at various venues, and features 23 artists from 20 countries, including Zakir Hussain with Béla Fleck and Edgar Meyer (September 29, part of the Grand Opening concert series at the RCM’s new Koerner Hall), Tasa, Bajofondo, Electric Gypsyland, Beyond the Pale, Omnesia Live, to name just a few. See our listings, or visit www.smallworldmusic.com for full details. The Klezmer Kids, from Winnipeg, perform September 12 at the Winchevsky Centre, 585 Cranbrooke Ave., followed by a workshop the next day. (www.winchevskycentre.org or call 416-789-5502); and KlezFactor, Toronto’s “alternative” klezmer band, performs at the Tranzac Club, September 29. Finally, Bernardo Padron and his band are at Hugh’s Room, October 1 (Venezuelan influenced jazz, with Alan Hetherington, Mark Duggan, Marylin Lerner and Andrew Downing).

Arabesque Academy

1 Gloucester Street, Suite 107

416-920-5593

www.arabesquedance.ca

In addition to being one of the best places in the city to study the art of belly dance, (including an auditioned professional course), Arabesque Academy offers classes in Arabic instrumental music. At the time of writing, the fall schedule was not available, but check their website for updates. Music classes are offered by noted local Arabic musicians Dr. George Sawa, Bassam Bishara and Suleiman Warwar on a variety of traditional instruments including dumbek, Qanoon, Naye, Oud, Voice, Violin, Saz, as well as history and theory.

Clapping Land – songs, movement and rhythm for young children

Sophia Grigoriadis

416-220-8161

sophia@clappingland.com

www.clappingland.com

“Through moving, singing and instrument play, music opens those crucial pathways for your child’s language and social development and physical coordination, giving opportunities for creative thinking and exploration.” Classes begin soon in the following age ranges: Newborn to 18 months; 18 months to 3 years; 3 to 5 years. Check the website for schedules and registration.

Gamelan Degung Sora Priangan

“Voice of the Spirit of the Ancestral Mountains”

Arraymusic studio, 60 Atlantic Ave. Suite 218 (rehearsal location)

atmar@istar.ca (Andrew Timar, contact)

Sora Priangan is the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan’s community group, directed by Andrew Timar. The instruments and repertoire are indigenous to the highland Sundanese people of West Java, Indonesia. Sora Priangan’s mission is to foster an understanding and appreciation of the gamelan degung music of West Java, and the unique repertoire commissioned by its parent group, the Evergreen Club. Membership is open to the public, and the group presents concerts and workshops. Rehearsals are Tuesdays 6-9 pm.

Kathak Dance

355 College St., second floor

416-504-7082

joanna@mdo-tte.org

www.mdo-tte.org

In partnership with the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, Joanna de Souza offers classes in North Indian Kathak dance, from beginner to professional levels, in the Kensington Market area. For full schedule and registration, visit the website.

Koffler Centre of the Arts

Prosserman JCC’s Donald Gales Family Pavilion

4588 Bathurst St

416-638-1881 x4269

registration@kofflerarts.org

www.kofflerarts.org

In addition to a number of music classes and workshops offered by the Koffler Centre, new this fall is the opening season of the Toronto Jewish Chorus, under the direction of Judy Adelman Gershon. Auditions to be held in the fall.

Miles Nadal JCC

750 Spadina Ave., at Bloor

416-924-6211

info@mnjcc.org

www.milesnadaljcc.ca

In addition to a vast array of recreational and cultural activities, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre offers a number of music classes, including a Community Choir, Women’s Chorus, and Klezmer Ensemble. See their website for schedules.

RCM Conservatory School

273 Bloor St. West

www.rcmusic.ca

Back in their newly renovated old location, the Royal Conservatory offers a number of community classes in world music traditions, inbcluding Brazilian Samba, Celtic-Canadian Fiddling, Latin Jazz, Taiko Drumming, and a World Music Chorus. Visit their website, click on “brouse courses,” then “world music” for schedules and registration.

Samba Kidz

Drum Artz Studio, 27 Primrose Ave. (Dupont/Dufferin)

416-538-6342

info@drumartz.com

www.sambakidz.com

www.drumartz.com

Run by Drum Artz Canada, the Samba Kidz fall 2009 session begins September 29, Tuesdays from 5:30-7:30pm. This multi-arts programme for kids aged 7-14 encompasses group-inspired world drumming, steel pan, dance and visual art projects culminating in performance opportunities throughout the city.

Samba Squad

Drum Artz Studio, 27 Primrose Ave. (Dupont/Dufferin)

slamdog@sympatico.ca

www.sambasquad.com

Lead by Rick Lazar, Samba Squad offers workshops in Brazilian Samba (beginners welcome) most Sundays all year round from 11:30am to 1:30pm. No need to sign up in advance. Instruments are provided. Bring your own ear plugs and a tape recorder if you wish. Some “graduates” become members of Samba Squad itself.

Toronto Tabla Ensemble

43riteshdas355A College St. West

riteshdas@tablaensemble.com

www.tablaensemble.com

416-504-7082 x1

Ritesh Das offers classes in North Indian tabla drumming, from beginner to professional levels, in the Kensington Market area. See the website for full schedule and registration.

Worlds of Music Toronto

416-588-8813

info@worldsofmusic.ca

For years, Worlds of Music has been a wonderful source of world music classes and workshops in a wide variety of traditions. At time of writing, the fall schedule does not appear to be in place; but do check their website or call for details.

 

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

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