“Switchemups”, in Exit Points #36 (March 31, 2023) L-R: Adrian Russouw, Rudy Ray, Owen Kurtz, Nilan Perera, %%30%30, Xina Gilani, Victor O, Michael Palumbo. Photo by Own Kurrtz.It was participating in the Toronto Improvisor’s Orchestra that offered a lifeline for electroacoustic music improviser, teacher, researcher and producer Michael Palumbo. During 2019, Palumbo was experiencing multiple crises in his life which eventually led him into performing improvised music on his modular synthesizer. “It was a form of music making where empathy is very important,” he told me during our phone interview. “I could go and play my heart out. It saved my life that year.”

Read more: Michael Palumbo’s Exit Points Makes Its Mark

Carmen Braden. Photo courtesy of Carmen.Summer and Music Festivals make great partners. Now that concert life appears to be fully alive after the past few years of the enforced doldrums, the summer festivals are alive with several offerings of new music and Canadian compositions. I’ve picked out some of the upcoming highlights, both local and further afield.

Read more: A Summer Musical Mix

Esprit OrchestraApril 2023 will be a busy month for Esprit Orchestra, Canada’s only full-sized, professional orchestra devoted to performing and promoting new orchestral music. First up will be two programs in this year’s edition of the New Wave Festival, on April 12 and 16, followed by their Season Finale concert on April 23, all designed to celebrate Esprit’s 40 years of music making. 

Read more: Wave after Wave - Esprit Orchestra Celebrates 40 Years of Making A Difference

November 19 - The Music Gallery, Toronto: (from left) Bill Parsons (Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan), Caelia Lunniss (Spindle Ensemble), Harriet Riley (S), Jo Silverton (S), Daniel Inzani (S), Dan Morphy (E); Yang Chen (E), Andrew Timar (E), Blair Mackay (E), Jonny Smith (E), Christopher Hull (E)On a cold snowy night last November 19, I was happy to be in the warmth of the Music Gallery at 918 Bathurst Street, listening to the bright pulsating music of an inspiring collaboration between Toronto’s Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan and the Spindle Ensemble from Bristol, UK  (a collaboration that arose from a chance meeting in Bali between Evergreen member Christopher Hull and Spindle member Harriet Riley, we had been informed). I was curious.

Read more: Collaborative Serendipity

L to R: Aaron Schwebel (Photo by Lauren Hamm); Alexina Louie (Photo by Bo Huang); Marie Bérard; Stephen Sitarski.“A wild idea coming to fruition.” That is how composer Alexina Louie summed up the nature of Esprit Orchestra’s concert on November 27, featuring three exceptional concertmasters all based in Toronto and all sharing the stage, performing four violin concertos as part of Esprit Orchestra’s 40th season (an amazing feat in its own right).

The idea of programming an entire concert of violin concertos was an idea cooked up by Esprit’s conductor and music director Alex Pauk. Louie’s response when Pauk proposed the idea was to push back: “How can you do that? How often have you heard three violinists playing three violin concertos on one concert? In all of my concertgoing days, I’ve never seen a concert like that.” But Pauk persisted. 

The concert will feature Aaron Schwebel from the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra performing José Evangelista’s concerto Violinissimo, written in 1992, which Esprit has performed before; Marie Bérard from the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra performing John Rea’s Figures hâtives written in 2006, a work she has previously performed; and Stephen Sitarski, Esprit Orchestra’s concertmaster, performing a newly commissioned work, Six Enigmas, by Andrew Staniland. The concert will conclude with Louie’s Triple Concerto for Three Violins and Orchestra that was commissioned by three different orchestras in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial year: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, performed, in that case, by each of their respective concert masters. 

Read more: Four Concertos and One String Quartet
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