by Jason van Eyk
June generally marks the end of the concert season, and the start of consistently warmer weather. This combination allows the city’s new music presenters to take their artistic ideas out of doors and into territories out of the ordinary, both physically and musically speaking.
For “out of the ordinary,” R. Murray Schafer is our master craftsman. His Patria series has taken audiences out into the woods at the break of daylight, has required musicians to play on stages suspended over lakes and for singers to greet the dawn with song while standing in floating canoes. This month, we have the unique treat of experiencing Schafer’s latest creation, The Children’s Crusade. This world premiere, a co-production of Soundstreams Canada and the Luminato Festival, opens June 5 in a repurposed factory at 153 Dufferin Street.
Warehouse at 151 Dufferin (photo Victor Thom)
In typical Schafer fashion, The Children’s Crusade calls for a unique blend of musical styles performed by a broad range of theatrical and musical talent. As well, the expansive production involves a sequence of four different sets, which requires the audience to follow characters through the performance space: an abandoned manufacturing warehouse in the Parkdale neighbourhood. Have no fear: the space has undergone a complete transformation by the artistic team into a remarkable environment to support what is sure to be an exceptional artistic event. To learn more about The Children’s Crusade, visit www.soundstreams.ca. To reserve tickets and learn more about supporting events for this major addition to the Canadian opera repertoire visit www.luminato.com.
From June 4 to 6 the Canadian Music Centre will be hosting 35 delegates from 16 countries – some from as far away as New Zealand and South Africa – as part of the International Association of Music Information Centres conference. To celebrate their visit, member countries have submitted recordings of music from bands and ensembles for Canadian electronic music artists to remix into an evening of new music. Canada threw in the music of our Ann Southam, an electronic music pioneer in her own right, for good measure. And so, on June 6 at the Rivoli, the audience will hear the world come together in one big musical remix by electronic music artists Solvent, minisystem and others. The beats start at 9:30 pm and will keep on until the morning hours.
Getting to the out-of-doors portion of the month, New Adventures in Sound Art launches its annual Sound Travels series on the Toronto Islands on June 5. Sound Travels brings sound art to the outdoors in a way that entices the curious and provides a unique experience each and every year. This 11th edition of the annual festival will once again feature an expanded set of indoor and outdoor interactive installations, performances, soundwalks, artist talks, the Sound Travels Intensive (three days of workshops and concerts) and the third annual Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium. Featured artists include Nicolas Bernier, Annette Vande Gorne, Ken Gregory, Ken Emig, Miles Thorogood, Ben Thigpen and Barry Prophet, with more artists still to be announced. Keep posted to www.naisa.ca for full details, and the unveiling of both returning and new programming.
Meanwhile, in the heart of the city, the Music Gallery launches its Courtyard Music Series. I’ve only ever once experienced music performed in the semi-private and beautiful surroundings of St. George the Martyr’s courtyard garden, and I will say that it was a unique and enjoyable experience. On June 19 the series launches with the “post-everything” mélange that is Fond of Tigers, followed by the Guelph/Toronto sextet Brides and friends belting out Glenn Branca’s Lesson No. 1. Following events feature Instant Coffee, Contact Contemporary Music, Magik Markers and Veda Hille with sound artist Christof Migone. Full dates and details are available at www.musicgallery.org or 416-204-1080. Ticket prices range widely, but never top $20; with what is sure to be limited seating, you’ll want to reserve early.
The month’s outdoor concerts close with Soundstreams Minimal Music Patio Party on June 24 at the Bata Shoe Museum. The evening features percussionist Russell Hartenberger, member of the legendary percussion ensemble Nexus, and the Steve Reich Ensemble. With Reich set to premiere a new Mallet Quartet at the end of 2009, perhaps we can count on Nexus to bring us a definitive rendition here in Toronto sometime shortly after? Time will tell. Until then, come discover new music, make new friends, relax, unwind and enjoy musical surprises. More details are available at the Soundstreams website or by calling 416-504-1282.