Once upon a time, we regularly ran, alongside this column, a companion piece called New Music QuickPicks. The idea of QuickPicks was to give the new music aficionado a filtered list of all the concerts that might be of interest. But since these QuickPicks consisted of short form listings only (i.e. date, time, presenter name, concert title), one still had to go to the main listings for the details if something in the QuickPicks caught one’s eye. It was very handy, but also very irritating when the main listing in question turned out to be only of passing interest.

So we built in a rating system: NNN before a listing meant that new music was the main event (usually with a live composer or two in attendance). NN meant new music was not the main thrust but was of more than passing interest. And N meant, well … that was the problem. What did N mean? Did it mean there was a work of Britten’s on the programme, so you should come to pay homage to the pioneer? Or did it mean that the 10-minute contemporary work right before the intermission had actually been commissioned a few years back and/or had already been played more than twice?

That was the problem: the N’s started out as a time saving device; once they became viewed as a comment on the worth of events they lost their utility. It’s a pity, though, because at each of these three levels of intensity, N to NNN, so much is happening this month, and all of it plays its part: keeping composers busy, and enabling players and audiences to break new sonic ground.

19_estacioheadshot2010_colour900Starting with the Ns: Born in Newmarket, Ontario, John Estacio has single works on two different upcoming symphonic programmes: Friday November 4, the University of Western Ontario Symphony Orchestra plays his Variations on a Memory; Wednesday, November 9, Symphony on the Bay plays his Frenergy.

Frenergy’s highest profile performance in our catchment area was with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra September 26, 2009 —
the season opener with violinist Joshua Bell. “The concert opened with John Estacio’s Frenergy,”wrote The Globe and Mail, “a splashy short work full of propulsive rhythms and dramatic flourishes that should have tipped us off, when the piece was new in 2003, to Estacio’s future career as an opera composer. Somebody should use it for a film score.” And of Estacio as an opera composer (Filumena and Frobisher) arts writer Paula Citron, also in The Globe, wrote “If ever a contemporary opera deserved a shelf life, Filumena is the one.”

There are several other noteworthy single new works on upcoming programmes. Abigail Richardson-Schulte’s “Crossings” for cello and piano in four movements (2011) will be performed by Rachel Mercer and Angela Park at a Les Amis concert, Tuesday November 8 at the Toronto Heliconian Club, along with works by Mahler, Mozart and Brahms. Saturday December 3, East York Choir’s Winter Solstice: Seasonal 25th Anniversary Celebration features a world premiere by Stephen Hatfield. Sunday November 6, Antonín Kubálek Projects’ Music for Anton features a premiere — Daniel Foley’s Music for the Duke of York. Thursday November 17, at Music Toronto, The Gryphon Trio includes the Ontario premiere of Calgary-based William Jordan’s Owl Song in their programme, between Beethoven and under-performed late nineteenth century Russian composer Anton Arensky … The list goes on.

Moving up to NN on the intensity scale, a number of presenters this month provide main portions of new music in well rounded programmes. Saturday November 5, Vesnivka Choir/Toronto Ukrainian Male Chamber Choir present a concert titled 120th Anniversary of Ukrainians in Canada. Their guests will be Het Lysenko Koor (The Lysenko Choir) from Utrecht, a choir that focuses on Ukrainian folk and Byzantine sacred repertoire. The concert features two Canadian composers with strong Ukrainian ties — Laryssa Kuzmenko and Roman Hurko. Kuzmenko’s newest work Behold the Light helped to kick off both the 2011 TSO and Toronto Children’s Chorus seasons. And one of Hurko’s works, Panachyda/Requiem for the Victims of Chornobyl was performed in concert at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall on April 9, 2006, by the combined Elmer Iseler Singers, Orpheus Choir, Amadeus Choir, Vesnivka, and the Ukrainian Male Chamber Choir. It was then rebroadcast on CBC Radio 2 on April 26 that year (the 20th anniversary of the disaster).

There’s more: Friday November 18, Sinfonia Toronto gets into the NN act with Gems Old and New, including two premieres: Rob Teehan’s Zephyr (Toronto premiere) and a world premiere by Christos Hatzis, titled Extreme Unction (In Memoriam Gustav Ciamaga); Thursday November 24 the Royal Conservatory’s Discovery Series presents Véronique Mathieu, violin, in works by Donatoni, Dufour-Laperrière and Boulez; also on November 24 is a recital titled Fallen Realm by pianist/composer Adam Sherkin, that will include works by Brahms, Rihm, Froberger and Sherkin himself; and on Friday November 25, Alliance Français de Toronto, who seem to be getting into music programming in a serious way, present a programme with the self-explanatory title Maurice Ravel, Omar Daniel: One Century, One Ocean.

Also steadily climbing the ladder in terms of a commitment to new music programming are the COC’s regular lobby concerts in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Tuesday November 8 Array Ensemble present a programme titled Three. T(w)o. One, featuring music by Komorous, Kondo, Riley and Array director Rick Sacks himself. (And this is by no means the last you’ll hear of Array this month: they also have a concert at the Music Gallery, Saturday November 19, followed by an “improv concert,” in their own Atlantic Avenue space on Saturday November 26.)

But returning to the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre for a moment: make sure also to check out Thursday November 17, What to Do ’Til the Power Comes On, featuring the TorQ Percussion Quartet in works by Lansky, Ligeti, Southam and Morphy (premiere).

Top of the NNN ladder: the good news for true new music aficionados is that the higher up the ladder we go, the more crowded it gets. Friday November 4, York University Department of Music presents Improv Soiree. Thursday November 10, Music Gallery/Goethe Institut Toronto/Istituto Italiano di Cultura presents Pop Avant Series: Whitetree. Saturday November 12 Hannaford Street Silver Band/Amadeus Choir present The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. Tuesday and Wednesday November 15 and 16, the Talisker Players Chamber Music Series has an intriguing programme called Rumours of Peace. And Tuesday November 29 and Wednesday November 30, Soundstreams and Esprit Orchestra respectively are back for the second concerts of what promise to be thoroughly compelling seasons.

20_eve_egoyan-david_rokeby_2To conclude, two NNN concerts that nicely bookend the month: Sunday November 6, at the Music Gallery, Continuum Contemporary Music kicks off their season with a programme titled Fuzzy Logic, which is also the name of one of the works, by Alex Eddington, premiered on the programme. “How would you make music that sounds like a sheep? And more importantly, why? It’s a cheeky start to what looks like a delightfully eclectic programme.

And last, Friday December 2 brings an eagerly awaited Earwitness Productions/Eve Egoyan CD release concert. The disc is called Returnings and consists of works by Ann Southam for solo piano, including Returnings II: A Meditation (world premiere). Count on this CD to add to a burgeoning appreciation of Southam as a composer, and to Egoyan’s reputation as a wholly truthful and compelling interpreter, not only of Southam’s work, but of new music in general.

“New music in new places” is the name of a Canadian Music Centre initiative, now in its eighth year, to assist Canadian composers in “taking their music out of the concert hall and into the community where they work and live.” The CMC’s annual contribution to Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s annual all-night contemporary art festival, has been one of these events. This year, from 6:59pm October 1 till sunrise, it’s bells and more bells at Chalmers House (the CMC’s home on St. Joseph) “blended with electronic musical material and video projections in a continuous and evolving flow.” Titled “The “Crown of the Bell,” the installation is by Rose Bolton and video artist Marc de Guerre. Its companion piece, downstairs, by sound artist Barry Prophet is titled “Post Apocalyptic Belfry” and features glass lithophones, percussion, and electronics. For those of you getting October off to a flying start, it will be a great way to untune and retune your ears for what promises to be a chock-a-block new music month.

Gallery 345

“New music in new places” may well be the name of a CMC initiative, but it also describes a trend. Take Gallery 345 for example. South of Dundas Street W. at 345 Sorauren Avenue, five or six blocks west of where Dundas and College meet, this L-shaped gallery space is definitely “on the wrong side of the tracks” for a new music audience that traditionally gets nose bleeds north of St. Clair and fumbles for passports east of Parliament.

The place reminds me of the Music Gallery in some ways; even 30 people feels like a decent crowd, and you can cram a bunch more than that through the doors. It has the advantage of two decent pianos well maintained, a bright sound, and the cheerfully genre-blind, indefatigable curatorship of gallery owner Edward Epstein.

Even a partial list of concerts there gives you some idea: Saturday October 1 is AIM Toronto’s Interface Series with Sylvie Courvoisier, piano and composer, Marilyn Lerner, piano, and others. Wednesday October 5 it’s “The Art of the Piano Duo: Pieces of the Earth,” a CD release concert featuring original compositions and improvisations by John Kameel Farah and Attila Fias, pianos. “Improvisation unfolds over the evening” says their press release. Sounds like just the spot for it.

October 8 its “Trikonasana.” Friday October 14 it’s Arraymusic with “The Piano Music of Ann Southam” (mentioned in this month’s cover story). Saturday October 15 Toy Piano Composers Ensemble is there with “Avant-Guitars,” the 13 member Aventa Ensemble on Friday Oct 21; Jurij Konje on October 27; Vlada Mars on October 28; and the Tova Kardonne Octet on October 29.


18_newmusic_charleswuorinenArraymusic’s October 14 foray into Gallery 345 also provides a neat segue into New Music Concerts’ next big event. It was Arraymusic artistic director and gifted percussionist Rick Sacks who persuaded NMC’s Robert Aitken to take on the challenge of presenting Charles Wuorinen’s “Percussion Symphony for 24 Players,” the work that anchors NMC’s upcoming October 30 concert at the Betty Oliphant Theatre. The work includes two pianos and a celesta (think Sugar Plum Fairy) and an entire platoon of top-flight percussionists, so it’s not that often performed. Rarely enough, in fact that Charles Wuorinen himself is coming to town to direct. (He will, as others before him, be astonished by the depth of musical talent in this town.) If you are going, get there 45 minutes ahead for Aitken’s “Illuminating Introduction.” Aitken is as deeply into the music as his interviewees and it makes for fascinating listening. There’s also a new piece by Eric Morin on the programme, matching Joseph Petric on accordion with the Penderecki String Quartet — that’s three accordionists in two concerts this season already for NMC! And those of you who also take in the Women’s Musical Club concert on October 16 will have an all too rare opportunity — the chance to hear a new work (Chris Paul Harman’s Duo for flute and cello) performed twice in four days!


Betty Oliphant Theatre, 8pm Oct 30, will be the place to hear the drums go bang and the cymbals clang. But for the horns that blaze away, Koerner Hall, five hours earlier, is the place to be. MassBrass promises to be one of those Soundstreams initiatives that Lawrence Cherney is famous for — throwing together players who’d otherwise be more likely to cross paths in an airport, adding a conductor who responds to what he hears, and watching the sparks fly. Copland, Schafer, and works by André Ristic (world premiere), Gabrieli and more will be the ingredients. The Stockholm Chamber Brass, Simón Bolivar Brass Quintet, and True North Brass will provide the heat. And conductor David Fallis will stir the pot.

Esprit’s Stirred So Much

20_newmusic_shaunarolston_-_photo_courtesy_of_the_banff_centreSpeaking of Koerner Hall, Alex Pauk’s Esprit Orchestra was the first of the core new music presenters to move its whole season to Koerner. Having an extra 400 seats to sell was a daunting challenge, but with curiosity about the new hall high last season it was a good time to take the plunge. After all, without extra seats how do you take on the challenge of outreach? This year they are taking it a step further, switching from a Sunday night format to include three week nights, making reaching out to a school audience viable.

First of these week nights is Wednesday October 19 and it’s a stirring programme, as befits a band big enough to make some complex noise in a hall big enough to handle it. Douglas Schmidt’s new work on the programme “The Devil’s Sweat” caught my eye: “Carbon Concerto for carbon cello and orchestra” it says. Solo cellist Shauna Rolston’s carbon fibre cello is billed as “indestructible” so it sounds like she’s in for an unorthodox workout!

Over the past 15 or 16 years we’ve seen Toronto’s new music community taking a wider and wider detour around the 11 days (September 8–18) during which the Toronto International Film Festival is the biggest circus in town. Some sneak in ahead, like InterSection, this year’s fifth annual New Music Marathon, which runs noon till 10pm, Saturday September 3 at Yonge/Dundas Square. (We’ll be there!) But after that, with one notable exception, it’s mostly bits of this and that until New Music Concerts’ Opening Gala on September 25. After which it’s into October before some of the other local heavyweights like Soundstreams and Esprit kick into action.

The notable exception is Kitchener-Waterloo based presenter NUMUS Concerts, which rolls into town September 17 — the day before TIFF folds its tents — with a Glenn Gould Studio concert featuring the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in a program of the film music of Philip Glass.

Founded in the mid-80s by composer Peter Hatch, NUMUS has become a catchword in Kitchener-Waterloo, where the organization is associated with contemporary music productions, occasionally on the wild side, like Jeremy Bell’s production — Nude Show — a few years ago. “The poster for that concert,” says current artistic director, composer Glenn Buhr, “showed composer Omar Daniel shirtless and hanging upside down from a trapeze pole while he manipulated some electronics. That was our all time best seller.”

18_buhr_option_2Toronto audiences may also remember their more recent “Battle of the Bands” concert last January at the Music Gallery. “I curated that show,” says Buhr, “and it featured my progressive jazz/blues ensemble the Ebony Tower Trio (Rich Brown, electric bass, Daniel Roy, drums, and myself on piano) doing battle with the Penderecki String Quartet. The idea was to contrast contemporary music with roots in old Europe alongside new music with roots in the blues and jazz traditions of North America. I think it’s still there on CBC’s Concerts on Demand.”

I joked with Buhr about invading Toronto during TIFF. The plan, I suggested, was a) crazy like a fox, b) just plain crazy, or c) a stroke of genius. But he refused to rise to the bait.

“NUMUS is a presenter as well as a producer,” he said, “so I’m always looking for projects to buy in to our season. I was approached by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra about the Philip Glass program. I was particularly interested in the new Piano Concerto adapted by Michael Riesman from Glass’s music for the film The Hours. Riesman has been playing those Philip Glass arpeggios for quite a while and has developed a formidable technique.”
“So my answer is neither. It’s pure accident. The MCO wanted to tour this material in preparation for a recording and was looking for a presenter. The fee was so reasonable that we decided to present them in Toronto and Guelph as well as Kitchener-Waterloo. The overlap with TIFF is serendipity; this was the only possible date for the MCO. I have no idea if TIFF will work in our favour or otherwise.”

20_sarah_slean_photo_by_ivan_otisThe September 17 concert will be the first of two NUMUS visits to the Glenn Gould Studio within this issue’s listings period. The second, October 6, will also ring bells for Toronto audiences. Titled “Song of the Earth,” it was presented August 10, 2010, at Walter Hall — one of Agnes Grossmann’s final programs as artistic director of Toronto Summer Music. It paired a new commission, Song of the Earth, by Buhr himself, with Mahler’s master work. “Yes. I vowed to repeat that program if I was given the opportunity,” says Buhr, “because I felt that it could be curated a bit differently — by ending with the contemporary work and beginning with the Mahler. Also, we’ve hired popular songstress Sarah Slean to sing, and also record my work. I’m more interested in contemporary singing styles than I am in European classical singing, and I’ve worked with Sarah before. She was soloist in my third symphony (a choral symphony). Her presence on stage, and also the Margaret Sweatman libretto — which alludes to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in 2010 — puts the Mahler masterpiece into a more contemporary context. The new work is still a ‘Song of the Earth,’ but it poetically underlines our more current concerns.” You can read more about NUMUS at www.numus.on.ca.

Other TIFF tamers

Though it’s fun to think of NUMUS as the only new music mouse brave enough to bell the TIFF cat, I don’t want to overstate the case. There is new music throughout the middle of the month, if you pick your spots. Sunday September 11, the Music Gallery’s Pop Avant series presents Esmerine with guest Muh-he-con. Music Toronto’s Thursday September 15 season opener (the Tokyo String Quartet with Markus Groh, piano) features a world premiere of a new work by Music Toronto’s composer advisor Jeff Ryan. And on September 18, Contact Contemporary Music presents “Walk on Water,” at Gallery 345, with Wallace Halladay, saxophone, Mary-Katherine Finch, cello, Ryan Scott, percussion and Allison Wiebe, piano.

Once the curtain falls on TIFF, the pace picks up: Friday September 23 Tapestry New Opera’s “Opera Briefs” gets under way at the Theatre Passe Muraille Main Space, with new works from their annual Composer-Librettist Lab. And the same day the Toronto Heliconian Club presents Emily, The Way You Are, a one-woman opera celebrating the life and work of Emily Carr, with music by Jana Skarecky and libretto by Di Brandt.

The following day, Sunday September 25, will see many of us back at the Glenn Gould for the opening gala concert of New Music Concerts’ 41st season — a concert titled “Secret of the Seven Stars” that will showcase not only NMC’s stellar players, but a numinous constellation of Canadian composers and works.

Friday September 30 and Saturday October 1 bring two concerts by AIM Toronto in their “Interface Series” at Gallery 345, featuring Sylvie Courvoisier, piano and composer.

To close, it would be remiss of me not to mention several out of town festivals that not only extend the summer well into September, but pay more attention to new music than one might expect. The Prince Edward County Music Festival, September 16 to 24, has Ana Sokolovic as composer-in-residence; and Barrie’s Colours of Music, September 23 to October 2, has the forward looking Ames Quartet on board, and several other notably adventurous programs on display.

David Perlman can be reached at publisher@thewholenote.com.

June is an important time of transition. This is true not only for the seasons (the 21st marks the summer solstice and a promise of consistently better weather) but also for the live music scene, where the closing concert season makes way for a flourishing of summer music festivals.

p16_inwiththenew_electronicaunplugged_.photo_by_colin_savageIt is also true for me: I am making a transition away from the music field to take up new challenges in the arena of arts and learning. This means that I will also be stepping away from writing this column, which has given me endless opportunity to explore how Toronto’s new music community has made its own remarkable transitions over time. The most noticeable of these is in the sheer range of appropriations, influences, inspirations and collaborations new music makers employ to create and showcase exciting new work.

We can look to a handful of this month’s concerts to see this notion at play.

One group that has been constantly pushing at the boundaries of what it means to be “new music” is CONTACT Contem-porary Music. Their multidisciplinary approach crosses between live and electronic, traditional and site specific, popular and avant-garde, audiovisual and interactive, in ways that many other ensembles would be too timid to try. If that weren’t enough, the content of each CONTACT show treads into touchy territory – from transexualism to transcendentalism, popular music to electro-eroticism, and just about everything in between. Ultimately, CONTACT seeks to unlock the power of artists, leveraged through music-based collaborations, to create situations that eliminate barriers, open new dialogues, find new perspectives and advance new understandings of current, contemporary challenges. It would be absentminded not to mention their “Electronica Unplugged” lunchtime concert on June 8 at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, which features original electronic works by David Bowie, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Gavin Bryars and Philip Glass arranged for the unique forces of the CONTACT ensemble. You can learn more at www.contactcontemproarymusic.ca

Another case in point is the deliriously eclectic Adventures of the Smoid, a creative concoction from the ever-adventurous percussionist/composer/artistic director Rick Sacks for the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan. Drawing on the growing popularity of visual story telling through comic books and graphic novels, Sacks inventively connects a diverse series of dots to link this world to the tradition of gamelan and Indonesian shadow puppetry. Sacks asks the Club to do double duty as musicians and puppeteers to tell a humorous tale about an astronaut’s adventures in space. Adventures of the Smoid is prefaced by a song cycle from iNSiDEaMiND, the wildly experimental turntable duo. New music crossover eclecticism doesn’t get much better than this. The boundaries are definitely pushed once again for these June 13 and 14 events at the Music Gallery.

Tapestry New Opera Works has long been exploring new paths to collaboration between composers, writers and musicians in the creation of the highest of musical forms: opera. Over the last quarter century and beyond, this hallmark company has expanded beyond its Canadian roots to provide a haven for an increasingly international network of creators to develop some of the most promising new work in the field. Tapestry’s season-closing New Opera Showcase will no doubt be another exhilarating adventure through a collection of shorter pieces in development, ranging from those by veteran creative partners to new collaborations. The inspirations range just as far, from Ancient Greek tragedies to modern-day Irish pub love stories, from Icelandic mythology to Canadian immigrant stories filtered through Old Testament morality tales. Be sure to visit www.tapestrynewopera.com to get full details for the June 14 and 15 performances at the Ernest Balmer Studio in the Distillery District.

These three events are just the tip of an iceberg of musical innovation at work in our local music community; I hope to find such radical minds and creative connections in my future work. Don’t miss your chance to catch such new sounds while they are still summer fresh! Be sure to get in with the new via The WholeNote concert listings here and online at www.thewholenote.com.

Jason van Eyk, The WholeNote’s longtime New Music beat writer is stepping down from this column and from his position as Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre.

Contemporary music concerts are springing up in bunches this month, with a trio of themes each containing a quartet of events.

Quartet 1: Celebrations

19April’s sense of celebration flows into May, with a greater emphasis on new musical voices.

On May 15, the Esprit Orchestra will reach the peak of its five-day New Wave Composers Festival, exploring a range of musical inspirations from Bach’s A Musical Offering to the cosmic “music of the spheres” and the mythological Phoenix. This Koerner Hall concert also offers three other reasons to celebrate: it features the world premiere of composer Chris Paul Harman’s Coyote Soul for orchestra; it recognizes the 60th anniversary of the venerable Canadian League of Composers; and it trumpets the return of the Toronto Emerging Composer Award by announcing its first winner in five years. For more details about Esprit and its New Wave Composers Festival, visit www.espritorchestra.com and follow the links.

Array will celebrate in its own way on May 29 with its Young Composers’ Workshop Concert. [See “The ETCeteras” section of listings.] This afternoon event is the culmination of a month’s intensive work completed by a carefully selected foursome of emerging music creators. The resulting pieces will receive their world premiere in the very urban Array Space at 60 Atlantic Avenue. For more info, visit www.arraymusic.com.

The Toronto music community will come together on June 1 at Walter Hall to celebrate the 80th birthday of musical polymath Derek Holman. The concert will feature a variety of Holman’s music for choir, strings, clarinet, voice and pianos, in performances by the Talisker Players, Choir 21, Canadian Children’s Opera Company, pianists Bruce Ubukata and Stephen Ralls, and clarinetist Peter Stoll. A special treat will be the world premiere of Holman’s latest work for tenor and harp, featuring Lawrence Wiliford as soloist. Stay on after the concert for a big, belated birthday party!

Pushing into June, we’ll find the Penderecki String Quartet celebrating its 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the PSQ has commissioned seven new works from a cross-section of Canadian composers. We’ll get to hear some of the early results with world premieres from Michael Matthews and Norbert Palej during the Penderecki’s annual QuartetFest (co-produced with the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society) – an intensive string quartet training and performance program that runs June 1-7 at several locations throughout Kitchener-Waterloo. For more info about Quartetfest and this year’s invited ensembles, visit www.quartetfest.ca. To buy tickets, call 519-886-1673.

Quartet 2: Intersections

The connection of new music to other genres and art forms has been sprouting up more often in Toronto, with this month offering four interesting examples.

On May 3 and 4, the Talisker Players continue their explorations into words and music with their season-closing concert “Façade.” Alongside the title-bearing work by William Walton, and others by Harry Freedman and Alex Eddington, is a world premiere from Toronto’s Alexander Rapoport based on the poem “Jabberwocky.” Soprano Xin Wang and tenor James McLennan join the Taliskers in this program that explores how we look for coherence in words that sometimes hold no meaning. Visit www.taliskerplayers.ca.

The Music Gallery’s Emergents Series will explore a totally different type of intersection, that of genres and styles which collide. The Dupuis/Clark Duo combines harpsichord and electric bass to bridge the distance between four centuries of musical creation. The stretch between these two worlds is not as far as we think, if we conceive of a rock rhythm section as the modern baroque continuo. Sharing the program is GREX, a vocal ensemble that claims to defy easy description. Their set of Meredith Monk, Ned Rorem, R. Murray Schafer and traditional Georgian folk songs makes the claim clear. Visit www.musicgallery.org.

The Canadian Opera Company’s Chamber Music Series unites music and dance in a short, free concert of Beethoven and Golijov, on May 17. Toronto’s celebrated Tokai Quartet will perform the String Quartet Op.131 alongside Golijov’s bittersweet Tenebrae in its original version for soprano and clarinet. Jacqueline Woodley and Kornel Wolak join the Tokai’s as guest performers. Toronto-based dance maverick, Matjash Mrozewski, offers new choreography for four dancers to illuminate the music’s intentions.

Near the end of the month, on May 28, the Music Gallery presents “From Eye to Ear,” an exploration of visual influences in contemporary music, tracing a re-emerging movement towards non-conventional notation and graphic representation. New “scores” by the mercurial John Oswald and the more minimalist Chiyoko Szlavnics are works of art whether sounded or not. Live video will allow the audience to view each piece as it is performed by pianist Eve Egoyan and Quartetto Graphica. More Szlavnics scores, part of the Intimate Music exhibition on loan from the Canadian Music Centre, will be on display.

Quartet 3: Globalization

From Finland to Malaysia, Toronto regularly welcomes the global flow of contemporary music creation. This quartet of concerts demonstrates the range of international ideas on our local stages.

Paris-based Finnish composer, Kaija Saariaho, seems to be popping up everywhere in Toronto classical concert calendars. On May 6, a set of her solo works will appear at the Music Gallery, including her From the Grammar of Dreams for two female voices set to texts of Sylvia Plath, NoaNoa for flute and electronics, Sept Papillons for solo cello and Six Japanese Gardens for percussion and electronics. Singers Carla Huhtanen and Marion Newman, percussionist Aiyun Huang, cellist Rachel Mercer and flautist Camille Watts bring a powerhouse of talent to these demanding and beautiful works.

On May 8, New Music Concerts continues its exploration of music from the Far East in a concert titled “Malaysian Voices.” The program has been curated by Kee-Yong Chong, currently Malaysia’s leading composer. He is credited with a rare musical talent, expressing a highly innovative yet deeply spiritual style. The programming hinges on several pieces by Chong, including a new flute concerto for NMC Artistic Director Robert Aitken. The remaining works by Chow Jun Yi, Yii Kah Hoe, Tazul Izan Tajuddin and Neo Nai Wen will bring a mix of Canadian and world premieres to a portrait of new music from an underrepresented community. Visit www.newmusicconcerts.com.

A little further afield, but also on May 8, the Elora Festival Singers will demonstrate the diversity of voices that makes up the Canadian multicultural mosaic. Simply titled “Oh! Canada,” this program of recent works by Mark Sirrett, Gary Kulesha, Derek Holman and Leonard Enns will bring us some of the best voices in Canadian choral writing as performed by one of our leading choirs. For more information about this afternoon event, and to buy tickets, visit www.elorafestival.com.

Our global tour will end at Roy Thomson Hall on May 26, when the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs Chinese composer Tan Dun’s Water Concerto and Paper Concerto. Both works reflect the composer’s ideas of an organic music, which embodies sounds of nature and the mind. He claims, “The environment is related to our lives, and spiritually, everything germinates from one seed of creativity.” Tan Dun made a great splash in Toronto with his appearance during the 2009 New Creations Festival. He returns to conduct the TSO in his own imaginative works for unconventional solo instruments. For more info and tickets, visit www.tso.ca.

This is a larger list than I normally offer, but May is a month of many new sounds. But there’s still plenty more music to be discovered, so be sure to get in with the new via The WholeNote concert listings here and online at www.thewholenote.com.

Jason van Eyk is the Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre. He can be contacted at newmusic@thewholenote.com.

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