A young boy watches a relaxed performance at the TSO. Photo credit: Jag Gundu.Printer’s gremlins, as they are called (although the glitch in question was mine, not our printer’s) came to play on the otherwise GORGEOUS cover of our 25th-season-opening September issue. “MUSIC AND HEALTH: Relaxed Performances Bring Barriers Down,” proclaimed the middle of the three teasers at the foot of the page. But as several readers have discovered, and pointed out, you will search the current magazine in vain for a story with that title or on that topic.

The closest fit to the title is Art of Song columnist Lydia Perović’s story in the issue, “Mysterious Barricades and Systemic Barriers,” page 40. That story starts out as an interview with soprano Monica Whicher about the Toronto contribution to a string of coast-to-coast one-hour concerts, all titled Mysterious Barricades, which took place this past September 14 on the final day of World Suicide Prevention Week. You can find the full 16-hour livestream of the event, along with videos of the individual concerts, here.

And the “barriers” in the second half of Perović’s title refer to the obstacles faced by musicians (along with many other participants in “the gig economy”) in need of systematic, affordable therapy of one kind or another. And those barriers, unlike those referred to in the optimistic teaser on our September cover, show few signs of coming down.

All that being said, you can stop searching in vain through the current issue for an item about how “relaxed performance is bringing barriers down,” because you won’t find it. Yet.

The story in question, by our Music and Health feature writer Vivien Fellegi, will appear in the upcoming October issue of the magazine. The story grew out of Fellegi’s attendance this past April 27 at a Toronto Symphony Orchestra concert titled “Let’s Dance,” conducted by Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, a veteran of the movement. “Relaxed Performance,” as the term is used in Fellegi’s upcoming story, refers to performances designed specifically with neurodiverse audiences in mind – and in many cases, involves making live music events less prohibitive for people with autism spectrum disorders, sensory and communication disorders, learning disabilities, or anyone who wants a more casual concert experience. 

It was the TSO’s first foray into the area, but will not be its last. Already they have announced two such performances in the upcoming season (Feb 22 and May 24), and “Relaxed Performance” is even included as its own search category in the orchestra’s 2019/20 season concert listings. Having failed to honour the promise on our September cover that Fellegi’s Relaxed Performance story was within, it would be an equal disservice to steal its thunder here. It will be worth the wait. 

I confess that before the concert that served as the catalyst for Fellegi’s story this past spring, I was only dimly conscious of the term “Relaxed Performance” as an emerging practice. Since being made aware, I’ve seen it popping up all over! Which seems like a very good thing. 

Here, in no particular order, are four examples:

YPT (Young People’s Theatre) has two relaxed performances in every run. Looking just at their next two shows: for A Million Billion Pieces, these performances will be Wednesday, December 4 at 10:30am, and Sunday, December 8 at 2pm; and for The Adventures of Pinocchio they will be Friday, December 13 at 10:15am and Saturday, December 14 at 2:30pm.

Banff International String Quartet Competition, in partnership with Autism Calgary and Xenia Concerts, presented a relaxed concert on August 31 at Calgary’s Indefinite Arts Centre at the close of this year’s competition, by 2016 Competition winners the Rolston Quartet.

Soulpepper theatre company has had one relaxed performance already this season (Betrayal, September 15), and another two have been scheduled for the upcoming run of Peter Pan (December 19 at 11am and December 22 at 1pm).

The National Ballet of Canada will present a relaxed performance of YOU dance, the company’s community engagement program, at the Betty Oliphant Theatre this Saturday, September 21, at 5:30pm.

In closing, a request: if you are aware of other examples of relaxed performance opportunities, either recent or coming up this season, please let us know at editorial@thewholenote.com. That way we can participate, more systematically, in the process of raising awareness not just of the barriers, but to the ways they are coming down.

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

banannaJessica Ackerley (left)On August 23, guitarist Jessica Ackerley released A New Kind of Water, a quartet album that features saxophonist Sarah Manning, bassist Mat Muntz and drummer Stephen Boegehold. Recorded at BC Studio in Brooklyn, A New Kind of Water was mixed by homonymous studio founder Martin Bisi. BC Studio has been the studio of choice for a wide variety of projects, from Sonic Youth’s album EVOL to the Herbie Hancock song “Rockit” to work by John Zorn and more. The connective tissue through all of these recordings is a certain kind of gritty aesthetic, a frank musical realism that is reflected – literally, in an acoustic sense – by the cavernous, unfinished walls of the studio’s live room.

While working with Bisi and recording in BC Studio proved to be integral components of the album, A New Kind of Water is the culmination of years of music-making and career growth. Ackerley has been based in New York since 2011; she first moved to Brooklyn, but now resides in Manhattan. Originally from Alberta, she attended Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and Rutgers University in New Jersey. It was at Rutgers – where she earned a master’s degree, and worked with American jazz luminaries such as Vic Juris and Victor Lewis – that Ackerley started to seriously explore composition. Through multiple residencies at The Banff Centre, she continued to develop her artistic voice, with mentorship from Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey and Zakir Hussain, amongst others.

A New Kind of Water.A New Kind of Water is Ackerley’s second full-length album as a leader; her first, Coalesce, was released in 2017. Coalesce – a trio album – also featured bassist Muntz, with Toronto’s Nick Fraser in the drum seat. While Ackerley “didn’t want to do a second album all over again as another trio,” she also “didn’t want to do a strictly quartet record” either, and A New Kind of Water certainly doesn’t feel like a conventional quartet record, in the sense where songs are written as blowing vehicles to fit a particular ensemble. Instead, the ensemble shifts to accommodate the music, both for individual songs and for specific sections within songs. “Space, Frame, Contain,” the album’s opener, begins with a duo between Ackerley and Muntz, with Boegehold and Manning entering later on. This approach to instrumentation is a big part of Ackerley’s interest in exploring the different situations within a single piece of music: ones that “[allow] things to ebb and flow,” to be “added and subtracted,” throughout a piece. Ackerley doesn’t “like the idea of cutting and pasting,” or of “haphazardly patching together” different sections of music, especially sections with varying compositional frameworks (such as a free section and a specifically-notated melodic section). Instead, Ackerley strives to create meaningful, natural connections between musical statements, both on individual songs and throughout her album as a whole.

These connections are made possible by the trust and rapport between Ackerley and her band, with whom she’s collaborated in a variety of settings. Ackerley has played the music on A New Kind of Water with Muntz as a duo, played a duo set with Manning, and has worked frequently with Boegehold in his project. Having these ongoing working relationships in a variety of settings allows for what Ackerley calls the “magical moments” in a song: “everything lines up, and everyone knows what to do in that moment, and something beautiful comes of it.” It is a sensation that is immediately palpable on A New Kind of Water, and is especially important in music (such as Ackerley’s) with significant sections of free improvisation.

In addition to her busy schedule as a performing musician, Ackerley is also active as a teacher and musical programmer. Amongst other ventures, she recently curated The Brink Guitar Festival, which took place in Brooklyn from March 28 to 31 of this year. Co-presented by Spectrum and Main Drag Music, the festival is a “celebration of the guitar and the musicians in New York City who continue to push its boundaries within the improvised and creative music scene.” The festival grew out of a monthly series at a guitar shop, loose in genre, with the basic format of four 15-minute sets of solo guitar music. With performances from figures such as Miles Okazaki and Dan Weiss, Naeemah Maddox, and Ackerley herself, the festival is part of Ackerley’s work in highlighting the diversity of the guitar at a time when, according to Ackerley, it is “fading from the mainstream, in terms of being a voice at the forefront of musical arrangements and songs.” It’s also part of the ongoing work of creating and fostering community for creative improvised music; as Ackerley puts it, “allowing people to showcase their music in a live setting – and even just seeing improvised music – is a really special thing.”

As the title suggests, one of the overarching themes of the album is a consideration of water. “One of the things that was really important to me in the execution of this album,” Ackerley told me, “was the sense of ebb and flow, and the ability to adjust to any kind of circumstance, whether it be improvisational or compositional.” It is through this process of ebb and flow that Ackerley found an apt metaphor for the way in which each of the band members can find the space to explore their own musical voice within the body of her music. When listeners first come to A New Kind of Water, Ackerley hopes that listeners will consider a “sense of water”: of “a river, or a waterfall, or the ocean,” of water’s “constant movement,” and of the power and tranquility that attends water in its various forms.

Jessica Ackerley’s A New Kind of Water was released on August 23, 2019, and is available for purchase on Bandcamp. 

Colin Story is a jazz guitarist, writer, and teacher based in Toronto. He can be reached through his website, on Instagram and on Twitter.

The cast of What Goes Up learning frisbee. Photo credit: Dahlia KatzOn August 19 to 22 on the 17th floor of the new offices of Canada’s newspaper The Globe and Mail, a remarkable new initiative for fostering the creation of new musicals is taking its first public steps.

REPRINT is the first project of a new program called LAUNCH PAD, created by the combined forces of The Musical Stage Company and Yonge Street Theatricals – and it sounds thrilling.   Three creative teams have spent the last ten months creating new short (approximately 20-minute) musicals, each inspired by an article and/or photograph from The Globe and Mail’s archives.

A photo of screaming fans at the Beatles concert in Toronto in the 1960s inspired the team of Anika Johnson, Barbara Johnston and Nick Green to create Fan Girl, set in a contemporary (2019) YouTube world of fans and idols. The famous widespread blackout of 2003, as captured in the photo of a couple sitting in a Riverdale Park looking out over a Toronto without lights, led to the creation of Cygnus by composer/lyricist Anton Lipovetsky and book writer Steven Gallagher, all intrigued about how major events like this can bring people together unexpectedly. And in perhaps the most unexpected choice of all, it was photos of frisbee players on the Toronto Islands in the 1980s that caught the imaginations of composer Colleen Dauncey, lyricist Akiva Romer-Segal and book writer Ellen Denny (whom readers will remember from playing the leading role in Britta Johnson’s musical Life After) and led them to create What Goes Up—an exploration of the little-known world of Freestyle Frisbee competition (which bears the same relation to the sport of Ultimate Frisbee that figure skating bears to hockey).

Each short musical has its own specific director and music director team, but all three shows share the same cast of four actors. Guiding the project as a whole are program co-directors  Robert McQueen (acclaimed director of Life After, Fun Home, and many more) and New York City-based orchestrator, musical arranger and music director Lynne Shankel (previously in Toronto for Life After).

Fascinated by this project, its structure and its ambitious goals, I reached out to The Musical Stage Company’s artistic director Mitchell Marcus to find out more.

The following interview has been condensed and edited.

WN: The upcoming REPRINT is the first project of LAUNCH PAD, a new initiative from The Musical Stage Company and Yonge Street Theatricals. Can you tell me what inspired this idea and what your goals with the program are?

MM: Because musical theatre is in its infancy in Canada, some of our most innovative and interesting writers likely have not had many (or any) chances to bring a musical to full production. This is problematic, as creating a good song or an interesting story is only the first phase of being a great musical theatre writer – musicals are a highly collaborative form and so much of the work happens not just in a writer's head, but through 'in the room' experience, where pieces are rewritten and honed over and over again in a collaborative setting.

LAUNCH PAD was intended to bridge this gap for a large group of people, in a country with limited capacity to develop tons of full-length musicals each year, and to offer exciting voices the chance to take their work through a full developmental process. Long-term, we hope that it gives us an army of artists (composers, lyricists, book writers, directors and music supervisors) who understand the trajectory and phases of developing new musicals, and who develop a common language around how to do development work.

WN: The performances of REPRINT will take place on the 17th floor of the offices of The Globe and Mail newspaper, and each of the three short musicals is inspired by a photograph and/or headline from the Globe’s archives. Can you tell me what inspired this specific location and context?

MM: In 2016 we invited writers to respond to the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The resulting short musicals were exceptional, and the experience for the audience was superb – having a common collection as a prompt, and allowing the audience to experience the final product in the space that houses the collection, really demonstrated the artistic process. It struck us that newspaper articles similarly offer a wonderful prompt. News tells us stories through facts. But it's ripe for inspiring characters, circumstances, worlds and conflicts. In particular, because of their glorious 17th floor space in their new building, we thought that The Globe and Mail would have both the right archive and the right performance space to help audiences see the hidden 'theatre' in our collective history.

WN: There are three teams involved in REPRINT, each responsible for creating and preparing one of three short musicals – teams that include composer, lyricist, book writer, director and musical director (though some team members wear two “hats”). How were these teams chosen?

MM: Because the goal of the program is to build an army of people who have a common expectation around new musical development, we chose a collection of people who are excellent in their craft, who we feel (based on their past work) can make a major contribution to the development of new musicals in Toronto, and who would benefit from fine-tuning their work on a full-length development process. Remarkably, other than two composer/lyricist teams, no one had partnered together previously. This was a huge risk, and the artists took an enormous leap of faith letting us pair them up in combinations that we felt would be fruitful based on what we knew of their work. Thankfully, I think the matches turned out to be fantastic!

The cast and creative team of REPRINT. Photo credit: Dahlia Katz.WN: There is one small team of four musical theatre actors who will perform all three shows. How were these people chosen, and how has having this set number of very specific performers affected the creation of the shows? 

MM: We went in search of actors who fulfilled two criteria: [first], we needed very versatile performers, as we had to choose a cast before the works were written. Second, we knew that these pieces would be seriously "in development" until the very first audience, so we needed actors who could learn music and lines quickly, and who thrived in an environment that was constantly changing. After we created a shortlist based on those criteria, we tried to find an assortment of ages, genders, looks, types, etc. so that we would be covered no matter what the musicals ended up requiring.

WN: Can you tell me about the process that the teams have gone through to create their new musicals for REPRINT

MM: In the fall, the writers were given access to the news and photo archive at The Globe and Mail. First step was to select a prompt which spoke to them alongside a rough idea for the musical. The writers created a first draft and had a chance to work with their directors, music supervisors and actors in a two-day workshop in the winter, after which they received notes from their teams, from our organization, and from two international mentors who were attached to the project. They then created a second draft in the spring and again had a two-day workshop and notes. Over the summer, they had the chance to go on a writers' retreat to fine-tune their final draft. And then, during the three-week rehearsal period, they had the chance to continue to hone the work as it was staged. In between, we also had sessions with international experts in musical theatre to talk about effective methods of collaboration, and at the end of the process, international guests come to see the works and then meet 1-on-1 with the writers about their musicals.

WN: This is an exciting experimental process for creating new musicals. Have there been any surprises for you along the way? What can audiences expect?

MM: The biggest surprise has been how well the teams have thrived in this complex structure – and how truly helpful I think this has been to solidify a practice of developing new musicals for them and for us as an organization. 

For audiences, I think it will be absolutely thrilling to watch three original pieces that are each so different and yet so compelling. It will be a tour-de-force to see these actors transform from show to show. Plus, REPRINT will demonstrate the breadth of imagination that exists in both the minds of our talented local writers and the black and white pages of the newspaper.

Fan Girl
Anika Johnson and Barbara Johnston (music & lyrics)
Nick Green (book)
Tracey Flye (director)
Adam Sakiyama (music director & supervisor)

Cygnus
Anton Lipovetsky (music & lyrics)
Steven Gallagher (book)
Ann Hodges (director)
Wayne Gwillim (music director & supervisor)

What’s Goes Up
Colleen Dauncey (music)
Akiva Romer-Segal (lyrics)
Ellen Denny (book)
Lezlie Wade (director)
Shelley Hanson (music director & supervisor)

All three musicals will star Brandon Antonio, Kaylee Harwood, Michael De Rose and Kelsey Verzotti.

REPRINT is onstage from August 19 to 22 at The Globe and Mail Centre, Toronto. It will be filmed for broadcast via podcast in 2020. The original articles that inspired the works can be viewed online here.

Jennifer Parr is a Toronto-based director, dramaturge, fight director and acting coach, brought up from a young age on a rich mix of musicals, Shakespeare and new Canadian plays.

Syreeta Hector in Black Ballerina. Photo credit: Jason Tse.The SummerWorks Performance Festival is celebrating its 29th year of showcasing new and groundbreaking multidisciplinary theatre, music, and dance in Toronto from August 8 to 18.

Though similar to the Fringe in that there are many wildly different companies and artists to see, SummerWorks is very different in that the Fringe chooses its shows by lottery, while Summerworks chooses its shows by a careful process of application and selection. Under artistic director Laura Nanni’s leadership, the festival’s jury process has led to increasingly fearless, risk-taking programming, giving both artists and audiences an opportunity to explore many of the often difficult ideas and topics at the forefront of our contemporary world.

This year there are over 400 performers in over 30 events, based mostly in the Queen Street West area near the Theatre Centre, but also at individual sites around the city. Looking at the lineup of music theatre works, five in particular  stood out for me. While all completely different, they do have two things in common: each piece has an urgent story to tell – and in each case, music is an integral part of the telling.

Cliff Cardinal. Photo credit: Nadya Kwansibenz.1. Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special
Theatre Centre, BMO Incubator, August 11-17

Perhaps the most high-profile music theatre work in the Summerworks Presentations series is Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special. A highly anticipated follow-up to Cardinal’s multi award-winning solo show Huff, it teams him again with his director/dramaturge Karin Randoja. While Huff  was hard-hitting in its depiction of the lives of a group of Indigenous youth dealing with substance abuse and a high risk of suicide, audiences also found it hilarious and this same combination of dark humour and grounded storytelling is expected in this new solo show, though this time it will probably be on the lighter side. Cardinal (son of acclaimed Canadian actor Tantoo Cardinal) grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation listening to CBC Radio, but not hearing the experiences of his family and community being represented very much in its programming. To address that gap, he has created his own ‘CBC broadcast’ and filled it with dark and catchy folk songs, miraculous stories of familial resilience, and legends of Turtle Island survival, with an aim of entertaining – as well as giving untold stories their time on the air.

2. Audible Songs from Rockwood
Theatre Centre, Franco Boni Theatre, August 10-18

On the darker side is Audible Songs from Rockwood, a “concert staged for theatre” based on the album of the same name by Simone Schmidt and her band Fiver. The songs in turn are based on the case files of women incarcerated at the Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane in Kingston, Ontario between 1856 and 1861. Yes, prison and criminalized insanity make for a dark musical show, but this is part of what makes SummerWorks important – that it does not shrink from telling these uncomfortable stories.

Schmidt, a veteran songwriter, spent two years conducting research in the prison archives, retrieving the stories of these women. This led to an acclaimed album of songs that have now been turned into a theatrical event (co-created with director Frank Cox O’Connell and designer Shannon Lea Doyle), which uses these story songs as a starting point to ask questions about not only the historical definition of sanity, but also the contemporary ramifications of a system of incarceration built upon the foundation of a colonial settler agenda. Schmidt, who has a distinctive husky alto voice, leads the cast of three which includes Carlie Howell and Laura Bates.

3. Crossing Into Lullaby
Theatre Centre, BMO Incubator, August 8, 10, 11

In the Lab series of works at an earlier stage of creation, Crossing Into Lullaby takes as a starting point an old family story of an undiagnosable sickness that binds the living to the dead. More enigmatic fable than historical fact, the show revisits this story in a re-telling by creator Dian Marie Bridge and a team of multi-disciplinary artists, and harnesses voice work and electronic soundscapes in an attempt to cure the sickness by breaking the bindings of the story’s characters’ unspoken fears and laying them to rest. The use of music to heal in the story and production is particularly intriguing.

Syreeta Hector in Black Ballerina. Photo credit: Jason Tse.4. Black Ballerina
Theatre Centre, BMO Incubator, August 11, 14, 18

Another show in the Lab series, Black Ballerina, starts from a very real and very personal point of view – that of creator and performer Syreeta Hector, a young but already highly accomplished dancer and educator of mixed Indigenous, African, Canadian and French descent.

Trained at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre as well as the National Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program, and having received a master’s degree from the Dance Program at York University, she uses this new solo show to explore questions of identity and dance form, specifically the clash between her own blackness and the usually white bodies of the classical ballet world. She promises to dig into these issues, including the need we all feel to fit in, through storytelling, movement and music (an original score by Zarnoosh Bilimoria). To give even more depth and detail to her vision is movement dramaturge Seika Boye (It’s About Time, Dancing Black in Canada 1900 - 1970). It will be fascinating to see the range of movement the show employs.

5. The Breath Between
Theatre Centre, BMO Incubator, August 8, 10, 12, 16

The Breath Between, created and performed by the young artists of the AMY (Artists Mentoring Youth) Project, seems to strike a true note of hope in the context of calamity. Set in a future following a climate catastrophe where everyone is forced to live under the control and cover of “the Dome,” the queer youth of Tkaronto emerge to take part in the first Pride event in years, only to discover that it is not the celebration they had hoped it would be. A small band of them break out of the dystopia and journey into space to explore the meaning of community, connection, and home. While the format of an interweaving of monologues, poetry, movement and music is not in itself ground-breaking, it sounds as though the content is refreshing in finding positivity despite the surrounding dystopia. The young characters share stories of their resilience, but even more importantly, their dreams of what new worlds we can make together – even in apocalyptic times.

Please see www.summerworks.ca for a full schedule and information about all the shows and events. Tickets for most shows are $15-35, and some events are free.

Jennifer Parr is a Toronto-based director, dramaturge, fight director and acting coach, brought up from a young age on a rich mix of musicals, Shakespeare and new Canadian plays.

JenShyu Photo1 StevenSchreiberbannerJen Shyu, who performs at the Guelph Jazz Festival this year. Photo credit: Steven Schreiber.Though many summer festivals have already wrapped up their 2019 editions, the season isn’t over yet. There are a number of late-summer festivals slotted for August and September, both in southern Ontario and further afield. Whether you prefer to make a day trip out of town or stay close to home, there are upcoming musical offerings that suit your end-of-summer plans.

Here are five music festivals to consider visiting before the end of the summer.

1. Guelph Jazz Festival
September 11-15
Guelph, Ontario

Founded in 1994, the Guelph Jazz Festival always promises varied and risk-taking programming, with a range of local and international artists. This year – the festival’s first under the artistic co-leadership of Scott Thomson (artistic and general director) and Karen Ng (assistant artistic and general director) – features several notable experimental artists, including vocalist/dancer/multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu’s interdisciplinary solo show Nine Doors and Nova Scotia-based jaw harp player chik white. The festival has organized a Friday Night Street Music Party, 7pm to midnight on September 13 in Guelph’s Market Square. Festival details at www.guelphjazzfestival.com

2. The 21st-Century Guitar
August 22-25
Ottawa, Ontario

This summer, the University of Ottawa Piano Pedagogy Research Lab, the International Guitar Research Centre (University of Surrey), the Canadian Music Centre, and the Ottawa Guitar Society have joined forces to co-host The 21st-Century Guitar, a conference focusing on interdisciplinary perspectives towards guitar performance, composition and pedagogy.

Featuring guitarists from classical, experimental, folk, and numerous other genres, the conference promises a wide range of guitar-centric music – including presentations of solo and duo pieces from Canadian and international composers, a selection of works using 8-channel sound and surround video projection, and performances by a giant ‘guitar orchestra’. Details at www.21cguitar.com

3. Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival
September 13-22
Picton, Ontario

Running from September 13 to 22, the PEC Chamber Music Festival is one of several music events taking place in Prince Edward County each summer. Now under the artistic leadership of the New Orford String Quartet, the PEC Chamber Music Festival promises an impressive program of top-notch Canadian artists. With performances this year by the New Orford String Quartet, Gryphon Trio, soprano Julie Nesrallah with collaborative pianist Robert Kortgaard, and brothers Jamie and Jon Kimura Parker in a program for two pianos, the festival is full of concerts perfect for a mid-September day trip. Info at www.pecmusicfestival.com.

4. The Fifth Canadian Chopin Piano Competition
August 23-29
Toronto, Ontario

At the end of August, the Canadian Chopin Society will present the fifth edition of the Canadian Chopin Piano Competition, hosted at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. Presented in conjunction with the renowned International F. Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland, the Canadian competition is open to Canadian pianists in both Junior and Senior divisions.

In addition to competition rounds open to the public, the Canadian Chopin Society will also present Polish pianist Krzysztof Jablonksi, the competition jury chair, in a solo recital of Chopin’s music at Koerner Hall. Details at www.rcmusic.com

5. Summer Music in the Garden
Thursdays and Sundays until September 15
Toronto, Ontario

The Toronto Music Garden continues its annual summer programming until mid-September this year, offering a variety of free outdoor concerts from now until the end of the summer. Upcoming highlights include performances by Eastern European vocal quartet Blisk; Laüsa, a group rooted in the traditional music of Gascony in southwest France; local cello duo VC2; and Aiyun Huang and Mark Fewer, in a program of works for percussion and violin. More information at www.harbourfrontcentre.com.

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