Women From SpaceThe third annual Women From Space Festival, a Toronto-based concert series, is returning this year, livestreamed on www.womenfromspace.com. Recently postponed due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the festival is now taking place April 9-11, 2021.

Festival passes this year are free, but there will be a PayPal donation button set up during the livestream to contribute to next year’s festival. The concerts will remain online for a week following the events. Access to the livestream will begin at 7:30pm each evening; the concert itself starts at 8pm (EST). The artists’ roughly 30-minute-long sets will be pre-recorded, with live MCing in between.

Founded by Kayla Milmine and Bea Labikova to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2019, the Women From Space Festival focuses on women-led experimental arts. The festival’s directive is “to celebrate and create a space for women [...] working within and between various exploratory musical traditions,” aiming to counteract underrepresentation and inspire a new generation of performing artists. Keeping with the festival’s boundary-pushing nature, this year’s virtual format is not your typical livestreamed concert, instead offering an innovative and exciting alternative to in-person performances: The Holobox Theatre, a miniature holographic stage hand-crafted by the festival and available for $10 plus shipping. 

Read more: Now via hologram: Women From Space returns, streaming April 9-11

keiko photo 2Keiko Devaux. Photo credit: Caroline Desilets.The gala concert for the Azrieli Foundation Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) took place on Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 8pm, live-streamed on Facebook and MediciTV. The concert featured the works of this year’s winners: Keiko Devaux (Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music), Yotam Harbor (Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music) and Yitzhak Yedid (Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music).

According to their website, the Azrieli Foundation was established by David Azrieli in 1989 as a philanthropic effort based in both Canada and Israel. In 2014 they introduced their first two prizes for new Jewish concert music. In 2019, the AMP announced the creation of a new prize – the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music, intended to encourage the creation of new Canadian concert music – and invited all Canadian composers to apply. Awarded every two years, 2020 marked the first opportunity for composers to win the prize: a world premiere by the Montreal-based Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, a commercial recording to be released on the Analekta label, another national or international premiere after the gala concert and $50,000 in cash. The award’s full value is quoted at $200,000.

Read more: Azrieli Commission winner, composer Keiko Devaux reflects on the debut of Arras

The Oud & the Fuzz back patio (image c/o blogTO).When I first walked into The Oud & the Fuzz, it was a profoundly sensorial experience. The aromas of incense and Armenian cooking envelop you. Black-and-white photos of weathered brick buildings in the city of Gyumri, Armenia, catch your eye. Music wafts you through the entrance to the back patio. There, silent listeners are engrossed by groove-based music, or Armenian jazz, or cross-cultural cello improvisations. Though the type of music varies from day to day, its familiar low pulse always seems to force you into movement.

Every sensory feature of the experience has been carefully selected from within a community of like-minded people. Armenian photographer Aren Voskanyan shot the images specifically for the venue. The incense was bought in Kensington Market, and the food is from Karine’s – an Armenian restaurant run by a mother and her two daughters a few blocks away. And the music that determines the space’s atmosphere is created by some of Toronto’s top musicians.

The Oud & the Fuzz is a family affair, owned by Armenian-Canadian brothers Shaunt and Raz Tchakmak. Twenty-eight-year-old Shaunt books, manages, and curates the music in the space.

Read more: The Oud & The Fuzz – community-building in challenging times

bannerOver the last few weeks, The Piano Lunaire founder Adam Sherkin has been braving the cool autumn wind in order to rehearse with fellow pianist Stephen Runge – the two musicians recently managed to find a space suitable for playing fifteen feet apart, windows open, in advance of their next show, Lunaire Live III: The Blue Moon Gala.

The Piano Lunaire, a Toronto-based music presenter founded just two years ago this month, has already gained attention for their monthly concerts of contemporary piano repertoire, held on full-mooned nights. Coinciding with the second full moon to appear this month, The Piano Lunaire’s third online concert will stream this Friday, October 30 from the studios of their performance partner, Yamaha Music Canada.

It’s the second of two local piano-collective projects unveiled this month. The other is reTHINK, the debut album of junctQín keyboard collective released on October 23 by Redshift Records. Founded in 2009 by keyboardists Joseph Ferretti, Stephanie Chua and Elaine Lau, junctQín has commissioned and premiered over forty experimental works for keyboard instruments – including toy pianos and synthesizers – over the past ten years. reTHINK features some of their signature pieces from the last decade, such as Ravel’s 1918 six-hands piano work Frontispiece, and Chess Suite, a 2011 duet for two toy pianos by Canadian composer Monica Pearce.

We caught up with members of both groups this week to discuss their founding visions and new projects this season.

Read more: This fall, two Toronto keyboard collectives are pushing forward – and embracing the new

GG prize jury 2 bannerAlanis Obomsawin“No matter how difficult times are, try to remember that everywhere in the world there are a lot of good people and somehow, in the worst times, you meet someone who will help take you away from the danger. Do not forget that, because if you only think of the bad part, you do not have much hope for the future. But I think it is the contrary. All these years, many times I was in danger and there was always someone who would appear and help me and get me out of that danger. I want to thank all the people who helped me in my lifetime when it was difficult.”

– Alanis Obomsawin

Every two years, the Glenn Gould Foundation convenes an international jury to award the Glenn Gould Prize to a living individual for a unique lifetime contribution that has enriched the human condition through the arts. Alanis Obomsawin, prolific documentary filmmaker, singer-songwriter, visual artist, activist and member of the Abenaki Nation, was chosen as the 13th Glenn Gould Prize Laureate on October 15, by a distinguished international jury chaired by groundbreaking performance artist, musician and filmmaker, Laurie Anderson.

Announced in an emotionally compelling virtual press conference that stretched across the planet, from Chennai, India, to Hollywood, the Glenn Gould Foundation shone a light on the greatest Canadian filmmaker you may never have heard of. Alanis Obomsawin has directed more than 50 films for the National Film Board of Canada, where she has worked since 1967. Her body of work includes the landmark documentary, the internationally acclaimed Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993), the first of four films she made about the 1990 Oka Crisis.

Read more: Celebrating Alanis Obomsawin: 2020 Glenn Gould Prize Laureate
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