With summer approaching, most community musical groups will have finished the last of their regular concerts. Some will close down for the summer, while others will embark on a mixture of park concerts, summer festival performances and various other less formal musical events. This slowdown in more structured activities could accord band and orchestra members opportunities for revitalization and musical exploration. In chats with our editor, a variety of pathways to explore came to mind. What about trying our hands at a different instrument, a different method of studying our instrument or exploring a different musical genre?
This month I write of two singers who have little in common but are both well-worth seeing and hearing. The first is a resident musician of Toronto, the second a visitor from Turin, Italy.
Laura Hubert is an artist deserving of wider recognition, so it’s nice to see that she has three gigs at this year’s Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival. Formerly a founding member of Juno-winning rock act the Leslie Spit Treeo, Hubert’s powerful voice has a chameleonic quality. Her palette is rich with colours and shades: whether the song is sweet, bitter, saucy or dry, each interpretation is both artful and tasty. And then there are the songs themselves. Be it blues, western swing, torch song or novelty, Hubert fashions each with a style all her own. Supported by some of Toronto’s premium jazz musicians including musical director Peter Hill on piano, a night with the Laura Hubert Band is your best bet for entertainment. On June 22 the band celebrates Laura’s birthday and marks the end of a 10-year Monday night stand at Grossman’s Tavern, but will be moving to a new location for July. For gig listings visit www.laurahubert.com, song samples at www.myspace.com/thelaurahubertband.
Roberta Gambarini is one of the most celebrated jazz singers today. She sings in a manner reminiscent of late jazz royalty, particularly echoing the supple tone, flawless intonation and adventurous phrasing of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae, respectively. Born in Turin, she started out as a clarinet player and switched over to voice at 17. She has released two highly acclaimed recordings: the Grammy-nominated Easy to Love (2006) and an endearing album of duets with living jazz legend Hank Jones on piano. Roberta Gambarini will be performing as part of Art of Jazz (June 5-7) at the Distillery District on Sunday June 7, at 9:00pm at the Fermenting Cellar Stage. She will also be providing a vocal clinic on the afternoon of Saturday June 6. For tickets and more information visit www.artofjazz.org.
Extended Interview with Andrew Timar
by Karen Ages
Anniversaries are a time to look back and reflect on time spent together, or on one's accomplishments over the years, and the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan is doing just that. They celebrate their 25th anniversary season this month, with three different concerts: May 2 at the Open Ears Festival in Kitchener, and May 4 and 11 at the Music Gallery. I asked long-time member and suling player Andrew Timar to tell me a bit about the Ensemble and his role within it.
Karen Ages: When was the Evergreen Club founded, and who were its original members?
Andrew Timar: Jon Siddall founded the Evergreen Club, Canada's first gamelan, in 1983. We met while we were students at York University and became fast friends, performing extensively in various groups both in and out of school. Jon went on to do his graduate studies at Mills College, CA, studying composition with noted American composers Terry Riley, Lou Harrison and Robert Ashley. In addition, he studied gamelan degung at Mills with Lou Harrison (1917 - 2003), who was among the first Western composers to compose directly for entire gamelan (orchestra), as well as building several orchestras based on Indonesian gamelan from indigenous American materials. This Harrison connection established by Jon Siddall has proven significant for the future of ECCG for several reasons. The primary one is perhaps that Harrison assisted Siddall in acquiring his gamelan degung (or degung for short), which turned out to be Canada's first complete gamelan set. Jon now lives in Vancouver where he pursues his career as a composer, a CBC music producer, and teacher of degung music at the Vancouver Community College.
by Jason van Eyk
By the time May rolls around, we can be sure that warmer and sunnier days are here to stay. So, it's no surprise that many of Toronto's new music performers and presenters are pursuing nature themes for this month's concerts.
Running throughout the month is New Adventure in Sound Art's Deep Wireless Festival of Radio and Transmission Art, which takes as its theme "Ecology: Water, Air, Sound." In this era of climate change and global warming, we're all alerted to environmental indicators of temperature, air and water quality, as well as light (UV index) and soil (waste disposal and brownfields). However, one environmental element to which we pay exceedingly little attention is sound. Most people would be surprised to know that we are affected by noise exposure more than any other environmental stressor. Yet, because the associated health effects of noise are not considered as immediately life-threatening as those for other environmental elements, it is regularly pushed to the bottom of the priority list.
“Embracing” is a word that can be used two ways. Interesting how either way it applies to making music, and particularly to choral singing.
Choral music is "embracing": like a hug that is big enough for as many as many need one. Simple folk melodies and great majestic scores all invite us to be "in the music" as choristers or as audience. This embrace can transcend all kinds potential barriers: age, gender, race, and other diverse but less visible socio-economic walls in our complicated lives.
We are "embracing music", when we sing with others. With our breathing unified, and often our hearts on our sleeves, we wrap a collective voice around a piece of music and hold it tight, and by extension, around one another. It's an act of love.
The Timothy Eaton Memorial Church Choir School "Sing Out!" (May 8)