Archive for the ‘conducting’ Category

westward ho!

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Big changes in my studio. I will be defending my ph.d. in August this summer, and then relocating to Edmonton, Alberta (apparently the most up-and-coming city in Canada).

I will continue to teach privately through my studio in Toronto until early August, and will likely re-open my studio in Edmonton once we are settled, teaching in person and via skype, while also continuing my academic and artistic work.

Feel free to contact me for more information or to stay in touch.

Have a great summer!

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Concert: Moonlit City (Sat March 28)

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

5th Annual Earth Hour Celebration and Fundraiser for Echo Women’s Choir  poster for Moonlit City concert
Featuring Annabelle Chvostek
Saturday, March 28, 2015 7 pm
Church of the Holy Trinity, 10 Trinity Square (by Toronto Eaton Centre)
Tickets: $35

This Saturday evening, Echo Women’s Choir is hosting a fundraiser concert that also celebrates Earth Hour. Here are three reasons to join us:

1) The concert is lit by candles in the 150-year old Holy Trinity Church in downtown Toronto. This is an utterly magical setting to listen to Echo Women’s Choir sing pieces by Malcolm Daglish, Tom Chapin, and others in honour of Earth Hour.

2) free wine tastings and food

3) Our very special guest artist is Annabelle Chvostek, juno-nominated singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, former member of the Wailin’ Jennies, and an incredible performer. I love her politics and I love her music. I think you will, too.

Please join us!

A little taste of Annabelle’s music, to tide you over until Saturday:

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Concert: The Divine Feminine

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

I get to work with the wonderful Echo Women’s Choir this semester, and am conducting a set at their concert on December 7 in downtown Toronto. I’m loving the repertoire this season: a couple challenging Ave Maria kinds of pieces (unusual for Echo); a ladino lullaby; some Georgian crazy-harmony pieces; a gospel piece. I think it’s going to be a fantastic concert.

poster for The Divine Femine Concert

Here are the details:
Sunday, December 7, 2014
7:30 pm
Church of the Holy Trinity (next to Eaton Centre on West side)
$15 advance/$20 at the door/$10 seniors, students, underwaged

To reserve tix: 416-779-5554

for more info: www.echowomenschoir.ca

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Join my mass choir at the Ontario Science Centre next week!

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Next week, I’m leading a music lab at the Ontario Science Centre as part of their ‘Science of Rock’ special exhibit. Come join in the fun! The music labs last about 40 minutes and you have three chances to participate in the week:

Tuesday, Aug 19 at 12 pm and again at 2pm

Thurs, Aug 21 at 12 pm only

I’d love to stack the audience with some singers, so please join in! Feel free to tell others too! I’ll be touching on some physiology of the singing voice as well as some acoustic principles. Everyone will then learn a vocal arrangement of ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams, complete with some body percussion!

Also, FYI, these music labs have been running all through the summer, organized by Topher Stott of League of Rock , and they are all fantastic. I saw ‘Be the Producer’ today that had kids controlling the volume of individual instruments in a live band (most of whom were from Big Wreck!) (the band, not the kids). Check out the complete schedule on the Ontario Science Centre web site.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

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Night Songs: Celebrate Earth Hour with Music

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

This Saturday night, Echo Women’s Choir and Mariposa in the Schools are holding a
joint fundraiser at Holy Trinity Church. Tickets are $35, and come with free wine tasting,
plus incredible music from the likes of Gurpreet Chana (The Tabla Guy) and MelanieNight Songs poster
Doane, as well as Echo, and I’m going to conduct one of the songs and sing with them.
The whole evening is hosted by Andrew Craig.

Echo Women’s Choir is an 80-voice non-auditioned women’s choir based in Toronto that sings an incredible range of repertoire. Mariposa in the Schools is an amazing organization
that introduces the world’s oral cultural traditions to Ontario classrooms.

I must confess, one of the most magical things about this particular concert is that most
of it takes place in the dark, with only some candle light. In the magificant acoustic space of Holy Trinity Church (next to the magnificently busy Eaton Centre downtown),
I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend Earth Hour.

You can buy tickets at the door, and details are in the poster here.

And I’ve posted this before, but it’s so beautiful, that it deserves a second viewing. This is Gurpreet Chana playing his composition ‘Gratitude’ at the Earth Hour concert in 2012.

 

 

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looking back, looking forward

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Hey there.

So it’s 2013. Where did last year go?

2012 brought so much live music into my life, and I drank it all up like a thirsty man finding water in the desert. I have two young kids, so getting out of the house at all, let alone seeing tons of live music, is nothing short of manna. I went to Hillside Festival in Guelph, and to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, in, well, Edmonton. Got to see Merill Garbus and the incredible tUnE-yArDs (watch this video for a sample of her crazy/raw/fun aesthetic), and I fulfilled a life-long dream of seeing kd lang perform—my expectations were high and she blew them away. Oh, and Leonard Cohen! He was unbelievably amazing. It’s been a big year for seeing live acts. And so much of it was so inventive, I felt really fired up listening to these exciting boundary-crossing kinds of musical works and performances.

Professionally, I was also extremely lucky to conduct Echo Women’s Choir in the Spring of 2012—a fantastic group of 80 women from various backgrounds and professions, all coming together to sing some pretty wonderful and at times pretty challenging songs from many singing traditions. The honour of conducting Echo was one of the two professional highlights of my 2012.

The other was the growth of my singing studio—some new students came in last year that have just been incredible to watch and work with. And students who have studied with me for longer all seem to have found newer and deeper growth in their vocal journeys this past year. I’ve learned so much from my students, and am so proud of what they’ve accomplished, and inspired by their willingness to risk and put themselves out there.

So in many aspects a good year for music. But still.

I miss singing.

Watching all that music and watching the work of my students gave me lots of ideas for some musical projects moving forward. Now that I’m in the throes of my dissertation work, I hesitate. Do I have enough time to take on another project, in addition to being a student and a teacher and a mom? I’m not sure but I think I have to try. I think my first order of business is upload some clips from my 2010 cabaret ‘Undone’ with Jen Cook. I was proud of that work, and I think I’m ready to share it, or at least pieces of it, with the world.

Next, deciding which musical project to start with. Stay tuned…hopefully by summer I’ll have something more to say here. I guess this is my New Year’s Resolution, though it feels like more. A commitment to singing, my own passion. But here it is: in 2013, I’m going to work towards more performance.

And may I be so bold as make a request of you for 2013? Go see live stuff. See some live music. See a play. See a dance show. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on big ticket concerts and broadway-style plays. In fact, it’s in many ways better to see the band at your local pub, or see the innovative work of your local theatre companies. Nothing compares to the live experience, not even in the digital age of facebooking and tweeting and youtubing. You have to be there.

OK, 2013. Bring it on.

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advice for choosing a choir

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Echo Women's Choir with Suba SankaranI was the guest editor for Whole Note magazine’s May 2012 edition. This Toronto area-based music magazine is known for releasing its ‘Canary Pages’ in May– a listing of choirs and other singing opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area for anyone who’s looking to join a choir, or perhaps looking for a change. I was asked to write about choirs and community for this year’s edition(you can read it here).

I also had some long, wonderful discussions with two Toronto-based conductors: Isabel Bernaus, conductor of the Jubilate Singers and Common Thread Community Choir; and Becca Whitla, conductor of Echo Women’s Choir and Holy Trinity Church Choir. I quote from our conversations a bit in the editorial, but they offered some really great advice for people looking to join a choir that wasn’t in the editorial.
So here’s the advice:
I asked both Becca and Isabel what kinds of advice they’d offer novice and advanced choristers, especially given the complexity of many of the issues surrounding community and musical excellence. Their advice? Take some time to do two kinds of research: research yourself, and research the choirs.

First, figure out what you want: what kinds of music do you want to sing? How often can you rehearse? How much commitment do you want to make? How far will you travel? Most importantly, what kind of atmosphere are you looking for: a professional, goal-oriented and music-focused environment, or an opportunity to meet people and sing among friends? Or something that balances both?

Once you’ve figured out these things for yourself, do a little research on the choirs listed in the Canary Pages and elsewhere to find good matches. Even then, however, it might be difficult to know if you and the choir you’re eyeing really are good fits. Both Bernaus and Whitla suggest attending a rehearsal and/or performances. “Many choirs have open rehearsals that you can attend,” Whitla suggests, “and if not, see the choir in performance.” Bernaus agrees, even encouraging potential choristers to contact the conductor (try to find a non-pressured moment—like AFTER a concert…) or contacting the member coordinator. They might welcome you to sit in on a rehearsal, or at least describe what the choir is like so you can make an informed choice for yourself.

The same advice holds whether you are brand new to Toronto or to choral singing, or if you’re looking for a change from your current choral engagements. If you are more seasoned, you can be more targeted, more strategic in your approach. You may perhaps already know some friends or colleagues that have worked in other choral settings, so you can get an ‘insider’s perspective’ on the repertoire, the rehearsal practices, the performance styles, and the feel of the choral space to decide it it’s a good fit for you.

In fact, choral singing overall is only one of many kinds of singing practices, which of course represent one of many kinds of music-making. The Canary Pages are a great resource, but they are not definitive. Many group singing activities happen beyond these pages. The volunteer-run World Harmony Folk web site (www.worldharmonyfolk.org) and newsletter, for example, promotes community singing classes, vacations, workshops, and yes, even choirs, from around the world.

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beautiful women singing in a beautiful city

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

The Twentieth Anniversary Season Concert for Echo Women’s Choir happened this past Sunday. I had the pleasure and privilege of guest conductingBeautiful City concert poster a substantial portion of the concert. I don’t have any video or audio–yet–so you’ll have to take my word for it: these 80 women sounded wonderful.

The program was pretty eclectic: some gospel, some worker/protest songs, an Arabic love song, a few pieces from the Republic of Georgia. The central piece was a composition called ‘Sun’ (conducted by my colleague Alan Gasser), with text by Eliot Rose and music by William Westcott–this full-on, massive sounding,insane piano-accompanying, hard-to-sing vocal yearning for spring. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that much sound in Holy Trinity Church before. It was glorious.

 

 

Echo is a community choir, meaning no auditions to get in, just have to wait patiently for your name to come up on the wait list–maybe about a year. If choral singing is your thing, or maybe your thing, there are numerous choirs in the GTA for every singer and for every taste. A good starting place  are the Canary Pages of Wholenote magazine that come out in May. You can find the pages in stands around the GTA, or browse their online map of choral groups. I got the pleasure of writing the editorial for this year’s edition, too.

But for me, Echo has been an amazing experience, and I’ve been blessed to be a part of their singing work.

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Beautiful City May 13

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Beautiful City

Echo Women’s Choir 20th Anniversary SeasonBeautiful City concert poster
with special guest Suba Sankaran

Sunday, May 13, 2012
3:00 pm

The Church of the Holy Trinity (West side of Eaton Centre)

Tickets: $12 advance/$15 door
$8 children/seniors/underwaged

For info and tickets: 416-588-9050 ext 3

 

This is it! Echo’s Spring Concert is almost here. I’ve been having an insanely wonderful time conducting this fantastic group of 80 women. Come and listen to us sing songs from many traditions–Georgian, gospel, South Indian, folk, and a whopper of a piece called Sun composed by Bill Westcott using a stunning visceral poem written by Elliot Rose.

Plus, guest artist Suba Sankaran, of Autorickshaw. We’re singing several of her songs and arrangements, from a traditional Carnatic processional to an arrangement of Bobby McFerrin’s Freedom is a Voice.

It’s going to be a wonderful afternoon, hope you can join us!

 

For more info and to download a flyer:
www.echowomenschoir.ca

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performance: voices in the dark

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Voices in the Dark Earth Hour Arts Celebrationposter for Voices in the Dark

Saturday, March 31, 2012
7pm to 10pm
Church of the Holy Trinity (10 Trinity Square, by the Eaton Centre)
Silent Auction and Cash Bar
Tickets $25/Sponsors $100

To reserve/for more info: 416-462-9400 or mitsecho@gmail.com

this flyer can be downloaded from http://www.echowomenschoir.ca

Usually I’m not a fan of being in the dark, but if this year is going to be anything like last year, spending $25 to sit in a candle-lit 100-yr old church listening to music and stories could possibly be the best way to spend your 2012 earth hour.

The event is “Voices in the Dark”– a joint fundraiser for Echo Women’s Choir and Mariposa in the Schools, with guest artists Chris Rawlings, Dan Yashinsky, Sandra Whiting, Njacko Backo, the Miss McCarthy’s, Anne Lederman, and Echo. Hosted by Jowi Taylor.

In honour of Earth Hour, the first half of the concert is performed in the dark, lit by candle light. Just to give you a teaser, here is a clip from last year’s joint funraiser. The artist is Gurpreet Chana (otherwise known as The Tabla Guy) performing his incredible, and incredibly moving, piece Gratitude. Enjoy, and hope to see you on March 31.


 

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