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confronting the rational with the embodied

I just left the ph.d. defense for my capoeira teacher and friend, Lang. Her dissertation on capoeira focuses on how the Afro-Brazilian martial art form is both a powerful site of transformative learning and a challenge to strictly logical/cerebral learning indoctrinated in us in academic institutions. She began defending her thesis this morning by bringing in the whole group and playing in the roda at the beginnning. The University of Toronto is really strict about these things: defenses are not open to the public and we were not allowed to be present during the actual defense. But we were allowed… Read More »confronting the rational with the embodied

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my ‘choir’ is performing tonight

I’m in a ‘choir.’ I have a hard time telling people I’m in this choir without putting quotes around the word. Because you see, it doesn’t look anything like any choir I’ve ever seen or participated in. If your definition of choir is a group of people singing together, then yes. We’re a choir. But after that, us and most other choirs depart ways. You’re probably familiar with a typical choir: people arranged in rows according to voice type, facing a conductor and singing multi-part scored music. I’ve sung in these kinds of choirs, and I’ve directed versions of these… Read More »my ‘choir’ is performing tonight

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looking back, looking forward

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… Read More »looking back, looking forward

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advice for choosing a choir

I 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… Read More »advice for choosing a choir

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beautiful women singing in a beautiful city

The Twentieth Anniversary Season Concert for Echo Women’s Choir happened this past Sunday. I had the pleasure and privilege of guest conducting 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… Read More »beautiful women singing in a beautiful city

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Beautiful City May 13

Beautiful City Echo Women’s Choir 20th Anniversary Season 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… Read More »Beautiful City May 13

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performance: voices in the dark

Voices in the Dark Earth Hour Arts Celebration 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… Read More »performance: voices in the dark

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sing for love

At the risk of killing romance, I’m going to be honest: I hate valentine’s day. I buy pre-packaged branded valentine cards for my sons to give to their friends, and my kids will come home this afternoon with bags full of the same kinds of cards that bear not more than a tenuous connection to love. Same for the chocolates and roses we’re supposed to purchase for our lovers this one day: consumerist expressions of love. So I’m a cynic, a valentine scrooge: bah humbug on love, valentine style. But this morning, I’m rethinking the value of a day in… Read More »sing for love

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new singing experiences for 2012

Tonight is the first rehearsal of Echo Women’s Choir’s Spring concert season: their 20th Anniversary concert. I’m thrilled to be a guest conductor, alongside the wonderful Alan Gasser, while the choir’s other wonderful conductor, Becca Whitla, pursues her Masters research in Cuba. Echo is a community-based choir in Toronto. There are no auditions to particicpate, though you might have to have your name on a waitlist for a little while. If you’re interested in singing, there are probably hundreds of choirs in the city to choose from, many of which do not require auditions. Most choirs have fees to participate,… Read More »new singing experiences for 2012

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Sing in the Season

Well, ‘tis the time of year for seasonal concerts of all kinds. Here are a few that I’m involved in, or planning to attend. Maybe I’ll see you at one of them? Echo Women’s Choir: “Land of the Dreams” Sunday, December 11, 2011 @ 7:30pm Holy Trinity Church (West side of Eaton Centre) http://www.echowomenschoir.ca/ The concert is named after one of two pieces I arranged for them, both written by the wonderful singer-songwriter Laurel James. I’ve heard them rehearse and the evening promises to be warm and enjoyable with repertoire from regions around the world. Toronto Jewish Folk Choir: “Chanukah… Read More »Sing in the Season

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