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Pluck, Strum, Bow and Pick at Classical IV: Strings
Festival looks into the various shades of “Classical” music
July 27-29, 2012
TORONTO, ON (June 18, 2012) – Harbourfront Centre is pleased to announce our celebration of all things stringed, Classical IV: Strings. The three-day FREE festival (July 27-29) celebrates the far corners of classical music with performances, activities and more for the whole family.

Stringed instruments of all kinds take centre stage at Classical IV: Strings, where even the word “classical” is something to be plucked at: What is modern classical music? Why are some folk melodies and pop tunes called classics? And who gets to call them that? Can sonorous instruments from different cultures talk to each other? What happens when you play a classical instrument but produce modern music? Or play a ‘classical’ tune on a more humble instrument? In short: So many questions, so much music. Explore the world of stringed soundscapes with virtuosi from near and far. Open your ears, drop your preconceptions and discover new and ancient music.

Highlights of Classical IV: Strings include performances, workshops, activities and more:

• Performances from artists including Masters of Mali featuring Sidi Touré, legendary sitarist Irshad Khan, the Lute Legends Ensemble’s blend of three Silk Road musical traditions into one new form and the Afiara String Quartet’s fresh take on the classic quartet;
• Calling all ukuleleists: The Ukulele Project invites the public to play along with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture
• Witness what happens when kids go From Violence to Violins featuring Yosvani the Violinist;
• …and much more!

For additional information and complete event listings, the public may visit or call the Information Hotline at 416-973-4000. Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West in the heart of downtown Toronto’s waterfront.

Harbourfront Centre is an innovative, non-profit cultural organization which provides internationally renowned programming in the arts, culture, education and recreation, in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront. Our summer festival season runs from Victoria Day weekend through Thanksgiving weekend, and features over 20 festivals and events that offer The World in One Place. For more information visit

For listings info, hi-res images and more media resources, visit our summer media page:

Media Contact: Jon Campbell | | 416 973 4655

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Maryem Hassan Tollar
Friday, July 27 at 7 p.m.
Egypt-born Maryem Tollar performs classic pop songs with ancient string accompaniment: Kate Bush on the Qanun, Joni Mitchell on tambura, and Prince on violin. A featured performer playing Ariana in R. Murray Schafer’s Dora-Award-winning piece The Children’s Crusade and creator and performer of live music for Heather Raffo’s Dora-nominated Nine Parts of Desire, Maryem has sung on several film and television scores and saw her album Cairo to Toronto nominated for a 2009 Juno Award in the world music category.

Tio Chorinho
Friday, July 27 at 8 p.m.
Tio Chorinho is a new Toronto ensemble dedicated to performing Brazilian choro music in the tradition of the great mandolin master Jacob do Bandolim. Choro (pronounced SHOH-roh) is a complex and primarily instrumental popular musical form based on improvisation which originated in Rio de Janeiro in the mid-19th century and grew into a formalized musical structure with a range of worldly influences. In short: It’s Brazil’s New Orleans jazz.

Masters of Mali featuring Sidi Touré
Friday, July 27 at 9:30 p.m.
Sidi Touré built his first guitar as a child, constructing it from his wooden writing slate in the ancient town of Gao, Mali. Descended from a lineage of his region’s former kings, Touré’s family disapproved of his decision to pursue music, but he persisted, becoming, in 1976, the youngest member of Gao’s regional orchestra, the Songhaï Stars – which he went on to lead. His two titles as best singer at the Biennales du Mali made him a nationally-renowned figure in his home country. Touré’s music draws inspiration from traditional music and religion, but is informed by Western blues and rock.

Royal Conservatory of Music presents: Young Artists Performance Academy
Saturday, July 28 at 1 p.m.
The Young Artists Performance Academy showcases their students during this featured string presentation. The Royal Conservatory’s Young Artists Performance Academy provides the ideal nurturing environment for committed, gifted young classical musicians to perfect their performance skills, musicality, and artistic excellence. Working together with exceptional faculty and acclaimed guest artists, students of The Academy share high-calibre musical experiences and celebrate one another in achieving an outstanding level of musicianship.

Mike Ford: Flames Across the Border *World Premier
Saturday, July 28 at 1 & 5 p.m.
Known to many as a former member of the folk-rock-vaudeville band Moxy Früvous, Mike Ford is a Juno-nominated Franco-Ontarian solo artist who has released 4 acclaimed albums of Canadian history-inspired song. Flames Across the Border, a song-cycle show specially created for the War of 1812 Bicentennial and for audiences of all ages, is an interactive breakneck tour through the history of the War of 1812 and its historical implications. Provoking boisterous audience interaction, sampling period marches and ballads, challenging myths and assumptions, the story is told with brilliant guitar playing and song.

The Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble Featuring George Sawa and Nada El Masriya
Saturday, July 28 at 1:30 p.m.
Alexandria, Egypt-born George Sawa is founder and director of the Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble and a qanun player who has learned from the masters of the instrument. An expert in the history of Arab music, he is also highly sought out as a teacher and workshop leader. He received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture for his research in Arabic music history, and honoured with the Arts and Culture award by the Canadian Arab Federation. Acclaimed belly dance instructor and performer Nada El Masriya joins the ensemble.

Ethiopia: Classical Variations
Saturday, July 28 at 2:30 p.m.
An exploratory session featuring arrangements of Fantahun Shewankochew Mekonnen’s traditional Amharic songs. Mekonnen, a vocalist and master of the krar (6-stringed bowl-shaped lyre), is joined by percussionist Daniel Barnes, bassist Andargachew Mesfin and keyboardist Dawit Tesfamariam for a performance of traditional music of the Ethiopian Highlands, which is filtered through Western instruments and tunings.

Lute Legends Ensemble
Saturday, July 28 at 3:30 p.m.
Performing music along the Silk Road, this trio combines some of the traditions that make up the variety of cultures along the fabled route. Lucas Harris is a regular lutenist with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra along with many other ensembles in Toronto and is the musical co-director and theorbo/lute/Baroque guitar for Toronto Continuo Collective; Beijing-born Wendy Wen Zhao has been called the “Jimi Hendrix of the pipa” and has performed alongside both Eastern and Western orchestras and in solo performances around the world; vocalist, violin player, composer and musical director for the Arabesque Dance Company, Bassam Bishara is a professor of Middle Eastern Music at York University. In 2008, Zhao and Harris released Lute Legends: Ancient Airs from East and West.

East Meets West Mash-Up Concert featuring Radha Academy of Carnatic Violin
Saturday, July 28 at 5:30 p.m.
For 600 years Canada has been a land of musical mash-ups. This exiting show combines the southern Indian traditions of the Radha Academy of Carnatic Violin with the traditional Ontario folk to create brand new musical offerings. The ensemble enables musicians from some of Ontario’s more recently-arrived musical traditions to give their own spin on traditional tunes: Imagine fiddle with steel drums or bagpipes and tablas. This promises to be a magical way of connecting the old Ontario with the new. Featuring performances by Subhadra Vijaykumar, Ian Bell, Arun Ramachadran, Njacko Backo and Geoff Somers.

Minor Empire
Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 & 9 p.m.
Toronto ensemble Minor Empire has forged a style that is contemporary and traditional, adventurous yet accessible. The brainchild of guitarist/composer/producer Ozan Boz and vocalist Ozgu Ozman, the group mixes Western-accented music with trip-hop and the music of their homeland for fresh inspiration. In addition to Boz and Ozman, the band features Montreal-based musicians Ismail Hakki Fencioglu (oud) and Didem Basar (kanun) and Torontonians Debashis Sinha (of noted Indo-jazz group Autorickshaw darbuka, bendir, and asma davul) and Sidar Demirer (saz).

Irshad Khan
Saturday, July 28 at 8:15 p.m.
Irshad Khan is internationally recognized as one of the greatest sitar players and as the leading surbahar (bass sitar) exponent of his generation. He is one of the foremost representatives of a musical heritage Imdadkhani Etawa Gharana (the leading school of Sitar) unprecedented in India. Irshad’s individual stamp in both these instruments ascends from the distinctiveness of his technique and mental prowess. His style is followed and inspired by many formative and professional sitar players of his generation. His phenomenal control of the intricate "gayaki-ang" (vocal) and "tantra-ang" (instrumental) styles makes Irshad Khan one of the world’s most dynamic musicians of today.

Deborah Henson-Conant: Hip Harpist
Saturday, July 28 at 10 p.m.
Deborah Henson-Conant is a Grammy-Nominated, genre-bending, blues-flamenco-celtic-funk-folk-jazz-classical dynamo. She’s written and produced her own one-woman shows, and has orchestrated her symphony shows. She’s performed in theatres, clubs and concert halls throughout the U.S. and Europe, as well as on PBS stations across the U.S. in her own television special Invention & Alchemy. She’s collaborated onstage with scientists, journalists and actors in her cross-discipline exploration series “Inviting Invention” and with orchestras, directors, theatres and other artists in countless performances.

Canadian Opera Company Collaboration: Hansel and Gretel
Sunday, July 29 at 1 p.m.
Join in and let your vocal chords soar as Hansel and Gretel follow the breadcrumb trail to the gingerbread house in this activity suitable for kids 4-7 years old. Led by opera singer Bronwen Low and created by the COC Education and Outreach Department, this delightful, engaging, interactive workshop uses traditional orff instruments and the original music from the opera by Englebert Humperdink, sung in English to guide the young participants as they sing their way through the story and out of the woods.

Regent Park School of Music
Sunday, July 29 at 1 p.m.
Regent Park School of Music (RPSM) brings violin students of all ages and levels to share their talent with audiences at Classical IV: Strings. RPSM provides high quality, affordable music education to youth-in-need in Regent Park and other high priority areas in the City of Toronto. Enrollment in private and group lessons is currently at over 600 students.

Jayme Stone: Bach on the Banjo
Sunday, July 29 at 2 p.m.
Join two-time Juno-winning banjoist Jayme Stone and his stellar ensemble for a genre-blurring musical journey that includes works by Bach as well as a Trinidadian calypso, Malian melodies and Stone's own “tiny symphonies.”

Toronto Mandolin Orchestra
Sunday, July 29 at 3 p.m.
Founded in 1956, the Toronto Mandolin Orchestra is one of Canada’s oldest community performing groups. Though founded in the Ukrainian-Canadian community, the group’s membership is as ethnically diverse as its repertoire which spans classical, folk, popular and Canadian music. Featuring the mandolin family of instruments (mandolin, mandola, tenor mandolin, mandocello, mandobass) in place of violins and augmented by a five piece wind section and complete percussion section, the orchestra combines the intimacy of a chamber ensemble with all the power of a symphony, appealing as much to lovers of classical and baroque music as to fans of folk and world music.

The Hammer Band - From Violence to Violins featuring Yosvani the Violinist
Sunday, July 29 at 3:30 & 4:30 p.m.
Founded in 2007 by world-renowned Canadian violinist Moshe Hammer, the Hammer Band provides free violins to 300 students in 15 Toronto public schools in priority neighbourhoods to learn life skills through music lessons. Funding is provided by individuals, corporations and foundations and includes violin and cello lessons, a summer music program, master classes and the free use of an instrument for a year. Through fun-filled music lessons, students develop respect for self and others, and learn the value of teamwork and personal responsibility. Studying music has been shown to improve self-discipline, lower school drop out rates, and improve overall academic performance. Originally from Cuba, Yosvani Castañeda started playing the violin at age 7 and graduated from the prestigious Amadeo Roldan Conservatory in Havana. He integrates classical violin with hip-hop, jazz and latin music.

The Ukulele Project
Sunday, July 29 at 4 p.m.
The simplicity of the ukulele re-creating the pomp of the 1812 Overture: an intersection of classic proportions. With Portuguese origins and Hawaiian fame, the ukule has been experiencing a recent resurgence, going from an object of mirth and scorn to being played by a growing number of people rediscovering its versatility. From to Elvis, from your granny to your neighbour’s child, the uke movement is spreading – all the way to Harbourfront Centre. The call is going out to ukuleleists far and wide – from beginners to experts, and even owners of dust-gathering ukes in the attic. All are encouraged to come down and join in a performance of the 1812 Overture. Attend a brush-up session to get you into shape at 2:30, and join in the ukestra!

The Afiara String Quartet
Sunday, July 29 at 5 p.m.
Noted for its engaging, authentic presence and performances balancing “intensity and commitment” with “frequent moments of tenderness” (Montreal Gazette), the Afiara String Quartet has lively interest in new works and fresh insight into core classical repertoire. Formed in 2006, the Afiara String Quartet takes its name from the Spanish fiar, meaning “to trust,” a basic element vital to the depth and joy of its music-making. Combining masterclasses, educational outreach, residencies and performances, the group has performed at conservatories, universities, schools and music venues worldwide, including an annual Quartet-in-Residence at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and resident string quartet at New York’s Julliard School.

Wandering Musicians
Saturday and Sunday, July 28 & 29
Musicians playing a wide variety of stringed instruments will be roaming the site, plucking, strumming, bowing and picking; sometimes enticingly, sometimes amusingsly, always surprisingly.

Saturday, July 28 at 3 p.m.
Composer Donald Quan’s revamped Musideum is partly a one-of-a-kind shop stocked with rare and hard-to-find instruments including udus, koras, ocarinas, cajitas, clavichords, and more. But really, it’s a museum where visitors are encouraged to touch, play with, and purchase the artifacts. Quan brings the experience to Harbourfront Centre where he’ll talk about, display and sell some of the shop’s treasures.

Ukulele Workshop
Sunday, July 29 at 2:30 p.m.
Be a part of the Ukulele Project! Bring your own ukuleles to this workshop and learn the chorus of the 1812 Overture. Participants in the workshop are invited to partake in the Ukulele Project performance on the Redpath Stage at 4:00PM.

Rosbilt Tincan Banjo and Ukulele Maker
Banjo Workshop: Sunday, July 29 at 4 p.m.
Banjo- and ukulele-maker Ross Stuart, creator of the Great Canadian Mush-uke, leads audiences through the trials and tribulations of making various incarnations of the tin can banjo: The iron uke, The mush-uke and the tin can with humour and candour. Learn the intricacies that go into making a (fairly sophisticated) ukulele and banjo from scratch.

The Listening Trees
Friday, July 27 at 5 p.m., Saturday & Sunday, July 28 & 29 at 1 p.m.
Relax under the trees with a pair of headphones and listen to stories told through music, whether it’s the story of Peter and the Wolf, A Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra or even a musical interpretation of the Ramayana’s mathematical conundrum known as Narayama's Cows. There could be anything waiting inside the headphones, but there’s only one way to find out what.

Dare to Create: Strings and Things
Children’s Activities Saturday & Sunday, July 28 & 29 at 1 p.m.
Make and decorate your very own guitar and take it up to the Redpath Stage at a specially-announced time and “play” along to a classic rock or violin track. Or create a headpiece for a harp, sitar or cello headpiece and parade around the site as your own truly original instrument.

Paint Your Own Vocal Chords
Saturday & Sunday July 28 & 29 at 1 p.m.
Sing & Paint is an interactive installation which the audience can explore the colour and texture of their own voice. The audience can record a short sample of singing (or speaking) into a special paint can, pick up a light brush, and paint on a digital canvas. As they move the brush, their voice is transformed into colour and music. Created byAesthetec Studio, a Toronto-based interaction design and technology company that creates engaging experiences for museums and public spaces.

Season-Long Events at Harbourfront Centre

Uncharted Waters: Toronto’s Enigmatic Harbour presented with the assistance of the Toronto Port Authority (June 21, 2012-June 2013)
An outdoor, large-scale photo exhibition of the harbour’s people, places, industries, vessels and ecosystems which uncovers the true value of one of Canada’s largest inland ports.

Summer Music in the Garden presented by TD Bank Group (Most Thursdays, 7 p.m. & Sundays, 4 p.m., July-Sept)
Free performances of classical and traditional music from around the world as Summer Music in the Garden enters its 13th season. Concerts and tours take place in the Toronto Music Garden weather permitting; contact our info desk at 416-973-4000 for updates.

Dancing on the Pier (Thursdays, June 28-Aug. 30, 7-9 p.m.)
Join the Dancing on the Pier house band for social interaction and learning that explores global dance trends, hosted by Martin Samuels.

Free Flicks (Wednesdays, July 4-Aug. 29, approximately 9 p.m.)
From classic film to cult comedy, we explore the journey of the underdog from zero to hero on the big screen, under the stars, hosted by Norm Wilner.

International Marketplace (Weekends June 2-Sept 3)
Shop the world every weekend, all summer long – from Indonesian textiles and Indigenous crafts to African artefacts, South American jewellery and far beyond.

World Café (Weekends May 19-Sept 3)
Our newly renovated World Café features a rotating selection of the best international cuisine at affordable prices.

Harbourfront Centre Street Stage (weekends from Victoria Day to Thanksgiving, 9 a.m.-11 p.m.)
Come and see some of the best street performers this city has to offer!

Canoe Rides and Paddle Boats on the Natrel® Pond (Weekends, May-Oct)
Take a break and enjoy a fun float beside our picturesque boardwalk. Cost: Canoe rides are $4 per person, paddle boats are $5 per person, including life jacket rental and a 15-minute ride.

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