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What Is Classical? (July 25 to July 27) – Part of World Routes (Presented by RBC)

This new festival explores Classical and Operatic music from a broad range of cultural perspectives in order to make it more accessible to a variety of audiences. The festival encourages people to ask What is Classical? as we explore music and dance forms from South Asia, China, Africa, North America and beyond.

Musical Highlights Include:

New York City based East Village Opera Company infuses the towering emotion and timeless musicality of Opera with inventive Pop and Rock arrangements on hits like Habanera from Carmen and Nessun dorma from Turandot - receiving wide acclaim whenever they perform. One of the company's cofounders and performer's is Toronto vocalist Tyley Ross, who became publicly known in Canada when chosen as the lead of Pete Townsend's Tommy musical.

The Either/Orchestra with Mulatu Astatke (based in Cambridge Massachusetts) is considered one of the world’s most gifted big bands who take Classical modes and melodies of Ethiopia, and set them to the rhythms and improvisational methods of Jazz and Latin music. Special guest and frequent collaborator Mulatu Astatke is a legendary Ethiopian musician and composer known as the father of Ethio-Jazz. His music broke into North American popular culture after being featured in Jim Jarmusch’s film Broken Flowers and on the critically acclaimed Ethiopiques CD series.

Riffat Sultana is the first woman from her family’s musical lineage to publicly perform in the west. Riffat is the daughter of Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, recognized as the finest Pakistani Classical singer of his time. Her family represents a 500 year heritage of musicians hailing from the Sham Chaurasi Gharana (school of music). She was on the 2004 “We Are The Future” concert produced by Quincy Jones and appears on Cheb I Sabbah’s 2008 Devotion release.

Toronto's Queen of Puddings Music Theatre presents Love Songs, a spectacular tour-de-force performed by solo singer Lauren Phillips (mezzo-soprano). Composer Ana Sokolovic chooses her favourite love poems from different countries, sets them to music and frames each set with I Love You in 100 languages.

Since their inception in 2001, Toronto’s Toca Loca has pushed the boundaries of experimental and classical music with original compositions. They are also frequent contributors to CBC Radio’s Two New Hours program and ensemble-in-residence at Toronto’s Music Gallery.

The Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra and its family of ensembles maintain the rich tradition of providing study and performance of wind band literature to high-school music students. They are the first-ever Canadian youth wind ensemble to play at Carnegie Hall and boast a long list of collaborations with renowned artists and acclaimed composers.

The Ontario Chinese Orchestra is the first professional Chinese orchestra in Canada established in 2007 and led by Peter Bok. The orchestra is comprised of more than 20 professional Chinese musicians who have migrated to Canada and settled in Toronto.

The Cecilia String Quartet is one of Canada's most promising emerging ensembles today and just recently (June 2008) won second prize at the prestigious Osaka International Chamber Music Competition. Taking their name from St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, the Cecilian String Quartet and have worked with numerous celebrated quartets.

Critically acclaimed Toronto Tabla Ensemble combine the North-Indian percussive tradition of Tabla, with some of Canada's best music and dance groups. Staying true to form, content and feeling, they move what is traditionally a solo instrument to an unparalleled level of ensemble work.

Dance Highlights Include:

The Horizons program features three emerging South Asian Classical dancers and three distinct Classical styles. Curated by Joanna de Souza and programmed in partnership with M-Do Dance. Toronto's Little Pear Garden will perform two 40 minute sessions of four different works representing various types of Classical Chinese dance. Artistic Director Emily Cheung will facilitate audience participation at then end of each performance.

B2 (pronounced "B-squared), is a partnership between Sampradaya Dance Creations and Ballet Jörgen Canada who combine bharatanatyam and ballet. Featuring Mavin Khoo accompanied by four dancers from each accomplished company, this is a striking dialogue between two classical dance forms.

Opera-Themed Performances Include:

Harbourfront Centre presents a Beijing Opera Demo and Workshop in partnership with Little Pear Garden - which features Beijing Opera Masters Master Sun Yuan Chen (Trained at Peking Opera Academy he has won awards for his roles in Legendary White Snake, Emperor Wood and Hero’s Club); Master Jiang Yan Ling (Studied at the prestigious Kiang Su province’s Peking Opera Academy she has won awards for her roles in Hongxian Stealing Box and Presenting Pearl at the Rainbow Bridge and is most famous for her roles in Warrior Wu, Stealing the Magic Herb and Mulan); and William Lau (Born in Hong Kong and raised in Montreal. Mr. Lau was trained in both Western Classical Ballet and Chinese dance, now specializing in the Dan (female roles) in Beijing opera. He has performed in many classical repertories including “Beauty Defies Tyranny”, “The Red Maid” and “Female Warrior Wu”).

Cotton Robes Theatre's latest project is a production for families with children and an adaptation of the first Opera ever, Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo, entitled Orfea and The Golden Harp. This project includes music by Mozart, Handel, Gounod, Bizet and Offenbach.

Film Highlights Include:

U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha is a film about the most performed Opera in the world, Carmen, set in modern-day South Africa. The music, translated and sung in Xhosa - gives the film a thrilling synthesis of Xhosa culture and European opera - directed by Mark Dornford-May.

The Nomi Song is the award-winning documentary music film about German-born singer Klaus Nomi; a genuine counter-tenor who sang Pop music like Opera to enthusiastic club audiences, directed by Andrew Horn.

Le Mozart Noir/Black Mozart is the remarkable story of Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, who’s 18th century compositions inspired Mozart and Haydn. One of France's finest fencers and a General who led an army of 1,000 black soldiers in the French Revolution, Saint-Georges was an 18th century star. Includes historical recreations, archive-based narration and orchestral performance by the world famous Tafelmusik Orchestra.

Tocar y Luchar (To Play and To Fight) tells the story of the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra System. The program provides rural and impoverished children with access to Classical music and has evolved into a musical system considered by many to be one of the best and most successful youth orchestra systems in the world.

Khayal Darpan: A Mirror of Imagination is an exploration of classical music traditions of urban Pakistan by an Indian filmmaker Yousuf Saeed. This documentary seeks to answer the question of what impact the Partition has had on the classical music traditions of South Asia.

Ethiopiques series:Ethiogroove captures singer Mahmoud Ahmed's first collaboration with the Either/Orchestra at the Banlieues Bleues jazz festival. The Canadian premier of this documentary performance from director Anais Prosaic complements the “Ethiopiques” CD series. Ethiopiques series: Getatchew Mekurya and The Ex Guests, documents the meeting of Getatchew, an astonishing Ethiopian sax player and The Ex, a Dutch punk-rock band who developed into a melting-pot of noise, rock, jazz, improvisation, and world music.

What Is Classical? (July 25 to July 27)

Venue Terms for Listings: SIRIUS Satellite Radio Stage (SSRS), Toronto Star Stage (TSS),
Brigantine Room (BR), Lakeside Terrace (LT), Studio Theatre (ST)

Music and Concerts:

Friday, July 25- 7:30PM (TSS) – True North Brass (One of Canada’s most exciting ensembles perform classical pieces.)
Friday, July 25 – 8:00 p.m. (LT) – The Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra (This community driven youth organization maintain a rich tradition of study and performance of wind-band literature to high school music students.)
Friday, July 25- 9:30 p.m. (SSRS) – East Village Opera Company (This genre busting group take the technique and style of classical music and create contemporary arrangements.)
Friday, July 25- 11:00 p.m. (BR) – Toca Loca (A group that breaks down perceptions that classical music is static and not accessible to contemporary audiences.)
Saturday, July 26 – 2:00 p.m. (SSRS) – Ontario Chinese Orchestra (Founded in 2007, this is the first professional Chinese orchestra in Canada.)
Saturday, July 26 – 3:30 p.m. (SSRS) – Rifat Sultana and Party (Daughter of Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, one of the most respected classical singers in India and Pakistan. She is the first woman in her family to sing in public.) Saturday, July 26 - 5:00 p.m. (TSS) – Pirouz Yousefian (Performances of Persian classical music)
Saturday, July 26- 9:30 p.m. (SSRS) – The Either/Orchestra feat. Mulatu Astatke
(One of the world’s most gifted big-bands perform with the father of Ethio-jazz.)
Sunday, July 27- 3:00 p.m. (SSRS) – Cecilia String Quartet (One of Canada’s most promising emerging ensembles.
Sunday, July 27- 4:30 p.m. (SSRS) – Toronto Tabla Ensemble (This independent group from Toronto brings together the North-Indian percussion tradition of Tabla with some of Canada’s best music and dance groups.)


Saturday, July 26- 1:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (TSS) – M-DO Dance (The “Horizons” program will feature three emerging South Asian Classical dancers and features three distinct classical styles.)
Saturday, July 26- 8:30 p.m. (SSRS)¬- “B2” feat. Sampradaya Dance Creations and Ballet Jörgen Canada.
(A daring exploration of the confluence of bharatanatyam and ballet)
Sunday, July 27- 12:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. (TSS) – Little Pear Garden (Explores the many styles of classical Chinese dance.)
Sunday, July 27- 4:00 p.m. (TSS) – Maria Sabaye Moghaddamn (A performance of two Persian dances and a workshop.)

Film- All screenings are FREE at the Studio Theatre and the Brigantine Room.

Friday, July 25 – 8:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre) U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha(The famous opera Carmen set in modern-day Africa.)
Saturday, July 26 – 1:00 p.m. (Studio Theatre) Khayal Darpan: A Mirror of Imagination (An exploration of classical music traditions of urban Pakistan by Indian filmmaker Yousuf Saeed.)
Saturday, July 26 – 7:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre) Le Mozart Noir/Black Mozart (The remarkable story of Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a black musician and 18th century whose music compositions inspired Mozart and Haydn.)
Saturday, July 26 – 9:00 p.m. (Studio Theatre) The Nomi Song (The award-winning film about German-born singer Klaus Nomi.)
Saturday, July 26 – 11:00 p.m. (Brigantine Room) Ethiopiques film series:
Ethiogroove (Canadian premiere) (Ethiogroove captures singer Mahmoud Ahmed's first collaboration with the Either/Orchestra at the Banlieues Bleues jazz festival.)
Ethiopiques: Getatchew Mekurya and The Ex Guests (Canadian premiere) (This film by French filmmaker Stephane Jourdain features Getachew Mekurya, an astonishing Ethiopian sax player and The Ex, a Dutch punk-rock combo.)
Sunday, July 27 – 12:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre) Tocar y Luchar (An inspirational film about the story of the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra System.)

Opera-Themed Performances:

Saturday, July 26- 1:30 p.m. & Sunday, July 27- 3:00 p.m. (LT) Beijing Opera Demo and Workshop (Featuring Beijing Opera Masters Master Sun Yuan Chen, Master Jiang Yan Ling, and William Lau.)
Saturday, July 26- 5:00 p.m. & Sunday, July 27- 4:00 p.m. (ST) “Love Songs” by Queen of Puddings Music Theatre (Love poems from various countries set to music.)
Saturday, July 27 – 2:00 p.m. (TSS) Orphea and the Golden Harp (Cotton Robes Theatre present an adaptation of the first Opera.)

Panel Discussions:

Saturday, July 26- 4:30 p.m.- 6:30 p.m. (LT)
Classical Music: Endagered Species or an Expanding vision on global culture? (Panelists include: Musician Aruna Narayan, Russell Smith of the Globe and Mail and Gage Averill, Vice-President Academic and Dean of the University of Toronto Mississauga and Ethnomusicologist.)

Family Activities:

Saturday, July 26, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, July 27, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Kids Zone Tent) Kazoo and Drum Workshop with Sistah Lois’ Creative Capers (Kids can learn how to make and play their own kazoo or drum)

Harbourfront Centre presents top Canadian and International music artists at each World Routes weekend and select weekdays starting June 17 through September 1. All festivals are FREE and suitable for all ages. Some ticketed events occur. World Routes is presented by RBC. For World Routes 2008, Harbourfront Centre engages an exploration into the idea of borders. Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Canada. For more information and to buy tickets for all events the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit

Media Contacts:
Shane Gerard (416-973-4518 or
Althea Linton (416-973-4644 or
Cary Mignault (416-973-4655 or

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