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What is Classical?
Aug. 6-8
Part of World Routes Summer Festivals 2010 at Harbourfront Centre

TORONTO, ON (July 21, 2010) – Returning to Harbourfront Centre this summer for its second incarnation, What is Classical? examines the definition of “classical music” from a broad range of cultural perspectives. It explores the boundaries of the genre around the world and here at home. This FREE weekend festival (Aug. 6-8) does not limit itself to world-class classical music performances, however; it also features dance, film, panel discussions, workshops and family activities.

Part of Harbourfront Centre’s 2010 World Routes Summer Festivals, What is Classical? focuses on the evolution of instrumentation in Canada, examining how influences from the east, the west, and everywhere in between have created new roles within the classical music genre. Instruments, including the voice, have various identities across different forms of classical music, and this weekend will explore the many ways in which instruments are reinvented when boundaries of genre, geography or culture are crossed.

Artists featured in What is Classical? come from all corners of the world as well as right here in Toronto. This will be the Canadian premiere of Italy’s Orchestra Piazza Vittorio, a group made up of 16 musicians from 11 countries and three continents, speaking eight different languages… and that’s just one act! Other musical offerings include Order of India recipient vocalist Vidushi Sumitra Guha (who will also lead a vocal workshop), Canadian blues fusion legend Harry Manx, and Toronto Klezmer favourites Beyond The Pale with a new take on Mozart.

This festival also features two presentations of The Labyrinth Project (one featuring the world premiere of new music by Canadian composer John Burke performed by Ensemble Vivant, and one featuring Global Classical Improvisations with the Urban Flute Ensemble), a musical and spiritual experience based on ancient ideas. Labyrinths are used worldwide as a personal practice for healing and growth, a tool for community building, an agent for global peace and a metaphor for life. The experience of walking the labyrinth to live music allows listeners an opportunity to connect on a much deeper level with both the music and themselves.

The big idea behind all programming in this year’s World Routes Summer Festivals is “globalocal”, or global to local, a theme programmed into each festival to bring together rich artistic traditions from around the corner to around the globe!

Full Event Listings by Genre:


Djoumbush & Warhol Dervish Quartet
Saturday, Aug.7, 6-7:30 p.m. & Sunday, Aug. 8, 3-4 p.m. (Redpath Stage)
Montreal-based Djoumbush was formed in 2006 by Nicolas Royer-Artuso and Lucas Moore. The group’s name is inspired by the phonetic spelling of cümbüs, a Turkish musical instrument used most often in Roma and ‘gypsy’ styles, and also a term roughly translated to mean ruckus, a nod to their high-energy rhythms! Warhol Dervish Quartet is a chamber music collective popular in Montreal’s chamber music and contemporary classical scene. Together, mixing Western and Turkish classical forms, rhythms and instrumentation, they offer a new answer to the question, “What is classical?”

Urban Flute Ensemble
Friday, Aug. 6, 7-8 p.m. & Saturday, Aug. 7, 10-11 p.m. (Redpath Stage)
Non-traditional in all respects – its rarely-seen instrumentation, its emphasis on the classical concert as an experience (which is partly theatrical), its core repertoire of baroque and contemporary works – Urban Flute Ensemble with flutist Jamie Thompson, violinist Max Scheinin and cellist Lucas Tensen aims to provide Toronto with unique concerts that reflect the unorthodox sensibilities of its members. They will also appear throughout the site all weekend with spontaneous concerts, where and when you least expect!

Vidushi Sumitra Guha
Friday, Aug. 6, 8-9 p.m. & guest artist with Harry Manx, 9:30-11 p.m. (Sirius Stage)
Vidushi Sumitra Guha’s award-winning vocal style blends the two schools of Indian classical music, Hindustani and Carnatic. A recipient of the Order of India, her incredible mastery of the form has been honed over nearly four decades of performing worldwide. She also leads a vocal workshop Sunday afternoon.

The Tabla Guy & Mason Bach
Friday, Aug. 6, 9 p.m. & guest artist with Harry Manx, 9:30-11 p.m. (Sirius Stage)
Both Toronto-based, The Tabla Guy (Gurpreet Chana) and Mason Bach focus on creating and exploring electronic music and genres such as tech house, drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep by bringing together their classical training in tabla and violin, respectively, and integrating it with current technology. Musician/composer/producer Chana is one of the most sought-after artists in Canada due to his incredible ability to create great art within any musical genre; he has worked with such artists as Nelly Furtado, Wyclef Jean, Pete Rock, Bally Sagoo, The Bombay Dub Orchestra and Lady Sovereign. Bach is a producer and classical violin master forging new pathways in the field of computer-aided live performance. He has composed for television, film and interactive multimedia, blending classical traditions with the vast diversity of contemporary electronic music.

Harry Manx
Featuring special guests Gurpreet “The Tabla Guy” Chana & Vidushi Sumitra Guha
Friday, Aug. 6, 9:30-11 p.m. (Sirius Stage)
“Mysticssippi” blues man Harry Manx has been called an essential link between the music of the east and west. With his signature style of Indian-inspired blues, Manx has created a distinctive sound that is hard to forget and deliciously addictive, partly thanks to a unique 20-stringed sitar/guitar hybrid called the mohan veena, designed by one of his musical mentors. Manx has released nine albums in an eight-year span and shows no signs of slowing down. He is joined by special guests Gurpreet Chana (The Tabla Guy) and Vidushi Sumitra Guha for an unforgettable concert experience.

Orchestra Piazza Vittorio
Saturday, Aug. 7, 8-10 p.m. (Sirius Stage)
OPEN REHEARSAL: Saturday, Aug. 7, 3:30 p.m.
Directed by Mario Tronco, 16 musicians from 11 countries and three continents, speaking eight different languages, come together to create world music in the true sense of the word. This is the first orchestra founded on public support of providing 25 musicians with meaningful employment. One of Harbourfront Centre’s largest undertakings this summer, this concert (an adaptation of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute) and related film screening, both Canadian premieres, should not be missed. Generously supported by the Italian Cultural Institute.

The Labyrinth Project: Outdoor Late Night Labyrinth Featuring Global Classical Improvisations & The Urban Flute Ensemble
Saturday, Aug. 7, 10 p.m. (Ann Tindall Lawn)
Co-produced with Euterpe Corporation
Harbourfront Centre’s outdoor site transforms into a twinkling late-night labyrinth where audience members can experience a deeper connection with both the music and with themselves. The Labyrinth Project takes the listening and experiencing of music to a whole new level, with international classical artists broadening the listeners’ experience of – and appreciation for – the globalocal pallet of instrumentation. Labyrinths are currently being used worldwide as a way to quiet the mind, recover balance in life, and encourage meditation, insight, self-reflection and stress reduction. They are open to all people as a non-denominational, cross-cultural blueprint for well-being. The practice of labyrinth walking is said to integrate the body with the mind and the mind with the spirit.

Gamelan Gong Sabrang & Seka Rat Nadi
Sunday, Aug. 8, 1-2 p.m. (Redpath Stage)
This concert brings together two very different tuned percussion orchestras, or gamelans, from the neighboring Indonesian islands of Java and Bali. Gamelan Gong Sabrang (Gamelan Across Oceans) is a Toronto community group that performs concert and dance music from Central Java. Seka Rat Nadi (Together As One) is a quartet specializing in music that accompanies Balinese shadow puppet plays and Hindu religious rituals.

The Labyrinth Project: John Burke’s music performed by Ensemble Vivant
Saturday, Aug. 7, 3-4:30 p.m. & Sunday, Aug. 8, 2-3:30 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Co-produced with Euterpe Corporation
John Burke is an award-winning Canadian classical music composer with a strong relationship to music-as-medicine. Burke has composed an extensive repertoire of ambient music to accompany the contemplative practice of walking meditation, as experienced in The Labyrinth Project, and he continues to develop environmental events which offer a rich experience of deep listening imbued with the ethos of the mythic journey. The world premiere of his new work in this field will be performed by Ensemble Vivant (piano, violin and cello), a group that has been recording and performing to sold-out houses across North America and Europe for over 20 years. They aim to reveal rarely heard works from the classical repertoire as well as new versions of vastly diverse styles from jazz to musical theatre to Latin dance.

Beyond Mozart with Beyond the Pale
Sunday, Aug. 8, 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Sirius Stage)
Mixing Klezmer (a Yiddish musical tradition from Eastern Europe), Balkan and Romanian styles of with an eclectic range of North American influences, this Toronto-based sextet has been pushing the boundaries of Eurofolk fusion for over a decade. Beyond the Pale was commissioned by CBC Radio 2 to commemorate the 250th birthday of Mozart in 2006 by creating new interpretations of his work. This concert features some of the results, including funk, reggae, extended improvisations and odd-metre Balkan time signatures applied to some of the most familiar classical work in the world. Italy’s Orchestra Piazza Vittorio will join Beyond the Pale for an unforgettable finale to the What is Classical? Festival.


SAMPRADAYA Dance Creations
Sunday, Aug. 8, 4-5 p.m. (Sirius Stage)
Performed by six to eight dancers, SAMPRADAYA showcases bharatanatyam, a dance form celebrated for its precise, distinct movements, complex rhythmic footwork and elegant sophistication. The performance features an ensemble of guest musicians from India including vocalist Balasubramanya Sharma and conductor Guru Harikrishna Kalyanasundaram, as well as Canadian violinist Jai Shankar Balan and ghatam (clay pot percussion instrument) player Kajajayan. The selection of dance compositions and musical interludes in the Carnatic style of classical Indian music demonstrates the synergy between South Indian dance and music.


SCREENING: Harbourfront Centre presents Maestro John Kim Bell
Friday, Aug. 6, 7:30-9 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Filmed in 2009, this documentary chronicles Maestro John Kim Bell’s return to the podium after 12 years to conduct a 72-piece orchestra in celebration of Harbourfront Centre’s Planet IndigenUs Festival. Bell was the first professionally-trained symphonic conductor of First Nations heritage, and is one of the most distinguished aboriginal leaders in Canada.
Film Screening will be followed by a Q&A with John Kim Bell.

SCREENING: The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio
Saturday, Aug. 7, 6-7:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Witness the birth of one of Italy’s finest musical exports in this touching and beautifully shot documentary. Generously supported by the Italian Cultural Institute.


PANEL: Cultural Appropriation in Classical Music
Saturday, Aug. 7, 5-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
Where does heritage end and performance begin? Are there still genre boundaries in our global environment, and do communities own their cultural legacies or are they open to anyone? What does it mean for a North American blues artist to study classical Indian music? This panel discussion focuses on cultural appropriation in a global classical context.

WORKSHOP: Elise Olmi Dance Workshop with Djoumbush
Saturday, Aug. 7, 6-7:30 p.m. & Sunday, Aug. 8, 3 p.m. (Redpath Stage)
To deepen the audience’s enjoyment and appreciation of concerts by Montreal’s Djoumbush and Warhol Dervish Quartet, Elise Olmi leads workshops in Turkish and Egyptian dance styles.

WORKSHOP: Vidushi Sumitra Guha Vocal Workshop
Sunday, Aug. 8, 2-3 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
A rare opportunity for an interactive instructional experience with master Indian classical music vocalist Vidushi Sumitra Guha. A recipient of the Order of India for her cultural contributions, her award-winning career in Indian classical music has spanned nearly four decades.

PANEL: Re-imagining Mozart
Sunday, Aug. 8, 4-5 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Musicians and scholars discuss what it means to make classical music contemporary. Are there classical works too sacred to touch? What about Mozart?


Redpath Crafts for Kids: Tambourines!
Saturday, Aug. 7, 12-8 p.m. & Sunday, Aug. 8, 12-6 p.m. (Ann Tindall Lawn)
Kids can make classical music of their own after creating a paper plate tambourine!

Redpath Crafts for Kids: Stringed Instruments!
Saturday, Aug. 7, 1-8 p.m. & Sunday, Aug. 8, 12-6 p.m. (HarbourKIDS Zone)
Kids can start their own orchestra with a stringed instrument of their own creation!

A Global Tour
Saturday, Aug. 7, 2-3 p.m. (Redpath Stage) & Sunday, Aug. 8, 3:30-4:30 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
A global tour of musical cultures for audiences of all ages! Marie Gelinas (cello) and Ed Hayes (cello/keyboards) lead audiences on a musical journey through the world, including stops in Western India, Japan, Native America, Uganda and more! Percussion instruments allow children to participate in the music-making.

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, Toronto.

World Routes is Harbourfront Centre’s annual summer series of FREE festivals running every weekend from Canada Day through Labour Day. World Routes explores ideas in contemporary culture, bringing together rich, artistic traditions from around the globe. For summer 2010, Harbourfront Centre explores the idea of "globalocal" (global to local and local to global) with a festival line-up promising to entertain, stimulate and provoke.

Harbourfront Centre is an innovative, non-profit cultural organization which provides internationally renowned programming in the arts, culture, education and recreation, all within a collection of distinctive venues on the 10-acre site it operates in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront.


Rosie Shaw
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