7 Not-To-Miss Shows in the 2015 Small World Asian Music Series
Published Wednesday April 1, 2014
Established in 2003, the Small World Music Society’s Asian Music Series is a two-month celebration of sound, both ancient and modern, from across the Asian cultural landscape. Between April 2 and May 31, local and international artists come together in a range of Toronto area venues. The series honours Asian and South Asian Heritage Month (May) by embracing music created by artists from India, Japan, China, Mongolia, Pakistan, Canada, and beyond. As series sponsor, TD is proud to support Small World in bringing people together through the power of music.
From classical to cutting-edge, the series’ 11 concerts feature an incredible wealth of talent. TD Music asked Alan Davis, Small World’s Executive Director, to share seven highlights to help us explore the program. Here’s what he had to say.
Thursday April 2: Ajinai (Mongolia), Toronto debut at Small World Centre.
“I've been a sucker for this kind of sound for years, having presented the great Tuvan group Huun Huur Tu, with their unique overtone [throat] singing tradition, several times. Ajinai mine a similar vein from the windswept steppes of Mongolia, but they fuse their ancient instruments and sounds with a decidedly modern attitude, and basically kick ass.”
Friday April 17: YO (Japan / India), Toronto debut at Small World Centre.
“YO features three master artists: Yutaka Oyama on shamise, Akihisa Kominato on shakuhachi, and tabla player Ty Burhoe. Crossover seems to be such a prevalent theme these days, fitting in an increasingly globalized musical world. Ty Burhoe is a killer tabla player who's been a longtime disciple of Zakir Hussain. The combination of his percussion with Japanese strings and flute unites two rich traditions, and leads to a whole new world of possibilities.”
Saturday April 25: Voices of Asia (Canada) at Small World Centre.
“Four of Toronto's preeminent Asian female musicians collaborate to present new, uniquely Canadian works. This is an exciting initiative for us. Suba Sankaran, Vandana Vishwas, Amely Zhou, and Bandana Singh are four immensely talented Toronto women from different cultural and musical backgrounds. Giving them time and support to create new repertoire, and showcasing the results, is very much in keeping with Small World's raison d'être.”
Saturday May 2: Dorjee Tsering (Canada), CD release at Small World Centre.
“Living in Parkdale, you're never far from Tibetan culture. I've been wanting to do something with the community for years, and finally found the right artist. Dorjee is among the best musicians in that widely scattered diaspora. He's got what it takes to bring the music into the modern world, and by working with a local producer to refine the sound, and widen the audience for it, he's got great potential.”
Sunday May 3: kLoX, Snowday, DJ medicineman (Canada / India) at Lula Lounge.
“As kLoX, Gurpreet Chana and Mason Bach melodically unite modulated tabla and electronically processed violin. Gurpreet has been a presence on Toronto's world music scene for a long time. He's always pushing the boundaries of what's possible with his instrument, innovating with technology and new performance ideas. I'm pretty sure he's the only tabla player who's opened for Toronto’s basketball team! It’s a nice electronic pairing with Snowday's chill out sound.”
“The series wouldn't be complete without a top-notch Indian classical concert, and it's nice to be partnering with Raag Mala Music Society, who have been doing this for so long. Niladri Kumar has performed for us a couple of times, with Zakir Hussain among others, and always impresses. He's got the youthful energy, and just enough rock 'n’ roll attitude to be his generation's sitar star. Should be sublime.”
Sunday May 31: Fanna-Fi-Allah (USA / Pakistan) at Mississauga Living Arts Centre.
“The legacy of the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan hasn't diminished in the years since his death. The King of Qawwali was a seminal figure in world music. I was lucky enough to see him live several times, and those experiences profoundly affected my musical life. Fanna pay tribute to Nusrat in their ecstatic and moving Sufi devotional performances. A soul-stirring end to the series!”