“I’m smiling because I love these themes and taking people on these journeys. We’ll ask people how they think today’s art might be interpreted 30,000 years from now, and set up a space for the music to unfold.”

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Tickets: $8/$12 on BeMused Network or $10/$15 at the door


This Thursday at the Annex Theatre (736 Bathurst Street), Spectrum Music will be taking audiences on a journey to explore the ancient paintings in the Chauvet Cave in France, and exploring the connection between art of the past and those in the present in their Early Expressions concert.

These paintings are captured in Herzog’s 2010 documentary “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”. What is stunning about these paintings is that even though we don’t know much about the people who created it, we can all still relate to the creative urge to express oureslves through art.

Since artistic director Ben Dietschi founded Spectrum Music in 2010, he has created a platform for the presentation of new music that cross the classical and jazz genre divide—what he calls chamber jazz—and relating it to our every-day narratives. “Early Expression” promises to explore the timelessness of art through music and visual projections.

Spectrum offers an unusual mix of the new music genre, crossing over into more popular forms such as jazz and folk, while introducing an element of storytelling that turns each concert into a multi-dimension experience. Concerts in their past two seasons have touched on Toronto’s identity, love and sentiments with a bit of an edge, and even some loving parody of Generation Y.

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Performing artists and new works of composers that have graced Spectrum’s stage come from a variety of disciplines, and often work together in ways that not many presenters or outlets encourage.

In “Early Expression”, for example, internally-renowned jazz pianist David Braid will perform his Chauvet quintet with Ton Beau String Quartet, an up-and-coming classical ensemble in Toronto. Florian Hoefner, a well established jazz pianist and composer, will be premiering the new works that Spectrum Music composers wrote for this concert, all of them tasked with choosing an ancient piece of art that inspires them.

Projections will be used as part of the performance, and the Annex Theatre will certainly have the right equipment for an atmospheric effect. Prior to the concert, archaeologist Dr. Sarah Ranlett will also offer a talk—more of a dynamic chat, Dietschi emphasizes—that will ask audiences to consider the intention of the people who made art back then.

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“I’m smiling because I love these themes and taking people on these journeys. We’ll ask people how they think today’s art might be interpreted 30,000 years from now, and set up a space for the evening’s music to unfold.”

These are important dialogues to be having. It is admirable that Spectrum is actively using these performances to engage audiences, and not shying away from discussions that are often considered “over the heads” of the general public.

“I’m always looking for ways to break through to the next level.” Said Dietschi when asked about the audience that he is garnering. “I want someone that likes to checks out bands at the Cameron house to come hear what we do, I want the person that hangs out at the music gallery feel like they can come to us.”

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A new addition to Spectrum Music’s efforts to commission new pieces for each concert, is a young composer program for up-and-coming composers. Dietschi had the idea over a year ago, and Dan Jamieson, artistic advisor turned education programs manager, took the idea to Humber Community Music School earlier this year.

The workshop attracted twelve student composers. Nick Lavkulik was invited out of the group to write a piece for this concert, and to experience the entire creative and presenting process that professional composers often have to figure out on their own. His piece, entitled Handprints will be premiered this Thursday.

“(As a composer) you’re going to be interviewed, work with a professional ensemble, the organization who is presenting your work, all that stuff.” Explains Dietschi. “It’s all about having a community where you provide entry points for those coming up, and hopefully you have those entry points upwards to where you want to go.”

The more I look at what Spectrum Music has accomplished in a few short years, the more I look forward to what their next season might shape up to be. In the mean time, Dietschi advises that people should come for David Braid’s Chauvet quintet. “It’s going to be the piano quintet like you’ve never heard it before.”

Tickets are available on BeMused Network for $8-$12 dollars in advance. Don’t miss this evening of artistic and intellectual exploration, and certainly some impressive music-making.