This is contemporary music that doesn’t leave the audience behind, and actively makes the music relevant to our daily lives.

Tickets to Spectrum Music at BeMused Network!
$15/$10 single tickets. $49/$34 subscriptions.
(Oct 8, 2014, 6:30pm) Tell It Like It Is(Dec 6, 2014, 8pm) Journeys
(Feb 7, 2015, 8pm) Starry Night(Oct 8, 2014, 9pm) Your Wish Is Our Concert
All performances at Alliance Française de Toronto.


Spectrum Music’s season launch at Alliance Française this Wednesday evening at 9pm is both a party and a mixer. Set against a soundscape created by composer and cellist Nick Storring, this is a rare opportunity to experience the other-worldly vocal and electronics duo, Barnyard Drama, featuring Christine Duncan & Jean Martin.

Founded in 2010 as a collective of contemporary music composers with their feet planted in the classical and jazz tradition, Spectrum Music has cultivated a strong roster of performers who are regular collaborators, with the support of Duncan herself as artistic advisor, and advisor emeritus Andrew Downing.

The organization of Spectrum Music is a study in thoughtful new models that balance scarcity of resources with artistic integrity.

Each of the four concerts in their season at Alliance Française is assigned to an artistic producer, who develops the thematic programming. With the performers and the narrative arc set, composers in the collective commit to creating original works based on the theme and the available performers.

It’s a format that spreads the artistic control around the collective, with Ben Dietschi at the helm as the managing artistic director, looking after the operational details and regularly contributing new works and performances of his own.

Related post: Spectrum Music’s Interface at Nuit Blanche

Every concert is anchored by an exceptional lineup of performers, who make for a fascinating evening no matter what they end up playing. The coupling of the improvisational element in jazz with the more formal compositional process in the classical tradition makes for a satisfying experience, whatever your musical loyalties.

Produced by Dietschi,  Journeys on December 6 marks the return of Ton Beau String Quartet after last year’s season finale concert “Early Expressions” at The Annex Theatre.

Guitarist Alex Goodman will be performing in his premiere of a suite inspired by his move from Toronto to New York, while guitarist and newly-minted artistic producer Graham Campbell will be bringing a Brazilian sound with new arrangements of “Thinking Stop Thinking” (2013).

Starry Night on February 7 is co-produced by Shannon Graham and Heather Segger, inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night and existential ponderings framed by quantum physics. Renowned improvisers Lina Allemano and Jim Lewis on trumpet, joined by Tom Richards and Segger on trombone and Spectrum favourites Aline Homzy and Anna Atkinson on violin and viola offer a rich sonic palette.

In addition to Spectrum composers, Lewis and Richards will be contributing new works, as will guest composers Christopher Wiles and Chelsea McBride. McBride is also joining the collective as artistic producer.

Your Wish Is Our Concert, the season finale on May 29, will offer audiences a chance to take the artistic producer seat. Starting in the new year, Spectrum Music will be soliciting thematic ideas from the public, who will also get to cast their vote for the best one. The individual who submits the winning idea will get to work with Spectrum to develop the concert, and the creative process will be demystified.

That concert is backed up with an all star lineup of artists, featuring soprano Erin Cooper Gay, Peter Lutek on various woodwinds, and TorQ Percussion Quartet’s Jamie Drake and Dan Morphy, who will surely show up with all sorts of fun instruments.

With such a strong artistic foundation for this season, the way is cleared for the composers’ imaginations to roam, and for the performers to dive into the creative and collaborative process of bringing new works to life. The element of chance means that things can always go wrong, but the great reward is an experience that transforms everyone in the room, from audience to performer to composer.

The magic in Spectrum Music’s programming is the way it encourages us to experience more adventurous sounds through narratives, distinguished performers, and an element of the unknown. This is contemporary music that doesn’t leave the audience behind, and actively makes the music relevant to our daily lives; an admirable and remarkable feat.

Tickets ($15/$10) and subscription ($49/$34) are available on BeMused Network.