“I equal I” Breaks Musical Ground for Israeli-Iranian Dialogue


Their chance meeting set in motion what would become the I = I collective’s mandate; that music can break down barriers that generations of propaganda and palpable threat of war had cemented.

The Concert Hall had lost power.  And while many producers might not have kept their cool, especially first timers, Dan Deutsch, founding member of the Israeli-Iranian Musical Initiative, came out on stage and created an intimate and informal environment.  As if at a dinner party, the audience reacted accordingly.  Toronto’s Alliance Francaise hosted this very special evening, the inaugural concert of the Israeli-Iranian Musical Initiative, on March 31st.  The Toronto Symphony’s Shalom Bard conducted.  Three new pieces written by the I = I Collective were the foundation of the concert.  Guest appearances by noted Persians, kamanche player Saeed Kamjoo and tar player Shahin Fayaz punctuated the Converging Paths concert.  Iranian Parisa Sabet, Israeli Dan Deutsch and Canadian Noam Lemish created I = I in 2013.  But the seed germinated in a synchronistic meeting at a University of Toronto social for new students, in the doctorate program for musical composition, a year earlier. Read on…

WMCT Career Development Award Concert


The WMCT’s Career Development Award prizes of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 – among the highest awards for classical music in Canada.

On Sunday April 26, I had the pleasure of attending the tenth presentation of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto (WMCT)’s Career Development Award (CDA). Established 25 years ago and presented every 3 years, the CDA aims to assist “exceptional young Canadian musicians who are already engaged in a professional performing career.” This year’s finalists were chosen from 10 nominees by CBC producers over the past year. The live competition held in Water Hall featured the top three finalists, Pianist-Author Pierre-André Doucet, pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin, and cellist Stéphane Tétreault for prizes of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 – among the highest awards for classical music in Canada. Our gracious host for the afternoon was Julie Nesrallah of CBC Radio 2, who was absolutely delightful. Read on…

Tap your Network for Hidden Potential



“Everything we do comes down to creating and maintaining meaningful relationships with those around us.” ~ Emily Rho

At the “Leverage your Network” workshop last week, everyone mapped out the nodes and ties in their networks based on their top three priorities. I went around asking people their impressions of the exercise. Here is what Emily Rho, pianist and general manager of Pocket Concerts, had to say. Read on…

Plan for the Growth of your Artistic Vision



“The problem isn’t a lack of funds – the lack of funds is a symptom of the problem.” ~ Graeme Page (former NetGain Consultant)

In this guest post, Christine MacLean (freelance arts manager for the likes of Syrinx Concerts Toronto, Academy Concert Series, World Music Project and Toronto Classical Singers) shares her perspective as a participant in last week’s “Growing from the Bottom Up” workshop presented by NetGain Partners. It was so valuable to have the experience of consultants working with large organizations applying their insights to smaller and independent arts organizations. Let us know if any of the topics covered strike a chord with you!
Read on…

Make Legal Planning Part of Your Artistic Career


“We are building entire careers around producing this artistic product, but we so often fail to think about protecting it.” ~ Ben Dietschi

In this guest post, Ben Dietschi (Managing Artistic Director, Spectrum Music) shares his perspective as a participant in last week’s “Legal Fundamentals” workshop presented by Kalogiannides LawI hope that Ben’s reflection will bring you out to our next workshop on August 6 with NetGain Partners on “Growing from the Bottom Up”!
Read on…

Fawn draws full house at Scime’s L’Homme et le Ciel preview


On Friday night at the Ernest Balmer Studio in the Distillery District, FAWN Opera premiered excerpts of Adam Scime’s L’Homme et le Ciel, which has been intensively developed overly a one-week workshop. The venue, sponsored by Tapestry New Opera Works, accommodated a standing-room-only audience for this electro-acoustic chamber opera.

The music in Scime’s L’Homme et le Ciel features use of electronics alongside a chamber ensemble of piano, violin, cello, flute, clarinet, and percussion and extended techniques. The text draws on the text from a 2nd century early-Christian myth entitled “The Shepherd of Hermas”, which was suggested by his friend Ian Koiter, who is currently a doctoral candidate studying early Christianity. Read on…

Wanderlust a fun mix of classic sounds with world music


I’m not a trained musician but I know what I like, and my night at Wanderlust was certainly a musical treat.

On the last Sunday of March, I had the pleasure of discovering three musical artists at Wanderlust at Lula Lounge, featuring Ozere, Ventanas (both from Toronto), and Briga from Montreal. All three bands are led by up-and-coming Canadian female artists Briga, Jessica Hana Deutsch (Ozere), and Tamar Ilana (Ventanas). Together they played an incredible array of traditional and original music including Roma, Flamenco, Celtic, Balkan, Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish, bluegrass and more. Plenty of audio samples in this entry!

The Next Generation of Indie Opera Companies in Toronto

“Opera has the best chance out of all the performing arts to engage those new audiences, because it’s at the extreme end of the live performance spectrum.” ~ Michael Mori, Artistic Director of Tapestry New Opera


Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the “indie opera potluck”, a get-together of independent opera companies that have recently emerged in Toronto. Michael Mori, artistic director of Tapestry New Opera initiated the first one back in January, and this second event was hosted by Rachel Krehm, general manager of Opera Five.

“Do the companies here mind sharing when they actually got started?” Maureen Batt of Essential Opera asked on a hunch during a discussion between courses.

It turns out that almost all the companies represented — FAWN opera, Bicycle Opera Project, Against the Grain, Metro Youth Opera, and montreal-based Opera da Camera — were founded in 2010 or shortly after, a social phenomenon that had caught the attention of Christina Loewen, executive director of, who was also in attendance.

Read on…

I FURIOSI stirs the heart with Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater

For fans of this ensemble who are probably wondering, there was a musical display of their ‘serious irreverence’ that came at the very end.


On Saturday night at the Winderemere United Church, I FURIOSI presented a program of great solemnity and artistry headlined by Pergolesi’s iconic work of the Baroque period, Stabat Mater, featuring guest musicians mezzo-soprano Vicky St. Pierre, violist Pemi Paull, and conductor/composer Stephanie Martin on the organ.

The Baroque Era was all about extremes of the senses. The paintings and architectures of the time in Europe are easily identifiable by their incredible ornateness, the lushness of details and an overall sense of drama. Even the music embodied the tension of standardized form and individuality. It’s the musical works that managed to master both continue to inspire us.

Musicians and composers of the time had near rock star status during the Baroque period, or so I FURIOSI would like to imagine, which explains they way they set their early-music concerts against edgy attire of leather pants in an attempt to bring a slice of history to today’s audiences. It’s a formula that has creates a variety of artistic possibilities for this ensemble for 15 years. By the warm enthusiasm displayed by the audience last night, it might be one of the secret ingredients to garnering a loyal following. Read on…

Talisker Players’ Creature to Creature leaves wonder and curiosity


It felt as if my entire brain was being constantly stimulating. I know, sounds rather peculiar. But the fact I was listening to music I had never heard before, words I had not read before, and having someone perform and read them, made them come to life.

Talisker Creature to Creature header

On Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of attending the Talisker Players’ latest concert Creature to Creature. The programme was inspired by the medieval Bestiary, or “book of beasts”. A Bestiary is meant to hold up a mirror to human nature by using the traits of animals to serve as examples for human conduct.

For those of you not familiar with the Talisker Players, they are a unique ensemble who love to collaborate with singers, and present the music of living composers. Their productions are thematic, and always include elements of the spoken word. Poetry, memoirs, letters, essays, read by professional actors, are woven into the programme to elaborate on the theme and give a dramatic narrative to the production.

Texts were chosen by the composers to complement the music in last night’s programme. The “creatures” we got to know included poets, philosophers, lovers and even operatic rivals! The music and words carefully depicted several poetic perspectives, such as, irony, reflection “quasi-scientific detachment”, and appreciation for creatures that are both like and unlike us.

Read on…

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