LSM Newswire

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What’s Classical? Aug. 5-7 : Celebrating the world’s best in this eclectic genre

TORONTO, ON (Monday, July 11, 2011) – Harbourfront Centre, along with its lead summer partner the Toronto Port Authority, is excited to announce the return of What’s Classical? for its third incarnation. This FREE weekend festival (Aug. 5-7) features a range of entertaining and interactive events from music, film and dance to panel discussions, workshops and family activities.

This festival examines the definition of “classical” from a broad range of cultural perspectives. It explores the boundaries of the genre around the world and here at home. It describes a constantly evolving art form that has existed in western culture for over 700 years.

A variety of musical blends in the classical genre can be enjoyed all weekend long, by visitors of all ages. On Friday, An Evening of Tango brings everyone together in two parts: the first is filled with Nuevo tango by Quartango and the second is all about jazz, pop and classical tangos by Art of Time Ensemble. Quartango is a quartet from Montreal comprised of four highly accomplished musicians whose performances reflect both the classical and the modern of the milonga (traditional music genre which preceded tango) of Buenos Aires. Art of Time Ensemble is equally dynamic and one of Canada's most innovative and widely acclaimed music ensembles. Sarah Slean will also headline the WestJet Stage on Saturday night accompanied by an incredible, 21-piece orchestra!

Perhaps the most prominent figure in the history of the tango, Carlos Gardel is brought back to life with Carlos Gardel on Film: El dia que me quieras. Garden made a number of sentimental films such as “El día que me quieras” and “Cuesta abajo” which are outstanding showcases of his tremendous singing talents and movie star looks. When Gardel died in an airplane crash in 1935, millions of his fans throughout Latin America went into mourning. This film provides the opportunity for viewers to get a taste of Garden’s life as a singer and actor who remains an icon in Argentina, Uruguay and much of the world.

There is also a special treat for children and young families. The Story of Babar the Elephant is a classic French children's story written by Jean de Brunhoff in 1931. Nine years later, the daughter of French composer Francis Poulenc challenged her father to play The Story of Babar on piano. Poulenc improvised a piece of classical music that is fantastically entertaining set to the words of de Brunhoff. On Saturday, Steven Page (former lead singer and songwriter for the Barenaked Ladies) narrates this story and brings Babar to life, while Juno Award-winning Armenian-Canadian pianist Serouj Kradjian accompanies him on the piano.

Join us this summer as we explore “Hot Spots” of intensity, artistic brilliance, connectivity, and regions of conflict that shape the impressions we have of ourselves and our world. This theme is programmed into each weekend festival to bring together rich artistic traditions from our own backyard and around the globe! It also presents a unique opportunity to experience top Canadian and international artists in a fun, family-friendly environment without ever leaving the city!

Hot spots may not always be comfortable, but they are conduits of change. Embrace change or defy it – it is ultimately up to you. This summer, Harbourfront Centre presents programming that asks: What’s your hot spot?

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 in the heart of downtown Toronto’s waterfront.

Full Event Listings by Genre:


  • An Evening of Tango featuring Quartango

Friday, Aug. 5, 8 p.m. (WestJet Stage)

Part One of An Evening of Tango features Nuevo tango inspired music by Montreal quartet Quartango. Comprised of four highly accomplished musicians, Quartango offers a performance filled with subtle nuances and a blend of colours that reflect both the classics and the modernity and effervescence of the milonga of Buenos Aires.

  • An Evening of Tango featuring Art of Time Ensemble

Friday, Aug. 5, 9:30 p.m. (WestJet Stage)

Part Two of An Evening of Tango features a program of jazz, pop and classical tangos by Art of Time Ensemble, one of Canada's most innovative and artistically accomplished music ensembles. Their mandate is to give classical music the contemporary relevance and context it needs to maintain a broader audience and survive. Art of Time explores the points of intersection between European and Latin American music and how it has influenced western classical music.

  • Young Artists Performance Academy

Saturday, Aug. 6, 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., & 7:30 p.m. (Community Tent #1)

The Young Artists Performance Academy of the Royal Conservatory of Music offers an ideal nurturing environment for exceptional young classical musicians to refine their performance skills, musicality, and artistic excellence. Working with internationally acclaimed faculty and guest artists, students strive to achieve outstanding levels of artistry, while discovering their voices within a creative and supportive quality-enhanced community. The Young Artists Performing Academy event features some of their rising starts in a classical musical showcase focusing on gifted musicians ages nine to 18.

  • Strolling Musicians

Saturday, Aug. 6 & Sunday, Aug. 7, 1 p.m. (throughout Harbourfront Centre site)

Classical, jazz and world musicians are put to the task of creating their own versions of Leonard Cohen songs. These musicians pop up in unexpected places and dare to question What’s Classical?

  • Now & Then: Music from the Middle East featuring Bassam Bishara

Saturday, Aug. 6, 2 p.m. (Redpath Stage)

Bassam Bishara performs internationally as a soloist, blending tradition and innovation, forging important musical links between the Middle East and the West. Bishara has received several awards for his achievements in linking traditional Arabic music and the music of the West, his contribution to the revival of cultural heritage, and his role in reconstructing classical and traditional Arabic repertoires.

  • Now & Then: Music from the Middle East featuring Doula

Saturday, Aug. 6, 4 p.m. (Redpath Stage)

Doula, comprised of Maryem Tollar and Roula Said, performs ancient Arabic music with a new world spirit. Tollar and Said expose audiences to the Muwashah tradition of 9th century Andalusia, where devotional poetry is set to melody and rhythm. Doula plays folk songs that are often performed alongside the Muwashahat, which denotes both a poetic form as well as a vocal genre of classical Arabic music. Tollar and Said are joined by guest percussionists Naghmeh Farahmand and Hamasseh Daneshzad (Sarv Ensemble).

  • John Kameel Farah

Saturday, Aug. 6, 6:30 p.m. & 9 p.m. (Redpath Stage)

John Kameel Farah is a Toronto–based composer, pianist and visual artist. Farah's work combines the formal and structural with the fantastical and other-worldly. Simultaneously using piano, synthesizer, computer, and at times harpsichord, his solo performances exist somewhere between the concert hall and an experimental DJ set. He delves into free improvisation, jazz, electro-acoustics, middle-eastern modes, and ambient minimalism, mixing them into cohesive, imaginative, surrealistic structures.

  • Joe Trio

Saturday, Aug. 6, 8 p.m. (WestJet Stage)

Since Joe Trio was formed in 1989, this classically trained violin-cello-piano threesome has performed extensively throughout Canada and the U.S. Joe Trio’s members are fantastic performers who engage their audience in a way few classical musicians can. They have been heard on National Public Radio in the U.S., RTE Lyric FM in Ireland, and on many CBC Radio shows including the old “Morningside” show. Charming and tremendously musical, Joe Trio leaves audiences with a new appreciation for classical music.

  • Sarah Slean

Saturday, Aug. 6, 9:30 p.m. (WestJet Stage)

Sarah Slean performs with a 21-piece orchestra in support of her upcoming double album “Land and Sea.” Slean took two different approaches to the album: the first part is comprised of pop music produced by singer-songwriter Joel Plaskett, and the second is a classical album consisting of four original orchestrations and three by renowned composer Jonathan Goldsmith. She has been nominated for two Gemini Awards and three Juno Awards and her records have been released in over 10 countries worldwide.

  • Now & Then: Music from South Asia featuring Classical India 3

Sunday, Aug. 7, 1:30 p.m. (Redpath Stage)

Now & Then: Music from South Asia begins with an afternoon performance of pure, traditional ragas (classical Indian melodies) performed by the masters of the voice, tabla and dilruba: Samidha Joglekar (classical Indian vocalist), Ravi Naimpally (classical Indian tabla) and George Koller (dilruba).

  • Now & Then: Music from South Asia featuring Indian West Fusion

Sunday, Aug. 7, 3:30 p.m. (Redpath Stage)

The best east/west fusion happens when eastern ornamented melody soars over western harmony on a mixed foundation of eastern and western rhythm, with added improvisation. This fusion is exemplified in a performance by George Koller (bass, vocals, sitar, dilruba, piccolo bass), Ravi Naimpally (tabla and percussion), Samidha Joglekar (vocals), Pat Murray (vocalist), and Sundar Viswanathan (saxophone/composer).


  • Rhythm & Motion Tango Dance Lesson

Friday, Aug. 5, 6:30 p.m. (Redpath Stage)

Rhythm and Motion Dance Studio is Toronto’s only professional dance studio offering Argentine tango lessons. Artistic Director of Rhythm & Motion Elizabeth Sadowska teaches the introductory basics to dancing the most romantic dance in the world, the tango!

  • Rhythm & Motion Tango Dance Demonstration

Friday, Aug. 5, 7 p.m. & 9 p.m. (Redpath Stage)

Artistic Director of Rhythm & Motion Elizabeth Sadowska provides a dance demonstration tracing the variety and history of tango from the clubs of Buenos Aires to Toronto.

  • An Evening of Tango featuring Tango Soul

Friday, Aug. 5, 8 p.m. (WestJet Stage)

Bryant and Faye Lopez are traditional Argentinean tango dancers whose styles derive from the traditional milongas of Buenos Aires. While maintaining the authenticity of traditional tango of the golden age, they bring their own interpretation of the current times through feeling and connection which is the most important aspect of their dancing. They continue to develop themselves through the embrace, the expression of the music, the elegance of their walk and a sense of carrying the tradition, the essence of the culture of traditional Argentine tango. Byant and Faye are also featured guests of An Evening of Tango and will perform with Quartango.


  • Exploring What's Classical: A dynamic conversation between festival artists

Saturday, Aug. 6, 6 p.m. & Sunday Aug. 7, 4 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)

Moderator Andrew Burashko, Artistic Director of Art of Time Ensemble and guest Artistic Director of the What’s Classical? festival, leads a discussion focusing on classical music and where it intersects with popular, traditional and folk music in the company of featured artists performing at the festival.

  • Joe Trio’s Carl Stalling Lecture and Performance

Sunday, Aug. 7, 2 p.m. (Studio Theatre)

Joe Trio gives a lecture and performance on the cartoon music of composer Carl Stalling. The trio will present a medley of some of Stalling's most famous music from various Bugs Bunny cartoons through his career as well as present some of Stalling's compositional devices and motifs used in his music. In addition, in keeping with the cartoon music theme of the event, the trio will perform D'eau: A Simsymphony, a treatment of Danny Elfman's theme to “The Simpsons” involving 20 or so symphonic excerpts from the past 200 years of classical music.


  • Classical Music Crafts

Saturday, Aug. 6 & Sunday, Aug. 7, 1 p.m. (HarbourKIDS Zone Tent)

Participants learn how to make a tambourine, an easy-to-play musical instrument.

  • The Story of Babar the Elephant Narrated by Steven Page

Saturday, Aug. 6 & Sunday, Aug. 7, 3 p.m. (Redpath Stage)

Steven Page (former lead singer and songwriter of the Barenaked Ladies) narrates The Story of Babar and brings this loveable character to life. Accompanying Page is Juno Award-winning Armenian-Canadian pianist Serouj Kradjian performing music by French composer Francis Poulenc.

  • Little Ustaads

Sunday Aug. 7, 1 p.m. (Boulevard Tent)

Children and parents discover and appreciate the world of Indian classical music through rhythmic tunes, rich vocals, mini instruments and vibrant visuals. Each structured session encompasses the secrets and charm of traditional music presented in a contemporary style. The carefully designed content promotes emotional development, hand and eye coordination, mental stimulation, auditory refinement & exploratory play in a fun and effortless manner.


  • Carlos Gardel on Film: El dia que me quieras

Friday, Aug. 5, 9 p.m. (North Orchard)

Carlos Gardel was the first great singer of the tango. He was a songwriter and actor, and is perhaps the most prominent figure in the history of the genre. He remains an icon in Argentina, Uruguay and much of the world and has made a number of films for Paramount in France and the U.S.


  • Discover What’s Classical

All weekend (South Orchard Tent)

Get the answer to the question “What’s Classical?” at this weekend-long exhibit challenging everything you know and love about classical music. Interactive listening stations will take the public into the music and ideas that have shaped the festival.


SoundClash presented by NOW Magazine, Harbourfront Centre's Music Award. The summer’s hottest music competition happens at Harbourfront Centre with $10,000 in cash prizes up for grabs! Toronto’s hottest artists and bands take centre stage to compete for the SoundClash music award. A panel of music critics, bloggers, artists and industry reps selected the following five artists out of 250 submissions: Young Empires, Kids & Explosions, Miles Jones, The Worst Pop Band Ever and Saidah Baba Talibah. Each artist and/or band will play the WestJet Stage this July to compete for three cash prizes and a variety of giveaways. The winner will be determined by a combination of jury selections and public votes.

Longo’s Free Flicks
Tuesdays at dusk, July 5 through Aug.9 (WestJet Stage)
Join us outdoors by the lake for a screening of six different films, each highlighting the experience of living in a different city! Come explore Toronto, New York, Paris, New Delhi and Toyko and vote on the final film selection (Venice, Toronto or Cairo).

Hot off the Grill
Come and enjoy the flavour of the season as our festivals put a spotlight on grilled foods from around the globe. Whether you prefer your grill from the Deep South or the Far East, a whole summer’s worth of food demonstrations is waiting for you!

Longo’s Friday Picnics
Fridays, July through August, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. (Ann Tindal Park)
Buy a sandwich, a snack, or an internationally inspired meal at the World Café and then enjoy it sitting on the Ann Tindal park, or pack your cooler with your favorite feast! Live entertainment will vary each week.

Sundays, 3 p.m. (locations vary)
A hot summer series devoted to young people and families, HarbourKIDS presents a hot lineup of artists and activities that will move, shake-up and entertain.

Dancing on the Pier
Thursdays, June 23 to Sept. 1 (Various locations on the waterfront)
Explore culturally hot dance trends and movements from across globe that will heat up the Harbourfront Centre site and its surroundings! The waterfront will be filled with sizzling flavors, movement and sounds from the best choreographers, social dance clubs and DJs to heat up the boardwalk!

World Café
Open weekends, July 1 to Oct.10
World Café offers a variety of international cuisine prepared by a rotating selection of popular Toronto restaurants and caterers. Come check out our new location and patio seating area!

International Marketplace
Open weekends, May 28 to Oct. 2
Shop for delightful gifts and treasures from around the globe!

Canoe Rides on the Natrel® Pond
Daily, May to October ($4 for 15 minutes)
Our famous canoe rides will be available at the Natrel® Pond all summer long! Take a break and enjoy a fun float beside our picturesque boardwalk.


Hot spots may not always be comfortable, but they are conduits of change. Embrace change or defy it – it is ultimately up to you. This summer, Harbourfront Centre presents programming that asks: What’s your hot spot?

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 a 10-acre site in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront. For more information visit

The Toronto Port Authority, Harbourfront Centre’s lead summer partner, owns and operates the Port of Toronto, the Billy Bishop Airport, and the Outer Harbour Marina. It is committed to building a waterfront community that is vibrant and enjoyable for Torontonians and visitors, by working with partners to create a clean, green, prosperous water’s edge. For more information visit


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