CBC Profiles New Canadian Global Music Orchestra

CBC broadcast a series of stories on the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra, an initiative of that recognizes the cultural and musical diversity of Canada as the country prepares to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

On New Year’s Eve, CBC broadcast a series of stories on the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra, an initiative of The Royal Conservatory that recognizes the cultural and musical diversity of Canada as the country prepares to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. 

Most notably, the orchestra was featured on The National‎ as part of a report on arts-related initiatives honouring Canada's sesquicentennial. The story also appeared on CBC News NetworkCBC Radio's “The World This Weekend,” and the CBC website.

Conceived by Mervon Mehta, our Executive Director of Performing Arts, the goal of the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra is to come up with an ensemble that will sound, in his words, “like Canada in 2017.”

The ensemble is composed of 11 Canadian musicians from around the world – all of whom are immigrants – as well as a member of Canada’s Indigenous community. They are united by a desire to share their traditions and to transcend cultural differences through the power of music. “They have a desire to be Canadian and to share their culture with fellow Canadians,” says Mehta.

The members of the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra are:

Padideh Ahrarnejad (Iran) on tar

Sasha Boychouk (Ukraine) on woodwinds and ethnic Ukrainian flutes

Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk (Canada) on violin, viola, jaw harp, spoons, and vocals

Luis Deniz (Cuba) on saxophone

Anwar Khurshid (Pakistan) on sitar, flute, esraj, tabla, vocals, and harmonium

Lasso [Salif Sanou] (Burkina Faso) on Fulani flute, kambélé n’goni, tamanin (talking drum), balafon, djembe, doum-doum, and vocals

Paco Luviano (Mexico) on bass

Aline Morales (Brazil) on Brazilian percussion and vocals

Demetrios Petsalakis (Greece) on oud, guitar, lyra, bouzouki, riq, and Greek baglama

Matias Recharte (Peru) on drums, percussion, cajón, conga, and timbales

Dorjee Tsering (Tibet) on dranyen, flute, piwang, yang chin (dulcimer), and traditional Tibetan vocals

Dora Wang (China) on bamboo flute, flute, hulusi, xiao, panpipe, and ocarina

Participants were selected over the course of three rounds of auditions, which attracted more than 100 individuals from 47 countries. Those who were chosen did the best job embracing the challenge of performing in an ensemble with unfamiliar instruments. As Mehta notes: “The artists we chose were the most musically curious, in the most open and fearless way.”

Rehearsals began in early December under the guidance of David Buchbinder, the orchestra’s Juno Award-winning Artistic Director. CBCreporter James Murray was impressed by the first practice session. “It all seems so natural,” he observed. “Sure, the players are eyeing each other for cues …but mostly, it’s smiles — and music.”

Iranian orchestra member Padideh Ahrarnejad agrees the process has been natural. “Music is the same language we speak to each other,” she notes. “Because of that, we can communicate together.”

 

The members of the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra will be in residence at The Royal Conservatory through the 2016-17 concert season. They will collaborate on new compositions, rehearse and participate in educational activities, play in venues throughout the Greater Toronto Area, and will come together on June 2 for a concert in Koerner Hall that will be livestreamed to communities across Canada and around the world.

In the meantime, Mehta is keen to see how their connection develops. “I’m most looking forward to seeing them bond.”

Jaclyn Tam