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"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." - Henry Miller

On December 6th, Spectrum will present Journeys, a concert of new music about how exploring new places can be a metaphor and a catalyst for shifting our own personal identities and paradigms. Have you ever been on a journey where you left the comfortable and familiar behind, in search of something new? What did you discover? Help us create Journeys by sending us one paragraph and one photo that captures the essence of your experience.

We'll share some of these stories in our pre-concert chat, with Artistic Producer Matthew Roberts and artists from the concert. Together we hope to create an open dialogue about the important journeys and transitional periods in our lives.

How to Share

Send us your brief one paragraph account of a transformative journey in your life, and a photo that you think should go with it.


Artistic Producer Matt Roberts, shares one of his journeys:

2006 was a summer of travel for me. I finished if off with a father-son trek in Alberta's Rocky Mountains. We started by biking up a badly neglected fireroad, the branches of waist-high evergreens whipping our exposed shins as we passed, inflicting hundreds of tinny cuts. At one point my dad got off his bike too quickly and accidentally stabbed me with his hiking pole - a scar I still have today. When the bikes had taken us as far as they could, I realized I'd forgotten my hiking boots, and was forced to continue through the increasingly dense bush in sandals. Rocks and sticks cut and jabbed my unprotected feet. Needless to say, we didn't make as good time as we'd hoped, and were forced to camp in the middle of dark woods, with only a tiny trickling stream providing our water. I have been going to the Rockies since I was a child, and whenever I am there I feel a sense of connection to my deeper self, behind the identity that allows me to function in my day-to-day city life. On this trip particularly, I think the physical hardships "tenderized" me somewhat, helping me to open to the simple, natural beauty around me. On our second day, we came to a point where an enormous amount of water came straight out of the mountain, and then swiftly launched off a cliff. I decided that this was the source of the North Saskatchewan, a river I grew up playing beside during my childhood in Edmonton.
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Guitarist, composer, and lover of avocados and toboggans: Graham is the newest addition to Spectrum’s intrepid team of Artistic Producers.

Tell us a little about yourself? When did you first pick up a guitar, and when did you know it would be something you wanted to pursue seriously?

I started guitar in 6th grade, but before that I had taken piano lessons since I was 5. I think I always knew from a young age that I wanted music to be my life, but it was in high school when guitar really began to be my favourite instrument to play.

Before you decided to join us as an Artistic Producer, we actually approached you to collaborate on our concert this December. Tell us a little about what you are going to bring to the stage for “Journeys” this winter.

Shortly after I graduated Humber I fell in love with Brazilian music, through the music of Novos Baianos, Gilberto Gil, and Caetano Veloso. I started learning Portuguese so I could sing along with my favourite songs and understand what they meant. I’ve written and arranged music inspired by these artists and others. One thing I love about Brazilian music is that it can incorporate anything under the sun and fit anywhere, whether it’s with a bunch of percussionists and singers, a rock band, or a chamber ensemble. I’ve been arranging music for guitar and strings for my group Campbell/Afiara, and am excited to try some new things with the Ton Beau Quartet. I’ll also be bringing some music that I wrote while traveling in Spain, as well as the very first composition I wrote after moving to Toronto, when it was still a new and unfamiliar city.

What are you looking forward to the most in your new role with us?

I’m really excited about the opportunity to explore what being an artistic producer is all about. A whole new outlet for creativity has just opened up for me through Spectrum. It’s not just about making music but putting together entire programs and finding ways to have the greatest impact on an audience.

Lightning Round!

If I Wasn’t a Guitarist I’d be a: goat farmer

Top five tunes on your iTunes playlist right now: Schubert String Quintet (The Borodin), Just Squeeze Me (Paul Desmond/Ed Bickert), Eu Sambo Mesmo (Gilberto Gil), Death (Busman’s Holiday), Stardust (Gene DiNovi)

Favourite Movie: Rockers

Favourite Food: pumpkin pie

Guilty Pleasure Song: Yo No Sé Mañana (Luis Enrique)

Best Show You’ve Seen Recently: YUKA CD release at the Lula Lounge

- Ben Dietschi

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Spectrum Music is excited to welcome Chelsea McBride as our new artistic producer. Chelsea is a saxophonist, composer, and big band director. Let’s get to know our new team member!  Here are 5 questions with Chelsea:

You recently graduated from the Humber College Contemporary Music Program. How does it feel to be finished school?

It feels great to be done school! I had a really fantastic four years there, and I’ve learned so much from the wonderful faculty and from my incredibly talented classmates, but I’m really excited to take that knowledge and that network and now be left to pursue my own goals, hopefully a little wiser than when I started out.

Tell us about your big band the Socialist Night School and the experience of releasing your first recording.

Well, to start from the beginning… I  started the Socialist Night School right around the time I realized that the best way for me to get an audience for my own music was to get people together, book a show, and basically put my music out there. I’d been experimenting with writing for big band for a while, and when I got the initial group together, I probably had about five pieces, maybe a few more. After the first rehearsal, somebody came up to me and told me to book a gig, so I did, and the rest is history I guess. We played our first show at the Trane Studio, and then have been playing at the Rex since.

“The themes that Spectrum takes on every year provide so much space for composers to find their own niche, make their own statement”

The record is something I’d been planning for a while. Part of Humber’s degree program is that you get allocated a certain number of hours in the recording studio to record a demo, and go through the whole recording/mixing/mastering process. After Socialist had played a show or two and I realized this was a serious project that I wanted to keep going, I decided that I wanted to record the big band as part of this final project.

Recording a band of this size would normally cost thousands of dollars, but with studio time built into the program, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a big band record, and I wanted to do it in case I never got the chance to again. It ended up being an incredible experience – I had a wonderful production team to guide me through the logistics and keep me focused on the recording, I got to bring in William Carn and Daniel Jamieson as special guests (William takes one of two real improvised solos on the record, and Dan conducts the tunes that I play on), and I had a fantastic group of musicians that put a TON of time and effort into making the music come alive. I’m so proud of the record, and of all the effort that everybody put in, and to release it at the Rex in a room full of friends, family, and curious strangers… That was such a fun and beautiful way to finally put this record out for the world to hear. It is available on iTunes, but to directly support the band, buy it on Bandcamp at crymmusic.bandcamp. com, because we’d like that a lot.

What other projects are you involved in? 

I also lead a pop sextet called Chelsea and the Cityscape, playing all my original pop tunes, and we have two EPs that are also available on iTunes and Bandcamp and a few other places (Google Play, etc). That’s a fun project for me because I pretty much do the complete opposite of what I do in the Socialist Night School – it’s a lot looser, the tunes are more readily accessible, and the band is also always great. Aside from that, I’m also found playing with the Brad Cheeseman Group (www.bradcheeseman.com), which is a great contemporary jazz quintet with some unbelievable writing, and I also play with the Devin Chubb Sound Collective – this is contemporary jazz sextet, led by trombonist/composer Devin Chubb, who also plays in the Socialist Night School. And Tom Upjohn’s Conundrum is a really fun tentet with tricky all original music and some of the city’s finest almost-20-somethings, which makes for a great sight reading challenge for me!

What are you looking forward to doing with your new role with Spectrum?

I’m really looking forward to seeing these concerts through, and being around all of the super-creative people that are producing and performing in and writing for these concerts. The themes that Spectrum takes on every year provide so much space for composers to find their own niche, make their own statement, and I think that’s part of what makes Spectrum and its programming so unique. The themes really tie everything together, but there’s room for writers of all stripes (and performers of all stripes) to say something within them, and make their own creative voice heard.​

Of course as the name suggests, Spectrum’s artistic producers occupy the gamut of musical personalities between free music and through-composed music. How would you describe your spot on the spectrum?

After spending time as a copyist and writing so much for big band, I think my spot is definitely much closer to the through-composed side! But I find that recently, it hasn’t so much been one or the other – as my parts get more specific, the sections in which I let the band let loose all of a sudden get much less restricted. I think that whatever it is, I’m just trying to find the best way to get my musical intention across to the musician, who will then get that across to the audience. I find that a lot easier to do in a through-composed fashion most of the time (or at least, a shorter thing to read), but who knows – maybe after some time working with Spectrum, I’ll be writing a lot more free music in the future.

- Shannon Graham

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