When the collective met last winter to talk about the structure of this season, we decided that we wanted to showcase our concerts this year in an overarching series. Almost immediately, we were enraptured by the idea of Jungian archetypes, as each provokes a powerful image with many unique avenues to explore through music.


THE SAGE

When we think of a 'sage', we're drawn to figures of distinguished philosophers like Socrates or Immanuel Kant, or perhaps we think of popular storybook characters such as Gandalf or Dumbledore. The concept behind 'The Road Not Travelled' is to deconstruct this concept of the sage by examining the quintessential attribute of the archetype: wisdom; and look at this in terms of the individual. What does wisdom look like in everyday life? And at what point do we distinguish ourselves as wise?


In short, my feeling is wisdom resides in all of us and manifests itself when we look back on our life choices. Maybe we see ourselves down a road we hadn't imagined - whether this be for better or for worse. A compelling image that stayed with me as I reflected on this was the individual at a fork in the road, depicted in Robert Frost's poem 'The Road Not Taken':


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could


To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


The poem is strikingly melancholy. It beautifully illustrates leaving behind a potentially different life, and with it the feeling of infinite possibility. Who might you have become had you pursued a different career, moved to a different city, or even left the house a minute earlier? It's a question of "what if?" and it is both haunting and full of promise.


THE ENSEMBLE

Working closely with Artistic Producer, Graham Campbell, we liked the idea of having a smaller, acoustic ensemble to effectively set the stage for this intimate exploration of promises unfulfilled to blessings in disguise. We're excited to feature a double duo (2 flutes x 2 guitars) for the first time. I was also curious to see how the composers would play with this idea.

I had the pleasure of getting to know international flutists Alhelí Pimienta and Izabella Budai of Flautas del Fuego through my studies at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, and I'm thrilled to have such talented performers be a part of this project. They bring with them experience playing in various genres from classical to world music. We're also involving classical guitarists - another first for Spectrum - which is an exciting endeavour for the Spectrum composers. It served as a challenge for the Spectrum composers to learn to write effectively for a new instrument. Guitarists Daniel Ramjattan and James Lowrie are alumni of U of T as well, and each are phenomenal performers in their own right.


THE MUSIC

One of my favourite parts about Spectrum is seeing - or more accurately, hearing - how each Spectrum composer interprets the theme differently. This concert definitely doesn't disappoint. Some have taken direction directly from Robert Frost's poem, others have produced a piece with personal reflection, and some took a broader perspective looking at ideas of chance, regret, and reality. On Friday, November 2nd, we present world premieres written specifically for 'The Road Not Travelled' by Spectrum composers Graham Campbell, Chelsea McBride, Mason Victoria, Tiffany Hanus, Suzy Wilde, and guest composer James Lowrie.


Join us at the Pierre Léon Gallery at the Alliance française de Toronto (24 Spadina Rd) to hear the decisions we make turned into new pieces of music! You'll get a chance to meet each composer and learn about their unique compositional process and inspiration. Doors will open at 7:30pm. Make sure to take advantage of our advance tickets to save an extra $5 at the door. Tickets are available here.


See you there!


- Zoe Brown, Managing Artistic Director


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(Cover photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash)

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Updated: Oct 2, 2018


As your friendly neighbourhood music collective, we pride ourselves in bringing down the wall that exists between the audience and performance in concert music. To do this, we wanted to give our audience a chance to get to know us better. We sat down with each member as part of our "Meet-the-Team" series, which was shown across our media channels. Read up on what all the Spectrum members had to say about what they're most excited for this season!



We'll start with Artistic Director Zoe Brown, who you met yesterday in the season launch video. Zoe's passion lies in arts administration, where she aims to build creative spaces for new music to thrive in today’s landscape, and to engage with the world by curating events that are both innovative and accessible to all.


SM: What are you most looking forward to about your first (!) season leading Spectrum Music?


Z: I’m most excited to see what the composers on the team come up with for each concert! I’m always interested to see what dialogue might be created through music from the basis of each concert theme.


SM: And when you're not being our fearless leader - what do you do in your spare time?

Z: When I’m not Spectrum-ing, I’m a grad student working towards my MBA/MA degrees in Musicology and Arts, Media & Entertainment Management.



Second in our meet-the-team posts: saxophonist and composer Chelsea McBride is our Manager of Education and Outreach, returning for her fifth season with Spectrum Music. She just recently completed her first ever cross-Canada tour with her 19-piece big band, Chelsea McBride's Socialist Night School - that took her to 11 cities in 5 provinces over as many weeks. Highlight of the tour? Seeing both coasts in a matter of weeks.


SM: What are you most looking forward to about working with Spectrum this season?

C: I'm excited about the opportunity to write more this season - in fact, you'll hear a new work of mine at every concert, and that's a first for me in my time with Spectrum. While I've always been a dedicated composer, it's nice to focus a larger amount of time and effort on to my pieces for Spectrum Music - and I'm excited for the challenge, to see what I can create.


SM: and when you're not working with us or your many other projects, where can we find you?

C: sleeping, probably. Where else?



Third in our meet-the-team series is new Artistic Associate Suzy Wilde! Fascinated by the power of storytelling in music, Toronto composer Suzy Wilde is drawn to the narrative aspects of folk, rock and musical theatre. Recently, her musical theatre show Crack of Doom (written with comedian Matt Bernard) was performed at the Bravo Academy as part of the New Music Theatre Initiatives project.


SM: what are you most excited about with Spectrum this season?

S: Before becoming a member, I attended a Spectrum concert last year and was astonished at how beautifully the musicians interpreted the works of the composers. The idea of hearing my own pieces performed by such high-level players is extremely exciting to me.


SM: and when you're not working with Spectrum, where can we find you?

S: I play the role of Posh Spice in Wannabe: The Spice Girls Tribute Band. We tour internationally with a 6-piece band, and we go full out with costumes, British accents and choreography. We've shared bills with a handful of 90's pop icons I used to worship as a kid. It's a childhood dream come true!



Fourth in our meet-the-team series is our other new Artistic Associate, Jackson Welchner! Jackson is a vocalist and a recent University of Toronto graduate as well as a diverse arranger, having worked with French horn quartets to small orchestras.


SM: what are you most excited about with working for Spectrum this season?

J: I am most excited to listen to the music my peers create, and to grow as a composer.


SM: and when you're not working with Spectrum, where can we find you?

J: Playing trumpet and singing in weirdo rock band Other Families and traditional vocal jazz group Planting Puerl. (For more on Other Families, click here for their latest release: https://otherfamilies.bandcamp.com/album/moonrock )



Fifth in our meet-the-team series: Artistic Producer Graham Campbell, also a guitarist and composer! He's most looking forward to hearing what the other Spectrum composers write this season - especially the new members of the team ;)


SM: what's something our followers might not know about you?


G: My dad is a classical clarinetist, and the two of us get to work together a lot. Although we are very different musicians (I compose and improvise, he plays Mozart), we work really well together. We've played music together since I was little, but in the past 6 years or so we've really built a nice repertoire of music, and had a good number of opportunities to perform. We made a CD together in 2013 that was sort of a catalyst to what we've been doing since then.


SM: when you're not Spectrum-ing, where can we find you?


G: Going down a nerdy Youtube rabbit hole. I'm addicted to those videos of classical music with the score...



Sixth on the team: Artistic Producer Mason Victoria! A composer and trumpet player, you can often find Mason in front of his 20-person big band, the Sonuskapos Jazz Orchestra. Despite residing in the GTA, Mason's music has been performed internationally, from New York, to Los Angeles, to Tokyo!


SM: what are you most excited about with Spectrum this season?


M: I am looking forward to our third concert of the season, Coding Chaos, as it will be our first time experimenting with Artificial Intelligence in our compositions. Just the thought of having an Artificial Intelligence react to a live performing band in a live venue fills me with excitement!


SM: and when you're not working on Spectrum projects or SSJO music, where can we find you?


M: Walking my half Shih tzu/Jack Russell mixed dog, Queen, to the nearby dog park! Or where ever she decides to take me..



Seventh on the team: meet Artistic Producer Tiffany Hanus! When she's not composing, you can find her leading the Tiffany Hanus Jazz Trio, performing regularly at jazz venues and special events throughout the GTA. She is also active as a private vocal and piano instructor, teaching from her home studio in the west end.


SM: What are you most excited about in working with Spectrum this season?


T: This will be my first season producing a concert! I look forward to this new role, working alongside my peers and seeing all of our hard work come into fruition. As always, I am excited for the opportunity to compose for new instruments and configurations.


SM: And when you're not working with Spectrum or leading your own stuff, where can we find you?


T: I enjoy spending time outdoors. Nothing like a portage trip in Algonquin Park to help reset the mind!



And rounding out our meet-the-team posts is Artistic Producer Jay Vazquez! Born and raised in Mexico, Jay moved to Canada just over a decade ago & proudly brings influences from his Latin roots into the Spectrum compositional canon.


SM: What are you most excited about with Spectrum this season?


J: The opportunity to collaborate with musicians with whom we haven't before, as well as hearing all the new pieces by the Spectrum composers.


SM: and when you're not working on Spectrum projects, what's your favourite way to spend your time?


J: I love hearing and playing classical music...and spending time with my wife watching horror movies!

Updated: Sep 22, 2018

Now in our 8th season, we have exciting new changes. We say farewell to Artistic Director, Shannon Graham, and welcome Zoe Brown into this role.


Before we said goodbye, we sat down with Shannon one last time to hear her favourite experiences over her past two years as director:

"It has been an honour to be a part of Spectrum Music since it's early days and serve as Artistic Director for the last two years. Spectrum is an important organization in Toronto, providing a concert hall home to compositions which fall in between the lines of genre divides and I encourage you all to check out these unique concerts! The highlight of my seven years with the collective, was curating whimsical concert themes that bring creative music and humanity in touch. Two concerts that stick out to me are "Starry Night" (music inspired by the universe) and "Tales of the Unconscious (music inspired by dreams), as I use music composition as a way to connect with the universe and with myself. I wish Spectrum all the best in continuing to do their good work, and I trust that this will be made all the more successful under the enterprising leadership of Zoe Brown!"

When asked about her new position, Zoe stated:

"It's been bittersweet. On one hand, I'm thoroughly excited to be taking on this role after serving as Assistant Director at Spectrum; I'm thrilled to see how far we can push the boundaries of the musical experience in concert, and bring this to an audience wider than ever. At the same time, Shannon's inspiring energy and creativity will be greatly missed."

This season is packed with captivating themes and progressive collaborations, spanning from traditional classical choir and jazz trio to artificial intelligence and interpretive dance. Be sure not to miss out!

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