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Soundstreams showcases the work of Canadian and international composers through innovative musical experiences.

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Music and Sport

In the summer we become much more active. The weather is nice and we feel the need to get outside and move around, or attend outdoor games. I know many musicians that are avid bikers, soccer players, swimmers and ultimate Frisbee players. Not to mention our collective obsession with events like Wimbledon and the World…  Read More

Reflections from a Composer and Perpetual Tinkerer

In April the second annual Soundstreams Emerging Composer Workshop brought six talented composers from across Canada and abroad together in Toronto for an intensive ten-day workshop. The composers spent full days working with our international visiting guest mentor, Ye Xiaogang from China, one of Toronto’s favorite composers, Juliet Palmer, and a handful of other guests…  Read More

What to do when the lights go out

This concert was very different for Soundstreams in that it was one of the first occasions were the music was a mixture of the composed and the improvised. This style of music, coming mainly out of Jazz, but with roots in lots of other music from throughout the world, is created in the moment–through real-time…  Read More

How do you define Improvisation and Composition?

The definition between improvisation and compositions isn’t as objective as you might think. There as many definitions of the two practices as there are people practicing them. There are two ideas that commonly come up: composition uses a pre-conceived idea and improvisation is something that happens in real time. But other than these two simple…  Read More

Guest Post: Alec Hall and ‘Death in Venice’

Alec Hall, one of the participants in the 2014 Soundstreams Emerging Composer Workshop, discusses Death in Venice, his new work composed expressly for the workshop and gives us clues that give us context for this piece. Over the past few years, my interests have moved away from music that locates itself within traditional paradigms of…  Read More

Guest Post: André Mestre on ‘Corpo Confesso’

André Mestre is one of the 6 participants in the upcoming Soundstreams Emerging Composer Workshop under the direction of composers Ye Xiaogang, Juliet Palmer and the Cecilia Quartet as resident ensemble. André discusses Corpo Confesso, the work he will be working during the workshop and gives us an insight into his creative process. Ever since I…  Read More

Behind the Scenes: Juliet Palmer’s Sweat

Sweat takes place in a contemporary sweatshop, the multilingual libretto conveying the global nature of the garment industry. Departing radically from traditional opera, this piece sheds the orchestra and focuses on the musical and sonic potential of the human voice in counterpoint to the sound world of the sweatshop. Here are some thoughts from Juliet…  Read More

Creating a Hybrid Bach

When Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (or Weihnachts-Oratorium) was brought to my attention I knew that it had to be the source material. It was not only timely for the season and a beautiful piece of music, but it also has some extra-musical meaning that influenced my choice. This work is a mixture of the sacred and…  Read More

Are Orchestras in Crisis?

In his article America's Orchestras are in Crisis,  Philip Kennicott raises a number of valid issues in his critique of programming by American orchestras and others. He argues that the attempt to make the 21st century orchestra “relevant” by downplaying the importance of attentive listening in concert halls is damaging the very institution they hope…  Read More

What’s With Walt Whitman?

I guess I like working with Walt Whitman. My new work Open Road is our fifth collaboration. Soundstreams has commissioned Six Songs (2001) and When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd (2007). And before that came Four Songs (1989) and Come Lovely and Soothing Death (2000). What is it about Whitman that makes beautiful music?…  Read More

Airline Icarus, a new opera: Inspiration & History

Airline Icarus is about the intersecting thoughts of passengers aboard a commercial airplane. It explores themes of hubris mixed with technology, the forced intimacy of strangers and flying too close to the sun. Over the course of the work, the plane becomes brighter and eventually vanishes.  Composer Brian Current In September of 1983, a Korean…  Read More

So You Think You Can Listen?

Deep Listening is a practice that is intended to heighten and expand consciousness of sound in as many dimensions of awareness and attentional dynamics as humanly possible. Pauline Oliveros from Deep Listening: A Composers’ Sound Practice Pauline Oliveros’ career spans 50 years of boundary-dissolving music making. In the '50s she was part of a circle…  Read More

A Little Furniture Music

Erik Satie has become a darling of the avant-garde. Brought back from obscurity by John Cage, the 20th century composer enfant terrible, Satie has been an important influence on American experimental and popular music.  His music has become well known since the mid-sixties due to its connection to ambient and meditative music. For example, his…  Read More

A Backstage View of Some of the Finest Concert Halls in Asia

My role on the recent Soundstreams tour to Taiwan and China gave me a different perspective than most of the others. My official role was production manager; in some cases I also functioned as stage manager, lighting designer, percussionist assistant, and harp technician. I expected to experience a certain amount of culture shock on this…  Read More

Learn About Traditional Chinese Instruments

Our Music for China concert on May 14 features performances by Taiwan’s acclaimed Chai Found Music Workshop. Here are some fun facts about the types of instruments that they play, along with a video so that you can know what to listen for at the concert. 1. Ruan The ruan is a Chinese plucked string…  Read More

On the Road Again: Soundstreams Tours to China

  This May, Soundstreams will make Canadian music history with the first significant tour of Canadian contemporary music to Taiwan and China. The ensemble, which features Canadian musicians alongside Chinese-born colleagues, will stop in Taipei, Taiwan before continuing on to the prestigious Beijing Modern Music Festival. The event marks the first time Soundstreams has toured…  Read More

Inside the Music: Letters to God by Akira Miyoshi

We have been enchanted in the office by Haruka Fujii’s copies of the Japanese Children’s Letters to God books. On March 5 at our Fujii Percussion and Voices concert, Rika Fujii will perform Miyoshi’s piece inspired by these books with the Toronto Children’s Chorus, Chorale. Here is a little about the books and a peek…  Read More