X Avant

X Avant New Music Festival Preview

The fourth annual Toronto X Avant New Music festival starts on Wednesday night, taking over The Music Gallery for five consecutive days. X Avant offers a variety of workshops, symposia and concerts, beginning with the Canadian debut of recently reformed German electronic music pioneers, Cluster, performing live.

Curated by the Music Gallery's artistic director Jonathan Bunce with the aid of Gregory Oh and Andrew Timar, the festival celebrates the theme of "convergence and collaboration." Inspired by Brian Eno's concept of scenius, X Avant 2009 highlights the importance of co-operation in modern music making, rather than glorifying individual genius.

Festival passes run for a measly $65 and will get you into all six concerts. Both passes and individual event tickets are available online, as well as at Rotate This and Soundscapes.

MG: Music Gallery, 197 John St.
SPK: Polish Combatants Hall, 206 Beverly St.
Prices: (regular - members & seniors - students)

Cluster + Hauschka with String Quartet / SPK / 8pm / ($30-$25-$20)
Renowned electronic and ambient music duo Cluster have been active since 1971, recording thirteen albums ranging in musical style from progressive rock to new age to industrial. Always maintaining an experimental edge, Cluster's avant-garde influence extends beyond electronic music. Joining Cluster is Hauschka, a German composer and pianist who will be accompanied by a local quartet.

Phantom Orchard (Zeena Parkins & Ikue Mori) + Ken Aldcroft's Convergence Ensemble / MG / 8pm / ($20-$15-$10)
New Yorkers Zeena Parkins and Ikue Mori's critically acclaimed Phantom Orchard project brings together deconstructive laptop experimentation with electric and acoustic harp. Rounding out the double bill is Vancouver-born turned Toronto-resident Ken Aldcroft performing with The Convergence Ensemble to celebrate the release of their new album.

Phantom Orchard Workshop / MG / Noon / FREE
Parkins and Mori return for an exclusive, interactive workshop to discuss and display their unique musical techniques. Anyone up for a more hands on approach is welcome to bring their own instrumentation and get involved.

"Beats, Notes & Loops": A Hip-Hop/New Music Summit / MG / 8pm / ($20-$15-$10)
This new music summit features an improvised three-way collaboration between the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, Toronto emcee Abdominal and DJ duo iNSiDEaMiND. Further exploration of turntablism and hip-hop will be provided by composer Nicole Lizée (of Montreal's Besnard Lakes) and DJ P-Love. This peculiar combination features some of the youngest artists of the festival and offers a novel look at the influence of turntables and rap in contemporary chamber music.

X Avant

A New Way of Hearing: Music and Auditory Research / MG / 3pm / ($20-$15-$12)
Co-presented with new music centre Arraymusic and Ryerson's SMART (Sound, Music, Auditory Research and Technology) Lab, a novel device referred to as the Emoti-chair will be open for testing. The Emoti-chair converts sound into a dispersion of vibrotacticle information, offering a sensory substitution for the hearing impaired.

Iva Bittová + Chris Cutler with Antonin Fajt / SPK / 8pm / ($25-$20-$15)
Czech singer and violinist Iva Bittová will collaborate with British percussionist Chris Cutler. Bittová has gained international recognition spreading her unique brand of Eastern European influenced folk in addition to her career as an actress. Cutler founded and runs an independent record label, edits a magazine, and is a renowned lecturer and author in addition to appearing on over 100 recordings.

X Avant: Convergence & Collaboration Symposium / MG (Fellowship Room) / 3pm / FREE
Featuring panelists Chris Cutler, Christine Duncan, John Kameel Farah, Scott Thomson and Jennifer Waring, the theme of convergence and collaboration will be explored.

Start : Stop / MG / 8pm / ($25-$15-$5)
Continuum's contemporary music ensemble is led by artistic director Jennifer Waring and is dedicated to fostering the work of emerging composers. Start:Stop will feature elements from Continuum's biennial Call For Scores, an open invitation to further expose imaginative new works and composers to a greater audience.

Photos by ryancouldrey, and smuncky; both members of the BlogTO Flickr pool.

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