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2007 04 19
South Asian Music Festival 2007: April 20 - May 18th

2007 marks five glorious years of the South Asian Music Festival, presented by one of Toronto’s musical treasures, the Small World Music Society. I’ve been attending this festival for the last few years, and have never been disappointed. Apparently I am not alone; I’ve noticed in the last two years that the audience is definitely expanding and becoming more diverse. No longer is it entirely a sea of Indian couples in their 40s and 50s (although they are still in the majority at the more classical Indian performances), but I’ve also spotted indie hipsters of all shades, wealthier white couples, and a generally younger audience. The reason I so look forward to this yearly event is that there is a definite paucity of Indian music events in the downtown area throughout the rest of the year; the bhangra beats and classical performances are more likely to be caught in Scarborough or Brampton these days, which I assume is the consequence of the larger South Asian and West Indian populations in those areas.

Here’s a rundown of the musical events. Please note that this is part of the larger festivities throughout May for Asian Heritage Month, which I will do another post on shortly. Some of the following descriptions have been adapted from the Small World site.

Friday April 20, 8 pm, Toronto Centre for the Arts
Shivkumar Sharma and Zakir Hussain
A festival ‘warm-up’, this is classical Indian music performed by two musicians of the highest caliber; a very highly anticipated concert, tickets are almost gone for this one. Sharma is largely responsible for bringing the Kashmiri instrument the santoor to both the broader Indian audience and across the world. Hussain is known worldwide not only for his tabla skills, but has also been called the chief architect of the world music movement.

April 29, 9 pm, Lula Lounge
This group is new to me, but this Vancouver-based ensemble sounds like true global fusion. Their sound is inspired by the folk and classical music of India and Bangladesh, and draws upon the wealth of musical traditions from China, the Middle East, Africa, and the West. Bonus: playing with Stephen Kent, who gives the Didjeridu a modern twist.

Thursday May 3, 9 pm, Lula Lounge
Bollywood Fever
The official kick-off to the festival, this evening is a Bollywood-themed feast of the senses put forth by some of Toronto's most talented South Asian and global-groove friendly artists, artisans and musicians, such as Gurpreet Chana, Sundar Viswanathan (who also teaches a Bollywood music course at York which I’ll be taking this summer!), Devika Mathur, The TC Raas Band, The Bollywood Dance Pak and DJ Medicineman.

Sunday May 6, 9 pm, Lula Lounge
Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan
I fell in love with the haunting beauty of gamelan music several years ago while in Indonesia, and haven’t looked back since. Whenever I hear this Toronto-based ensemble I can almost feel negative energies falling away. Bonus: this year is especially exciting because they are joined by two of my favourite vocalists: Suba Sankaran and Maryem Tollar. Not to be missed.

Saturday May 12, 8 pm, Enwave Theatre at Harbourfront
Kiran Ahluwalia
Kiran has made quite a name for herself over the last few years, and like so many Canadian artists, is now based in New York. I caught a performance of hers last year, and was astounded by the sheer power and range of her voice. Her ghazals are unparalleled, and she does indo-folk fusion better than most. May will see the release of her new album Wanderlust.

Friday May 18, 10 pm, Dragonfly
Karsh Kale
The last performance of the festival, this is not to be missed. New York based Kale is one of North America’s foremost indo-drum’n’bass/techno fusion artists. If you like the State of Bengal and other ‘asian underground’ beats, this is the show for you. Described as a mainstay of (one of my fave labels) Six Degrees Records , his music is known for its percussive heaviness and energy.

Image taken by me at last year's Festival of South Asia.
[email this story] Posted by Liza Badaloo on 04/19 at 05:48 PM

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