Click on the artist’s name for a shortcut to their profile…or simply scroll down and read about each one!
|Mark Takeshi McGregor
|Willy Miles Grenzberg
|Borealis String Quartet
Sarah Albu is an experimental vocalist, composer and performance-maker based in Montreal. Her background in theatre and obsession with science fiction feed quirky and darkly comedic imagined worlds. She has been an invited performer and artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the National Arts Centre of Canada, the Koumaria Residency in Sellasia Sparta, Greece, and numerous festivals across Canada, Europe/Scandinavia, the US and Mexico. She holds an MMus from the Conservatory of the Hague where her research focused on voice, embodiment, technology and interdisciplinary storytelling.
Equally active as an improvisor, new music soloist, and chorister, she gleefully lends her voice to settings ranging from 15th century polyphony to noise and psychedelic rock. Her first album was released independently in 2013, featuring 8 commissions for solo voice. Recent highlights include a staged Pierrot Lunaire with Montreal’s Ensemble Paramirabo, a residency and performance with her group Rokkur at the St. John’s International Sound Symposium and solo roles in the premières of Gabriel Dharmoo’s chamber opera À chaque ventre son monstre and Charles Quevillon/Tedd Robinson’s collaborative dance-opera Love and Other Things. She is a founding member of the experimental vocal collective Phth. An avid knitter, environmentalist and folk dancer, her recent work explores the effects of rapidly developing technology on our bodies and lives through a mix of curiosity and nostalgia.
Vimeo: performance of a mini-opera composed by Rita Ueda
– recent performance of Sarah’s duo Riot Pousse:
– performance with Jeff Stonehouse:
Bansuri / featured composer
Neelamjit Dhillon is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Vancouver, Neelamjit is skilled in both North Indian classical and American jazz music. His music is a reflection of his own multifaceted identity, spirituality, and vision for promoting a more equitable and just society through shared experience and collective action.
Neelamjit’s primary instruments are the tabla, saxophone, and bansuri. He has played tabla since the age of 10 and continues to study the instrument under the tutelage of world-renowned maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain. Neelamjit has performed around the world at prestigious events and festivals in locales such as Somalia, India, Brazil, Europe, the United States, and Canada.
Instagram & Twitter: @neelamjitmusic
ABOUT THE BANSURI
A bansuri is a side blown flute made of bamboo, originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the most common instruments in the North Indian or Hindustani classical music tradition. A bansuri is traditionally made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. Some modern designs come in ivory, fiberglass and various metals. The six-hole instrument covers two and a half octaves of music. The bansuri is typically between 30 centimetres (12 in) and 75 centimetres (30 in) in length, and the thickness of a human thumb. One end is closed, and few centimeters from the closed end is its blow hole. Longer bansuris feature deeper tones and lower pitches. The traditional design features no mechanical keys, and the musician creates the notes he wants by tapping the various finger holes.
WILLY MILES GRENZBERG
Willy has performed across Canada and the US with the Canadian Opera Company, Vancouver Opera, the Elmer Iseler Singers, and many other ensembles. He appears regularly with Vancouver Opera, performing both chorus and solo roles. He is also an accomplished singer/songwriter and is available for hire for events.
Willy has a degree in vocal performance and guitar from Wilfrid Laurier University. He offers vocal coaching, singing lessons for people of all ages and abilities. He also offers guitar instruction for singers and songwriters.
Bic Hoang is a vocalist, arranger and multi-instrumentalist who specializes on the danbau and a number of very rare instruments from Vietnam’s rural and mountainous regions, including the t’rung (bamboo xylophone), k’longput (percussion tubles), and koni. Bic has toured internationally both as a solo artist and with Khac Chi Bamboo Music. She graduated with honors from the Hanoi National Conservatory of Music in 1987, and was immediately invited to return as an instructor. Although teaching full time, Bic remained an active performer, and was the first woman to receive the First Prize for dan bau in the 1988 Vietnam Competition of Professional Instrumentalists. In 1989, she won the Golden Award at International Folk Festival of World Youth 13th in North Korea; she is also credited with being the first woman to perform on the Koni. Since moving to Canada in 1992, Bic has taught Vietnamese music and instruments at the University of British Columbia. She performs with a number of World Music and New Music artists, including the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra.
ABOUT THE DAN BAU
The danbau is a one-stringed zither native to Vietnam. It is constructed of a long narrow sound box with a tall curved stem made from water buffalo horn inserted at one end. A string is stretched between one end of the sound box and the stem. By plucking the string at harmonic nodes and by bending the stem to and fro, more than 3 octaves of pitches are produced, rendering a high, clear sound.
Geling is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, who started her professional training at age of 10. After graduated from Wu Han musical Conservatory, she became a member of the Chime Bell Ensemble of Hubei province for 20 years, with which she recorded numerous radio broadcasts, TV programs, and films; and toured to the United States, Japan and Singapore. Trained initially as a sanxian (three-string fretless lute) player, she also regularly plays the zheng, pipa and ruan.
ABOUT THE SANXIAN
The sanxian (pronunciation: san’ – shee – an) is long necked fretless lute with three strings. In Chinese, “san” means three and “xian” means strings. The resonating body is made of a round wooden box covered with snake skin, just like an erhu. The instrument is played with a plectrum and is widely used to accompany singing.
MARK TAKESHI MCGREGOR
Canadian flutist Mark Takeshi McGregor enjoys a rich and diverse career as a leading performer of classical and avant-garde music. Recent engagements include the 2017 ISCM World New Music Days (Vancouver), Innovations en Concert (Montreal), Athelas New Music Festival (Copenhagen), Internationale ADEvantgarde-Festival (Munich), the Melos-Ethos Festival (Bratislava), and Núcleo Música Nova’s 2016 International Symposium of New Music in Curitiba, Brazil. An advocate of new music for the flute, Mark has commissioned and premiered dozens of new works, including concerti, chamber music, and solo works. McGregor earned his DMA from the University of British Columbia in 2012 and holds additional degrees from the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (Australia). He teaches at the Vancouver Academy of Music.
Adrian Verdejo is a Mexican classical guitarist living in Vancouver. He performs as a soloist and with the Victoria Guitar Trio. Adrian has also played with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Turning Point, Aventa Ensemble and many more. Adrian Verdejo is a Classical Guitar instructor at the Vancouver Community College School of Music. Born to a musical family in Regina, Saskatchewan, Adrian Verdejo began studying the guitar at a young age. He received a Master of Music degree from the University of Ottawa a BMus from the University of Victoria, and a Music Diploma from Capilano University. He studied with guitarists Patrick Roux, Dr. Alexander Dunn, and Stephen Boswell. Adrian Verdejo performs many works spanning the guitar repertoire and has commissioned and premiered several new pieces. Verdejo’s debut solo album, Modern Hearts, was listed in the Top Albums of 2014 by Vancouver’s The Georgia Straight. Adrian is a regular performer for Health Arts Society Concerts in Care, he is also member of the board of directors for Redshift Music Society. www.adrianverdejo.com
Formed in 2016, the McGregor-Verdejo Duo performs new and historic works for flute and guitar. The Duo is particularly committed to the music of our time, fostering new work, and challenging the preconceived notions of contemporary performance practice. The duo is currently developing a project of commissioning and recording new works by Japanese, Mexican, and Canadian composers, reflecting their cultural heritages. The upcoming season will see the duo travelling to Morelia, Mexico to participate in a week of workshops and performances of new works at the Centro Mexicano para la Música y las Artes Sonoras (CMMAS).
Yuji Nakagawa is a Japanese-born sarangi player who is one of the senior-most disciples of the late Pt. Dhruba Ghosh. Yuji learned from his guru for over 12 years, in the rigorous guru-shishya parampara, supported in part by an ICCR scholarship from 2009-2015. His initial months of training in the sarangi were in Varanasi, from senior sarangi master Ustad Faiyaz Ali Khan. He also received some technical guidance from Shri Sangeet Mishra.
Yuji has performed extensively as a soloist, and has also accompanied many eminent Hindustani classical musicians. He has performed solo sarangi recitals across India, and has given solo and ensemble performances in countries including Thailand, Singapore, the Netherlands and his home country Japan. Yuji’s performances have been received with critical acclaim, and he has also received awards and scholarships for his music, including at the 2016 Swar Sadhna Samiti and 2017 Osaka International Music Competition.
– https://youtu.be/S6P-7EFQa8g (Interview and sarangi demonstration (for sarangi solo, accompaniment for Hindustani vocal and tabla solo) at Shaale studio in Bangalore, India.
ABOUT THE SARANGI
The sarangi is a bowed, short-necked string instrument from the Indian subcontinent, which is used in Punjabi dhadi music and Hindustani classical music. It is said to most resemble the sound of the human voice – able to imitate vocal ornaments such as gamaks (shakes) and meends (sliding movements). Carved from a single block of tun (red cedar) wood, the sarangi has a box-like shape with three hollow chambers: pet (stomach), chaati (chest) and magaj (brain). It is usually around 2 feet (0.61 m) long and around 6 inches (150 mm) wide. The lower resonance chamber or pet is covered with parchment made out of goat skin on which a strip of thick leather is placed around the waist (and nailed on the back of the chamber) which supports the elephant-shaped bridge that is made of camel or buffalo bone usually (made of ivory or Barasingha bone originally but now that is rare due to the ban in India). The bridge in turn supports the huge pressure of approximately 35–37 sympathetic steel or brass strings and three main gut strings that pass through it. The three main playing strings – the comparatively thicker gut strings – are bowed with a heavy horsehair bow and stopped not with the fingertips but with the nails, cuticles, and surrounding flesh.
Koto, bass koto
Miyama is one of the leading young lights of Tokyo’s contemporary music scene. Performing contemporary works, improvisation and original music, she is on a constant stylistic quest to fuse ancient traditions with new ideas that are relevant to the present day. Miyama trained with Satsuki Odamura and Kazue Sawai. She has a Masters in music from Tokyo University of the Arts, and is a 2018 grantee for the Asian Cultural Council New York Fellowship. As her free expressive style has gained recognition, she has performed with artists visiting Japan from all around the globe, and has been an invited guest of festivals such as the Global Soundscapes Festival and Powell Street Festival in Canada, Tokyo Jazz Festival, Melbourne International Arts Festival and Mapping Melbourne. Ensembles she has performed with include the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, Australian Art Orchestra and Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. In recent years she has collaborated with composers from various countries, to create music for the koto in a style and soundscape that has never before been explored. She took part in IMPULS Academy & Festival in Austria as a bass koto performer, where she performed improvisation, and premiered many new works written for bass koto.
ABOUT THE KOTO
The koto (琴) is a Japanese stringed musical instrument derived from the Chinese zheng, and similar to the Mongolian yatga, the Korean gayageum, and the Vietnamese đàn tranh. The koto is the national instrument of Japan. Koto are about 180 centimetres (71 in) length, and made from kiri wood (Paulownia tomentosa). They have 13 strings that are usually strung over 13 movable bridges along the width of the instrument. There is also a 17-string variant. Players can adjust the string pitches by moving the white bridges before playing. To play the instrument, the strings are plucked using three finger picks (thumb, index finger, and middle finger).
Naomi began her musical career as a saxophonist, graduating from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1998. She completed the next phase of her saxophone studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 2002, where she also studied improvisation and composition. Naomi is the Semi Finalist of the 2nd International Adolphe Sax Concours in Dinant (1998), and the 3rd prize winner of Saxophonewettbewerb Gustav Bunke in Hannover (1999). She studied the saxophone with Nobuya Sugawa (Tokyo), Arno Bornkamp (Amsterdam) and Claude Delangle (Paris).
She studied the Sho (Japanese traditional mouth organ) with Ko Ishikawa at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. She has collaborated with many composers, and has performed with Ives Ensemble, Aurelia Saxophone Quartet, Nieuw Ensemble (Netherlands), Fontana Mix Ensemble, Xenia Ensemble (Italy), Diotima Quartet (France), Ensemble Resonance (Germany), Shonoritie Ensemble (UK), Ensemble PHACE (Austria), Ictus Ensemble, B’Rock (Belgium), Prague Modern (Czech), New Music Network Philadelphia, N-JP project(U.S.) and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (Canada). She is the resident Sho player with Atlas Ensemble (Amsterdam, Netherlands), and gives regular workshops for Atlas Academy.
– Naomi demonstrates the sho (Atlas Academy): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUpr1F1dZt0
ABOUT THE SHO
The shō (笙) is a Japanese free reed musical instrument that was introduced from China during the Nara period (AD 710 to 794). It is descended from the Chinese sheng,[ although the shō tends to be smaller in size. It consists of 17 slender bamboo pipes, each of which is fitted in its base with a metal free reed. Two of the pipes are silent, although research suggests that they were used in some music during the Heian period. The instrument’s sound is said to imitate the call of a phoenix, and it is for this reason that the two silent pipes of the shō are kept—as an aesthetic element, making two symmetrical “wings”. Like the Chinese sheng, the pipes are tuned carefully with a drop of wax. As moisture collected in the shō’s pipes prevents it from sounding, performers can be seen warming the instrument over a small charcoal brazier when they are not playing. The instrument produces sound when the player’s breath is inhaled or exhaled, allowing long periods of uninterrupted play. The shō is one of the three primary woodwind instruments used in gagaku, Japan’s imperial court music. Its traditional playing technique in gagaku involves the use of tone clusters called aitake (合竹), which move gradually from one to the other, providing accompaniment to the melody.
Harrie Starreveld studied flute at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. In 1978 he was a winner of the International Gaudeamus Competition for contemporary music. Today Harrie Starreveld is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading specialists in contemporary flute music, working with many composers including Elliot Carter, Franco Donati, Brian Ferneyhough, Isang Yun, Pierre Boulez, George Crumb. He is a member of the Nieuw Ensemble and Atlas Ensemble from the Netherlands. Together with René Eckhardt and bass-clarinetist extraordinaire Harry Sparnaay he forms Het Trio. As a soloist he has performed the flute concertos of Donatoni (Puppenspiel), J. Schwantnner, P. Boulez, P. Schoenfield, L.Berio, A. Jolivet, C.Nielsen and I. Ibert. He regularly performs for Dutch radio and television and has given recitals in America, China, Australia, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and many countries in Europe. Since 1980, Starreveld has been professor of flute at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam and Bremen, and regularly gives masterclasses in Spain, Austria, England, Taiwan, Korea, Belgium, Estland and the U.S.A. Harrie also specialises in the Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute). He did his Zen study with Ikkei Hanada.
– Harrie demonstrates the Shakuhachi (Atlas Academy): https://youtu.be/J70m_GAFWHQ
– “Le mode l’envers” with Johan Luijmes (organ): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5akfYpWur4
– Janacek Trio, “Overgrown path”: https://vimeo.com/202370781
ABOUT THE SHAKUHACHI
The Shakuhachi is an end-blown notched bamboo flute from Japan. The modern standard version has four finger holes and one thumb hole. Originally imported from China by the early 8th century, it reappeared around the 15th century in a Japanized form and has since come to be used in several quite diverse types of music: meditative solos, small ensemble pieces, folksong, and modern works by both Japanese and foreign composers.
BOREALIS STRING QUARTET
One of the most dynamic and exciting world-class ensembles of its generation, the Borealis String Quartet has received international critical acclaim as an ensemble praised for its fiery performances, passionate style, and refined, musical interpretation. Founded in Vancouver, British Columbia in the fall of 2000 and rapidly establishing a stellar reputation, the Borealis has toured extensively in North America Europe and Asia and performed to enthusiastic sold-out audiences in major cities, including New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Rome, Mainz, Shanghai, Taipei, Beijing, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and, of course, in their home town of Vancouver.
The Borealis has continued to receive awards and rave accolades from presenters, renowned musicians and critics alike for their artistry. The Borealis was the only classical group to be selected for the Great Canadian Dream Competition which was televised across the nation and as a result, were the only classical musicians to perform for the Prime Minister of Canada at the Parliament Hill in Ottawa for an audience of over 75,000. Since then, they have performed on every music series in Canada. Amongst other awards, their most recent CD was also nominated for the prestigious Golden Melody Award in Asia.
The quartet is frequently seen on television and heard on CBC Radio and other stations across North America and Asia. The Borealis has also filmed music videos including “The Harp” which were debuted at the Vancouver International Film Festival and often broadcast on Bravo Television and the Knowledge Network. Exploring a synergy of classical, fusion, folk and world music, the Borealis has recorded seven CDs which feature the great classics as well as music written especially for them.
Although the Borealis feels strongly committed to the great traditional quartet literature, they actively seek to promote new works and are strong advocates of Canadian music, with quartets by R. Murray Schafer, Omar Daniels, John Stetch and Peter Tiefenbach among others in their repertory. They have also worked closely with and commissioned music from Bramwell Tovey, Imant Raminsh, Kelly-Marie Murphy, and John Oliver to name a few.
In addition to performance, the Borealis has frequently served as jury members for competitions and most recently at the 2012 E-Gre National Competition. The Borealis was the String Quartet-in-Residence at the University of British Columbia for over 10 years and as Visiting Scholars at Green College from 2000-2004 during whcih time they often performed for dignitaries including the Dalai Lama. They have also been invited to be the Quartet in Residence at numerous festivals and universities across North America, Mexico, Europe and Asia. From 2012, the Borealis has been the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy. The Borealis is on faculty and acts as the Quartet in Residence at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and at the Langley Community Music School (LCMS).
The Borealis String Quartet would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Canada Council and the BC Arts Council. We are grateful for the financial assistance given to further our artistic ambitions and vision as well as enable us bring Canadian music and culture to audiences abroad.