York’s World Music Festival offers a global showcase

Musical traditions from around the globe will be showcased this week during York University’s World Music Festival. Featuring a cross-cultural kaleidoscope of music, the festival runs for three days, Nov. 7 to 9, in the Recital Hall, Accolade East Building on York’s Keele campus.

Produced by York ethnomusicologist and multi-instrumentalist Rob Simms (right), the festival offers performances daily at midday, from 12:30 to 1:30pm, and every evening starting at 7:30pm. Each of the concerts will highlight some of the dozen musical styles that are part of the Music Department’s world music program.

On Nov. 7, at 12:30pm, the Middle Eastern Ensemble, directed by Bassam Shahouk; the Klezmer Ensemble directed by Brian Katz; and the Balkan Music Ensemble directed by Irene Markoff take centre stage. 

At 7:30pm, the festival travels to East Asia with performances by the Chinese Orchestra directed by Kim Chow Morris (left); the Japanese Music Ensemble directed by Linda Caplan; and the Korean Drum Ensemble directed by Charles Hong

On Nov. 8, several distinct musical genres come together. The 12:30pm concert features students performing Afro-American piano music including ragtime and blues directed by Catherine Wilson. They will be followed by the lyrical sounds of the Celtic Ensemble directed by Sherry Johnson; and the dynamic Guitar Ensemble directed by renowned flamenco guitarist Roger Scannura (right).

Cuban music ensembles directed by Paul Ormandy, Ruben Esguerra and Rick Lazar take to the stage at 7:30pm, offering engaging  repertoire shaped by the music of Europe, Latin America and American pop music and jazz.
The memorable sounds of steel pan flow through the Recital Hall on Nov. 9 at 12:30pm when the Caribbean Music ensemble directed by Lindy Burgess performs, followed by the pulsating rhythms of Brazilian samba music provided by the Escola de Samba directed by Rick Shadrach Lazar (left).

As a spirited finale, the festival presents the West African drum ensemble at 7:30pm. Featuring captivating songs and rhythms of Ghana and Guinea, the ensembles are directed by Kwasi Dunyo, Larry Graves and Anna Melnikoff.

York University pioneered university-level studies in world music in Canada, and continues to be a national leader in the field. Simms, who joined the faculty in 2000, is a renowned ethnomusicologist with a specialization in world music techniques and styles. His training includes Persian setar (classical lute), Japanese shakuhachi (flute), South Indian mrdangam (drum), Ghanaian Ewe drumming, Arabic ‘ud (classical lute), ney (flute), riqq (frame drum), Flamenco guitar, and Gambian kora and kutiro drumming. Simms has also performed professionally as a rock guitarist and jazz pianist, and as accompanist with several dance and theatre companies.