Music speaker series ranges from jazz to koto

York’s Department of Music is enriching the academic experience through a series of engaging lectures by some of the best artists in the music industry, talking informally about their art form while offering professional insights into the Canadian music scene.

The new Graduate Program in Music Speaker Series, organized by the program’s director, Professor Michael Coghlan, continues over the next two weeks with four talks.

On March 20, Bassam Shahouk, who directs York University’s Middle Eastern Ensemble, is the featured speaker at 12:30pm. A composer, performer and teacher, Shahouk was born in Rama, Galilee, and studied at the Robin Conservatory for Middle Eastern Music in Haifa and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he taught Arabic music. Since immigrating to Canada in 2001, he has continued to devote himself to traditional Arabic music through lectures, demonstrations and performances. While Shahouk’s master instrument is the oud – the traditional Arabic lute – he also plays the violin, qanoun, saz, buzouq and percussion.

On March 21, Guido Basso will engage listeners with an evening presentation starting at 7:30pm. Trumpeter, flugelhornist, arranger, composer, conductor and harmonica player, the multi-talented Basso will delve into the colourful palette of jazz. Basso was born in Montreal and began playing the trumpet at the age of nine, becoming something of a prodigy while at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal. At the age of 18, he toured with Vic Damone and went on to play and record with such international greats as Louis Bellson, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich and Diana Krall. His 2003 recording, Turn Out the Stars, won a Juno Award. He was named to the Order of Canada in 1994.

On March 28, the featured guest is Linda Kakõ Caplan, director of York’s Japanese music ensemble and a master performer and teacher of koto, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument. She will give an illustrated talk at 2:30 pm on the music of koto and shamisen, a traditional Japanese lute. Caplan holds the prestigious rank of Shihan (Master) from Japan’s Ikuta-ryu Chikushikai Koto School – the sole Canadian in the school’s 60-plus-year history to be honoured, and the school’s only representative in Canada. The stage name Kakõ, which Caplan uses when performing, was bestowed by the head of the school. This rare distinction recognizes her unique talent and knowledge.

On March 29, Ayhan Erol, a musicologist with Dokuz Eylul University in Turkey, rounds out the series with a talk at 2:30pm about traditional Turkish music.

All presentations in the speaker series take place in Room 373 in the Accolade East Building. The talks are free and open to music students and enthusiasts in the wider community.