Year-end concerts offer a sonic sampler of York talent

While it looks like spring might be coming in like a lamb, students in the Department of Music are marking the end of winter term with the musical equivalent of a roar.

More than three dozen concerts, ranging from jazz and gospel to classical, world and contemporary music, are packed into the next few weeks. With both mid-day and evening performances on the playbill – many of them free – this is an excellent opportunity to enjoy a sonic sampler of the remarkable young talent on campus.

The World Music Festival features 15 free concerts over three days, March 11, 12 and 15. Produced by Professor Karen Burke, this cross-cultural celebration tours the globe, spotlighting some of the more than 20 international music traditions represented in York’s world music program.

Above: Members of the York University Gospel Choir prepare for their upcoming concerts on March 26 and 27

Performances take place in three locations in the Accolade East Building: the Martin Family Lounge (MFL), Room 219; the Sterling Beckwith Studio (SBS), Room 235 and the Tribute Communities Recital Hall (TCR), Room 112.

Thursday, March 11

  • 12 to 1pm – Celtic Music Ensemble directed by Professor Sherry Johnson (MFL)
  • 1 to 2:30pm – West African Drums directed by Kwasi Dunyo and Larry Graves (SBS)
  • 2:30 to 4pm – Cuban Music Ensembles directed by Paul Ormandy, Ruben Esguerra and Steve Mancuso (MFL)
  • 4 to 5:30pm – Escola de Samba directed by Rick Lazar (SBS)
  • 5:30 to 7pm – West African Drums directed by Anna Melnikoff (MFL)

Friday, March 12

  • 10 to 11:30am – Caribbean Music Ensemble directed by Gareth & Lindy Burgess (SBS)
  • 11:30am to 12:45pm – West African Drums directed by Isaac Akrong (MFL)
  • 12:45 to 2pm – Chinese Orchestra directed by Kim Chow-Morris (SBS)
  • 2 to 3pm – Klezmer Ensemble directed by Brian Katz (MFL)
  • 3 to 3:30pm – Korean Drum Ensemble directed by Charles Hong (SBS)
  • 4 to 5pm – Japanese Music Ensemble directed by Linda Caplan (SBS)
  • 6 to 6:35pm – Flamenco Guitar Ensemble directed by Roger Scannura (TCR)
  • 6:45 to 7:35pm – Middle Eastern Ensemble directed by Bassam Shahouk (TCR)
  • 7:50 to 9:15pm – Balkan Music Ensemble directed by Irene Markoff (TCR)

Monday, March 15

  • 6 to 7pm – York University World Music Chorus directed by Judith Cohen (SBS)

The York University Concert Choir, Chamber Choir and Men’s Choir step into the spotlight with a free concert in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall on March 16 at 7:30pm. Guest conductor Patricia Wright, the director of music and organist at Toronto’s Metropolitan United Church, shares the baton with graduate students Doug Hammond and Marko Iskric, with piano accompaniment by faculty member Mélisande Sinsoulier. The program features works by Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy, Francis Poulenc, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Randall Thompson and others.

Right: Members of the Korean Drum Ensemble, directed by Charles Hong, practise for their upcoming performance

The York University Jazz Festival showcases rising young talent directed by leading lights of the Canadian jazz scene. With midday and evening performances running four consecutive days, March 22 to 25, the festival offers fans an opportunity to catch the next generation of outstanding jazz artists, right here on campus – and with no cover charge.

With the exception of the jazz choirs, performing in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre (FFT), all jazz fest events take place in the informal, club-like setting of Martin Family Lounge.

Monday, March 22

  • 8 to 10pm – Small Ensembles directed by Frank Falco, Kevin Turcotte, Kelly Jefferson and Jim Vivian 

Tuesday, March 23

  • 12:30pm to 2pm  – Jazz Vocal Ensembles directed by Mike Cadó
  • 7:30 to 8:15pm  – York University Jazz Choirs directed by Bob Hamper and Mim Adams (FFT)
  • 8:30 to 10pm – Small Ensembles directed by Mark Eisenman and Lorne Lofsky 

Wednesday, March 24

  • 12:30 to 2pm – Jazz Vocal Ensembles directed by Frank Falco
  • 8 to 10pm  – Small Ensembles directed by Roy Patterson, Artie Roth, Kevin Turcotte and Kelly Jefferson 

Thursday, March 25

  • 7:30 to 9:30pm – York University Jazz Orchestra directed by Professors Al Henderson and Ron Westray

Rounding out the season are three ticketed concerts taking place in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall.

The York University Gospel Choir takes centre stage Friday, March 26, and Saturday, March 27, at 7:30pm. Renowned gospel singers Amoy Levy and Nicole Sinclair-Anderson will join the choristers under the direction of York’s gospel “powerhouse” Karen Burke. The guest artists will reprise their Juno Award-winning performance of How Sweet the Name (written by Burke), backed by the 100-voice choir. Also on the program are works by Hezekiah Walker, Joseph Pace II, James Hall and other gospel greats.  

The York University Wind Symphony led by Professor William Thomas is joined by the York University Percussion Ensemble directed by John Brownell for The Big Bang on Sunday, March 28, at 3pm. The aptly titled concert features such celestial repertoire as Jupiter, Mars and Venus from Gustav Holst’s suite The Planets; the fanfare from Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss; Julie Giroux’s To Walk With Wings; and Samuel Barber’s Sure on This Shining Night.

The York University Symphony Orchestra offers a grande finale Thursday, April 1, at 7:30pm. Under the baton of Professor Mark Chambers, the orchestra will perform Paul Dukas’ La Peri Fanfare; Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slav; the aria Oh! Quante volet from Bellini’s opera Romeo and Juliet featuring soprano Jessica Scarlato; the first movement from Barber’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra with violin soloist Sarah Davidson-Gurney; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor.

Admission to these three concerts is $15 or $5 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased through the York University Box Office online, by phone at 416-736-5888 or in person.

In addition to the performances highlighted here, there are many other free midday concerts taking place from now until the end of term. Check out the Department of Music events calendar.