Music professors spread the word about their research

The research and creative work of York music professors spans a wide range of genres and media formats. Disseminated through recordings, print publications and live performances, it’s reaching growing audiences at home and around the world.

Composer and choral conductor Professor Stephanie Martin (left), who serves as music director of Toronto’s historic Church of St. Mary Magdalene, is celebrating the publication of five new choral compositions. Ave Verum Corpus, a song for unaccompanied choir, was recently published by Vancouver-based Cypress Choral Music. Martin directed the Gallery Choir of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in a performance of the work at the choir’s home church in Toronto and Calvin Presbyterian Church in Kitchener on April 30 and May 1, respectively. Ave Verum Corpus will be heard again later this month, having been selected for inclusion in the performance repertoire of Podium 2010, Canada’s Choral Conference taking place in Saskatoon May 20 to 23.

Martin’s other recent composition publications include Kontakion, an unaccompanied choral piece on a text from the Greek Orthodox liturgy, also released by Cypress; God so Loved the World for choir, oboe and flute, and O sacrum convivium, a Latin communion motet for unaccompanied choir, released by Hamilton’s UtReMi Edition; and Drop, Slow Tears, a choral work set to a text by the 17th-century poet Phineas Fletcher, released by Victoria’s Fairbank Music Publishing.

York’s Grammy Award-winning “rock ’n’ roll professor”, ethnomusicologist Professor Rob Bowman (right), has added another release to his long list of popular music reissues. His latest production, British Invasion, is a 5-DVD boxed set documenting some of the legendary rock artists and greatest hits of the 1960s. Bowman associate-produced the series for Reelin’ in the Years Productions, home of the world’s largest library of music footage. Joining a chorus of critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, the Toronto Star’s Greg Quill hailed the DVD series as “a well-researched and expertly curated package.”

The set includes four titles: Dusty Springfield – Once Upon A Time 1964-1969, Small Faces – All Or Nothing 1965-1968, Gerry & The Pacemakers – It’s Gonna Be All Right 1963-1965, and Herman’s Hermits – Listen People 1964-1969, plus a bonus disc with additional content from the same artists. Rare concert and archival interview footage of the performers in their prime is accompanied by recent interviews that Bowman researched and conducted with Peter Noone (of Herman’s Hermits), Gerry Marsden (Gerry & The Pacemakers), Kenney Jones (The Who and Small Faces) and Ian McLagan (Small Faces), among others.

Bowman attended the launch party for the United States release hosted by the British Consulate General in Manhattan on April 8. While in New York, he got a head start on his next DVD project, conducting a three-hour interview with Graham Nash of The Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Future plans include a trip to England to do more interviews with members of The Hollies and The Pretty Things.

Bowman’s writing also graces the liner notes of two timely CD releases: Canadian blues artist Colin Linden’s recently re-issued debut LP Sad & Beautiful World, and an upcoming recording by soul singer Bettye LaVette.

On the jazz front, music Professor Sundar Viswanathan (right) released his latest CD with Sundary Quartet, titled What A Dream I Had…  at a standing-room only event at Chalkers Pub in Toronto earlier this season. A collection of jazz standards, the disc features Viswanathan on vocals and saxophone, with York instructor Adrean Farrugia and Dave Restivo on piano, George Koller on bass and Larnell Lewis on drums. Toronto Star jazz columnist Ashante Infantry described Viswanathan’s vocals on the CD as “a cross between Kurt Elling and Chet Baker” and complimented his performance of the material as “as commanding live as recorded.”

Master percussionist Professor Trichy Sankaran is launching his new book, The Art of Konnakkol, on May 27 with a free concert at Toronto’s Music Gallery. The concert starts at 8pm and will feature Sankaran in performance with members of the Indo-jazz fusion band Autorickshaw and other special guests.

The Art of Konnakkol is an authoritative text on the rich tradition of rhythmic spoken syllables of south Indian drumming. The spoken syllables, called konnakko or solkattu, are onomatopoeic to the mrdangam, the two-headed drum of south Indian classical music, on which Sankaran is a virtuoso performer. The spoken syllables can be performed as a call and response to the drum, or simultaneously with the drum beats.

Sankaran’s book, which is accompanied by a CD, outlines in detail the principal rhythmic concepts of this dynamic spoken art form. It can be used as a study guide and will be of benefit to a wide variety of artists, from percussionists and vocalists to composers and dancers, and anyone seeking a greater understanding of rhythm and musical time.