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Moving Forward

Well this is weird. Usually at this time of year we’d be making final preparations for the annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival. I’d be writing blog posts about the various acts appearing at the Festival. And we’d have started the weather watch.

But of course this year everything is different. As you’ve already seen and heard, all concerts planned for Festival time have been either cancelled or postponed. (I was especially disappointed to have to postpone the four TD Discovery Series Special Projects concerts – they were going to be good ones!) And until there is more clarity over public gatherings and the use of concert venues, we’re not exactly sure when we’ll be able to reschedule our various events.

I’ve tried over these past few months to not spend too much time on “what could have been.” There were some acts I was particularly excited to present at this year’s Festival, and some enhancements we were excited to introduce. And, frankly, the current situation in the arts sector is bleak. However, we have a great team, and are thankful to have strong support from government funders, sponsors and foundations, despite the lack of our usual activity this year – we’re doing our best to remain optimistic about our eventual return to regular programming.

In the meantime, we’ve been working on how best to support local musicians – ideally in ways that are somehow different from the activity we’ve seen online during this time of isolation. (And kudos to those musicians who have made the leap to online presentation – it’s a steep learning curve, and it’s been fun to see the creative solutions many have developed.)

Tomorrow we make our first real foray into online concert presentation through a collaboration with the fine folks at Act4Music, a new organization (based in Philadelphia and Nashville, but taking a borderless approach to programming) seeking to drive audience development for creative music. Their first major undertaking, the Act4Music Festival, began in April and wraps with our concert tomorrow.

The Act4Music platform interests me for several reasons. Each day of the Festival, a different curator has assembled at least four acts into a two-hour concert presentation. Sets are recorded in advance to ensure best possible audio and video quality (i.e. these are not livestreamed concerts), and concerts are archived on the Act4Music music website to ensure greater access. And access to concerts is by donation, generating revenue for the participating musicians. Plus the list of curators and performers who have participated is impressive – we are pleased to be involved!

For our concert, aptly named “The TD Toronto Jazz Festival presents”, I’ve selected the following artists to perform (roughly 24 minutes each):

• Trumpeter Lina Allemano with Michael Smith as the duo BLOOP
• Singer, performer and educator Alex Samaras, performing solo
• The duo of pianist Adrean Farrugia and vocalist Sophia Perlman
• Drummer Sarah Thawer, who brings influences of Bollywood, funk and jazz to her solo set
• Pianist Michael Shand in a trio with Marito Marques and Ross MacIntyre

These are some of Canada’s most exciting jazz musicians. They are all first call performers and educators, and have all made a mark on the local, national and international jazz scenes – I’m looking forward to seeing how their sets have all come together!

The concert broadcasts on Saturday June 13 at 2 pm EST, then will be available to watch anytime until July 12. As mentioned above, admission is pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $15 and a minimum donation of $5. For more information and to access the concert, visit the Act4Music website.

We miss everything about this time of year – the outstanding local, national and international musicians performing at the Festival; the joy of seeing live music outside in the glorious summer weather; and all of the fantastic fans and supporters. We look forward to seeing you as soon as we’re able. Until then, stay safe, be well, and watch out for more announcements soon!

Josh

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