Women from Space Festival lands in Toronto this March
TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2023 – Toronto’s Women From Space festival has a reputation as one of the city’s more imaginative events for various forms of experimental music from pop to free improvisation, and from noise to contemporary composition. Celebrating its 5th anniversary from March 8th to 11th, 2023—the weekend following International Women’s Day—the festival celebrates adventurous music and gender diversity. They’ll be filling 918 Bathurst (home of the Music Gallery) with their most exhilarating program yet, and they’ve gathered an exceptional pool of boundary-pushing talent to mark the big occasion.
One of the many highlights this year is the brilliant Danish saxophonist Lotte Anker, who will be visiting the festival to perform in a trio alongside acclaimed American pianist Craig Taborn and storied drum dynamo Chris Corsano. None other than the Guardian once enthused of Anker’s playing: “Anker’s rich saxophone palette takes in skimming falsetto sounds like Evan Parker’s, but she also has a soulfully desolate quaver that recalls Albert Ayler, and a sense of narrative drama that keeps her in compelling motion between ghostly impressionistic effects and brusquely percussive exclamations.”
The festival will also be offering a sneak preview of a new recording of vocal works by legendary Canadian experimentalist and instrument inventor Gayle Young featuring Montréal singer Sarah Albu, due out later this year on Farpoint Recordings.
Within the past few years, vocalist Amirtha Kidambi has risen to international prominence, collaborating with the likes of Mary Halvorsen, Lea Bertucci, Charlie Looker in a vast array of different projects. At Women From Space she’ll be presenting her duo with saxophonist Darius Jones, Angels & Demons, which is based on the cosmological writings by iconic composer and bandleader Sun Ra. They’re co-presented by Montréal’s Suoni Per Il Popolo.
Also featured is the duo of two revered improvisers and chairs of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), former chair, flutist Nicole Mitchell, and current chair, percussionist Coco Elysses. Virtuoso Aiyun Huang will give a program of contemporary percussion works by celebrated composers Zosha Di Castri, David Bithell and Chris Mercer.
The New York Times’ Ben Ratliff once touted enigmatic vocalist and composer Judith Berkson as “an imperious talent.” An alumnus of ECM Records, Berkson will be coming to Toronto for a rare solo appearance with voice and electronics in a co-production with the Canadian Music Centre‘s CMC Presents series.
Los Angeles-based vocalist and composer Micaela Tobin has been crafting bold, daring work under the pseudonym White Boy Scream. The project dissects her operatic and extended vocal techniques through the use of electronics, oscillating between extreme textures of noise, drone, and operatic sound walls, garnering praise everywhere from the New Yorker to the Wire.
Acclaimed composer and sound-artist Seylon Stills offers an interdisciplinary collaboration with dancer Bee Pallomina and puppeteer/ polymath Kristine White. The ubiquitous Karen Ng—an unbelievably versatile saxophonist who has worked with everyone from the GRAMMY-nominated Lido Pimienta to Seth Graham and More Eaze’s —__–___ joins Dutch guitarist Jasper Stadhouders (Dave Rempis, Jaap Blonk, Ken Vandermark) for what promises to be riveting spontaneous exchanges. Meanwhile, the festival’s very own Bea Labikova presents her solo endeavour Mount Joy, an otherworldly, contemplative winds-driven affair.
Heidi Chan—noted for their performances on bamboo flutes, modular synthesizers and electronics—will be joining percussionist Naoko Tsujita for what promises to be a wonderously atmospheric improvised set. Meanwhile Mo:delic Arts, AKA Vanese Smith, known for her musical productions as Pursuit Grooves, will be augmenting the duo’s exchanges with live visuals.
And, in the spirit of celebration, festival artistic directors Bea Labikova and Kayla Milmine have assembled BIG BANG! a large ensemble featuring some of Toronto’s greatest exploratory performers. The group features Christine Duncan (of Element Choir infamy) and a rendition of Aruna Handa‘s evocative work “Have You Seen My Sister?” and includes local lights such as Karen Ng, Tara Kannangara, Heather Saumer, Naomi McCarroll-Butler, Liz Lima, Anh Phung, Meghan Cheng, Racha Moukalled, Yunjin Claire Lee, Mira Riselli, Diane Roblin, Allison Cameron, Yang Chen, Angelica Zavala, Laura Swankey, and Annie Elgie.
Tickets to the event are $15 for each night and $45 for all four concerts. The full schedule can be found on their official site alongside more information about each of the artists.
Just the Details
Women From Space Festival
MARCH 8th-11th, 2023 at 918 Bathurst St. (aka the Music Gallery)
Tickets and Passes: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/women-from-space-festival-5th-anniversary-early-bird-passes-tickets-516246295567
Official Website: https://www.womenfromspace.com/
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