Soundstreams Salon 21 at Toronto Public Library

February 26, 2016 | Miriam

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Soundstreams is one of the most exciting contemporary music companies around -- and not just in Toronto. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney, Soundstreams is internationally renowned for creating unique musical experiences, combining performance with discussion and audience participation through their Salon 21 series.

This winter and spring, Toronto Public Library has the good fortune to play host to this remarkable series.  Not everyone is handy to The Gardiner Museum, home to their regular Salon 21 series, or to Massey Hall and other centrally-located major venues for their main stage series. So the Toronto Public Library and Soundstreams, with the support of the Toronto Arts Council, are bringing Salon 21 to the rest of the city! 

If you weren't paying attention, you would have missed Squeezebox, a delightful accordion virtuoso performance at Victoria Village a couple of weeks ago. But there is a lot more to come, so read on.

Electric Counterpoint!


Electric Counterpoint

At the Fairview Theatre on March 10, 7 pm, treat yourself to some ear candy! Electric Counterpoint is a delightful tour of minimalist music. This form is characterized by the repetition of short phrases that change gradually, producing a hypnotic effect. From techno to jazz, it can be heard in numerous genres and styles around the world and has inspired artists as diverse as Radiohead, David Bowie, Lou Reed and DJ Spooky.

Steve Reich and Michael Snow at the Appel Salon


Steve Reich.

In April, Toronto Public Library audiences have a unique opportunity to hear world renowned American composer Steve Reich and Canadian artist Michael Snow in conversation with CBC Radio’s Sook-Yin Lee. This will be at the Appel Salon, April 12, 7-8 pm. Tickets go on sale on March 19.  Steve Reich is one of the most renowned contemporary composers of our day, with The Village Voice calling him "America's greatest living composer." 

Michael Snow, who hails from Toronto, is known internationally as a painter, sculptor, filmmaker, musician, author and pioneer of conceptualist and ground-breaking multimedia art forms. Snow's work can be seen in the collections of such prestigious galleries as the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, New York's Museum of Modern Art and many others.

Flight Stop
Photographer: Simon Law (Creative Commons)

Snow is, famously, the creator of Flight Stop, the stunning sculpture of Canada geese that soars through the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. This work was actually the subject of a lawsuit (which Snow won). At Christmas in 1981, Eaton Centre management, for some bizarre reason, put red ribbons around the necks of the geese. This beautiful sculpture's integrity was, according to the decision, "distorted, mutilated or otherwise modified" and Michael Snow won the case. 

Clapping Music

Learn a popular piece of minimalist music and make musical history! Join us as at the Parkdale Branch Auditorium on Wednesday, April 20, 7 pm and get in on the act -- perform Steve Reich’s Clapping Music in an 80-person ensemble in celebration of his 80th birthday. All you need is curiosity and the ability to clap your hands -- prepare yourself for some real fun!

Reich explains why he wrote this piece, composed in 1972: "Late in 1971 I composed Clapping Music out of a desire to create a piece of music that would need no instruments at all beyond the human body."


Here's an illustration of the score, signed by Reich. There were no smart phones back then, but today, you can get a Clapping Music app and teach yourself Reich's music. It's a great way to learn rhythm, too. 

The Sounds and Influence of South Asian Music

The Salon 21 series wraps up at the library's beautiful new Scarborough Civic Centre branch on May 26, 7-8 pm, with a wonderful program featuring Gurpreet Chana (pictured below) on Tabla and electronics. The program was developed especially for this location.  

The music of Asia has long exerted a profound influence on composers and such influences are today the norm, rather than the exception. Join Soundstreams in this contemporary meeting of South Asian and Western musical palettes, and learn how the featured artists weave influences from around the world into their own innovative new works. A future blogpost will explore the work of Gurpreet Chana in more detail. Stay tuned!

Toronto Public Library makes it easy to explore all kinds of musical forms and genres. Just click on some of these links to get started:

Minimalist music. Books and eMusic resources.

Steve Reich. The library has hundreds of books, CDs and electronic resources on this amazing musician. 

Michael Snow. This link is to works by Michael Snow. And there is additional material about Michael Snow, too. 

Toronto Public Library has a vast music collection  including printed music scores, CDs for circulation throughout the system, and a huge collection of CDs and vinyl which can be listened to in the Arts Department at the Toronto Reference Library. We also have the entire Naxos catalogue, classical and jazz, online. It's free and easy to use. All you need is a library card.