Our crew arrived in Toronto on Monday, September 24th. We were all excited to be checking out another Canadian City. Toronto was our first Canadian stop for Gimme the Beat. Though we were still in Canada – Toronto is quite a juxtaposition when compared Vancouver, the closest metropolis to our home on Vancouver Island. Buildings seemed to go on for miles, and miles. The ethnic diversity is was far greater than in Vancouver. You notice the change in vibration as soon as you leave the airport.
Finding our way around
When we arrive in a new place our crew will typically spend a full day poking around the city. We need to get a feel for it, and make sure to capture the mood authentically. We visit cultural and architectural landmarks and points of interest. Often Gillian and our crew will take part in an activity that the area is known for. If you know anything about Toronto, you know that you can’t miss the CN Tower. We can assure you, we did not! Another highlight was the Humber Bay Arch Bridge, a site rich with history.
We visited with Anita Katakkar, a Canadian musician known for her abilities on the tabla, in a lively neighbourhood of Toronto. Anita’s heritage is Scottish and Indian, and she aims to blend her background with the multiculturalism that the communities of Toronto are know for. She hopes to amend the perception that the tabla is a male dominated art form, and maintain the integrity of classical Indian music. Anita felt a strong need to share the tabla in a less traditional way, which led her to introduce a pop aesthetic to her music.
Our next guest was Sarah Thawer. Gillian and she made fast friends in Toronto, where Sarah was born and raised. Sarah is from a traditional Indian family, and though she has seen much success in her field, her parents originally pushed her to pursue a more traditional career. Sarah graduated Summa Cum Laude from York University with studies focused in Jazz and World Music. Sarah’s unique style draws influence from gospel, afro-cuban, and jazz music, among others.
Finally we met Naghmeh Farahmand, a woman brought up surrounded by drums. Her father, Mahmoud Farahmand, is an Iranian percussion master. He showed her how to play the tonbak with a great love for her, as well as a passion for the music he was passing on. As a child Naghmeh was inspired by the guests who came to practice in her home. She says using her hands on the natural skin of an instrument is like having a conversation with your drums, and one that comes naturally to her. Since moving to Canada she has learned to move beyond the rules of tradition and has been able to express herself freely through her music. She has learned to be closer to herself outside of the boundaries of rhythm and technique.
This was a trip that added a lot of diversity to our project. The incredible and talented female percussionists we spent time with in Toronto were inspiring. Next, our crew is off to Paris, France. Don’t forget to follow along here!