Music From Scratch

Published in The Annex Gleaner(Toronto)

     The creaking sound of a old chair, a bang made from hitting a church wall and the jingling of a set of keys are all music makers in the world of contemporary music. The upcoming music workshop, “Music from Scratch”, allows Toronto Youth to explore the possibilities of contemporary music, which mixes a variety of real environmental and instrumental sounds. The workshop also experiments with some modified instruments, like a violin with paper on its strings, and a bow used on cymbals. Participants can also use the clinking of chains and the crinkling of paper bags to make music.

     Youth from the ages of 17-25 are invited to discover the different possibilities for creating sound and music with professional composers from the Contact Contemporary music ensemble. The workshop is offered by the Arts and Music school that was established in 1921 and through the University Settlement Organization that provides a variety of community and immigrant programs in Toronto.

     “There is no requirement for the program except for the commitment they bring to it,” stressed Anne Yardely director of the Arts and Music School. This commitment is to be open and creative, which a group of youth did last year at the 1st “Music From Scratch” workshop. Youth from all over the country came together to prove that composing music can be done by anyone who is willing to listen. The participants were accepted to this Canada Council for the Arts and SOCAN funded program regardless of their music ability.

     “They challenged themselves in a way they didn’t expect..It was a life experience for them,” Jerry Pergolesi, the founder of the program and co-director of the Contact ensemble said.

     He believes that the workshop challenged the way that the participants view music and provided them with some useful tools for survival. The group held a concert showcasing their original works at the end of the workshop last year. One of their pieces used their phone numbers which were translated into instrument intervals. Another piece incorporated the creative tones that they used to say their names in one workshop exercise.

     Participants commented that they became aware of, “The effortless music around us. Pergolesi said,”They looked at sound differently and what music and art is.” He said, “They were able to find ways to push themselves out of their comfort zones.”

     Juliet Palmer the composer in residence for the workshop believes that they walked away with an increased sense of confidence in their creative abilities and that they were able to create a trusting bond with the other participants. She is coming back for a second year as she is, “Inspired by young people, [their] curiosity and their openness to discovery.”

     The workshop is running this year from August 11-16th and the group will be holding its final concert on the evening of the 16th. If you are interested in joining you can contact Anne Yardley at the Arts and Music School at the University Settlement Organization on 25 Grange Rd. at (416)598-3444 ext 243.

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