Category Archives: CKUT programming

Ensemble Obiora interviewed by Julia Dyck!

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Ensemble Obiora, Canada’s newest and most diverse classical music ensemble, is preparing for their inaugural concert on August 28th. Founders Brandyn Lewis, a professional bass player in the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and Allison Migeon, arts manager, are excited to share the ensemble’s incredible talent and a repertoire of less-familiar compositions with curious listeners.

JD: I understand that Ensemble Obiora is quite a new initiative. How did this come together and what motivated you?

BL: The idea came about in March or April and a motivator was really to increase diversity in classical music. We spoke to a lot of musicians of color in Canada and it’s something that they wanted to create but didn’t really know how to do, so we thought this is a great time, especially with the events last year, to start something in Canada and really let audiences know about this whole wealth of talented musicians, but also composers who music history has not put in the spotlight.

JD: Who is involved and how did you put the ensemble together?

AM: The ensemble is currently 30 musicians of different origins, with the goal being to have as many diverse musicians as possible.

BL: Because I’ve been working in Montreal and I went to school with a lot of musicians, I already had an idea in my head of which musicians to choose from, and the more I progressed, the more names I found, the more people I discovered. I realize there are actually a lot of musicians of color that I just did not know about; we’re sort of like peeling the layers and finding more and more and it makes me so happy to see this.

AM: There are also musicians who heard of us and contacted us directly.

JD: I understand from an outsider perspective that classical music is grounded on these principles of virtuosity and colonial, patriarchal, imperial ideas of excellence. So I’m curious, for this initiative, what is it about classical music that you appreciate and want to keep and bring forward into this project, and what do you want to change or divert from?

BL: Well, I think the points you mentioned, the virtuosity and the technical proficiency, all of that we definitely want to keep, because what we want to show first and foremost is the exceptional talents of our musicians, and to show that we’re all playing at a high level. The musicianship is also important. What we want to divert from is this elitist way of thinking. We’re trying to build the communities that were not allowed to participate in classical music historically. We see a lot of examples of highly skilled composers in the different musical eras that were shunned and were not given an opportunity to really shine because of their skin color. We want to open the doors to anyone who’s interested and we just want to show that it’s a possible career path, and one can be successful if one puts the time in and is motivated, of course with a lot of hours of practice.

AM: What is special is that many musicians from Afro cultures studied Western musical traditions. We want to show the mix between these two cultures, and that there were composers who also came from this culture who were a part of classical music but were pushed aside.

JD: I understand you want to expose listeners to this repertoire of underrepresented composers. So can you speak a little bit more about some of the pieces that the ensemble works on and some of the composers whose work you play?

BL: We’re going to open the concert with a short wind quintet by Jeff Scott, who is an American horn player from the Imani Winds. He actually just retired recently but he’s been in the quintet for over 20 years. This wind quintet is composed largely of musicians of color, and I think they’re one of the more important chamber groups in the 21st century to highlight this diversity, not only in the musicians, but the pieces that they play – a lot of the pieces are composed by their own members. That will be followed by a Nonet by Samuel Coleridge Taylor, who is a mixed-race English composer of the late Romantic Period. He is someone who was also put on the side in English society and so a lot of his music hasn’t been fully developed. It’s becoming more developed now, especially in the UK and a little bit in the States. That will be followed by Joseph Boulogne’s Symphony Number one. He was a contemporary of Mozart, actually born before Mozart, yet he’s always called the Black Mozart. Mozart stole some of the elements of his music and he never got the credit for it.

AM: And there’s the case of Joseph Boulogne who was a French mixed-race composer whose mother was a slave and father was a plantation owner so he was sent to France to study music. He was privileged by having the noble status so he had a great education and his candidacy was sent to the Opera de Paris (at the time the Académie de Musique) but it wasn’t accepted because the singers in the opera didn’t want to be under the order of a mixed-race person, even though he was known for his talent.

BL: For example, in all of my music history classes, I was never taught about these composers. Maybe in a specialized course on 20th century opera I learned about one or two Black composers, but for a lot of us, Black musicians, we have to do all the research on our own. I only just learned in the last year of all these composers, especially American composers that have been writing music for the better part of the 20th century.

JD: How do you imagine the experience will be different for the listener on the 28th coming to see your ensemble? Rather than experiencing a concert of the Symphony Orchestra, or some of the other longer standing classical ensembles?

BL: Well, I think one of my hopes is that the audience members leave with a lot of questions and a sense of curiosity to discover more of these composer’s works. I think if we can really do that, then we’ve succeeded, because they just need to know about them, someone needs to present it to them. Our job is to perform at our best and give a convincing performance. For example, I performed a symphony by William Grant Still, who was an Afro American composer in the 20th century, and I was reading some of the comments in the live stream and a lot of the audience members had never heard of him, but loved his music and were like “Oh, my gosh, thank you for sharing this with us. I never knew who he was and I’m looking forward to learning more about his music.” So I think that’s one of the aspects that I’m looking forward to.

AM: We also hope people will find a new connection with classical music through the stories of the composers and realize that it’s legitimate and they can enjoy it as well. I know that young people are interested in classical music and they don’t have the same ideas about who it’s for or who can play it. Maybe it will change the mentality. We hope that the kids who come to the concert will see that there is a possibility there and they have the right to enjoy classical music.

BL: We do realize that not everyone is going to like the music. For a lot of people, it’s just not in their cultures, and a lot of people don’t feel comfortable going outside of their own cultures. We don’t want to force this on anyone. But if we can reach just a small percentage, for us, that’s a great job. It makes us happy to see that we can touch people’s lives like that. I wish I had Black classical music role models when I was a young kid, so I’m trying to be that for this next generation.

AM: We know how important it is.

BL: I think there’s already so much excitement about this, because this is the first time that an ensemble like this is created in Canada, to our knowledge, and I think with this, this climate we’re in, it’s the perfect time. Life before the pandemic was so busy and always on the go and this past year forced everyone to stop and really think about what’s truly important in life. And that’s when we notice all the inequalities that are going on. And it’s a lot. It’s emotionally draining. But I think we’re trying to do our best here.

JD: What’s behind the name, Obiora?

AM: Obiora is a Nigerian first name that means “the people’s heart or desire” and we wanted to find a word that was strong and represented something. Also, we both come from the Caribbean but we realized that our origins are both Nigerian from a DNA test.

AM: We’re working on some other concerts and other projects. We’ve been very lucky to have the support of people and institutions. This concert is supported by the Centre National des Arts. We’re also lucky to be supported by the CAM for another project in September and we have been in communication with community organizations and have many projects on the horizon.

BL: The final goal is to create a symphony orchestra. We have a database of musicians, and we pretty much have all of the instruments required. We keep adding more and more all the time. We would also like to have an educational aspect to it as well for young kids.

AM: For the moment we are focusing on composers of the African diaspora but it’s not going to be our main focus. We want to perform the work of many different composers and especially female composers. The goal is to be as large and diverse as possible in our future projects.

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: AUG 24, 2021

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: AUG 24, 2021

1. hélène barbier – regulus – celluloid lunch – CC*
2. various – the sled island rock loto – sled island CC
3. intersystems – #4 – waveshaper CC
4. yoo doo right – don’t think you can escape your purpose – mothland
5. greentea peng – man made – emi
6. the halluci nation – one more saturday night – self CC
7. marc montanchez – four songs ep – self CC*
8. teke teke – shirushi – kill rock stars CC*
9. mdou moctar – afrique victime – matador
10. mckinley dixon – for my mama and anyone who look like her – spacebomb
11. tush – fantast – doo right CC
12. half moon run – inwards and onwards – glassworks CC*
13. crieslol – self title – peyote tapes
14. the zolas – come back to life – light organ CC
15. various – mixtape 1 – we are time – CC
16. kristian north – passion play – mothland CC*
17. le fly pan am – frontera – constellation CC*
18. planet giza – dont throw rocks at the moon – self CC*
19. aim low – broken sundial – self CC*
20. can – live in stuttgart 75 – mute
21. snapped ankles – forest of your problems – the leaf label
22. sook yin lee and adam litovitz – jooj two – mint CC
23. vernacular – the little bird – astral spirits
24. michael feuerstack – harmonize the moon – forward CC*
25. sadteen – on the internet 24/7 – self CC
26. wadada leo smith / milford graves / bill laswell – sacred ceremonies – tum
27. king gizzard and the lizard wizard – butterfly 3000 – kglw
28. rochelle jordan – play with the changes – young art CC
29. alice coltrane – kirtan: turiya sings – impulse
30. body breaks – bad trouble – we are time CC*

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: AUG 17, 2021

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: AUG 17, 2021

1. hélène barbier – regulus – celluloid lunch – CC*
2. various – the sled island rock lotto – sled island CC
3. intersystems – #4 – waveshaper CC
4. yoo doo right – don’t think you can escape your purpose – mothland
5. greentea peng – man made – emi
6 the halluci nation – one more saturday night – self CC
7. marc montanchez – four songs ep – self CC*
8. teke teke – shirushi – kill rock stars CC*
9. mdou moctar – afrique victime – matador
10. mckinley dixon – for my mama and anyone who look like her – spacebomb
11. tush – fantast – doo right CC
12. half moon run – inwards and onwards – glassworks CC*
13. crieslol – self title – peyote tapes
14. chai – wink – sub pop
15. various – mixtape 1 – we are time – CC
16. kristian north – passion play – mothland CC*
17. le fly pan am – frontera – constellation CC*
18. planet giza – dont throw rocks at the moon – self CC*
19. aim low – broken sundial – self CC*
20. can – live in stuttgart 75 – mute
21. snapped ankles – forest of your problems – the leaf label
22. sook yin lee and adam litovitz – jooj two – mint CC
23. vernacular – the little bird – astral spirits
24. michael feuerstack – harmonize the moon – forward CC*
25. mykki blanco – broken hearts and beauty sleep – transgressive
26. wadada leo smith / milford graves / bill laswell – sacred ceremonies – tum
27. king gizzard and the lizard wizard – butterfly 3000 – kglw
28. rochelle jordan – play with the changes – young art CC
29. alice coltrane – kirtan: turiya sings – impulse
30. body breaks – bad trouble – we are time CC*

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: JULY 27, 2021

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: JULY 27, 2021

1. sook yin lee and adam litovitz – jooj two – mint CC
2. hélène barbier – regulus – celluloid lunch – CC*
3. intersystems – #4 – waveshaper CC
4. yoo doo right – don’t think you can escape your purpose – mothland
5. greentea peng – man made – emi
6 rochelle jordan – play with the changes – young art CC
7. marc montanchez – four songs ep – self CC*
8. teke teke – shirushi – kill rock stars CC*
9. mdou moctar – afrique victime – matador
10. mckinley dixon – for my mama and anyone who look like her – spacebomb
11. islands – islomania – royal mountain CC
12. half moon run – inwards and onwards – glassworks CC*
13. crieslol – self title – peyote tapes
14. chai – wink – sub pop
15. various – mixtape 1 – we are time – CC
16. kristian north – passion play – mothland CC*
17. le fly pan am – frontera – constellation CC*
18. planet giza – dont throw rocks at the moon – self CC*
19. aim low – broken sundial – self CC*
20. can – live in stuttgart 75 – mute
21. natik awayez – manbarani – sublime frequencies
22. beverly glenn copeland – keyboard fantasies – transgressive CC
23. vernacular – the little bird – astral spirits
24. michael feuerstack – harmonize the moon – forward CC*
25. mykki blanco – broken hearts and beauty sleep – transgressive
26. wadada leo smith / milford graves / bill laswell – sacred ceremonies – tum
27. king gizzard and the lizard wizard – butterfly 3000 – kglw
28. chances – connection – quartier general
29. alice coltrane – kirtan: turiya sings – impulse
30. body breaks – bad trouble – we are time CC*

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: JULY 20, 2021

CKUT TOP 30, JULY 20, 2021

1. sook yin lee and adam litovitz – jooj two – mint CC
2. hélène barbier – regulus – celluloid lunch – CC*
3. intersystems – #4 – waveshaper CC
4. yoo doo right – don’t think you can escape your purpose – mothland
5. greentea peng – man made – emi
6 rochelle jordan – play with the changes – young art CC
7. marc montanchez – four songs ep – self CC*
8. teke teke – shirushi – kill rock stars CC*
9. mdou moctar – afrique victime – matador
10. mckinley dixon – for my mama and anyone who look like her – spacebomb
11. islands – islomania – royal mountain CC
12. skinnybones – sb06 – self CC*
13. crieslol – self title – peyote tapes
14. chai – wink – sub pop
15. various – mixtape 1 – we are time – CC
16. kristian north – passion play – mothland CC*
17. le fly pan am – frontera – constellation CC*
18. planet giza – dont throw rocks at the moon – self CC*
19. anna webber – idiom – pi CC
20. can – live in stuttgart 75 – mute
21. natik awayez – manbarani – sublime frequencies
22. beverly glenn copeland – keyboard fantasies – transgressive CC
23. vernacular – the little bird – astral spirits
24. michael feuerstack – harmonize the moon – forward CC*
25. mykki blanco – broken hearts and beauty sleep – transgressive
26. wadada leo smith / milford graves / bill laswell – sacred ceremonies – tum
27. los esplifs – estraik back – self
28. chances – connection – quartier general
29. godspeed you big god’s pea – god’s pee at state’s end – constellation CC*
30. body breaks – bad trouble – we are time CC*

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: JULY 13, 2021

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: JULY 13, 2021

1. greentea peng – man made – emi
2. hélène barbier – regulus – celluloid lunch – CC*
3. intersystems – #4 – waveshaper CC
4. yoo doo right – don’t think you can escape your purpose – mothland
5. sook yin lee and adam litovitz – jooj two – mint CC
6 rochelle jordan – play with the changes – young art CC
7. marc montanchez – four songs ep – self CC*
8. teke teke – shirushi – kill rock stars CC*
9. mdou moctar – afrique victime – matador
10. mckinley dixon – for my mama and anyone who look like her – spacebomb
11. islands – islomania – royal mountain CC
12. skinnybones – sb06 – self CC*
13. crieslol – self title – peyote tapes
14. chai – wink – sub pop
15. various – mixtape 1 – we are time – CC
16. kristian north – passion play – mothland CC*
17. le fly pan am – frontera – constellation CC*
18. planet giza – dont throw rocks at the moon – self CC*
19. barry paquin roberge – exordium ii fantasy – costume CC*
20. can – live in stuttgart 75 – mute
21. natik awayez – manbarani – sublime frequencies
22. beverly glenn copeland – keyboard fantasies – transgressive CC
23. vernacular – the little bird – astral spirits
24. michael feuerstack – harmonize the moon – forward CC*
25. mykki blanco – broken hearts and beauty sleep – transgressive
26. jupiter and okwess- na kozonga – everloving
27. los esplifs – estraik back – self
28. chances – connection – quartier general
29. godspeed you big god’s pea – god’s pee at state’s end – constellation CC*
30. body breaks – bad trouble – we are time CC*

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: JULY 6, 2021

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: JULY 6, 2021

1. greentea peng – man made – emi
2. hélène barbier – regulus – celluloid lunch – CC*
3. various – mixtape 1 – we are time – CC
4. yoo doo right – don’t think you can escape your purpose – mothland
5. le fly pan am – frontera – constellation CC*
6 rochelle jordan – play with the changes – young art CC
7. marc montanchez – four songs ep – self CC*
8. teke teke – shirushi – kill rock stars CC*
9. mdou moctar – afrique victime – matador
10. fimber bravo – lunar tredd – moshi moshi
11. mckinley dixon – for my mama and anyone who look like her – spacebomb
12. skinnybones – sb06 – self CC*
13. petit biscuit – parachute remixes – ecurie
14. chai – wink – sub pop
15. intersystems – #4 – waveshaper CC
16. kristian north – passion play – mothland CC*
17. sook yin lee and adam litovitz – jooj two – mint CC
18. planet giza – dont throw rocks at the moon – self CC*
19. barry paquin roberge – exordium ii fantasy – costume CC*
20. can – live in stuttgart 75 – mute
21. natik awayez – manbarani – sublime frequencies
22. beverly glenn copeland – keyboard fantasies – transgressive CC
23. vernacular – the little bird – astral spirits
24. michael feuerstack – harmonize the moon – forward CC*
25. divide and dissolve – gas lit – invada
26. jupiter and okwess- na kozonga – everloving
27. los esplifs – estraik back – self
28. chances – connection – quartier general
29. godspeed you big god’s pea – god’s pee at state’s end – constellation CC*
30. body breaks – bad trouble – we are time CC*

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: JUNE 29, 2021

CKUT TOP 30: JUNE 29, 2021

1. greentea peng – man made – emi
2. hélène barbier – regulus – celluloid lunch – CC*
3. sook-yin lee & adam litovitz – jooj two (Mint) – CC
4. yoo doo right – don’t think you can escape your purpose – mothland
5. le fly pan am – frontera – constellation CC*
6 rochelle jordan – play with the changes – young art CC
7. marc montanchez – four songs ep – self CC*
8. teke teke – shirushi – kill rock stars CC*
9. mdou moctar – afrique victime – matador
10. fimber bravo – lunar tredd – moshi moshi
11. mckinley dixon – for my mama and anyone who look like her – spacebomb
12. skinnybones – sb06 – self CC*
13. petit biscuit – parachute remixes – ecurie
14. chai – wink – sub pop
15. various – mixtape 1 – we are time – CC
16. kristian north – passion play – mothland CC*
17. michael f. – somewhere in the world – self CC
18. planet giza – dont throw rocks at the moon – self CC*
19. barry paquin roberge – exordium ii fantasy – costume CC*
20. can – live in stuttgart 75 – mute
21. natik awayez – manbarani – sublime frequencies
22. beverly glenn copeland – keyboard fantasies – transgressive CC
23. vernacular – the little bird – astral spirits
24. michael feuerstack – harmonize the moon – forward CC*
25. divide and dissolve – gas lit – invada
26. jupiter and okwess- na kozonga – everloving
27. los esplifs – estraik back – self
28. chances – connection – quartier general
29. godspeed you big god’s pea – god’s pee at state’s end – constellation CC*
30. body breaks – bad trouble – we are time CC*

Review: Rochelle Jordan – Play With The Changes

rochelle big

by: Eliza Farber

After a seven year hiatus, UK-born, Toronto-raised, LA-transplant Rochelle Jordan is back with her sophomore album, Play With the Changes, and it’s exactly the kind of album we need as we begin to see the light at the end of this pandemic. The strong electronic beat, weightless vocals, and introspective lyrics present the perfect soundtrack to dance through the pain and really “play with the changes” of this tough year—in whatever way that means for you. Jordan’s music is influenced by this mirage of environments, together with her Jamaican roots, which explains how she is able to craft such a versatile sound. While her 2014 debut album, 1021, divulged a more classic R&B tone, Play With the Changes takes on more of an electronic sound with a blend of house, R&B, and UK garage.

After some success with 1021, Jordan was weighed down by a host of issues having to do with her physical and mental health, along with some problems with her record label. She recently signed to TOKIMONSTA’s Young Arts Records, which she says was instrumental in allowing Play With the Changes to reach its full creative potential. In an interview with Complex, she explained that TOKIMONSTA has helped her to understand what “real supports looks like…with real people that are passionate about your music, that want to see it fly.”

For Jordan, the years-long process of working on this album has taken on a spiritual weight. Play With the Changes is full of positive affirmations and self-observation, allowing us to witness both her personal and musical growth with each track. On Already, Jordan describes the process of leaving a toxic relationship with lyrics like “I waited so patiently/accepting it for what it be/shoulda done, coulda done that already.” On Lay, she sings of the anxiety of police brutality and racial injustice, of not knowing when or if her loved ones will return as they walk out the door.

Jordan’s easy willingness to explore different topics and sounds throughout Play With the Changes was irresistibly contagious as a listener. I found it impossible to sit still while experiencing this album, in the very best way possible. This is the kind of music that inspires that bodily release that we all need so desperately right now—that instant serotonin that comes from being carefree and shameless, even if it only lasts for the length of her forty-six minute tracklist.

I think it’s this very freedom and release of control that Jordan aimed to capture with Play With the Changes. Her wisdom shows through not only in her music, but also in her way of being. In an interview with Metal Magazine, she spoke of her new sound and what she hoped her fans would take away from the album— “I want the listeners to feel good and open to these changes, not only in my music…but in life generally speaking. A lot of the time we’re so afraid of change because we don’t know what’s on the other side of it. So easily do we paralyse ourselves instead of being brave enough to open our minds and go forth into new territories.” If the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that change is often scary, but we’d be hurting ourselves if we didn’t try to explore, grow, and truly play with those changes.

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: JUNE 1, 2021

joni happy place charts img

CKUT TOP 30, JUNE 21, 2021

1. mdou moctar – afrique victime – matador
2. natik awayez – manbarani – sublime frequencies
3. various – mixtape 1 – we are time – CC
4. dr. lonnie smith – breath – blue note
5. le fly pan am – frontera – constellation CC*
6. can – live in stuttgart 75 – mute
7. eve parker finley – crysalia – self CC
8. teke teke – shirushi – kill rock stars CC*
9. xiu xiu – oh no – polyvinyl
10.fimber bravo – lunar tredd – moshi moshi
11.rochelle jordan – play with the changes – young art CC
12 skinnybones – sb06 – self CC*
13. petit biscuit – parachute remixes – ecurie
14. coil – musick to play in the dark – dais
15.tone chop & frost gamble – underestimated – self CC
16.kristian north – passion play – mothland -CC*
17.michael f. – somewhere in the world – self CC
18. planet giza – dont throw rocks at the moon – self CC*
19 barry paquin roberge – exordium ii fantasy – costume CC*
20. cat lovers – ep – self CC
21. flock of dimes – head of roses – sub pop
22. beverly glenn copeland – keyboard fantasies – transgressive CC
23. vernacular – the little bird – astral spirits
24. michael feuerstack – harmonize the moon – forward CC*
25. divide and dissolve – gas lit – invada
26. jupiter and okwess- na kozonga – everloving
27. los esplifs – estraik back – self
28. denzel curry and kenny beats – unlocked 1.5 – loma vista
29. godspeed you big god’s pea – god’s pee at state’s end – constellation CC*
30. body breaks – bad trouble – we are time CC*