Polyphonic Ground

There’s a new initiative to help connect the oodles of culturally diverse music we have here in Toronto with audiences who are “culturally curious” and looking for these kinds of discoveries right here in our city. Uma Nota is proud to be a part of Polyphonic Ground, a freshly formed collaboration between 12 local music presenters who, like us, are “committed to building and sustaining Toronto as a global music city.”

Here are a few of the key points, as mentioned in the recent press release, and a little bit about how and why we’re opting into this initiative.

The mission

Polyphonic Ground strives to “provide points of connection for artists and audiences, strengthen industry practices and be a united voice to government, business and industry. ” This means strength in numbers. It means we’ll shout out one another’s events from time to time, work together on issues like access to cultural sector resources and grant opportunities, improving conditions around putting on special events like music and arts festivals in Toronto and other key matters that affect all of us as small- to medium-sized presenters.

In a recent article in NOW Magazine, our colleague Kayla McGee, who is the managing director of Small World Music and the community lead for Polyphonic Ground, notes that we in Toronto lack any real “infrastructure for live music presenters” and, until now, there haven’t been “shared platforms to allow us to work and grow together.”

“We want to present live music that draws in the culturally curious,” says McGee. “With the double-bill series, we encourage audience curiosity, discovery and an exploration of the amazing array of musical talents available to Toronto audiences. Audiences can experience African and Persian music together in one night, or Latin vibes and Indigenous drums, or Bollywood and Klezmer. The possibilities are endless.”

The partners

Our partners in this new collaboration include many familiar local presenters. Some are organizations with whom we’ve already co-produced shows and events, and others with whom we’re looking forward to a closer working relationship.

The initial 12 member organizations involved in Polyphonic Ground are: Ashkenaz Foundation, Batuki Music Society, Good Kind Productions, iNative, Link Music Lab, Lula Music & Arts Centre, MonstrARTity Creative Community, Music Africa, Revolutions Per Minute, Small World Music Society and World Fiddle Day Toronto, along with Uma Nota Culture (our official production company name — yes, it’s also our social media handle).

The music series

We’ve long been champions of musical discoveries, especially at our events where someone might come to check out their friend drumming away in a Brazilian percussion troupe, and take in a great Afrobeat band or a local DJ who spins rare dub. In that same spirit of discovery, the first Polyphonic Ground concert series kicks off this fall.

In this series, two of the partner organizations will be paired up to co-produce a double-bill that aims to introduce audiences to new music from right here in Toronto. These monthly concerts, designed to foster widespread musical discovery in the city, begin on September 14 with Ashkenaz Foundation and Small World Music Society, followed by Batuki Music and Uma Nota presenting on October 12, Link Music Lab and Good Kind Productions present November 9, and Lula Music & Arts and Music Africa co-presenting December 14. These events will take place at Revival Bar, 783 College St., on the second Thursday of the month starting in September. Artists will be announced soon. 

The growth opportunities

This isn’t only a new concert series. The initiative also has the goal of increasing “access to training and leadership and bolstering professional development opportunities within the music industry.” Here’s a bit of what that looks like, for starters: An upcoming Diversity & Live Music panel discussion series; a Developing Diverse Leaders program “with the goal of empowering young talent through mentorship”; and Best Practice Workshops led by music industry experts.

The take-away

In short: This is gonna be awesome.

Sign up for the Polyphonic Ground newsletter and follow PG on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via the website.

And stay tuned for our October 12 show announcement with Batuki Music Society as part of the initial concert series.

Video: Maracatu Mar Aberto and special guests perform on the Small World Music stage in a “Brazilian Grooves” concert co-produced by Uma Nota Culture and the Small World Music Society as part of in/future, a transformational art experience that took place on the West Island of Ontario Place in September 2016.