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Press Release: Overview Of X Avant XII: Resistance

Published on: August 10, 2017

October 11 to 15, 2017


Tickets available at


(TORONTO) The Music Gallery, Toronto’s Centre for Creative Music, presents the twelfth edition of the internationally acclaimed X Avant New Music Festival from October 11 to 15, 2017. The theme of this year’s X Avant Festival is Resistance.

We celebrate a new partnership with 918 Bathurst Centre For Culture, Arts, Media and Education by staging four of our five concerts at their beautiful facility, while we spend one night at Toronto’s eternal haven for weird and wonderful music, The Tranzac.

Why a festival about resistance? Let’s face it, things have gotten dangerously weird during the Donald Trump presidency. However, he’s just one manifestation of greater crises of toxic political discourse, environmental harm and social injustice. Over the past few years, The Music Gallery has seen more and more artists address these issues, from expressions of silent protest to lacerating, high-volume critiques.

This festival explores what resistance in music sounds like today. How do artists resist oppressive, anti-democratic tactics which compromise their ability to make and distribute art? How do we preserve and enhance true dialogue and equity between cultures? What lessons can we take from history to fortify ourselves for the future? What needs to change? How do we ensure these activities aren’t instantly commodified? It seems harder than ever to take collective action, and there are more questions than answers. However, X Avant always delivers unforgettable experiences which make the audience feel like they’re part of something mutually meaningful.

Highlights include:

  • Chino Amobi, prime mover of decolonial dance music label NON Records – THUMP’s Label Of The Year for 2016.
  • A joint production with Indigenous music platform Revolutions Per Minute as part of their second season of RPM Live.
  • Remembering composer James Tenney‘s socially conscious works composed in Toronto and beyond including the world premiere of “Timbre Ring”, written in 1971.
  • A curatorial collaboration between local electro-soul legends LAL and up and coming East African punk arts collective Babely Shades headlined by Yamantaka//Sonic Titan side project Avrha.
  • Man Forever, featuring Oneida drummer Kid Millions, touring their new release Play What They Want.
  • Cellist Anne Bourne undertakes another Deep Listening workshop, dedicated to the memory of Pauline Oliveros, whose performance at X Avant last year was her final Toronto appearance before passing away.
Full listings will be sent out via press release on August 17 with the announcement of the entirety of programming for the first half of our 2017-18 season.

Praise for X Avant & The Music Gallery

“For adventurous music lovers, it’s difficult to resist the appeal of Toronto’s not-for-profit arts centre Music Gallery and their annual flagship festival, X Avant. After all, where else can you see early electro-acoustic pioneers, up-and-coming Canadian musicians, and internationally-acclaimed poets?”THUMP

“Home to a much wider variety of weirdo music than in its early days and a unique meeting place for multiple generations and communities of sonic explorers.” NOW Magazine

WATCH: YouTube playlist – Music Gallery performances 1991-present, featuring Colin Stetson, Final Fantasy, Matmos, Julia Holter

October 11-15, 2017 

All events at 918 Bathurst St. Centre for Culture, Arts Media except where noted.

October 11/2017
Kid Millions/Man Forever + Germaine Liu + Luyos MC/Reila 
Part of the Departures Series, curated by Tad Michalak
$17 Regular/$13 Advance/$10 Member/Student
Doors 7:30PM/Concert 8PM

Our first show at 918 Bathurst is fittingly part of our Departures Series, curated by Tad Michalak (Feast In The East). Touring their new album  Play What They Want, Man Forever aka Kid Millions eludes classification both in the “indie rock” and compositional worlds. Toronto-based percussionist, performer and composer Germaine Liu focuses on collaborations with people or the objects she plays. Every encounter we’ve had with her has yielded incredible imagination and execution. Tonight she makes water-based music with fellow percussionists Mark Zurawinski and Joe Sorbara. Luyos MC, a daughter of the so-called “post-colonial”-state-of-the-Philippines diaspora and Reila (formerly Caitlin Forsyth) a child of Gitxsan territory in the remote fourth-world Canadian Pacific Northwest present “Kill-Sexual-Abuse-Culture”. Their work is a unique mixture of Moro & Manobo kulintang, sarunay, gandingan instruments, traditional chant, synths, frequency art and electronic soundscapes.

October 12/2017
X Avant + RPM Live
$15 Regular/$12 Advance/$10 Member/Student
Doors 7:30PM/Concert 8PM

Revolutions Per Minute, helmed by Jarrett Martineau, is a label and media platform for emerging and established Indigenous musicians. This year alone, RPM has programmed at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Harbourfront and the Toronto International Film Festival and Martineau hosted a radio on show on CBC entitled Reclaimed. We last worked with RPM in April to present What Sovereignty Sounds Like, a forum for Indigenous musicians in Toronto. During that discussion, one question raised was “what is Indigenous futurism?” Tonight, the second show in RPM Live’s 2017-18 season, represents one possible answer. Full details coming August 17.

October 13/2017
Chino Amobi/NON Records + Jason Sharp/Kaie Kellough/Kevin Lo/Tanya Evenson Intérro
$17 Regular/$13 Advance/$10 Member/Student
Doors 7PM/Concert 8PM

Chino Amobi, a Richmond, Virginia-based artist of Nigerian heritage, is the founder of THUMP’s label of the year for 2016 NON Worldwide Records, a collective of African diasporic artists, “using sound as their primary media, to articulate the visible and invisible structures that create binaries in society, and in turn distribute power.” His own music is a severe electronic brew of R&B, ambient, concrete, and sci-fi/afrofuturism. Initially commissioned by Suoni Per Il Popolo festival last year, “Intérro” deploys intensely focused recitation by Kaie Kellough and Tanya Evenson of documented stories of people who have been harassed at border security combined with Jason Sharp’s saxophone drones and Kevin Lo’s projected visuals.

October 14/2017
Deep Listening Intensive, featuring Anne Bourne
Tranzac Main Hall, 292 Brunswick Ave, 4PM

Cellist/certified Deep Listening instructor Anne Bourne leads participants through selected listening exercises created by the late Pauline Oliveros for the general public intended to more fully engage with their surroundings. This was a very successful event in last year’s festival as a precursor to Oliveros’ last-ever Toronto visit (she passed away shortly afterward). This year’s edition is partly in tribute to Oliveros and partly to underscore her unyielding boundary-pushing as a queer female pioneer of electronic music as it relates to the creation of collective acts of witnessing each other and resistance against war and environmental degradation.

October 14/2017
Babely Shades discussion 

Tranzac Tiki Room, 292 Brunswick Ave, 6PM

Join us in the Tranzac’s Tiki Room at 6PM for a pre-concert discussion hosted by Hana Jama of Babely Shades (who co-curate the evening’s concert) focusing on how the evening’s artists portray resistance through their art and expressing their identities.

October 14/2017
Avrha + Bizzarh + Drawing With Knives, visuals by Riya Jama

Curated by LAL and Babely Shades
$15 Regular/$13 Advance/$10 Member/Student/Arts Worker
Tranzac Main Hall, 292 Brunswick Ave
Doors 7:30PM/Concert 8PM

All-time Toronto local heroes LAL simultaneously curate and pass the torch to new Toronto artists. Here they work with up and coming punk/arts-inspired collective Babely Shades to present sounds and performance techniques underrepresented by racialized creators. Avrha contains two members of Polaris Prize Short List nominees Yamantaka//Sonic Titan in a new project in which hypnotic drums and percussion meld with dynamic keys in a bittersweet nightmare of new age heavy prog.. Soulquarian rappers Bizzarh began working together in their early teens and quickly appeared on festival bills around the province; this is the beginning of a new cycle of activity for them. Drawing With Knives is a tkaronto/Toronto-based queer/2spirit shadow puppetry group. Working with paper cutouts, large-scale shadow projections, and music, Drawing With Knives explores themes like death, birth, and decolonialism. Tying the music altogether are the Afrofuturistic visuals of Riya Jama.

October 15/2017
James Tenney: Resistance
$20 Regular/$15 Advance/$10 Member/Student
Panel Discussion: 6:30PM
Doors 7PM/Concert 8PM

A concert and outreach activities dedicated to the politicized work of highly celebrated composer James Tenney, who lived in Toronto for many years. The concert will consist of a genre-crossing collection of musicians executing several of his scores including the world premiere of a composition from 1971 entitled “Timbre Ring”, “Pika-Don” (dedicated to victims of Hiroshima/Nagasaki nuclear bombings), the harsh electronics of “Fabric for Ché” and a screening of ex-partner Carolee Schneemann’s horrifying short film “Viet Flakes”, featuring one of Tenney’s early examples of pop-song driven tape collage, which prefigured looped sample-based music by 20 years. This concert will be original, bracing and hopeful for the future.  Prior to the show  will be a pre-show panel discussion moderated by composer Bruce Russell explores Tenney’s compositional intent and contemporary presentation of these pieces. What does it mean to be a socially conscious composer now as opposed to 20-30 years ago and what do audiences expect from socially conscious music in the concert hall?

ABOUT The Music Gallery: Founded in 1976, The Music Gallery is one of Toronto’s longest running music organizations and has played a defining role for experimental music in this city. We have presented the likes of John Cage, Jeff Mills, Tanya Tagaq, R. Murray Schafer, Julia Holter, Owen Pallett, Tyondai Braxton, Jennifer Castle, Cluster, Eve Egoyan, Matana Roberts, Iannis Xenakis, Julianna Barwick, The Ex, Pauline Oliveros and a Tribe Called Red.

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