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SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival Announces Virtual Edition for This Fall

SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival, has announced it's going virtual with a new edition this fall. From Sept. 29 to Oct. 4, 2020, SING! will offer nearly 20 concerts and workshops are available exclusively online.

Now in its ninth year, the a cappella festival features an array of musical styles performed by a wide range of popular performers, as well as educational workshops facilitated by acclaimed industry experts. The full schedule, tickets and festival passes are available now at Singtoronto.com.

SING’s online programming comes in three streams — primetime, throwback, and workshop. All events are 50 minutes long:

SING! in Concert - Primetime ($15 each) - Brand new performances by Toronto’s finest a cappella vocalists, specially produced to meet and exceed distancing protocols:
• O Canada! Featuring Tom Wilson: Explore the rich cultural heritage of Canada with this three-time JUNO Award winning musician and writer, famed for his work with Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, and Lee Harvey Osmond. Also features Pressgang Mutiny, Cadence, and FreePlay.
• SING! Salutes Vegas, featuring SING! Legacy Award Winner Jackie Richardson: Singer-songwriter (and former member of The Nylons) Micah Barnes and his “a cappella big band” will be joined by vocal trio The Ault Sisters, magician Orion, and tap dancer Travis Knights. Also features the presentation of the Slaight Music SING! Legacy Award to iconic Canadian singer and actress Jackie Richardson.
• InstaChoir and Friends: Supported by award-winning quartet Supertonic and Vancouver’s Phoenix Chamber Choir, Instachoir and Friends creates a true choir experience virtually.
• Beatsync: An eight-piece a cappella ensemble combining eclectic repertoire with dynamic beats and sophisticated arrangements, ranging from pop to electronic to classic soul.
• Cadence: This JUNO Award winning jazz ensemble brings a hypnotic blend of complex harmonies, intricate arrangements, vocal dexterity, and pure fun to every performance.
• FreePlay LIVE!:SING! artistic directors Dylan Bell and Suba Sankaran present SING’s opening night primetime concert, the only live-streamed event of the festival. Using nothing but their voices and innovative live-looping techniques, the music of this genre-bending duo takes you from the concert halls of Europe, to the jazz clubs of Manhattan, to the temples of India.
• Retrocity “Retro-Spective”: Relive the 1980s with this debut retrospective, including never-before-seen footage from Retrocity’s CD release, personal messages from each member of the band, and a special guest appearance by Martha Johnson of Martha and the Muffins.
• Countermeasure’s 10th Anniversary Special: This innovative 13-voice ensemble has grown from local gigs to earning five-star reviews as headliners of international festivals. This retrospective will include their favourite music and moments from the past decade.

SING! in Concert - Throwback (Free) - Concerts curated from SING’s greatest events over the past eight years:
• Songs and Stories of Migration: Tales of migration that weave together words and a cappella music. Featuring storytellers Dan Yashinsky and Sage Tyrtle, and vocal groups Tapestry, Turkwaz, and Joanna Wallfisch. Hosted by Donna Dudinsky.
• SING! Celebrates Gospel: The beauty of the human voice and the purity of a cappella gospel unite with performances by The Chitans, the University of Toronto Gospel Choir and RESOUND. Hosted by Kerry Lee Crawford.
• Flower Power Hour! Flash back to the hazy days of the 1960s with highlights from two concerts: SING! Salutes the Beatles and the one-of-a-kind reunion of the “Hair Tribe”. Featuring 4SKÖR and Heather Bambrick, Fermata Town, The O’Pears, Toronto Northern Lights, The Watch, and the original Toronto cast of the classic musical “Hair.”
• O Canada! Spotlight on Leonard Cohen: The stunningly beautiful sound of Leonard Cohen’s music stripped down to just voices, featuring Heather Bambrick, David Sereda, Patricia O’Callaghan, The Watch, Hampton Avenue, and The Ault Sisters.

SING! and Learn Workshops ($20 each) - Live, interactive Zoom workshops with the world’s best a cappella professionals:
• Recording from Home with Anders Edenroth of The Real Group (Sweden): Learn the basics of home-studio recording, such as simple acoustic preparation, microphone fundamentals, and special tips and techniques unique to a cappella recording.
• Arranging Roundtable with Deke Sharon and Dylan Bell: The authors of the international best-selling book, “A Cappella Arranging”, will discuss some of their tried-and-true arranging techniques and answer participants’ questions.
• Rhythm ‘n’ Scat with New York Voices: NYV’s Kim Nazarian shares inspiring videos and guide you through fundamental exercises to support your first steps in improvising over swing, bossa, and salsa grooves, while Darmon Meader will take you on a crash-course of vocal jazz scat singing and improvisation. Learn the essentials from one of the greatest vocal jazz bands of all time.
• Vocal Health with SpeechAppeal: Speech-language pathologists Alyssa McCarthy and Daniel Boyle will offer tips to keep your voice going strong by preventing vocal injury, including evidence-based warm-ups, cool-downs, vocal hygiene advice, common vocal health myths, and frequently asked questions about voice rehabilitation, anatomy, and more.
• Collegiate A Cappella in the USA with Will Chandler: Join SING! Texas Vice President, Music Educator & DMA Candidate at the University of Kentucky Will Chandler for an inside look at the world’s largest collegiate a cappella scene, featuring the AcoustiKats.
• Vocal Jazz History with Accent: From barbershop to R & B, from big-band jazz to rock, discover the details of a cappella arranging and performance and the secrets behind your favourite sounds and vocal groups.
• Beating the Blank Page with The Swingles: Using fun games and exercises to kick-start creativity, write original music and lyrics in a matter of minutes and learn how to use an arrangement to craft a story. Includes tips and tricks covering every stage of the arrangement process, from choosing a song to formatting your score.

SING!’s artistic directors, Dylan Bell and Suba Sankaran, say the shift from a live to an online festival offers unique opportunities for 2020.

“The virtual format lets us offer SING! to a wider, more geographically diverse audience,” says Bell. “We’re excited to bring the best in a cappella performances and education directly to singers and music lovers throughout Toronto, across Canada, and around the world.”

Sankaran also emphasizes that SING! is focused on both the audience and performers in this time of uncertainty.

“We’re proud to accommodate audiences of all budgets by offering a number of options for free programming,” she says. “We also want to support the performers whose industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. Ticketed SING! shows are available at a price that’s affordable, yet still enables us to compensate artists for their time.”

More information, schedule, tickets, and festival passes are available www.singtoronto.com.

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.
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