Harmony brings community back into Toronto City Hall

Toronto Inspires when 70+ voices collectively croon.

Post by Lynda Chubak, a newbie to the community choir scene.

2TOCouncilMasthead2013As November at City Hall has been anything but harmonious, the fourth installment of Nightswimming Theatre’s five-part interactive new work brought welcome amicability to Council Chamber. This “pop-up” choir experience shared by more than seventy singing enthusiasts, and led by Dora Award winning music director Reza Jacobs and roots/jazz inspired vocalist Jani Lauzon, explored the political aspect of Why We Are Here! through singing and sound.

cityhall1Entering the restricted area normally reserved for Council Members feels rather surreptitious, as if we’re infringing on a distant colleague’s personal space. We scout out seats by looking at name plates at the stations assigned to councillors. Some choose a spot that aligns with their political affiliations. Others are more intent on expropriation. The Mayor’s end-aisle lounger immediately gets scooped up. While waiting, we goof around: swiveling in our leather chairs, testing out the Yes/No voting buttons.

From behind us, Jani Lauzon’s voice calmly emerges, prompting a unified hush, as she gracefully repeats an a capella refrain from a well-known traditional folk/gospel song. Continue reading

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Offence/Defence: An artistic examination of fences

Toronto Inspires when three artists’ distinctive perspectives on barriers, real or otherwise, seamlessly dovetail into a cohesive exhibition that delivers heart, politics and whimsy.

Post by Lynda Chubak, avid Toronto arts fan

Offence/Defence

Offence/Defence is a dynamic examination of our relationship with fences and their demarcation of the territory between “us” or “them”. These complex ideas are presented in the abstract through works that are easily relatable to everyday experience, yet simultaneously provide a variegated analytic framework from which we can (re)consider our own relationships with and responses to barriers.

Offense/Defense runs until November 30, 2013. All are welcomed! Milton Centre for the Arts, Holcim Gallery

A glimpse of the artists and their work

KAL HONEY

Kal Honey

Kal’s 20-year background as a graphic designer underpins his current artistic practise that combines utilitarian materials and a bold sensibility. His works are frank and meticulously hand-crafted, with a manufactured precision. Often, they are embedded with levity. Like many of us, he has mixed reactions to fences, understanding the comfort of privately chilling in one’s own fortified backyard, without feeling the possible obligation of polite chit chat. Conversely, he recognizes the community building aspects of open gardens or hip-high separations that encouraged neighbourly engagement common to his parents’ generation. His works explore this kind of dichotomy through external manifestations: fences, by-law signs and a flag. Continue reading

Teen idol in the making, Jake Feeney

Toronto Inspires when Jake Feeney, an unassuming, gifted 17 year old, teeters on the cusp of launching his music career and strives to complete his first EP.

Jake Feeney

Jake Feeney
From Growing Pains video

Between finishing up Grade 12 at Etobicoke School of the Arts and regularly busking outside of popular Toronto liquor stores, this charismatic singer writes and records his original music. To date, Jake’s twelve videos posted on YouTube have 15,000-and-climbing views.

While talent doesn’t fall far from the Feeney family tree (his dad is Canadian country musician, Joel Feeney), Jake is still his own self-made (young) man. It’s only three years since he began teaching himself to play guitar. Yet, with his natural talent and relentless dedication, he creates the sweet sounds of a pro. Currently, beyond singing and composing, he’s doing “everything” from adding the base line to laying down some mandolin to pull together his five song EP, which is scheduled for a mid-April release.

At just under 6′, this sandy-haired cutey has both the good looks and the musical vibe of one of his greatest musical influences, John Mayer. Personality-wise, when friends were asked to describe Jake, they quickly enthused, “He’s just really, really nice”.  Nice guys should finish first. Let’s support this new Canadian artist, as he works towards realizing his dreams.

Inspirational Takeaway: Everyone benefits when creativity is nurtured. :)

Check out Jake Feeney on YouTube and Facebook, Jake Feeney Music. Here’s a taste, with his original song Little Things.

Another reason Toronto Inspires: Shared by Lynda Chubak