Concert teams local youth with jazz legend

Jazz great Barry Harris joins TDSB students in concert Thursday

The Beach Mirror, January 20, 2009

 

By GILBERT NDIKUBWAYEZU

The Toronto District School Board has teamed up with Howard Rees’ Jazz Workshops to bring together young voices from northwest Toronto, a renowned jazz great and jazz musicians to perform a concert.

 

One of the most celebrated voices in Jazz today, Dr. Barry Harris, along with special guest Charles McPherson, accompanied by the Earl Haig’s Big Fish Jazz Orchestra and string ensemble, The Earl Haig Jazz Singers and the Toronto Jazz Chorus, will be performing at the Toronto Center for the Arts, George Weston Recital Hall, on Thursday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. They will be joined by the children’s choir, made up of about 300 students from Albion Heights Junior Middle School, Greenholme JMS, North Kipling JMS, West Humber JMS and Elmlea JMS.

 

“It’s such a privilege to have Dr. Harris in our little corner of the world, and for him to be working with our students is very special,” said school superintendent Annie Appleby.

 

We Are One is a program featuring the strength of 300 young voices from northwest Toronto working together with Harris, who works with the students alongside internationally renowned jazz musicians.

 

The students have been rehearsing since October. Harris has flown in from New York City to join them every other week, while locally, Toronto jazz pianist and respected educator Howard Rees and choir conductor Brian Katz have worked with the group on a weekly basis.

 

“Music helps develop creativity, concentration, memory skills, personal enjoyment and a life-long appreciation of the arts,” Appleby said. “But most importantly, it’s a language so many of us enjoy in its countless forms and that shared passion connects us all.”

 

Howard Rees, founder and director of the We Are One Jazz Project, said that Harris has an easy rapport with children that helps them feel comfortable and receptive to learning complex pieces. He said the performance is not made of simple songs.

 

“The ensemble will be performing pieces that are rich in the melodic beauty and harmonic complexities that have made Dr. Harris one of the most celebrated voices in jazz,” Rees said, adding that the result will be the children who feel their own inner strength to help accomplish their dreams.

 

This concert celebrates an innovative project that brought together an at-risk student community and a master musician to empower the children with beauty and positive action. It was enabled through a partnership of Toronto jazz pianist/educator Howard Rees, the Toronto District School Board and a private donor.

 

The Toronto Centre for the Arts is at 5040 Yonge St. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster at 416-872-1111.

 

Original Article: http://www.beachmirror.ca/article/62463

 

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