The Music Gallery, Toronto’s Centre for Creative Music, presents the fifteenth edition of the internationally acclaimed X Avant New Music Festival from October 1 to 18, 2020.  

All shows will be available to stream online and will be a mix of on and off-site concerts produced by the Music Gallery; (still) located at 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media and Education.  


Highlights include:  

Abstract punk ensemble OK Miss featuring 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner Du Yun  

Word/sound/power from 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize winner Kaie Kellough with Jason Sharp  

Alanna Stuart (Bonjay) gathers Jamaican-Canadian artists and supporters of different eras in discussion around a community meal.  

Performance from Toronto's own "Groove-Based Indie Jazz" star, Tara Kannangara.  

Toronto's foremost contemporary ensemble, Thin Edge New Music Collective  

Interview with Toronto Black music historian emeritus, Norman "Otis" Richmond  

Nishnaabeg singer songwriter Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and avant-jazz explorer Mingjia livestreamed from the Music Gallery 


Click here for more info on the festival 

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Thin Edge New Music Collective + Tara Kannangara 

October 4th, 2020 

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Opening for Thin Edge is JUNO-nominated artist, Tara Kannangara who meshes Pop, Electronic/Synth music, Jazz, and Alternative, into a singular voice that is captivating audiences all over North America.Tara has melded everything she’s learned into genre-bending music that will make you cry, dance, smile and feel everything in between.  

Growing up in Chilliwack, BC, she studied classical piano and voice from an early age. She then serendipitously picked up the trumpet in high school at first focusing on classical before moving into Jazz and other genres. Tara studied at the University of Victoria for classical trumpet and vocals but later moved to Toronto to pursue music at the University of Toronto where she came into her own as a performer and songwriter. 


Thin Edge Programme:  

Anahita Abbasi – “Sirventès” (2017) – for cello and percussion  
Leila Adu-Gilmore – “Colour Wheel” (2013) – solo piano 
Lieke Van Der Voort – “IAMTHERIBCAGE” (2018) for solo percussion and electronics 
Franghiz Ali-Zadeh – “Habil Sayagy” (1979) for cello and prepared piano 

TENMC Performers: 

Amahl Arulanandam - cello 

Cheryl Duvall - piano 

Nathan Petitpas - percussion




Anahita Abbasi – “Sirventès” (2017) – for cello and percussion


“The piece Sirventès is drawn from both the original meaning of Sirventès and the story telling tradition in Iran. (نقالی) 


[Sirventès  in langue d'oil , is a poem character satirical , political or moral that sang in Occitan language (south of France). These satires, which were usually divided into a definite number of verses comprising a perfect meaning and arranged in a particular way which is observed throughout the poem. They were also intended to be sung like other poems, with themes on nobility , clergy , the Holy See itself, in general persons, events, manners.


Sirventès is in some form very similar to the story telling tradition in the old Persia (current Iran). Iranian narration or Iranian myth-telling (نقالی) is the oldest form of myth-telling in Iran and has long played an important role in society. A narrator is someone who tells an epic narration and the content of his narrations is more about the story of the kings and heroes of Iran.]


In this piece, the composer (the storyteller) demonstrates a story inspired by the above mentioned origins and characteristics. It is an illustration of a ritual and the dialogues between the two characters. With the repetitions and patterns, the bell ring and the use of frame drum, the piece unfolds its’  abstract poem form, to an intimate dialogue exploring the idea of touch.” -  Anahita Abbasi




Anahita Abbasi is an Iranian born, San Diego based composer and curator. Her music has been described as “a dizzyingly sophisticated reverie - colorful and energetic” (The guardian). “This theatrical listening experience” “embodies tremendous timbral exploration and multilayered performance gestures” (de Volkskrant & Classical Voice America).


She received commissions by distinguished musicians around the world, such as M. Esfahani, S. Schick, R. Heller, International Contemporary Ensemble, Mivos Quartet, Ensemble Modern, Tak Ensemble and has been programmed at numerous venues and festivals, such as Mostly Mozart Festival, Kennedy Center, Lincoln center, Southbank Centre,  Darmstadt Ferienkurse, Tectonics, Niefnorf, Akademie der Künste Berlin, Klangspuren, IRCAM, Klang Festival, Experimental studio des SWR, BIFEM and many others.


Ms. Abbasi received several awards, including a work-scholarship from the Experimentalstudio des SWR, Freiburg (2014), a Morton Gold ASCAP young composers award (2015), a nomination for “women composers of our time” alongside K. Saariaho and I. Mundry (2017) and the composition prize of the Acht Brücken Festival (2019).

She is a founding member of Schallfeld Ensemble (Austria), as well as a curator and co-artistic director of IFCA, Iranian Female Composers Association (US.)


Ms. Abbasi holds a degree from the University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, Austria, and she is currently completing her PhD in composition at the University of California, San Diego.


Leila Adu-Gilmore – “Colour Wheel” (2013) – solo piano


I Headbangingly

II Clear Stream

III Rags

IV Devil-May-Care

V Mirage

VI Woods

VII Danse

VIII Hope and Fear


Dedicated to Jenny McLeod


“Between 1988 and 2011, Jenny McLeod wrote twenty-four “Tone Clock Pieces” for piano in several volumes; the pieces are varied, jewel-like and fluid… I fell in love with Tone Clock piece II and pianist, Kate Campbell and I decided that III would be a nice complement to tonight’s program.


I responded to Jenny McLeod’s music because I came across her music and her expansions on tone clock theory many years ago; the audibility of "tone clock theory” struck me. In his article, “Crystalline Aphorisms: commentary and analysis of Jenny McLeod's Tone Clock Pieces I–VII", Mike Norris lucidly explains:


“Given the poise and refinement of McLeod’s writing, as well as the somewhat unusual fact that the theory itself is explicitly contained in the title of the collection, the Tone Clock Pieces have become important exemplars for composers, musicologists and educators in Australasia. Tone-clock theory is, at heart, an attempt to develop a systematic approach to chromatic composition... In total there are 220 set classes in Forte’s theory, including 12 three-note classes (trichords). Peter Schat discovered that of these 12 trichords, 11 can be transposed and/or inverted in such a way that every note of the chromatic scale is generated once and once only. After exploring Schat’s ideas, McLeod discovered this property in other-sized set classes as well. In fact, she systematically examined every set class in Forte’s list, annotating whether or not it had this property, as well as noting many other transpositional and symmetrical properties that were not included in Forte’s lists of set classes. In addition, she also cross-referenced her findings with other chromatic techniques and theories, notably those of Messiaen, Boulez and Xenakis. This table—her “chromatic map”—is an extremely important, if little-known contribution to chromatic musical theory.”

(Canzona 2006, Composers Association of New Zealand)


I wanted to create each piece in such a way that I could focus and hear the qualities of each “hour” (organized collection of intervals) to pragmatically get my hands stuck into a theory that seemed overarchingly huge. I used Jenny McLeod’s “Tone Clock Theory Expanded: Chromatic Maps I & II” (SOUNZ: 1994) to “steer” one trichord (and once a tetrachord) with another for each movement — to create full chromatic saturation. I began each next movement with the chord that steered the last; hence, each hour bleeds into the last like a colour wheel. I enjoyed the natural feel of McLeod’s “Tone Clock Pieces” and I played with accelerating and decelerating along with differing fractional note lengths. For the final piece, I went crazy on the advice of Professor Lansky and read my chart diagonally… to make a sonic soup of the first movements. Enjoy!" - Leila Adu-Gilmore


Leila Adu-Gilmore recently produced her fifth album and has performed her songs and improvisations for voice accompanied by piano/organ, solo and with bands, touring to venues and festivals in Europe, Australasia, Indonesia, Russia and the United States. Adu-Gilmore is currently a Ph.D. fellow at Princeton University; since completing a B.Mus. (Hons.) at Victoria University of Wellington (N.Z.) and composing for ensembles including gamelan and orchestra, she has written instrumental and electronic music for film, theater, television documentary and dance.


Lieke Van Der Voort – “IAMTHERIBCAGE” (2018) for solo percussion and electronics


“Based on nightly thoughts and dreams, IAMTHERIBCAGE explores self-sabotage, fear of the self and, ultimately, the fear of fear.




Inside innards and indigo veins

Sweat on backs, doubt in heads

Slowly dissolving a voice

Becoming a static

Smother and suppress

Thoraxes with bones with marrow

Thought a trusty chaperone

Allow for sorrow trickling,

Seeping impermanence to

Undying safety.

Inhabit a ribcage

Perpetually knowing self

Inhibit a ribcage

Perpetually loathing self










I designed this carrion





Dutch composer and vocalist Lieke van der Voort’s works have been described as having “rare dramatic intensity”, “a strong signature” and “a voice that is important within the new generation of composers” (Neomemoire, 2019). She focuses heavily on improvisation, physical theatrical gesture and vocal use. Lieke frequently uses her own text, confronting the emotional-psychological impact of ongoing social issues. Current pieces include “Endings” (commissioned and premiered by Jumblies Theatre 2018), “center, unrestrained” (PIVOT, Continuum Contemporary Music, 2019), IAMTHERIBCAGE (Thin Edge New Music Collective, 2019), Damage/Visage (Émilie Girard-Charest, 2019) and “Is this a tomb or am I in love” (Women From Space Festival, 2020). She leads and vocalizes in Kontraband Kollektif, an art music collective, with its debut EP “Atropos” having been released in January 2018. 


Lieke was selected as a composer for Toronto Creative Music Lab 2017, Soundstreams Emerging Composer Workshop 2018, PIVOT 2018/19, and participated at Banff’s International Workshop in Jazz and Creative music, where she studied under the guidance of Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey and Okkyung Lee.



Franghiz Ali-Zadeh – “Habil-Sayagy (In the style of Habil) (1979)” for cello and prepared piano



Franghiz Ali-Zadeh studied piano and composition with Kara Karayev at the Baku Conservatory between 1965 and 1973, whose aspirant she was from 1973 to 1976. Upon completion of her studies she taught music history at the Conservatory in her native city until 1990. Beginning in 1990 she was a professor of contemporary music and history of orchestral styles. Ali-Zadeh has primarily lived in Germany since 1999. As a pianist she has been indefatigably committed to the works of contemporary composers of the former Soviet Union and of the Second Viennese School.

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh’s compositional style moves between the traditional music of her homeland of Azerbaijan and the (at times also experimental) music of the present day. Two forces are at work in her, she once said, and the new results from the contradiction between them. Her style is characterised by a bold synthesis of these two worlds. Ali-Zadeh creates music in which Eastern modal thinking merges with Western constructive elements.


tenmc performers

Amahl Arulanandam


With interests from baroque to metal, Toronto cellist Amahl Arulanandam is known for his musical versatility and ability to adapt to many genres. At home in studios, clubs, and halls, Amahl hopes to convey that musical expression is beyond labels.


Passionate about the music of our time, Amahl has performed with ensembles such as Soundstreams, New Music Concerts, Caution Tape Sound Collective, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Music in the Barns and Esprit Orchestra. He has had the opportunity to work with leading composers such as Salvatore Sciarrino, Ana Sokolovic, Luna Pearl Woolf, and Brian Current.  A co-founder of VC2 Cello Duo alongside colleague Bryan Holt, he has helped foster the creation of brand-new, genre-bending music for cello that is wholly unique, but wholly Canadian.  


Amahl has wholly embraced the bizarre sounds the cello has to offer and takes special pleasure in playing on areas of the instrument other than the strings.  


Amahl has performed alongside artists such as David Geringas, Robert Aitken, Steven Dann, Jeffrey Beecher, and Mark Fewer. He toured the US with Matt Haimovitz and Uccello, and was featured at the Salzburg Chamber Music Festival, Ottawa Chamberfest and Sweetwater Festival. Amahl co-founded VC2 Cello Duo alongside colleague Bryan Holt who continue to make waves with their genre-bending, engaging concerts.


Cheryl Duvall

Piano + Co-AD

Toronto-based pianist Cheryl Duvall has established herself as one of Canada's foremost contemporary music interpreters.


In 2012, she co-founded the "adventurous and smartly programmed" (Musicworks Magazine) chamber groupThin Edge New Music Collective. They've commissioned over 70 works, mounted multidisciplinary productions, and collaborated with leading performers like Charlotte Mundy, Jason Sharp, and Ensemble Paramirabo (with whom they recorded an album.) Widely noted for their direct engagement with composers—among them Linda Catlin Smith, Elliott Sharp, Barbara Monk Feldman, and Sarah Hennies—they've also toured and performed across Europe, and in Japan and Argentina.


A dynamic soloist and in-demand collaborator, Duvall has immersed herself in a wide variety of compositional aesthetics and collaborative endeavours. She is currently gathering bold new commissioned solo repertoire from Daniel Brandes (of the Wandelweiser collective), Kotoka Suzuki, James O'Callaghan, Emilie Lebel, and Anna Höstman. A former member of the wayward ensemble Bespoken, she has worked with the likes of stalwart choreographer Peggy Baker, cellist Paul Pulford, film composer Darren Fung, and Essential Opera. She released her debut solo album, Harbour, the piano works of Canadian composer Anna Höstman, in January 2020.

Nathan Petitpas


Percussionist Nathan Petitpas is passionate about contemporary music and loves premiering new compositions by living composers. He has been a member of the Thin Edge New Music Collective since 2012 and in this time has had many opportunities to do just that. In recent years he has also formed a percussion and violin duo with violinist Suhashini Arulanandam under the name Duologue. 


In his freelance work Nathan has performed with a diverse collection of organizations including the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan Ensemble, Against the Grain, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, FAWN Chamber Creative, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Cirque du Soleil, and many of the GTA’s other orchestras. He has also performed in various festivals and concert series including the Internationales Gamelan Musikfestival in Munich, Nuit Blanche Toronto, New Works Edmonton, New Music Calgary, Music on Main (Vancouver), Open Spaces in Victoria, the Music Gallery’s X Avant series, and NUMUS. 


Nathan has recently undertaken the project of writing and publishing music education materials under the name Dots and Beams. He currently has 2 books in print with 2 more coming in the fall of 2019. 


Nathan is an artist endorser of Dream Cymbals and Gongs and Mannion Mallets.

In light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, we have made the decision to postpone our Premieres IX concert and workshop until further notice. We thank everyone for your understanding and tireless support of TENMC.  Stay tuned for updates about our 2020/2021 season in the coming weeks!  We wish you all health and safety during difficult this time. 

Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh