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The Toronto Consort | Ensemble Polaris | Baroque Music Beside the Grange

Ensemble Polaris

Ensemble Polaris
Marco Cera, guitar; Kirk Elliott, harp, bagpipes, accordion, violin, psaltery, etc.; Ben Grossman, hurdy gurdy; Jeff Wilson, percussion, saw; Margaret Gay, cello; Alison Melville, flutes, recorders, seljefløyte; Katherine Hill, voice, violin, nyckelharpa; Colin Savage, clarinet, bass clarinet, recorders; Debashis Sinha, percussion
[Photo Credit: Paul Orenstein]

Latest News:

Announcing Ensemble Polaris’s latest CD,
Nutcracker Nouveau
. Distributed by Naxos of America.

Available for digital download (worldwide) as of October 1/13, and for CD purchase from North American retailers as of October 29/13

Uncharted Waters

Premiered at St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre in December 1892, Tchaikovsky’s music for The Nutcracker received glowing praise, but the ballet production itself was not a roaring success. No one could have predicted that almost seventy-five years later The Nutcracker would become a festive season favorite, a ‘Christmas bonus’ for ballet companies around the world.

In their brand-new release Nutcracker Nouveau, Ensemble Polaris celebrates Tchaikovsky’s popular music with influences ranging from traditional Scandinavian, bluegrass, Roma and Klezmer to Chinese classical and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and juxtaposed with instrumentals and songs from Russian folk tradition. Music to bring you good cheer, at any time of year!

Ensemble Polaris acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada’s private radio broadcasters.

Uncharted Waters voted Best of 2012

Our CD Uncharted Waters received a great honour recently, in being voted Best of 2012 by KMUW-FM’s award-winning show Global Village! Read more

Here’s another review of Uncharted Waters:

“Just occasionally, something joyously bonkers and genuinely creative enough to reaffirm one’s faith in the music industry all over again comes along, and this month, this disc is The One for me; my latest ‘happy disc.’…Bonkers but brilliant.”

Recorder Magazine, summer 2012

Ensemble Polaris continues to delight on all levels – conceptually, musically and creatively... the ensemble achieves a musical cohesion and level of communication and symmetry that might not seem possible on paper…”

The WholeNote, 2012

Ensemble Polaris is a gem.”

The Voice, 2012

Ensemble Polaris was founded in the spring of 1997 and first performed for Toronto's Northern Encounters Festival later that year. Made up of seven gifted instrumentalists from the Toronto early, folk, new, improvisational and 'independent' music communities, the group reflects an uncommon and exciting diversity of musical backgrounds and sensibilities.

After a fantastic tour to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in the summer of 2009, Polaris headed out west in the spring of 2010 for concerts in Alberta and British Columbia. Many thanks to the Canada Council Touring Office for making these tours possible!

Further touring plans are afoot, so stay tuned.

Upcoming shows:

September 30/14 @ 7:30 pm
Definitely Not the Nutcracker
Barrie Colours of Music Festival, Barrie, ON

October 3/14 @ 8 pm
Back to the Future – Swedish Tunes New and Old
918 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON

December 11/14 @ 8:00 pm
Definitely Not the Nutcracker
Aurora Cultural Centre, 22 Church St., Aurora ON

December 27/14 @ 7:30 pm
Nutcracker Nouveau Plus - Our traditional ‘in-between-festivities’ winter concert!
Some new tunes, some new favourites.
The 918, 918 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON

January 18/15 @ 2 pm
Definitely Not the Nutcracker with the Gallery Players of Niagara,
St. Catharines, ON

May 15/15 @ 8 pm
The Distance Between
New music and films…a collaboration with students and faculty
from Ryerson University.
The 918, 918 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON

Write to Polaris at, and check the band’s own website:

Ensemble Polaris wishes to express its thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts, Toronto Arts Council, and Ontario Arts Council for their support of these events.

Canada Council, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council logos

Check out Polaris on YouTube:

For sound clips, concert dates and other info, check out


Not Much is Worse than a TrollVIKINGS on VACATION - 2009

VIKINGS on VACATION, our third CD, was released in August 2009. Available for sale in North America at your local CD store as of October 2010, distributed by Naxos of America. Also available as a digital download from your preferred e-vendors. Anyone outside Canada or the USA searching for Polaris CDs can contact us at: or at

Not Much is Worse than a TrollNot Much is Worse than a Troll - 2005

Polaris’s second CD, an all-instrumental program featuring original band compositions as well as many new arrangements of traditional Nordic tunes. Instruments added to the mix include bass clarinet, Norwegian seljefløyte, and one track with squeaky toys.

Midnight SunMidnight Sun - Dorian 93195, January 2000

Traditional tunes from Scandinavia, the Baltic and Scotland with a Canadian twist.

A.M. on flute/recorder with Colin Savage, clarinet/recorder; Margaret Gay, cello/button accordion; Catherine Keenan, hurdy-gurdy; Kirk Elliot, harp/guitar/mandolin/dulcimer/pipes; Terry McKenna, lute/guitar/bouzouki; Ben Grossman, percussion/santur/jew's harp; and guest vocalists Sarah Granskou and Tiina Orpana. Available at

From happy customers at

“Take my advice friends – this is a GREAT recording! I dare you not to love this music. This music is inventive. This music is full of passion. This music made me like the clarinet…an instrument I’ve despised since my days in middle school.”
“Each arrangement seems so perfectly matched to nuances of each song…I’m hoping for more great stuff from this group.”
“Listening to this wonderful music, I cannot help but think that J.R.R. Tolkien would have loved it…I hope that Ensemble Polaris makes more music, and soon.”

Alison can be contacted at

Banner photos: Paul Orenstein

“Ancient songs with extraordinary words, laments and dances are all reworked here for modern ears. The arrangements are absolutely spot on - inventive yet never flashy, the result stimulating yet meditative...a tantalising, beautiful collection...”

—Classic CD