Interplay with Northern Oracle (Heather Hart), November 2018

ARJA KASTINEN (Finland), kanteles

BEN GROSSMAN (Canada), hurdy gurdy/vielle à roue/Drehleier

ALISON MELVILLE (Canada), recorders, traverso

Weaving a musical fabric of shimmering, pungent and surprising sounds, AAB brings together three instrumentalists from diverse musical worlds. Arja, Ben and Alison joined forces in 2018, after years of knowing each other, to create programs of new, traditional and experimental music.

Though AAB‘s primary focus is on improvising as a trio, their repertoire also includes solos and duos, compositions and arrangements of their own, and music by composers such as Linda C. Smith, Jörg Frei, James Tenney and others, some of which were created for the members of AAB.

They are also intrigued by working with the natural acoustic of diverse spaces. A particular pleasure was their November 2018 interaction with Northern Oracle, a rooftop installation by Heather Hart, at the Rodman Hall Art Gallery in St. Catharines, ON. Sincere thanks to the Gallery Players of Niagara for the invitation!

Ben Grossman is a busy musician and sound artist: improviser, studio musician, composer, and noisemaker. He works in many fields, having played on over 100 CDs, soundtracks for film and television, composition and sound design for theatre, dance, installations, work designed for radio transmission, and live performances spanning early medieval music to experimental electronics. Ben’s tools of choice are electronics, percussion, and especially, the vielle à roue (hurdy gurdy), a contemporary electro-acoustic string instrument with roots in the European middle ages. Through extended techniques, and sometimes electronic processing, Ben seeks to use it as a physical interface into sound creation, spontaneous composition and the exploration of acoustics, form and extended aesthetics. www.macrophone.org

Kantele player Arja Kastinen is deeply and irrevocably rooted in the study of the essence of improvised kantele music as part of the ancient Finnish Karelian runosong culture. The rich acoustic properties, temperaments, scales and resonances – all of which affect the message the music conveys from the past – are explored through the details of various museum kantele replicas. In addition to studying the ancient music culture, she also makes new music based on it, and actively teach both adults and children. She has led a busy performing career in Finland for close to 30 years, and has also given concerts in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, Ireland, Serbia, the USA, Canada, Russia, Vietnam and Brazil. In 2000 she was the first Finnish folk musician to complete the Doctor of Music degree at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy, inspired by and focusing on the ancient kantele improvisation tradition from Karelia. Arja Kastinen can he heard on over twenty-five CDs, including several solo recordings, and has published numerous articles and books on various aspects of kantele playing. She received a Finnish state grant for the years 2018-2022, and began a position as a visiting researcher at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department in 2021. http://www.temps.fi/en/arja-kastinen/

Alison Melville‘s career as a performer on recorders and historical flutes has taken her across North America and further afield, most recently to Switzerland and Finland. As a member of Toronto Consort and Ensemble Polaris and a guest with many other ensembles, she has played in venues ranging from Tokyo’s Bunkamura Hall and NYC’s Carnegie Hall to cinemas, convents, gardens, libraries, barns, ferries, school gymnasiums, and prisons. Her extensive international TV, film and radio credits include the soundtracks of The Tudors, CBC-TV’s beloved ‘The Friendly Giant,’ films by Atom Egoyan, Malcolm Sutherland and others, and broadcasts in the UK, Iceland, and New Zealand. Alison can be heard on over 60 CDs, including several critically acclaimed solo recordings. On the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory (OH) from 1999-2010, she now teaches at the University of Toronto and at workshops across North America. Wearing a different hat, she is also sometimes found making monotype and collagraph prints. www.alisonmelville.com

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November 2018 – an informal evening at Toronto’s Tranzac Club