Monthly Archives: June 2015

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AWARD-WINNING FLAUTIST & COMPOSER RON KORB RELEASES NEW ALBUM “ASIA BEAUTY” JULY 7th IN TORONTO

I’ve been aware of Toronto’s internationally acclaimed flautist and composer RON KORB and his music for many years, having attended one of his concerts back in the late 90’s – I remember being completely mesmerized by his flute playing; I never knew there were so many different types of flute or the vastly dissimilar sounds and tones each emits.

DSC00144g-1-sDSC07049Famous for playing a wide variety indigenous woodwinds from around the world, Ron’s critically praised music has been released in twenty countries around the world, and he’s toured extensively throughout Europe, North and Central America, Australia, South Asia, mainland China and Japan, performing for many heads of state and royalty. His compositions evoke imagery of the diverse cultural traditions and experiences he’s encountered on his travels.

Several months ago, I reconnected with Ron during a taping of the Rogers Daytime Toronto tv show and we started chatting in the green room about the release of his upcoming new CD, Asia Beauty. On Tuesday July 7th, Ron will be performing at Musideum, 401 Richmond St West (at Spadina) accompanied by renowned pianist Lou Pomanti with Linlin Wang on the Chinese Erhu, as he introduces Asia Beauty to world, classical and new age music fans. Tickets are $20 and available on Ron’s website: http://ronkorb.com/asia-beauty-tickets

Cover-2015(less green)His past albums have run the gamut of Celtic themes, a salute to the European masters, Native American, Japanese, mystical and even a Christmas album, all original works using a multitude of wind instruments accompanied by indigenous and traditional musical instruments. I asked Ron about his latest album and he shared his inspirations and the story behind the new album:
This album is the result of my travels through China over the past 13 years.  The music is inspired by the dramatic landscapes, ancient history, the people and their stories, the arts and culture and their dynamic present-time where, in cities like Shanghai, entire communities are changing rapidly. More specifically, as you flip through the album booklet you can see the background inspiration for each song. All the pieces have a unique story that reflects something about Asian culture.

????????????????????????????? KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAsia Beauty also features a beautiful 36 page picture book containing full colour photos of both rural and urban China. I asked Ron about these gorgeous photos:
I am proud that there are no stock photos in the picture book. Most of the original photography is by my wife, Jade, with a few shots taken by myself and others, notably Dan Shao. The exotic locations in China include: Guilin, Yangshou, Suzhou, Shanghai, and the Forbidden City in Beijing. Other locations include Hanoi, Vietnam and the gorgeous bamboo forest at Xitou in Taiwan.

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DSC08816-1Ron continued by telling the story behind his original songs on the album:
Seven of the songs from Asia Beauty are the musical setting of an original story called “Dragon Flute and the House of the Five Beauties” which I wrote in my hotel in Shanghai (where Ron is pictured below) after a week-long rehearsal schedule and concert performance. I spent an extra week travelling around and each night I would add a few more pages. I was inspired to write a supernatural story set in ancient China based on historical legend and some of my own experiences. There was even interest in turning the story into a feature length animated film, however, I’m happy that it’s finally available in the liner notes of the album.

SONY DSCOriginally I was going to call the whole album “The House of the Five Beauties” but as other songs included were not part of that story, I thought of calling the album simply “Asia”. I liked adding the word “Beauty” because the essence of the music is celebrating the beauty of Asian nature and also refers to “The Beautiful Sadness” aesthetic and the characters in “House of the Five Beauties”.

IMG_3304 ?????????????????????????????I noticed on his website that Ron has performed for many international heads of state and royalty over the years so I asked him how it feels to play in front of such prestigious audiences:
Aside from the diplomatic etiquette, the performing process is really the same. Music is about relating to each other as human beings. Personally, it is just as much a privilege to play for a King or Queen as it is for all audiences.

SONY DSC And I also asked him how Chinese audiences differ from Canadian audiences:
They come from a completely different perspective when it comes to appreciating the arts. I explain some of the cultural difference in the album with the song The Beautiful Sadness. I think the Chinese audiences are brutally honest and they won’t sit through something that they find boring. However, if your music touches them they will really show it enthusiastically.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA DSC04836g 147簽名會 SONY DSCWhich brought me to another question – does Ron see opportunities for other Canadian artists to explore the HUGE Chinese/South Asian music markets?
I think there are opportunities for Canadian artists but it is not as straightforward as expanding into the USA or Europe where we share a similar media culture and musical taste. I know some musicians who have tried to make it in China and been underwhelmed by the results and reaction from audiences.  There was one North American superstar who was performing there and after a few songs the audience began to leave en masse. There was another case where the audience was talking so loudly that the group stopped playing and lectured the audience on how to pay attention.

DSC04509g-1 With such a level of expertise, knowledge and personal experience, I asked Ron how long he has studied and played the flute, and which instruments are his favourites:
I started on recorder in elementary school and began playing flute in high school. I like each type of flute for different reasons. The classical flute has good intonation and pure tone but the mechanical key system lacks some intimacy, similar to the difference between an automatic transmission and a standard car. With the wooden flute your fingers touch the wood and you feel every curve and bump of the instrument. I also love the wonderful organic tone of the Chinese bamboo flute or wooden Irish flute.

20150623_174736With all this training and years of touring, Ron must have advice he could share with music students and aspiring performers so he offered the following:
Seek out the best teachers and learn the craft as best you can. Attend as many concerts of as many different genres as possible. As you develop, discover who you are as a person and learn how to express that through the flute. Resist copying other artists’ styles and develop your own special voice.

2015-02-13 20.34.59I mentioned to Ron that his upcoming CD release concert is being held in a unique venue, Musideum (pictured below), where I believe he had previously played, even collaborating with the owner, Donald Quan on musical projects:
Yes, I‘ve played there before and I even played at Musideum’s inaugural opening concert. I have known Donald since I was 17 and in many ways, our love of World Music has developed simultaneously. Musideum was the realization of a dream that took many years to create and it has become a wonderful Aladdin’s cave of exotic instruments from around the world. It has personal significance to me and that is why it’s so appropriate to launch my Asia Beauty there.

20150507_194347 20150507_194422 20150507_220351So we’re just a week away from the official release of Asia Beauty and as space is limited, I encourage fans of World, Classical or New Age-style music in the Toronto area to get your tickets now!

Asia Beauty CD Release

Tuesday July 7 @ 8pm (doors open 7:30pm)

Musideum, 401 Richmond St. West (at Spadina)

Tickets $20 available from: http://ronkorb.com/asia-beauty-tickets

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Thank you for supporting Canadian artists.

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WE’RE BAAAACK! ANOTHER VISIT TO PORT HOPE, ONTARIO, DELIVERS SURPRISES AND TREATS

On the one sunny day of this past week, my bestie, Erena, and I journeyed back to our favourite country town about an hour east of Toronto: Port Hope. It was Saturday and it was Farmers’ Market day in the parking lot behind the Municipal Offices so we tucked Erena’s vintage ‘vette into  a shady parking spot and strolled the market stands, grazing our way thru the yummy treats and picking up some new treasures from the craftspeople there, too.20150613_113207 20150613_114116 20150613_115948The overpowering fragrance of bacon beckoned me on towards The Social’s stall….yes, one bacon sandwich, please. Mmmmmm….20150613_113309Erena enjoyed some homemade perogies from the lady opposite the bacon…they were apparently so good that her eyes rolled back as she noshed away on half a dozen…LOL

20150613_113430I found some lovely local wines to wash down the bacon when I stopped in to say hello to Tim Kuepfer (below) of Broken Stone Winery in Pr. Edward County. www.brokenstone.ca  I found the pino noir very tasty and the other guests loved the chardonnay. Apparently Broken Stone participates in local wine tours so do check out their website to discover this emerging new wine region in Ontario.

20150613_113647 20150613_113853We then discovered Gary & Robin from the Tallboots Farm who were selling an awesome selection of jams, preserves, pickles, tarts, cookies and….oh boy….hand-crafted chocolates!! www.tallbootsfarm.ca   The jams were delish and both of us purchased a jar of the triple raspberry jam (I just had some on my toast for breakie this morning) and the chocolates we bought didn’t last long either!

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20150613_115702One lovely young local serenaded us as we all walked around…

20150613_121334…and we enjoyed meeting many of the farmers and vendors (below). As we got there a bit late (around 12 noon) most of the produce was long gone but we did see some massive radishes and lots of live tomato plants. We gotta come back earlier on summer Saturdays to grab the veggie deals.

20150613_115822 20150613_115828 20150613_115835 20150613_121326 20150613_120656Desperately needing a good cuppa coffee (and a quick tinkle) we left the market, walking thru the historic streets (below)…

20150613_121823 20150613_121859…and found our fave cafe, Queenies Bake Shop, the happiest shop on Walton St. The food and bevvies are superb and the hospitality warm and friendly. Thanks to the ladies and chef Adam (below) for looking after us once again.

20150613_124513 20150613_122352 20150613_122411No trip to Port Hope would be complete without a quick visit to Kenneth Bell‘s fabulous bling boutique just a couple of doors down from Queenies. www.kennethbell.com  Ken was heading off on a road trip with his wholesale treasures so we hung out with his assistant, Sherry (below) and played dress-up with young model, Madi (bottom pic) who showed us a very Rhianna-ish multi-strand chain necklace.

20150613_130326 20150613_124950 20150613_125721 20150613_125321We also spent some time (and dollars!) with the ladies of Bubbles & Gems, another few doors down from Ken’s store. Erena picked up some lovely jewellery there and I enjoyed browsing thru the groovy purses.  http://www.bubblesandgems.com/

20150613_135344 20150613_135347 20150613_135508We decided to take a quick nature break and visit the lakeside boardwalk just a little east of the downtown core as well as visit the beach at the foot of the Ganaraska River, so after a quick visit to our friends at Facey’s and Engine Gallery (see my previous blog posted in May), we headed off into the wilds of Northumberland County and look what we found…..sheer leafy bliss!

20150613_152407 20150613_152433 20150613_152612 20150613_152643 20150613_152900And we weren’t alone. One bold as brass chipmunk came right up to me, posing for pics and obviously looking for some nibblies. Next time we go, I’m taking peanuts with me as I have a feeling this little guy would take them right out of my hand.

20150613_153040 20150613_153041 20150613_153716We walked back to the car, then headed off towards town and hit the beach.

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20150613_155311 20150613_155415I had fun paddling in the cool waters of Lake Ontario…how clean and clear it was, too.

20150613_162353 20150613_162405 20150613_162820We decided to end our day in Port Hope by dining at Crawford’s Lakeview Cafe, just up from the beach. What a charming cafe with a lovely wrap-around porch where we dined on fish and chips (me) and a gourmet burger (Erena), topped off with homemade desserts of apple pie and icecream (me) and a lemon slice (Erena) …yummmm.

20150613_174458 20150613_191506 20150613_191415Apparently Crawford’s serves THE best breakfast for miles and Chef Pino Ruberto told us that his French toast and pancake stacks attract diners from miles around! We’ll be back for breakie soon, that’s for sure.
As we left the cafe, we witnessed what, to me, looked like a scene out of Jurassic Park: strange dinosaur-like creatures invading the streets.  I never knew baby Canadian geese looked so weird!

20150613_191549 20150613_191551So goodbye to the beach, the cafe and the goslings…Port Hope, we’ll be back again soon!

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Plan your own trip to Port Hope by first visiting:

http://www.visitporthope.ca/

http://www.porthopechamber.ca/

 

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URBANSOURCE CATERING/URBAN GALLERY HOSTS TOURISM TORONTO MEMBERS!

As the song says…”oh what a night”! We had an absolute blast last night at Urban Gallery (400 Queen St East, Toronto) when UrbanSource Catering hosted a special members’ social for Tourism Toronto event planners and corporate buyers.  Thanks to the hard work of TT’s Christopher Barry and Denise Belgrove, Urban had a full house despite the rain soaked tornado-like weather conditions (no flying monkeys or witches were harmed during the making of this event!).

20150610_153809 20150610_153801Before the guests arrived, the bar was set-up with wines from Pelee Island wineries (above), and Chef Lyndon laid out the sumptuous charcuterie table, complete with condiments courtesy of Whisky & Spice (booze-infused premium mustards made locally by Dan Gordon) – below.

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20150610_154929Urban Gallery’s current art show featuring Khat Karim‘s colourful paintings, looked awesome (below)

20150610_153852And the team gathered for a quick pic prior to the doors opening (below: Urban’s Kaspara, Calvin, and Wayne with Christopher from TT in white shirt sleeves)

20150610_154909Let the games being! Toronto’s best event planners and buyers poured in and what a fantastic group of industry professionals they were. Everyone was eager to taste UrbanSource Catering’s menu and view the gallery space for potential events, meetings, parties and social gatherings….and the concensus was a big thumbs-up!

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20150610_164953 20150610_174434(0) 20150610_175307We had a couple of prize draws and Urban partner Calvin got busy gathering everyone’s biz cards (below)

20150610_175010One of our fun interactive activities was an art board where guests were asked to draw their company logo and take selfies for social media sharing. Below, here are some of the guests having fun with the marker pens creating their own masterpieces!

20150610_175931 20150610_175123 20150610_175924 20150610_190625Below, Kaspara was finally able to lure Chef Lyndon out from the kitchen to enjoy the accolades and kudos for his yummy hors d’oeuvres….

20150610_183247…..and the team got together one more time to celebrate a fun and successful soiree, this time joined by Urban’s catering & events consultant Jean-Marc (below, far right)

20150610_154958Apart from showcasing the venue and catering to Tourism Toronto members, the party also marked the 30th business anniversary for UrbanSource Catering so bravo to partners Calvin Hambrook and Wayne Abell for weathering 3 decades of storms, recessions, ever-changing food trends and some of the strangest client requests (and that’s a whole other blog story!!).

20150610_153816If you’d like to learn more about the superb menus offered by UrbanSource Catering for corporate or private events, weddings, galas, fundraisers, etc., or the Urban Gallery space for rentals, please check out their weblinks below, as well as visiting the official Tourism Toronto website:

http://www.urbancatering.com/

http://www.urbangallery.ca/

http://www.seetorontonow.com/

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URBAN GALLERY LAUNCHES KHAT KARIM’S SHOW OF CONTEMPORARY ABSTRACT ART

Another fab soiree with the folks at Toronto’s Urban Gallery…last night they opened their month-long Under My Skin show for Canadian artist Khat Karim, featuring her wildly colourful and movement-filled abstract contemporary work.

20150604_181049Khat uses a variety of painting applications – hands, brushes and other unorthodox painting tools to drip, splash, pour, and layer paint to create her strikingly, raw, organic works of art. The intricate movements and swirls in her paintings capture the interplay of skill and unplanned occurrences that determines the final outcome. This process allows her to abandon self-control and surrender to her subconscious bringing forth an emotional release.

20150604_175707 20150604_180623Khat was surrounded by friends and members of her family (below) who came out to support and celebrate her show opening.

20150604_175927 20150604_184702 20150604_184914 20150604_184724(0)Fellow artists Angel Torres (below r) and Brenda Clews (centre) joined Snapd photographer Morgan (left) to admire Khat’s work.

Morgan, Brenda and AngelAnd I attempted somewhat unsuccessfully to snap a selfie or two (below) in front of my fave paintings….at least you can see Khat’s superb technique and colour palette in close-up.20150604_180141 20150604_180434…the crowds kept coming and soon the gallery was full of admiring art-lovers.

20150604_180101 20150604_181026 20150604_183740 20150604_183459Congrats to Khat…we hope to see lots of red dots over the coming weeks. Under My Skin runs until Saturday June 27th at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East. Check their website for hours: www.urbangallery.ca

20150604_181039 Seeing The Light Under My Skin IMG_0659