Ester Rada

Small World Music Society
Toronto, ON

Part of the Small World Music Festival presented in association with Batuki Music Society and Koffler Centre for the Arts.

Ethiopian-born Israeli singer Ester Rada’s cross-cultural sound blends classic soul with African influences of Fela funk and Ethiopiques cool jazz. Singing in English and Amharic, her irresistible voice carries echoes of Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald, while standing shoulder to shoulder with contemporary greats like Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu.

Glamorous and exotic, Ester Rada was born in Israel of Ethiopian heritage. She spent her mandatory army service singing in a military band, then forged an amazing hybrid out of Afropop and the contemporary music happening in Tel Aviv’s ultra-hip clubs. What emerged was a soul singer influenced as much by Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin as by Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. Ester released her debut EP in 2013 and became an overnight sensation, soon gaining wide acclaim on a tour of North America and Europe – including a celebrated appearance at England’s renowned Glastonbury Festival and the opportunity to open for Alicia Keys in Israel. Often called a retro-soul singer in the manner of Janelle Monae, the velvet-voiced Ester combines torch jazz, funk, and even reggae with enough touches of so-called “Ethio-jazz” to give her a unique and compelling sound. Gal Dahan saxophone, Ben Hoze guitar, Michael Guy bass, Lior Romano keyboard, Dan Mayo drums, Inon Peretz trumpet, Maayan Milo trombone

“Rada … brought a highly contagious, joyful energy to the stage.” – Rochester City


sum - [su:m]

Small World Music Society
Toronto, ON

[su:m] mix traditional Korean instrumentation with a dramatically modern approach to produce hypnotic 21st Century soundtracks.

or in English – A Rythmic Space / a Pause For Breath – consist of two young and talented artists who are happen to be sisters. Jungmin Seo and Jiha Park are classically trained and have been producing modern music on ancient instruments together since 2007. They use an impressive list of exquisite sounding Korean instruments in their work: Piri-Bamboo Oboe, Saenghwang-Mouth Organ, Yanggeum-Dulcimer, 25-string Gayageum-Zither and the steel string Gayageum.

Respiration is essential in music, especially in traditional Korean music. Sometimes a soft sigh, sometimes a gasp, and sometimes a silent holding of breath. For [su:m], music is a way to express the essence of living and the duo has been telling stories in the language of music since it was formed in 2007. The duo compose and perform their own compositions with the aim of exposing audiences to ancient sounds and traditional instruments to the dynamic influence of modern life. Lyrical and reflective passages grow into flurrying swirls of sound, form insistent rhythmic patterns evoking the breathless pace of urban living, and return to the inner space to pause and breathe again. An unforgettable Toronto debut!


Vieux Farka Touré featuring Julia Easterlin

Small World Music Society
Toronto, ON

The Small World Festival is thrilled to welcome back one of our favourite artists. Vieux Farka Touré is known for dazzling crowds with his speed and dexterity on the guitar, as well as his palpable charisma and luminous smile, both of which captivate audiences around the world.

Son of Malian music legend Ali Farka Touré, Vieux has transcended his family legacy to become a true world music superstar in his own right, forging a singular identity as a singer, guitarist, and composer whose influences range far beyond his homeland. He was strongly discouraged from playing music by his father, who wanted to spare his son from the harsh realities of a musician’s life. Despite the paternal disapproval, he began playing guitar with the encouragement of Malian kora virtuoso Toumani Diabaté. Touré’s 2007 self-titled debut album was an unmistakable statement of purpose, full of richly soulful songs that blended the African guitar tradition with American blues and rock, all built on Touré’s virtuoso guitar playing – a signature that cemented his reputation as the ‘Hendrix of the Sahara’.

Vieux is also known for his critically-acclaimed collaboration with Israeli superstar Idan Raichel: The Tel Aviv Sessions. This year, Vieux is preparing to release another unexpected, genre-bending collaborative album, this time with New York-based singer Julia Easterlin, aptly titled ‘Touristes’. With each new project, Vieux expands his horizons, embraces new challenges and further entrenches his reputation as one of the world’s most talented and innovative musicians. Touré’s new album, aptly titled ‘Touristes’, is a collaboration with New York-based singer Julia Easterlin. Mixing traditional Malian songs and the sounds of ancient Africa with blues and rock, Vieux Farka Touré creates world music for the 21st century.


Maarja Nuut

Small World Music Society
Toronto, ON

Part of the Small World Music Festival

Estonian fiddler and singer Maarja Nuut is fascinated by the tunes of old village musicians, traditional dance tunes, songs and stories. She takes these elements and creates something exquisitely unique and contemporary using live electronics. Her approach is gentle, subtle and sensitive, yet she exudes a quiet confidence as she gradually builds up a shimmering sonic poem from a single violin motif, deftly looping it and adding harmonic layers with voices and violin improvisations.

’ ... a striking solo violinist rooted in local folk but taking it closer to the psychedelic. A transfixing performance.’ (Mojo / The Arts Desk)

Maarja says: “In my music, I am looking for peace, but not in the lazy inactive sense. It’s a lively relaxed state which gives rise to music and makes you want to prolong being in the moment and concentrate, which alters the way I see, hear and perceive. It is always now and old tunes are as fresh as improvisations which were born a second ago”. In the spring of 2013, Maarja released her debut album “Soolo” which has received a lot of attention and acknowledgement around the world and was chosen as one of the favourites of the 2014 WOMEX showcases

‘Nuut may still be in her twenties but she’s already sufficiently immersed in traditional village music to confidently use it as a basis for very individual experimentation, live looping in an extraordinary fashion.’ (fRoots Magazine)


Krar Collective

Small World Music Society
Toronto, ON

Part of the Small World Music Festival presented in association with Batuki Music Society.

Krar Collective will serve up mind-blowing Ethiopian grooves on their Toronto debut. Armed with their krar, kebero drums and stunning vocals, they have created Ethiopia Super Krar – a sound rooted in tradition and soaked with attitude.

“unlike any other music from Africa in recent years. It’s at once accessible, beautiful, and energetic.” – All Music Guide

The unstoppable trio, dubbed ‘the White Stripes of Ethiopia’ for their minimalist rocky sound, are favourites on the London scene and increasingly on the international live circuit. They are renowned for dynamic performances of their contagious music and dance moves. The instrumental line-up features the krar and bass krar lyre, kebero drums, a one stringed masenqo fiddle and a washint flute accompanying the band’s distinctive vocals.

Band leader Temesgen Zeleke and Genet Assefa share lead singer role. Genet is magnetic in performance – her soaring ululations and perfectly delivered melodies fill the spacious sound. Temesgen Zeleke is a revolutionary krar player – standing to strum and pick his electrified instrument, often kneeling to the floor during his killer solos in intense Hendrix fashion, all on just six open strings. As a young student Temesgen was mentored and encouraged by legendary Ethio-jazzman Mulatu Astatke, and an instrumental arrangement by Astatke features on their debut CD. The famous Ethiopian actress Asnakech Worku, who pioneered the krar as an accompaniment to her emotional ballads during the 1960s and 70s, is also paid a tribute via a cover of her spine-tingling song ‘Endye Eyerusalem’.

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