Kuné quartet to bring international sounds to Cultural Centre in the Park

·4 min read

Aurora families will be able to discover the music of Latin America, Africa and the African Diaspora at Town Park this Saturday as the Aurora Cultural Centre hosts Kuné, Canada’s Global Orchestra, for a one-hour show for all ages.

An initiative of Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, Kuné, which means “together” in Esperanto, was developed to explore and celebrate Canada’s cultural diversity through music and connect everyone, regardless of background, with the universal language.

A large group made up of 11 Toronto residents who are immigrants from all parts of the world, Kuné has whittled the ensemble down to a quartet for their Aurora show, part of the Cultural Centre’s Kaleidoscope Family Series, to meet COVID protocols.

“With our Kuné Quartet, we try to recreate the same experience that is Kuné because we’re all about expressing what the experience of living in Toronto is like,” explains musician Matias Recharte, who came to Canada from Peru. “It’s so diverse with so many people from all over the world, we just have to work together, live side by side, we all have to study together and just experience life together. There is this curiosity about people, what they’re like, their language, culture, stories, everything. There is lots we can learn from each other and there is also lots we can teach each other. Kuné is really about that experience of having musicians from all over the world, who play instruments that don’t always play together, have different histories, and try to put them together in conversation in a way that is respectful, curious and playful and to try and bring together those sounds in a way that feels natural and not forced.”

When Kuné came together, they were a group of musicians from different cultures who had never met before. But, united by a love for music, the relationship between them blossomed.

“The thing that binds us, apart from our love of music, is the fact we are all immigrants and we all have the experience of leaving one home behind and creating a new home in Toronto,” he says. “That experience unites us and out of that experience is we also create this music and creating this music is also about the same experience. We take our [culturally-specific] instruments, present them to our friends and try to create something together out of that, create a new music, a new sound like the way we create a new home, the way we create new families when we’re here.

“When we bring a smaller version, like this quartet, we try to recreate that but at the same time… what Kuné is about: the conversation and dialogue. At the same time, because we’re smaller and it’s a more informal venue, there is more opportunity for interaction with kids, the audience, we can talk a little bit more about who we are, where we come from, we can spend a little more time exploring each instrument and showing you what they can do, what they sound like individually and collectively, and we can do more audience participation, engagement, and have them learn new things.”

Just two months before the beginning of the global pandemic, Kuné was on stage bringing their unique sounds to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. They commissioned new symphonic arrangements of their work and developed a repertoire tailored specifically for symphonies.

It was one of the last times they were able to have one-on-one interactions with their audience members and as they prepare to play Town Park next week, they are hoping the audience feels engaged and comfortable enough to ask questions and take part.

“It is about the energy you feel from people,” he says. “We can always feel when the audience is engaged, when they are interested. Since this is going to be an outdoor gig in the sun it is easier to see the audience and there is less separation than in a normal theatre where the stage is lighted and the audience is in the dark.”

For more information about Kuné: A Global Music Experience, including how to reserve your spot in front of the Town Park stage, visit auroraculturalcentre.ca/event/kune-a-global-musical-experience.

Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran

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