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  • Kitchener City Hall - Carl Zehr Civic Square 200 King St W Kitchener, ON, N2G 1A9 Canada (map)
 The Freeplay Duo, Suba Sankaran and Dylan Bell

The Freeplay Duo, Suba Sankaran and Dylan Bell


In this collaboration with the Our World Festival and Summer Lights Festival, Open Ears is celebrating the summer solstice by holding the first Open Ears Regatta at the 125,000 litre Reflecting Pool at Carl Zehr Civic Square. We will begin the evening with our Dreamworld Jukebox, where multiple groups and sound sources ringed around the square simultaneously play an identical set list in their own style. Audience members and unsuspecting passersby can drift from one overlapping sound world to the next with strange continuity, while folding colourful origami boats and floating them with a lit tealight cargo in the fountain.

Read media coverage of the event.


The Kathryn Ladano and Michael Borkovic Duo, Ben Grossman, Jason White, the Sorbara-Aldcroft duo, David Jensenius, James Harley, Colin Labadie, SUPERCOLLIDER (Lori Freedman and Marc Boivin) and the Freeplay Duo (Suba Sankaran and Dylan Bell)


Jason White operates at the forefront of music-making and teaching in Waterloo Region. A co-founder of The Jazz Room, a resident pianist with the K-W Symphony, and a frequent collaborator with dancers, visual artists, architects, actors, and playwrights, his various performance projects have been seen in many venues running from jazz clubs and art galleries to 2,000-seat concert halls and back yards.  He has premiered more than 30 new works by composers from Canada, Germany, the United States, and Australia. His integration of brain science, experiential learning, and drawing out a student's intuitive skills has put Jason in high demand as an educator.   Jason holds a master's degree in contemporary piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where he graduated with highest honours. 


Qualified as “a musical revolutionary in the front ranks of the avant-garde” by Alex Varty of the Georgia Straight (Vancouver), Lori Freedman (clarinets) is internationally recognized as one of the most creative and provocative performers. She is a member of a select group known as “the renaissance musicians ” as her artistic activities cover many fields: performer of written music (well over one hundred works have been written for or premiered by her), composer, improviser, teacher, and on occasion, writer. While managing a full performance schedule of more than 75 public appearances a year, her discography comprises 59 recordings 10 of which are feature albums. In addition, Freedman has been receiving fairly constant commissions to write music for an eclectic array of ensembles and soloists.


Ben Grossman is a Canadian hurdy-gurdy player, percussionist, composer and improviser. He performs both as a soloist and as part of various ensembles. Ben's work is featured on over 80 CDs. He has also been recorded for film soundtracks, radio dramas, as well as for television shows and commercials.

Grossman was part of the music team awarded the 2005 Golden Sheaf Award in the Best Original Music Non-Fiction category for the Ali Kazimi film, Continuous Journey. He has performed live with the Toronto Consort, Ensemble Polaris, La Nef, BT, Loreena McKennitt, (amongst others) and in various solo and ensemble improvisational events. Grossman’s first solo album, Macrophone was released in 2007 and features a unique two CD form for simultaneous, aleatoric playback.

Grossman has presented hurdy-gurdy workshops and lessons with Valentin Clastrier, Matthias Loibner, Maxou Heintzan and Simon Wascher. He currently focuses on his efforts in applying the hurdy-gurdy to early, traditional, experimental and ambient music. His goal is to explore the wide range of sound possibilities of this acoustic synthesizer.


Colin Labadie is a Waterloo-based composer and performer whose output includes concert works, improvisation, sound art, and sound design for theatre. Colin's work has been performed across Canada and internationally by various groups and individuals, including New York New Music Ensemble, Arraymusic, NODUS Ensemble, QUASAR Saxophone Quartet, Penderecki String Quartet, Stealth (Kathryn Ladano and Richard Burrows), Enterprise Quartet, University of Alberta Symphony Orchestra, Roger Admiral, Allison Balcetis, Chelsea Shanoff, Laura Jordan, Lisa Cella, and Robert Bekkers . His work has been featured at soundSCAPE, the Atlantic Music Festival, the Edmonton Fringe Festival, NIME, Soundasaurus Festival of Multimedia Sound Arts, NME Festival of New Music, Nextfest, Sea of Sound, the Works Art and Design Festival, the Expanse Movement Arts Festival, and the Vancouver International Writers Festival. His piece Elusions for string quartet was awarded top prize in the Canadian University Music Society's Student Composer competition.

Colin is currently pursuing a Doctoral degree in Composition from the University of Alberta with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts.


Kathryn Ladano is one of Canada’s premiere bass clarinettists, and is a specialist of contemporary music and free improvisation. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in honours music from the University of Waterloo, and her Masters of Music degree from the University of Calgary. Kathryn is currently the Artistic Director of NUMUS concerts and the co-Director of ICE (Improvisation Concerts Ensemble) at Wilfrid Laurier University. This spring Kathryn completed a cross-Canada tour as an improvising soloist and she has released two albums, her 2010 solo release, “Open”, and her 2015 release, “…Listen” with her duo, Stealth. Kathryn is currently pursuing her PhD at York University.

Michael Borkovic is a senior student at Wilfrid Laurier University and is following his degree in music education with a second degree in composition and improvisation. He has spent the last year performing in various venues around Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph including Hillside Festival, The Jazz Room, The Button Factory and café’s and coffee houses. Michael draws on extended techniques extensively in his performances in an attempt to not only detach the saxophone from it’s conventional role in jazz music but also its role as a melodic instrument. By allowing the saxophone to react naturally to changes in his throat and body during the performance, he introduces the element of chance in his improvisations creating unique sonic textures and atmospheres.


Multifaceted musicians Suba Sankaran and Dylan Bell join forces to create the FreePlay Duo. Described as “inspired eclecticism”, Dylan and Suba will take you from the concert halls of Europe, to the jazz clubs of Manhattan, to the temples of India, and back to the cultural mosaic of their native Toronto… all without leaving your seat. From Bach to Bird to the Beatles, Dylan and Suba effortlessly cross musical boundaries, continually combining and recombining sounds to create a concert of endless variety, with the intimate delivery of two people. Imagine Simon and Garfunkel crossed with a Bach 2-part invention... or an acrobatic jazz melody combined with ancient Indian solkattu... or an 8-part vocal arrangement created by two singers, using innovative live-looping techniques... and you'll get a glimpse of what the Duo has to offer.

Dylan and Suba first met in Toronto in 1993, singing in a jazz choir at York University called "Wibijazz'n'": soon after, they started directing the choir together. At their year-end concert, Dylan and Suba performed an a cappella "director's duet", and the Duo was born. What started as a typical voice-and-piano jazz duo began to evolve: more instruments were added, and more musical styles explored, to create a duo unique in its musical depth and variety. 

The FreePlay Duo's uniquely diverse concert program has taken them across Canada and around the world, with stops all across Europe, Scandinavia, South Asia and the Far East. Their self-titled debut album was released in May 2009. Partners offstage as well as onstage, Dylan and Suba delight in exploring music together, and in bringing this joy to audiences worldwide.


James Harley is a Canadian composer presently based in Ontario, where he teaches at the University of Guelph. He obtained his doctorate in composition at McGill University in 1994, after spending six years composing and studying music in Europe (London, Paris, Warsaw). His music has been awarded prizes in Canada, USA, UK, France, Poland, Japan, and has been performed and broadcast around the world. Some of Harley’s compositions are available on disc (Artifact, ATMA, Centrediscs, Dame, Kappa, McGill, Musicworks, PeP, Soundprints) and his scores are primarily available through the Canadian Music Centre. He has been commissioned by, among others, Codes d’Accès, Continuum, ECM, Hammerhead Consort, Kappa, Kore, New Music Concerts, Oshawa-Durham Symphony, Open Ears Festival, Polish Society for New Music, SMCQ, Transit Festival Leuven, Transmission, Trio Phoenix, Vancouver New Music. He composes music for acoustic forces as well as electroacoustic media, with a particular interest in multi-channel audio. As a researcher, Harley has written extensively on contemporary music. His book, Xenakis: His Life in Music (Routledge) was published in 2004. As a performer, Harley has a background in jazz, and has most recently worked as an interactive computer musician, notably in the duo ~spin~ with flutist Ellen Waterman.


David Jensenius is a composer who utilizes collage, phonography, and electronics to create sonically challenging listening experiences. David is a member of SPURSE, a research and design collaborative that catalyzes critical issues into collective action, and a founder of the improvisational group Polish Club. Through a playful transformation of conceptual and material systems, David develops problems worth having, engaging across scales and complexities both human and nonhuman. David?s work has been exhibited internationally including New York (Issue Project Room, Union Square Farmers Market, and Columbia University), Kansas City (Grand Arts), Cleveland (Inginuity Fesitval), London (Reonance FM), Poland (Galeria Arsenal Bialystok). 


Joe Sorbara is a highly inventive drummer and percussionist with a penchant for coaxing music out of practically anything. Joe's drumkit is regularly augmented with found and prepared materials which ensure that the sounds at his ready disposal are practically orchestral in scope. He combines these skills with an extraordinary time-feel that makes him one of the most swinging drummers in Canada when the music demands it of him. He is equally at home playing jazz standards, free improvised music, punk rock, and chamber music—but prefers to play them all at the same time. He leads The Imperative, a trio featuring Jay Hay and Karen Ng on tenor saxophones, and two large ensembles: the ten-piece Abakos and a ‘seven-or-more-tet’ known as Other Foot First. Each of these serve as uniquely challenging outlets for his inventive compositions. Elsewhere, Joe plays in Ken Aldcroft's Convergence Ensemble, an improvising duo with Paul Dutton, the AIMToronto Orchestra, and Lullaby North, as well as in numerous ongoing and ad hoc collaborations with creative improvising musicians from all over. In addition to the above, he has recorded with Evan Parker, Anthony Braxton, Anna Siddall, the Remnants Trio, Ronda Rindone's Quorum, Tom Arthurs and Bruce MacKinnon, Glen Hall, and Peter van Huffel. He can also be heard--alongside Tania Gill, Peter Lutek, and Scott Peterson--interpreting Mitchell Akiyama's music for the score to David Hartt's 2015 film, Interval. As an educator, Joe teaches at the University of Guelph where he works with young drummers in the applied music program as well as directing a large ensemble known as the CME. At home in Toronto, he teaches privately and through the Regent Park School of Music. He is also a stalwart creative music organizer, a founding Board member of AIMToronto, a member of the Somewhere There collective, and has been the director of the weekly Leftover Daylight Series since its inception in 2003.

With a rigorous and pan-idiomatic approach to both composition and improvisation, guitarist Ken Aldcroft is a key practitioner in Canada's dynamic creative music scene. His playing reflects the breadth of his interests, from the extended bebop of a jazz repertory project like Hat & Beard, performing the music of Thelonious Monk, to the language of free improvisation that he explores in collective improvisational settings such as ongoing collaborations with NY bassist William Parker and saxophonist Andy Haas or one off performances with artists such as Wilbert DeJoode, Joe McPhee, John Oswald and Lori Freedman to name just a few. 

As a bandleader, Ken's projects have provided increasingly nuanced contexts in which his compositional and ensemble-related ideas find voice. The evolution of the Ken Aldcroft Convergence Ensemble reflects his development in these regards as well as the expanding scope of music played by groups under his leadership. While his Group, Quartet and Trio + 1, his trio of projects during the early 2000s, synthesized models from jazz and derivative musical traditions, the Convergence Ensemble expands the frame of stylistic reference and conceptual depth considerably. 

Concurrent with this trajectory as a performing musician is Ken's commitment to supporting the creative music scene in Toronto as an organizer and producer. From 2010 to 2012 Ken was a member of the Somewhere There Collective, and was a founding board member and the first president of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto (AIMToronto). 


A generous and prolific dancer whose career has spanned nearly 25 years, Marc Boivin has worked and performed in Quebec, Canada and abroad. The evocative power of his numerous appearances on stage has been repeatedly acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. He began his career in 1982 with Ottawaʼs Groupe de la Place Royale, under the direction of Peter Boneham, and has since lent his interpretive qualities to many choreographers and projects. He joined O Vertigo, under choreographer Ginette Laurin, in 1985, participating in the companyʼs earliest creations and in several tours in Canada, the United States and Europe. He began to work as a freelance ar t i s t in 1991. Many renowned choreographers such as Louise Bédard, Sylvain Émard, André Gingras, Jean-Pierre Perreault, Dominique Porte, James Kudelka, Tedd Robinson, Felix Ruckert and Catherine Tardif have since solicited his talent and skill as a dancer for their works. Over the years, Boivin has also taken part in numerous improvisation projects, which have proven to be determining influences in the artistʼs trajectory. Indeed, these experiences have inspired his own passion for choreographic creation and shaped the quality of imagination that he brings to his pieces. In 1999, Marc Boivin was awarded the Jacqueline Lemieux Prize by the Canada Council for the Arts.

While Marc Boivin has long evolved as a performer, giving shape and meaning to the languages of different choreographers, he has also developed a marked interest for creation. His fascination with human beings nourishes his desire to explore a choreographic vision and voice of his own. His first choreographies were realized in the context of teaching activities, commissioned by prestigious schools in Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. These gave rise, among several other pieces, to La Fracture, a dance created for LADMMI students in 2006 and subsequently remounted at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, where he also created Aria. Between 2004 and 2008, he created solos for two professional dancers, respectively To Somewhere else for Jolene Bailie (Winnipeg) and Between here and now for Jennifer Dallas (Toronto), as well as the group piece Fragments, for Code Universel in Quebec City.

Marc Boivin is highly involved in the contemporary dance milieu, and has played an influential role in its emancipation on the larger art scene. He is President of Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault since 2005, and was a member of the Conseil des Arts de Montréal from 2006 to 2010 and RQD president from 2010 to 2014.