Sultans of String is preparing to officially launch the Sanctuary album at the Jane Mallett Theatre in Toronto on Nov. 4.
The event, part of the Canadian Arab Orchestra’s Festival of Arabic Music & Arts, will feature the core members of Sultans of String – Chris McKhool on violin, Kevin Laliberté on guitar and Drew Birston on bass – as well as many of the special guests from their latest album.
Artists include singer Leen Hamo and clarinet player Majd Sekkar, both of whom came to Canada as refugees from Syria.
Other new Canadians who will perform at the show include Padideh Ahrarnejad performing on Persian tar, Naghmeh Farahmand from Iran playing percussion, Donné Roberts, originally from Madagascar, singing in Malagasy, and Saskia Tomkins performing on the Swedish instrument the nyckelharpa. Tamar Ilana will be singing in Spanish and performing flamenco dance.
Joining virtually will be Turkish string group Gundem Yayli Grubu and others.
Creating this collection of songs from the global diaspora is personal for bandleader and violinist Chris.
“My family name would have been pronounced Makhoul back in Lebanon, but when my grandfather arrived in 1903, as a stowaway on a ship, he probably encountered a Scottish border guard that thought it would be nice to give the spelling a Scottish flair. Hence the oddball spelling for a Lebanese name,” he explained.
“These first Lebanese to Canada and the U.S. came with no money in their pockets, but with a tremendous drive to succeed. My grandparents saved up and opened a restaurant in Ottawa called the Laurier Tea Room, which did booming business after the war. The song from this project, “Hurricane,” is an ode to so many who came to the new world planning to work hard and save up enough to bring their loved ones over.”
Sanctuary is the second instalment in the Refuge Project. The first, simply titled Refuge, was heralded as “a fantastic, moving, dreamlike, epic, timely album” by Ken Micallef (Jazz Times, Stereophile, Downbeat) and won many awards including two Independent Music Awards for Instrumental Song of the Year and World Music Producer of the Year, and Producer of the Year at the 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards for bandleader and violinist Chris McKhool and co-producer John Bailey. The lead track, “Mi Santuario,” from Sanctuary was cited in John Bailey’s 2022 engineering Juno Award nomination.
One of the singers on Sanctuary, Yukiko Tsutsui, said “We need this uplifting music … a gift for people from all over the world to get to sing together and play together. It is so moving. The music has no borders. We feel good, and we feel love, that is the amazing thing about getting together to play music, feeling the strong emotional bond between players and audiences and we are sharing a beautiful moment and that is a very big part of the meaning for me, that people from all over the world can get together and share the music and the moment and love together.”
Sultans of String Sanctuary album launch
Special guests: Leen Hamo (vocals), Padideh Ahrarnejad (tar), Majd Sekkar (clarinet), Donné Roberts Music (vocals and guitar), Tamar Ilana (vocals and dance), Naghmeh Farahmand (percussion) and Saskia Tomkins (nyckelharpa)
Nov 4, 2022 at 7:30 pm
Jane Mallett Theatre
St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
27 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1B4
See Sultans of String live:
- Oct. 14-16 – Folk Music Ontario conference, London, ON (Sanctuary)
- Nov. 4 – Festival of Arabic Music & Arts, Toronto, ON (Sanctuary)
- Nov. 26 – Harmony Centre, Owen Sound, ON (Christmas Caravan)
- Nov. 27 – Registry Theatre, Kitchener, ON (Sanctuary)
- Dec. 4 – Gravenhurst Opera House, Gravenhurst, ON (Christmas Caravan)
- Dec. 10-11 – FirstOntario PAC, St. Catharine’s, ON with the Niagara Symphony (Christmas Caravan)
- Dec. 17 – Brookside Music, Midland, ON (Christmas Caravan)
- Dec. 18 – The McMichael Gallery, Kleinburg ON (Christmas Caravan)
- Dec. 19 – Algonquin Theatre, Ottawa, ON (Christmas Caravan)
- Dec. 20 – Concert Hall at Victoria Hall, Cobourg, ON (Christmas Caravan)
- Dec. 21 – Kingston Road Village Concert Series, Toronto, ON (Christmas Caravan)