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Day 6: Toronto
The heat-wave continues. Somehow, I have inadvertently become the poster-girl for the hot weather. The moment anyone I’m talking to realises I’m Australian, I become the one-stop outpouring station for the heat wave that Toronto is experiencing. Now if I’m being truly honest, the heat is uncomfortable and muggy, but TOTALLY survivable from an Adelaide point of view. It’s not the searing, burning, oven-heat that threatens to take off your top layer of skin. It’s sort of mid-range Darwin hot. It hasn’t stopped me on my explorations, but it’s certainly slowed me down. Combined with the last vestiges of jet lag, it’s a veritable sedative. But not enough of stop me!
But rather than say, “Oh, this is NOTHING! You should feel the oven-roasting dry heat of Adelaide in the middle of January!”, I thought I’d cheer on the Canadians and just say, “Yeah, it’s pretty bad. I’m from Australia, and it’s pretty bad today.”
Thought I’d be encouraging.
Steps taken: 22,111, and what started off as somewhat of a rest day where I took the morning off after my delicious brunch at Early Bird Café ballooned out into an afternoon of non-stop wanderings. I re-emerged around lunchtime and finally ventured into downtown Toronto properly, having a second wander through the Toronto Eaton Centre, the St Lawrence Market, Toronto City Hall, Saint Andrews Church, and a mini-wander around the University of Toronto. Met up with Robs + Em to wander through the Art Gallery of Toronto, which was GLORIOUS for the cultural as well as the air-conditioning aspect.
One memorable meal or food item: My brunch at the Early Bird Café on Queen Street West this morning. Touted as “Toronto’s Top 10 Most Instagrammable Brunch Spots”, not only did it deliver in aesthetics, but the food was absolutely sensational. It was healthy and locally-sourced, but tasted delicious. I had a breakfast bowl with avocado, roasted tomatoes, sweet + white potatoes, mushrooms, kale, pickled radish and miso-flavoured “polenta congee”. Drool! And because it sounded so cool, I also ordered the “Blue Life Smoothie”, which was a blue spirulina, coconut water + flesh, banana, honey, and cacao-topped delight. The photo does not do it justice; this wasn’t a sort of blueberry-smoothie blue, it was a robin’s egg, baby-blue colour like no other.
One special photograph: Not sentimental, but definitely very cool; look at how these shoe displays have been organised!
One decent coffee: I didn’t have a coffee today. The smoothie took its place!
One amazing moment: Realising that I could pick the Canadian accent over the American! I chose people who very obviously looked like tourists to practise on, but there’s this wonderful mellow softness to the vowels in the Canadian accent that you don’t get from an American one. Go, those musician’s ears!
One unplanned detour/adventure: Deciding to take 5 extra minutes in the St Lawrence Markets, which led me directly to the maple butter tarts, the same ones that are mentioned in Anthony Bourdin’s Toronto Layover episode. So of course I had to have one!
20 minutes reading: A very Kinfolk-ish looking magazine called “Cereal” that was at the Early Bird Café this morning. There was a great article about the quality of living + sustainability in Tasmania!
30 minutes composing: Not so much composing, but composing-related. I’ve been invited to do a fabulous project where I will be mentoring + guiding up-and-coming composers, and this is right up my alley, my bread and butter. I LOVE the process of working with secondary and tertiary students, finding their voice, and linking individuality, sound, nuances, and practicality in their compositions. As a passionate educator who composes, I have seen and heard too many ensembles become vehicles for composers to show off their voice. While this is fine in one sense, I believe that the most relevant and satisfying experiences for ensembles, particularly children and youth ensembles, requires connection and understanding from the composer writing for them of their personality, their abilities, and where they need to develop. Not writing to be clever, but writing to deeply inspire and connect. An excellent composer who has full command of their language will be able to write and make an ordinary ensemble sound lifted up, nurtured, well-fitted, and musically extraordinary, because they are maximising every bit of their potential rather than writing for the sake of being clever.
So…I am constructing the framework for all the things I would like to teach in this project, all the things that I would like these new composers to consider, as well as how I think as an educator, and how all encompassing it is.
And I am loving it.