Let’s re-imagine how we interact with music, remix our expectations, and reinvent the musical conversation.
This three-stage, innovative, 100% Canadian-grown project bristles with new energy and collaboration. The project combines four commissioned quartets written by four Canadian composers, the turntable stylings of renowned scratch DJ Skratch Bastid, and the award-winning Afiara Quartet. The Canadian cast is rounded out by a recording team led by audio producer Theresa Leonard and audio engineer Pouya Hamidi, and executive produced by the Afiara Quartet and Christos Hatzis.
Four of the hottest, young composers in the Canadian scene write new string quartets for the Afiara Quartet as the bedrock of the project, "Spin Cycle". All hailing from Toronto, the city’s lauded multicultural elements all co-exist and dialogue off each other. With classical music as a common denominator, the group explores all the different types of music that have influenced individual upbringing, be it pop, reggae, hip hop, world, or other musics. This is the first stage: Four new quartets written for and performed/recorded by the Afiara Quartet.
In a specific element of engagement and collaboration, the works are repurposed and re-envisioned by the scratch stylings of renowned DJ Skratch Bastid. Skratch is one of the brightest lights in the scratch DJ scene as a multi-time world champion at the prestigious Scribble Jam competition. His ability to put together different sounds, songs, and genres, and make them into something wholly new is of the rarest talents in his field. This is the second stage: Skratch Bastid remixing the four quartets into four new solo works for turntables (performed and recorded by Skratch Bastid).
The idea of remixing is not new, but rarely if ever does the original artist or composer hear a remix and feel inspired to write another verse or bring again something new to the conversation. This true dialoguing of innovation and creation is the third stage of this project. Each composer hears what Skratch Bastid has done and have a chance to “respond”, by writing parts for the Afiara to play with (or against) the DJ’s remix. The idea of true collaboration coming from true conversation. This is the third stage: Afiara and Skratch Bastid perform four quintets derived from the composers responding to the remix from the 2nd stage, putting all the piece together into four Skratch Bastid/Afiara Quintets.
Three stages can be featured: solo quartet works, solo DJ remixing of the quartet works, and then culminating in four quintets, with string quartet + DJ.
Double album featuring 4 quartet works, 4 solo DJ remixes, and 4 quintets.
In the works:
The latest development is to take Kevin Lau's work to be presented in a Fourth Stage, where the Toronto Symphony plays an orchestral part to the five solo voices in DJ Quintet (String Quartet + DJ). This will be premiered March 5, 2016 at the TSO's New Creations Festival.
DJ SKRATCH BASTID
Over the past 15 years, Canada’s own Skratch Bastid has been spreading his skills and name around the world, one sweaty crowd at a time. What first started at DJ competitions like DMC, ITF, and Scribble Jam where he became a certified entertainer and show favorite has now affected the four corners of the globe, establishing him as a “DJ’s DJ” and a true master of the craft recognized by the best in the game.
At the rate of over 150 shows a year over the last decade, his reputation as one of the hardest working DJs in the world comes as no surprise. Increasingly heralded for his comfort and versatility in different styles – hip hop, funk, disco, club, rock and just about anything that makes people dance- the Bastid has rocked dance floors in Asia, Europe, Down Under and everywhere in between. With an incomparable hold in his country where he has become a staple of Canadian DJ history, he now celebrates his culture and community in his home base of Toronto and throughout Canada with the annual Bastid’s BBQ held every summer.
His collaborations at the concert series The Flex as well as his cross-country live A/V show Skratch Of All Trades have kept him one step ahead of the competition by pushing the boundaries of live DJing. In 2011, he officially began his ambassadorship of the widely-popular Red Bull Thre3style competition and has since been an integral part of its international success, touring with it globally.
This relentless approach to live performance always gives him a leg up as a producer, helping him craft some of the most critically-acclaimed production work in Canadian hip hop including the Juno nominated Situation album with Buck 65 and Shad’s Flying Colours, among others. His own remixes and blends have also amassed millions of plays and become supreme ammo for selectors around the world.
The turntable champion and crowd favorite is steadily taking his craft to new heights and bringing his audience along for the ride. Having rocked the bar many times, Skratch Bastid is always the first one to raise it.
THE AFIARA QUARTET
The Afiara Quartet is a dynamic and award-winning ensemble, described as "a revelation" (La Presse) with performances balancing "intensity and commitment" and "frequent moments of tenderness" (Montreal Gazette). After residencies at The Juilliard School and San Francisco State University, the Afiara are currently Fellowship Quartet at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The ensemble is winner of the Young Canadian Musicians Award, Concert Artist Guild, Munich ARD, and Banff International String Quartet Competitions, including the latter's Szekely Prize for the best interpretation of Beethoven. The Afiara has performed throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia, at such venues as Carnegie Hall’s Zankel and Weill Halls, the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Library of Congress in DC, Sao Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art, Pro Musica of San Miguel de Allende, London's Wigmore Hall, Austria's Esterhazy Palace, Munich’s Prinz Regenten Theatre, Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw, and the Royal Library in Copenhagen. Their relentless pursuit of beauty and discovery is documented in over 25 commissions of new music, new educational outreach initiatives for school children funded by the Ontario Arts Council, and projects with jazz virtuoso Uri Caine, Latin Grammy Award-winning producer Javier Limon, and ground-breaking scratch DJ, Kid Koala.
Valerie Li - Violin
Valerie Li, first violinist of the Afiara Quartet since its founding, has enjoyed performing at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Kennedy Center, Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw, and touring across North America, Europe, Brazil, Mexico, and China. In 2008, the quartet won the Concert Artists Guild International Competition as well as a top prize at the Munich ARD International Music Competition, and in 2010 won the Young Canadian Musicians Award and top prizes at the Banff International String Quartet Competition.
Ms. Li received her Bachelor of Music from the Peabody Conservatory, where she won the Marbury Prize and the Hulsteyn Award, and her Master of Music from the New England Conservatory. Her primary teachers include Miriam Fried, Herbert Greenberg, and Gwen Thompson, with whom she studied in her hometown of Vancouver. During her studies, Ms. Li was a fellow at Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival, performed at Taos School of Music, served as Concertmaster of the New England Conservatory Philharmonia and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, and performed with the Baltimore Symphony.
During the Afiara Quartet’s residencies at San Francisco State University with the Alexander Quartet and at The Juilliard School with the Juilliard Quartet, Ms. Li has had the opportunity to pursue her passion for teaching and coaching. Further opportunities have arisen though Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, Indiana University Summer String Academy, University of Alberta, and the Orkester Efterskolen in Holstebro, Denmark, as well as numerous outreach and educational activities. Ms. Li is dedicated to making the world of string quartets accessible and relevant to all, including her nephew, whom she shares with Afiara cellist Adrian Fung. His sister is married to Ms. Li’s brother.
Timothy Kantor - Violin
Violinist Timothy Kantor is the second violinist of the Afiara Quartet. He is the former concertmaster of the Evansville Philharmonic in Evansville, Indiana and a founding member of the Larchmere String Quartet, the Eykamp String Quartet in Residence at the University of Evansville. He has also performed as a member of the Kuttner String Quartet in residence at Indiana University, the chamber music and “Quartet in the Community” residencies at the Banff Centre, the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar and the St. Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar. He has performed with many of today’s leading musicians, including Joshua Bell, Jaime Laredo, Sharon Robinson, Atar Arad, Alex Kerr and the Pacifica Quartet.
Recently Mr. Kantor was featured as the Young Artist in Residence at American Public Media’s “Performance Today.” Mr. Kantor is devoted to the performance of new music and has participated as soloist, concertmaster and chamber musician with the New Music Ensembles at the Cleveland Institute of Music and at Indiana University. Mr. Kantor graduated with honors from Bowdoin College and has a Masters degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. His former teachers include Jaime Laredo, Paul Kantor, Stephen Kecskemethy and Andrew Jennings. He is currently finishing his doctorate in violin performance at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, studying with Mark Kaplan. Mr. Kantor is also a dedicated teacher and is the Assistant Professor of Violin at the Fundación por la Musica in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
Eric Wong - Viola
American violist Eric Wong received both graduate and undergraduate degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music studying violin with Paul Kantor, viola with Lynne Ramsey and Kirsten Docter, and chamber music with Peter Salaff and the Cavani Quartet. He subsequently earned an artist diploma from the Yale School of Music where he worked with Kazuhide Isomura. His chamber music collaborators have included the Tokyo Quartet, Sharon Isbin, Itzhak Perlman, Richard Stoltzman, Donald Weilerstein, and pianist and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others. Mr. Wong has served as principal violist of CityMusic Cleveland, Assistant Concertmaster of the Akron Symphony Orchestra, and Associate Concertmaster of the Canton Symphony Orchestra.
As former violist of the Linden String Quartet, Mr. Wong is a laureate of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition (USA), the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, and the International String Quartet Competition “Premio Paolo Borciani.” In addition to performing with the Afiara Quartet, he is active in collaborating with directors of several of up-and-coming chamber music festivals including the Geneva Music Festival (genevamusicfestival.com) and the humanitarian initiative “Music Feeds Us” (musicfeedsus.org).
Off the clock, Mr. Wong enjoys cooking and classic television.
Adrian Fung - Cello
Canadian cellist Adrian Fung is a founding member of the Afiara String Quartet, winners of the Young Canadian Musicians Award, Concert Artist Guild International Competition in New York and prizes at the Munich ARD and Banff International String Quartet Competitions, including the latter’s Szekely Prize for the best interpretation of Beethoven. With the Quartet, he has performed throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. As a soloist, he has been praised for his “superb” and “brilliant” performance (New York Concert Review), for his virtuosity (San Francisco Classical Voice), and as a “consummate interpreter” (Ontario Arts Review).
Mr. Fung has given recitals in New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Goethe Institute, Montreal’s Pollack Hall, Toronto Centre of the Performing Arts, Living Arts Centre, and Taiwan’s National Concert Hall. As a soloist, Mr. Fung has performed with Ensemble 212, Columbia Chamber Players, Oakville Symphony Orchestra, Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Mississauga Symphony. Mr. Fung earned his Bachelor’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and his Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School. He also holds diplomas from McGill University and the Mannes College of Music. His teachers were Bonnie Hampton, Jean-Michel Fonteneau, Fred Sherry, Antonio Lysy, David Hetherington, and Susan Gagnon. He has been invited to teach at Indiana University’s Summer String Academy, San Francisco State University, the Yehudi Menuhin Seminar, Chamber Music of the Rockies, Southern Ontario Chamber Music Institute, Orkester Efterskolen in Denmark, University of Alberta, Oakville Suzuki Institute, and the Royal Conservatory of Music. He was a teaching assistant to the Alexander and Juilliard String Quartets.
Aside from his performing and teaching activities, Mr. Fung has been the RBC Stockey Young Artistic Director for Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound since 2012 and Consulting Artistic Director since 2014. Adrian also acted as artistic coordinator for the 2011 Banff Summer Chamber Music Program. As a producer and artistic consultant, he completed five CDs for the Frederick Harris Publishing Company’s large-scale recording project of the Royal Conservatory of Music’s 2013 string and clarinet syllabus and also coordinated production for the recording of its 15 instrumental books. Mr. Fung is also active as a writer, artist, and rapper.
DJ Skratch Bastid
Theresa Leonard (audio producer)
Poya Hamidi (audio engineer)
Envision Management and Production
"It genuinely, organically merges classical music and beat, jam and semi-quavers… in a way that even Gabriel Prokofiev and Max Richter manage only at their very best. I am bopping my head along in seriously uncool fashion as I write this. When I am in need for a pick-me-up other than Bach, this goes in the player where I have been spinning the two discs of SPIN CYCLE more often than any other disc this year." - Jens F. Larson, Forbes
Ryhna Thompson (Spin Cycle Manager)
Lee Prinz (Afiara Quartet Manager)
Mark Cwanja (Skratch Bastid's Manager)
Allegra Swanson ( Centrediscs Record Label Manager & Director of Canadian Music Centre)