88 Tuned Bongos Piano Series

Celebrating the great lineage of experimental piano works over the Western Front’s 40+ year history, 88 Tuned Bongos champions today’s most cutting-edge pianists and keyboard projects. This Fall, Western Front New Music welcomes three musician/composer residencies working with the newly refurbished Disklavier piano, three concerts and a workshop. The series continues in Winter 2016.

Tickets per Concert: $15/10 Advance; $20/15 Door



Tentacles | Accordion Noir Festival

September 10 @ 8pm

Full show: : $15, $12 WF Members

Opener only: $5 General, Free for WF Members (space allowing)

Feature only: $10 (space allowing)


A fresh selection of aerophonic new music launches the 8th annual Accordion Noir Festival in 3 parts: PART 1: As a part of SWARM Festival, pop in for a short new work for accordion and physical theatre, Flying Machines by Elliot Vaughan and Elysse Cheadle featuring Aryo Khakpour. In this piece 10 airships inspire 10 accordion miniatures; 10 poems interrupt 10 thoughts; 10 movements trace 10 steps from extra-galactic orbit to subterranean fossiling.

Intermission includes street-side cabaret by Steve Normandin. PART 3: Brooklyn-based composer Angélica Negrón headlines with xylosynth percussionist Shayna Dunkelman to bring an exquisite blend of accordion, voice and electronic soundscapes suffused with strangeness and compassion. (Biographies below)



Solo for Four Hands | John Kameel Farah

September 25 @ 8pm

“Celebrated Canadian pianist John Farah has been fusing electronic beats with future jazz and classical composition since 2005. Trip-hop, drum’n’bass and experimental electronica enthusiasts will be floored by Farah’s seamless mastery of the myriad sonic layers here: percussive elements, keys, synthesizers, Amen breaks and soft jazz chords intermingle in a breathtakingly complex dance. Farah’s music works on a dizzying array of levels and will astonish chin-stroking jazz nerds, brain dead bass-heads and those seeking the coolest new background music. Incomparable.” -Steve Lalla, Hour Magazine (Montréal)

Dynamic and energetic pianist John Kameel Farah commandeers the Disklavier during his residency at the Western Front to create a compelling tour-de-force, Solo For Four Hands. Heavily influenced by minimalism, electronic dance music and Middle Eastern modes you can expect to hear fresh lyrical takes on improvisation, hard-edged multi-metered Arabic rhythms and a giant fugue among other innovated classical forms.

1) Introitus, John Kameel Farah, Between Cathage and Rome
2) Mercurial, John Kameel Farah, Between Cathage and Rome
3) *Fantasy and Fugue, John Kameel Farah
4) Uprising, John Kameel Farah, Unfolding
5) Prelude and Fugue in E minor, Johannes Sebastian Bach, BWV 548
6) Distances, John Kameel Farah, Between Cathage and Rome
7) Sama’i Point, John Kameel Farah, Between Cathage and Rome
*world premiere



Composer’s Clinic

November 1 @ 1 – 4pm

Door $15; Free for WF members

Pre-registration required: newmusicadmin@front.bc.ca

Join composers Andrew Czink, Doug Blackley, and Remy Siu for a workshop and conversation covering their work with MIDI interfaces, electromagnetics and acoustics.



Under the Hood | Vicky Chow & The Spectral Piano Project

November 6 @ 8pm

Advance Ticket sales are now closed. Tickets are available at the door for $20/$15

The Disklavier shows what it is made of beginning with Doug Blackley and Andrew Czink’s duo Bent. Featuring Blackley’s spectral piano -an apparatus that augments the traditional piano enabling pitch to bend, shimmer, pulse, and simultaneously  create multiple timbres -hear newly created compositions for piano, spectral piano, and electronics. Pianist Vicky Chow performs new works by Adam Basanta and Remy Siu’s world premiere that explores the Disklavier as a cultural object: *Foxconn Frequency no. 2 – for single visibly Chinese performer. In this ferocious piece, Siu challenges Chow’s virtuosity and skill in unusual ways.

*Subsequent performances of this piece include: January 26, 2016 as a part of the Sonic Anchor Series at the McAulay Studio, Hong Kong Arts Centre & January 29, 2016 at the Venue Constellation, Chicago


The Disklavier at the Western Front is an early 1990′s model of the instrument still manufactured by Yamaha. It functions as a normal acoustic grand piano, but is also automated with MIDI capability to interface with computers or other devices to mechanically control the keys and hammers. Not unlike a modern version of a player piano, the Disklavier is a somewhat uncommon instrument that offers pianists and composers interesting ways to interface with an acoustic instrument supplemented by modern digital technology.

Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón writes music for accordians, toys and electronics as well as chamber ensembles and orchestras. Her music has been described as “wistfully idiosyncratic and contemplative” (WQXR/Q2) and “mesmerizing and affecting” (Feast of Music) while The New York Times noted her “capacity to surprise” and her “quirky approach to scoring”. Her music has been performed at the Bang on a Can Marathon and the Ecstatic Music Festival. She has collaborated with artists like So Percussion, janus trio and Face the Music, among others. Angelica is curretly pursuing a doctorate at The Graduate Centre (CUNY), where she studies composition with Tania Leon.

Born and raised in Tokyo Japan, Shayna Dunkelman is a musician, improvisor and percussionist based in Brooklyn, NY. Dunkleman is the founding member of the exotica inspired retro-future band Peptalk and she is also a member of Xiu Xiu. She has performed classical and contemporary pieces with numerous contemporary music ensembles such as the William Winant Percussion Group and the Wordless Music Orchestra, and has recorded/performed with pioneers of avant-garde experimental musicians such as John Zorn, Yoko Ono, Thurston Moor and many others.

John Kameel Farah is a Toronto–based composer, pianist and visual artist. He studied composition and piano performance at the University of Toronto, where he received the Glenn Gould Composition Award twice during his studies. In 1999 he had private lessons with Terry Riley in California, and later at the Arabic Music Retreat in Hartford. In 1998, he performed the complete solo piano works of Arnold Schoenberg in Toronto. Toronto’s NOW Magazine named his as Best Pianist 2006. In 2011 John received the K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Music from the Ontario Arts Council. Farah now focuses primarily on his own creative hybrid of improvisation, composition and electronic music. Simultaneously using piano, synthesizer, computer, and at times harpsichord and organ, his solo performances exist between the worlds of the concert pianist and the electronic producer, mixing forays into free improvisation, jazz, electro–acoustics, middle-eastern modes and rhythms and ambient minimalism, transforming them into imaginative, surrealistic structures. In an effort to expand his musical palette, his music draws upon an interest in history, mythology and painting. As a visual artist, his intricate ink drawings have been presented at solo and group exhibitions. He has also composed extensively for solo piano as well as for string quartet, percussion groups, wind ensembles and electronic arrangements.

Farah performs regularly in both Toronto and Berlin, and has toured internationally across the U.K., Europe, USA, Canada, the Middle–East, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico. In 1999 and 2002, he visited the Edward Said National Conservatory in the West Bank, giving performances and masterclasses in Ramallah, East Jerusalem and Bethlehem. His first album, “Creation” was a compilation of electronic tracks and keyboard interludes. His second album, “Unfolding” was released on Dross:tik Records in 2009, followed by a duo album in 2011 with pianist Attila Fias, and his newest album, “Between Carthage and Rome” was released in 2015 in collaboration with Bosworth Music. He is a member of the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, as well as  pianist-composer for Peggy Baker Dance Projects, and was the Electronic-Composer-in-Residence for Soundstreams Canada for 2013.

Doug Blackley was introduced to modular synthesizers at Edmonton’s Grant Mackewan University, prior to obtaining his Bachelor of Music degree in percussion at the University of Alberta. His Theatre scoring and sound design work includes three Sterling Awards, (seven nominations), and a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination. A highlight was his work at the Citadel Theatre as resident sound designer and music composer for Robin Phillips. Doug later co-created a dance company, “Rhythmatix”, with Krista Monsen. In Vancouver, Blackley received a Leo Award for best original film/TV score, for Tokyo Girls, and was nominated for a West Coast Music Award. Recently, he was a composer on the Science Fiction Channel series Sanctuary. Doug received his MFA degree from Simon Fraser University, supported by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship. There he created the ‘Spectral Piano: a device to allow an acoustic piano to create dramatic new sounds by ‘bowing’ the strings with electro-magnets. This augmented piano remains fully acoustic, requiring no speakers, yet is able to produce continuous sound (like a pipe organ), pitch bend, shimmer, produce plucked sounds, and create many other new timbres. Doug is a Music and Audio Instructor at The Art Institute of Vancouver.

Andrew Czink is a composer, pianist, audio engineer and educator based in Vancouver. He is co-director of the CD and concert producer earsay productions. His primary instrumental training was of a classical bent, with excursions into jazz and popular forms early on. Along with exposure to, and study of, various Asian and African musics (particularly Javanese Gamelan), this suite of influences continue their hold on his musical thought. His music has been performed and broadcast throughout Europe, New Zealand, Australia, the USA, and Canada where he has received numerous awards, grants, and commissions. He is a music and audio instructor at The Art Institute of Vancouver, and has completed an MA in Liberal Studies at SFU, with his research focusing on the development of an embodied epistemology of auditory experience. He has embarked on a PhD in September 2013 at SFU studying the philosophy of musical experience as a situated, embodied, cognitive, and sonorous practice from the perspective of the composer/improviser/performer.

Originally from Vancouver Canada, New York-based pianist Vicky Chow is the pianist for the Bang on a Can All- Stars, Grand Band, The Virgil Moorefield Pocket Orchestra, and New Music Detroit and has collaborated with other ensembles such as ICE, Wet Ink Ensemble, and the Wordless Music Orchestra. Most recently she gave the North American premiere of Steve Reich’s work ‘Piano Counterpoint’ and the world premiere of John Zorn’s new piano trio titled “The Aristos”, and Michael Gordon’s ‘Ode to La Bruja, Hanon, Czerny, Van Cliburn and little gold stars’ written for Grand Band, and an evening length work by artist/composer Tristan Perich for solo piano and 40 channel 1-bit electronics titled ‘Surface Image‘ written for Ms. Chow. Her recording of ‘Piano Counterpoint’ was released in September 2014 on the Nonesuch label alongside Alarm Will Sound’s ‘Radio Rewrite’ and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s ‘Electric Counterpoint’. Perich’s ‘Surface Image’ was also released in the fall of 2014 on the New Amsterdam label to much success and was included in the top albums of the year lists such as The Rolling Stone Magazine and Rhapsody. Her performances of Morton Feldman and John Cage were featured on BBC3‘s documentary series ‘The Sound and The Fury’, based on Alex Ross’ book ‘The Rest is Noise’. Her next solo commissions include American composers Chris Cerrone, Molly Joyce, and Canadian composers Adam Basanta and Vincent Ho.

 Remy Siu ( 蕭逸南 ) is an emerging composer based in Vancouver, BC. He studied at SFU Contemporary Arts with David MacIntyre, Owen Underhill, Janet Danielson, Jeffrey Ryan, Arne Eigenfeldt, and Barry Truax. His work has been performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony, the Turning Point Ensemble, the Erato Ensemble, Musica Intima, and Quatuor Bozzini. He also composes and performs with Dissonant Disco (a Vancouver music collective) and Hong Kong Exile (an interdisciplinary art collective). Currently, he works on the staff of “Sound of Dragon Society,” a non-profit focused on asian music while “preserving heritage, [and] seeking innovation.” He has worked with Henry Daniel, Steven Hill, Rob Kitsos, and MACHiNENOiSY, among others in the Vancouver arts community. In 2012, he was artist-in-residence at the New Westminster River Market. He has produced two sold-out shows: ASCENSION (string quintet + dance) and Attacca 2012. He was featured in the Georgia Straight 2012 Fall Arts Preview. The Vancouver Sun described his music as “characterized by vibrant, driving rhythms and brash sonorities.”