“Whimsy runs rampant through every note of Nutcracker Nouveau… Yet whatever nonsensical heights are reached by such brainy musical mischief are surpassed by the playing itself.” Toronto Star
“…Incredible variety is all respects and a collection of sounds that is strongly rhythmic or gorgeously melodic – predominantly an early instrumental music sound, but with various influences of celtic, klezmer, middle eastern and blues!” Amazon.com customer
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A unique group on the North American music scene, ENSEMBLE POLARIS was founded to explore the ‘idea of North’ in music. Their shows offer a distinctive blend of traditional music from Scandinavia, the Baltics, Canada and elsewhere, and original tunes by Polaris members. The band’s innovative and genre-bending artistry and style, nicknamed ‘Arctic fusion’ by a fan, has earned international rave reviews of all kinds, from an Amazon.com customer’s “I dare you not to love this music!” to a Disc of the Month award from Britain’s Classic CD magazine. Comprised of expert performers from a variety of musical traditions and backgrounds, Polaris incorporates an eclectic palette of musical influences, colours and techniques in their sound – early, folk, Klezmer, Hot Club of Paris, middle Eastern and southeast Asian, traditional Scandinavian, Celtic, Cape Breton, eastern European, classical, improvisatory, and avant-garde. Their music evolves through improvisation, collaborative arrangement and composition.
Marco Cera, guitars, banjo, mandolin; Kirk Elliott, violin, folk harp, mandolin, accordions, bagpipes, banjo, and much more; Margaret Gay, ‘cello; Katherine Hill, voice, nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle); Alison Melville, baroque flute, recorders, seljefløyte (willow flute); Colin Savage, clarinet, bass clarinet, recorders; Debashis Sinha, percussion; Jeffrey Wilson, percussion, musical saw.
‘While there’s nothing precious about their approach, Ensemble Polaris take a holistic view…Ancient songs with extraordinary words, laments and dances, are all reworked here for modern ears. The arrangements are absolutely spot on…’ Classic CD (UK)
‘What do a hurdy gurdy, a bass clarinet, a set of bagpipes, and Norwegian lyrics add up to? A rocking good time is the answer, as I discovered this weekend when I discovered Ensemble Polaris…Ensemble Polaris definitely rates a tip of the padre’s beret – go see them if you get the chance!’ Audience member’s blog, Middleton, NS
Polaris first performed at Toronto’s Northern Encounters Festival and subsequent concerts have been heard across Canada in numerous broadcasts on CBC-Radio 2 and Radio-Canada. Their Montréal début for Radio-Canada at the Salle Pierre Mercure met with enthusiastic audience response, as have other performances across southern Ontario including shows for diverse presenters, from the Luminato Festival to the Association for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies in Canada. The group established its own ‘home’ concert series in Toronto in 2006 with the support of the Canada, Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils, performs for elementary school audiences in the city, and have toured in western and maritime Canada. Polaris’s recordings have also been in regular rotation on the ABC (Australia), NPR (USA), NRK (Norway), BBC (Britain) and other European radio networks. Their first CD Midnight Sun (Dorian) received glowing praise in folk, classical and alternative music publications from Canada, the USA, Holland, Norway, England and elsewhere, including a Disc of the Month award from Classical Music Magazine (UK), and Uncharted Waters was selected as Best of 2012 by KMUW-FM’s award-winning show Global Village.
Ensemble Polaris gratefully acknowledges the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, FACTOR, and the Toronto Arts Council for their support.