LuminaTO 2009 – New Waves Festival

By Kathy Morgan

 Kate Alton and Waleed Abdulhamid

From the moment we walked into the lobby and were awash with the music of a fantastic Klezmer band, I had a feeling it would be a fun and quirky night.  I absolutely wasn’t disappointed.  The New Waves Festival, a free Luminato event running at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, features hundreds of artists in dozens of events going on in all of the nooks and crannies of the building.

Audiences wander throughout the building and appreciate the music in the lobby, the studio turned into a park with swings suspended from the ceiling and paper covering the walls for you to draw on, and the many, many, many short performances going on in the theatres, studios, library, and closets of the building.  It was a lot of fun, and full of unexpected joys.

The first performance we went to see was called “Virtuosic Toronto”, and I’m hesitant to talk too much about it.  Suffice it to say, it was amazing. An absolute must-see.  And since it’s part of this free festival, you have no excuse!  Get down to the Young Centre next weekend!

Other highlights for me were “Bedtime Stories” where the audience lay down on cots and were serenaded with lullabies and told bedtime stories for a half an hour and “Black Hammer” a quirky and unexpectedly charming quartet of musicians with their own blend of nostalgic and haunting melodies.

There’s lots of interactive projects like “The Invention Room” where participants are asked to create something as an ensemble of strangers who just happened to wander into the room at the right time, or “Insta-Choir” where a leader turns a random group of participants into a choir in just 15 minutes, followed by a performance in the lobby.

There were many more events that I missed out on that I’m sure were amazing, like the “Artist in a Closet” and “Seven Singing Structures” where the audience is sung to by seven Toronto landmarks.  Both of these looked like they would be totally charming.

We did have a few issues.  The biggest was that we couldn’t seem to find a master schedule that told us what events were going on where, and so we couldn’t plan our time ahead.  That was really frustrating, as was the fact that it seemed that most of the events were running on the same half hour schedule.  It would have been really helpful if they were staggered so that we wouldn’t have to wait around for half an hour for the next performance.

The night was a lot of fun, and definitely kid-friendly, and I recommend checking it out next weekend while you can!

The New Waves Festival runs from June 12-14 at Young Centre for the Performing Arts (55 Mill St.)
-This is a free event.
-For further information visit

Photo of  Kate Alton and Waleed Abdulhamid in Virtuosic Toronto by Bruce Zinger