Witch Prophet

Sun Jun 25 | 5:30pm

šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square – Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza – 750 Hornby St.

Queer Arts Festival partners with Vancouver International Jazz Festival for the second year in a row to present Witch Prophet: the evolution of Toronto based singer-songwriter Ayo Leilani. Think Erykah Badu meets Lauryn Hill meets Portishead. Leilani finds depth and connection in creating music as a portal for self-growth and discovery, as she navigates and better understands her Ethiopian/Eritrean roots and queer identity.

The free Downtown Jazz concert series takes place outside the Vancouver Art Gallery and šxwƛ̓ ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square on Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25. The Georgia Street Stage sits near the corner of Hornby and West Georgia Streets. Tickets or advance registration are not required.

Witch Prophet

Etmet Musa, also known by her alias Ayo Leilani and her stage name Witch Prophet, is an Ethiopian/Eritrean musician based in Toronto, Ontario. As Witch Prophet, she has released two albums: The Golden Octave and DNA Activation.

Presented in association with Coastal Jazz and Blues Society

Hymnen an die Nacht:

Claude Vivier Retrospective

Tue Jun 27 | 7pm

Roundhouse Performance Centre – 181 Roundhouse Mews

In 1983, Canada’s queerest and most cosmic composer, Claude Vivier, shockingly left this world at the age of 34, murdered by a rent boy in Paris. In this retrospective, we commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death with performances by the Standing Wave Ensemble, soprano Sarah Jo Kirsch, and pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, along with musical tributes by composers Rodney Sharman, Matthew John Knights and Gabriella Yorke. Presented in partnership with Little Chamber Music.

Claude Vivier

Many consider Claude Vivier the greatest composer Canada has yet produced. At the age of 34, he was the victim of a shocking murder by a prospective lover, leaving behind some 49 compositions in a wide range of genres, including opera, orchestral works, and chamber pieces. György Ligeti once called Vivier “the finest French composer of his generation.”

Standing Wave

Western Canada’s foremost contemporary chamber ensemble, Standing Wave is a sextet of intrepid new music interpreters dedicated to commissioning and performing cutting-edge music from today’s most forward-thinking composers. Acclaimed internationally for their virtuosity, vision, and artistry, Standing Wave has cultivated a reputation for electrifying live performance that pushes the boundaries of what chamber music is and can be. 

Sarah Jo Kirsch, soprano

An accomplished interpreter of western art music, Sarah Jo Kirsch (they/she) has performed across Canada, in Europe and West Asia as a soloist and collaborator. They have been hailed as “…one of the finest contemporary dramatic vocalists in Canada today,” (Calgary Herald) “…with the ability to get under the skin of everything she sings,” (Winnipeg Free Press). Beyond opera and oratorio, Sarah curates and produces sociopolitically relevant art song experiences of works from the last three centuries. An avid and capable interpreter of new music, they have premiered more than 30 new works for voice by Canadian composers.

Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, piano

Hailed in the press as a “keyboard virtuoso and avant-garde muse” (Georgia Straight) with the “emotional intensity” to take a piece “from notes on a page to a stunning work of art” (Victoria Times Colonist), Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa is recognized among Canada’s foremost contemporary music pianists.  Selected to close the ISCM World New Music Days 2017 in Vancouver, Rachel has performed in the Netherlands, Germany, US and across Canada, with engagements including Muziekweek Gaudeamus, Music TORONTO, Music on Main, Vancouver New Music, Redshift, Western Front, Vancouver Symphony, Victoria Symphony, the Aventa Ensemble (Victoria), CONTACT contemporary music (Toronto), New Works Calgary, Groundswell New Music (Winnipeg), and Vancouver Pro Musica.

Queering the Air with Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa

Piano Burning

Sun Oct 24 | 5pm

Transdisciplinary music performance | Mountain View Cemetery

Rising from the ashes of this summer’s fire ban, QAF and Full Circle: First Nations Performance will reignite our Piano Burning event on Sunday, October 24 at Mountain View Cemetery. Curated by SD Holman and Margo Kane, Annea Lockwood’s infamous work — where QAF veteran Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa performs a piano as it burns to ashes — is re-envisioned through the lens of historically banned First Nations fire ceremonies and contemporary global warming of unprecedented levels.

Margo Kane and Full Circle: First Nations Performance ground this event with cultural knowledge and a focus on Two-Spirit artists: Sempúlyan, who will speak about the spiritual role of fire to communicate with ancestors; Russell Wallace, who has composed a new piece for the occasion; designer Evan Ducharme, who created Iwaasa’s fire-proof ball gown; and Squamish Nation councillor Orene Askew (aka DJ O Show), who will set the piano alight.

Bring a chair, bring a blanket, and dress for the weather!

Watch artists Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa & Evan Ducharme talk about their collaboration in Piano Burning, from our QAF 2021 interview series Studio (ob)Sessions:

Onibana Taiko and Alvin Erasga Tolentino

Sat Aug 7 | 8 pm

Dance and Music Performance | Mountain View Cemetery

*NEW* ONLINE | Tue Aug 10 | 24 hours

When Japanese folk tradition meets punk, audience members are invited to commune with the ancestors via Obon dance, song, sensu (fan) cheerleading, fue, shamisen and kick-ass taiko.

Please note: Due to the use of incense, this event cannot be considered scent-reduced.

Onibana Taiko 鬼束太鼓 are three Nikkei veterans of Vancouver’s taiko community, whose performances draw from Japanese traditional arts, festival drumming, and folk music and dance, all with a touch of feminist queer punk aesthetics. Onibana is a type of flower that grows in the grave sites of Japan. Through taiko, the group seeks to transform shadowy elements into beauty, bridging the divide so as to commune with our ancestors with song, dance, shamisen, flute, and kick-ass taiko.

Alvin Erasga Tolentino is a Filipino Canadian choreographer and dance artist, and the founding Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Co.ERASGA. His dance creations are driven from the need to intricately illustrate the human experience of light and dark and the infinitely complex relationship between nature and humanity. His choreography challenges the exploration of hybridity to reveal the private and public territory, identity, gender and the issues within the traditional and contemporary cross-cultural dialogue.

Alvin Erasga Tolentino
Onibana Taiko, photo credit: Toonasa Photography