Free Presentations

Join us in Roy Thomson Hall’s North Lobby for free presentations and demonstrations, Friday September 30 and Saturday October 1

Friday September 30
10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Roy Thomson Hall North Lobby
Displays and demonstration organs (which you can play!) from


10:00 am Jean-Willy Kunz: Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Organ Symphony”, from modern to contemporary.

In this presentation, Kunz will place this iconic musical work in the context of the late 19th century— Paris, concert halls of the era, Saint-Saëns’ other compositions, other Symphonies for organ— and draw links to the present day and future.

Jean-Willy Kunz is the Organist in Residence of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. In addition to playing both with the Orchestra and in recital, he sees to the development and showcasing of the pipe organ installed in 2014 at the Maison symphonique in Montréal.

Jean-Willy Kunz’ interest and versatility in different styles of music are reflected in the various projects he has been involved with for the last ten years, and which shed new light on the pipe organ, including jazz music in duo with Branford Marsalis, pop music with Rufus Wainwright, stage music with the Cirque du Soleil, and the first ever Earth-Space organ duet in collaboration with the NASA. He is organ professor at the Conservatory of Music in Montréal, titular organist at the church of St-Jean-Baptiste, as well as Artistic Director of the Canadian International Organ Competition.

10:30 am Jeff McLeod presents the Hammond Organ and Leslie Speaker

This session will include a survey of how and why the Hammond Organ and Leslie Speaker came to be, an introduction to the main features of a Hammond and how they are used, as well as a look at the key musicians responsible for establishing the Hammond organ as an popular and important voice in jazz and beyond.

Jeff McLeod is a Toronto-based jazz organist and pianist. He holds Doctorate and Masters degrees from the Eastman School of Music. During this time at Eastman Jeff studied the Hammond Organ and established the presence of jazz organ at Eastman which remains to this day. The focus of his doctoral research was the life and music of noted jazz organist Don Patterson. He has released two albums and his playing can be heard on the Juno- nominated, BAFTA award-winning soundtrack for the 2017 video game Cuphead, and on vocalist Dione Taylor’s Spirits in the Water, nominated for a 2021 Juno in the Blues Album of the Year Category. He currently serves as Director of Music at St John the Baptist Dixie Anglican Church in Mississauga, Ontario.

11:00 am In Conversation: Kali Malone

We ask Kali Malone about her unique creative process; the way organ tuning led her into a new world of sound; her current performance works; and her new album Living Torch.

Kali Malone is an American-Swedish composer and musician based in Stockholm. Her compositions implement specific tuning systems in minimalist structure for pipe organ, choir, chamber music ensembles and electroacoustic formats. Malone’s music is rich with harmonic texture through synthetic and acoustic instrumentation in repetitive and extended durations. The music emits distinct emotive, dynamic, affective hues which bring a stunning depth of focus. Kali Malone has released several critically acclaimed albums, notably The Sacrificial Code (Ideal Recordings, 2019). She has performed extensively at Musica Festival, Berlin Atonal, Moogfest, Kanal Pompidou, Intonal, Presences Electroniques, Le Guess Who, the Meakusma Festival, and Sonic Acts. Malone’s 2020 commission projects and residencies included Ina GRM, Berlin Monom & Funkhaus, The Richard Thomas Foundation, MACBA, and Orgelpark. She collaborates and performs with various artists, including Drew McDowall, Caterina Barbieri, Stephen O’Malley, Ellen Arkbro, Puce Mary, Zach Rowden, Leila Bordreuil and Lucy Railton. In 2016 Kali co-founded the record label and concert series XKatedral, together with Maria W Horn, in Stockholm.

11:30 am Presentation: John Forster: Three conceptions of the pipe organ

Given the diversity of contemporary sound works utilising the pipe organ in some way, exploring the different frames of reference that give rise to such variegation can help us to apprehend new works on their own terms while also engaging with them more meaningfully. There are a potentially limitless number of ways to conceive of the pipe organ, but I will identify and discuss three conceptions in particular which, for the purposes of my own research, act as a lowest common denominator and are applicable in multiple contexts.

John Forster is currently studying for a PhD in Composition at City, University of London. The title of his research is ‘What is a Pipe Organ Work?’, and he’s focussing on how the ways in which different people conceptualise the pipe organ can lead to different approaches to creating pipe organ works. John has had a lifelong interest in the pipe organ, and after starting lessons as a chorister, spent a couple of summers as a teenager working at Henry Willis & Sons Ltd. in Liverpool. While studying for a Music degree at the University of Oxford, John was organ scholar at Brasenose College and St. Giles’ Parish Church, subsequently taking a gap year during which he sang bass in Rochester Cathedral Choir. Following a digression studying for an MSc in Global Politics at Durham University, then working for an ESG research firm in London and musicking in his spare time, John realised he wasn’t that into offices after all and so decided to embark on a doctorate.

1:00 pm Presentation: George Rahi’s Modular Organ

Vancouver-based composer George Rahi is building a modular, portable organ. “By establishing new contexts for the organ, the project considers and responds to the multitude of ways that societies can functionally and imaginatively arrange their sonic environments, viewing the pipe organ as both a ‘traditional’ and ‘radical’ instrument which indexes music’s changing relationship to society.”

George Rahi is an artist based in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish territories. His work spans composition, installation, instrument making, solo + ensemble performance, and works for radio, theatre and public spaces. Recent presentations have included Kunst-Station Sankt Peter (Cologne), Vancouver New Music, SPEKTRUM (Berlin), Open Ears (Kitchener), and the Institute for New Music (Salzburg). He has been an artist in residence at EMS in Stockholm (2019), Locus Sonus Research Group in Marseille (2021), and hcma architecture in Vancouver (2022). He holds an MFA from Simon Fraser University.

1:30 pm In Conversation: Sarah Davachi

Sarah Davachi’s unmistakable sound and approach to music is deeply informed by a period of intense study of keyboard instruments; how did this experience shape her music, and her perception of others’ music? Davachi unlocks the mysteries of the creative path, and her new album, Two Sisters, in this engaging live discussion.

Sarah Davachi is a composer and performer whose work is concerned with the close intricacies of timbral and temporal space, utilizing extended durations and considered harmonic structures that emphasize gradual variations in texture, overtone complexity, psychoacoustic phenomena, and tuning and intonation. Similarly informed by minimalist and long-form tenets, early music concepts of intervallic and modal harmony, as well as experimental production practices of the studio environment, in her sound is an intimate and patient experience that lessens perceptions of the familiar and the distant. In addition to her acclaimed recorded output, Davachi’s work has been presented internationally by Southbank Centre (London, UK), Kontraklang (Berlin, DE), Radio France (Paris, FR), Issue Project Room (New York, USA), Organ Reframed (London, UK), The Getty (Los Angeles, USA), Orgelpark (Amsterdam, NL), Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg, DE), Lampo (Chicago, USA), Suoni Per Il Popolo (Montréal, CA), Unsound (Krakow, PL), and Mazeum Festival (Kyoto, JP), among others.

solo discs on the ATMA label which received several international citations.

2:00 pm Group Discussion: Kevin Komisaruk

Poised between sacred and secular worlds, the organ and its music have always rested in a precarious spot, challenged by the difficulties inherent in bridging them. Does this tension hold back the future of the instrument? In this informal group conversation, we will discuss some practical examples of innovation and collaboration, with a view towards generating awareness, inspiration, and ideas.

Kevin Komisaruk has been based at the University of Toronto since 2003, where he teaches organ and harpsichord performance, improvisation, and pedagogy. His scholarship explores intersections between performance practice, rhetoric, flow theory, kinaesthetics and improvisation, and how these impact the spiritual, emotional, and physical health of artists and listeners in numerous applications, especially palliative care. He has performed throughout North America and Europe, and produced two solo discs on the ATMA label which received several international citations.

Saturday October 1
10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Roy Thomson Hall North Lobby
Displays and demonstration organs (which you can play!) from

10:00 am Roundtable: Raven Chacon, Amina Claudine Myers, Rashaan Rori Allwood, Charlemagne Palestine

A group discussion about the many paths which lead to the organ; and the future of the organ and its music.

Rashaan Rori Allwood is a musician of great versatility. As a pianist, organist and harpsichordist, he has played in a variety of settings, including performances with the Maestro Ken Nagano and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Houston Civic Symphony and the University of Toronto’s Collegium Musicum. As a soloist, he has toured across Europe, and performed at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, UK, St. Nikolai Kierke in Leipzig, Germany and St. Pierre’s Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland.

Rashaan was listed as one of CBC’s 30 under 30 classical musicians and was invited to record excerpts of the Catalogue d’Oiseaux by Olivier Messiaen at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto in 2016 following his Canadian Bi-Centennial tour. The first prize winner of the Concours d’orgue de Québec in 2017 and of the Canadian National OSM Manulife competition in 2016 for the organ category, he also won second prize in the Wadden Sea International Organ Competition and the Lynnwood Farnam Organ Competition in 2017.

Rashaan is currently the director of music at St. Ansgar Lutheran Church, Toronto and a PhD candidate in composition at Western University. He continues to collaborate with a variety of musicians, performing classical and contemporary music.

Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and installation artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. A recording artist over the span of 22 years, Chacon has appeared on more than eighty releases on various national and international labels. His 2020 Manifest Destiny opera Sweet Land, co-composed with Du Yun, received critical acclaim from The LA Times, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, and was named 2021 Opera of the Year by the Music Critics Association of North America.

Since 2004, he has mentored over 300 high school Native composers in the writing of new string quartets for the Native American Composer Apprenticeship Project (NACAP). Chacon is the recipient of the United States Artists fellowship in Music, The Creative Capital award in Visual Arts, The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation artist fellowship, the American Academy’s Berlin Prize for Music Composition, the Bemis Center’s Ree Kaneko Award, the Pulitzer Prize in Music, and in 2022 will serve as the Pew Fellow-in-Residence.

Amina Claudine Myers is a pianist, organist, vocalist, composer, improviser, actress and educator. Ms. Myers has performed nationally and internationally throughout Europe, Africa, North America, Asia and Australia. She is well known for her work including choirs, voices and instrumental ensembles. Ms. Myers’ career in music began in her preteens and throughout high school directing choirs, singing and playing gospel and rhythm and blues. Although she was classically trained in piano she began playing and singing jazz while attending Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in music education. After moving to Chicago, Ill. in 1963 Ms. Myers taught music in the public school system for six years. She attended Roosevelt University briefly and became a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). She has been awarded six grants: The New York Foundation for The Arts, Meet The Composer and two National Endowment For The Arts, (NEA), Arts for Art’s Lifetime Achievement Award 2021, NYC and The Jazz Legacy Award from Mid Atlantic Arts, 2021 Baltimore, MD. Ms. Myers resides in New York City where she teaches and performs as a soloist and with her various ensembles.

Charlemagne Palestine was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945. A contemporary of artists such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley, in performance and installation work Palestine uses emblematic objects, including teddy bears, cognac and scarves, as signatures — what he terms “symbols of identification”. He has released more than twenty solo albums and has performed in festivals around the world such as The Meltdown Festival, London in 1999; Transmediale, Berlin in 2010; All Tomorrow’s Parties, UK in 2010 and Numina Lente, NY in 2011. He has received grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Italy; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the 2014 Whitney Biennial; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Documenta 8, Kassel; Walker Art center, Minneapolis; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva; and Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal.

11:30 am OrgelkidsCAN Demonstration and Performance

Witness the assembly of a pipe organ right before your eyes, and hear a selection from Ten Little Sketches for Ten Little Fingers by Canada’s Rachel Laurin performed on it!
Cadence Brassard is a 14-year-old organist living in Blue Mountains, ON. Showing an early, and varied interest in all music, she has played piano, classical guitar, drums, and filled all positions in a rock band. Inspired to learn the organ after meeting Cameron Carpenter and playing the International Touring Organ, Cadence then began organ studies with Ann-Marie MacDairmid, MMus. She currently studies organ with Dr. Sarah Svendsen, and piano with Emily Morrison. Cadence is the Junior Organ Scholar at Rosedale United Church. Career highlights include performing with an ensemble for a production of Broadway classics, and recording an episode of Backyard Beats featuring the organ for TVOKids with Rashaan Allwood. Cadence aspires to make the organ more accessible and inclusive for young people.