Edmonton Transcultural Orchestra

From Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology
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short link: http://bit.ly/edtror

New initiative for the P.E. (Pandemic Era): the TranceCultural Orchestra. Please check out our tracks on Bandcamp.

Edmonton Transcultural Orchestra, Inaugural Performance at Edmonton's City Hall, November 10, 2017

ETO overview

Launched in fall 2017, the Edmonton Transcultural Orchestra (ETO) is an initiative of the Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology linked also to the humanistic ideals and participatory methods of Music for Global Human Development. Its aim is to bridge the constructed "cultural" divides that appear to separate people from each other, and to exhibit such bridges, all through socialized sound in live musical performance.

"Culture" is too often a construction of special interests - nation states, political parties, religious groups - in search of power or money. Such "cultures" are rendered artificially discrete, according to context (e.g. "Chinese" culture doesn't appear the same from France or Beijing), and often defined by outsiders.

In reality "culture" is an attribute of the individual, not the group; we all share in multiple "cultures"; what we share is more than what divides us; even that which divides us is not different sortings into separable, homogeneous groupings but rather into overlapping, heterogeneous, fuzzily-bounded sets. Every "culture" has its "subcultures", no "culture" is sharply bounded, all cultures overlap. In fact the word "cultures" is itself a misrepresentation. Culture is not a countable noun - rather, it's a continuous flow of meaning around the globe, and a perspectival landscape; there is only "culture", not "cultures". "Culture" is a continuous, connected semantic web, extending across all humanity - whose divisions are only apparent. We are not all the same. Each of us is unique, regardless of affiliations to "cultures". But we are all connected, multiply so.

The ETO demonstrates these pan-human linkages musically, in two ways: (1) socially, in the group itself, which is diverse, in backgrounds, languages, ages; crossing boundaries of all sorts - including university students, staff, and faculty as well as members of the broader Edmonton community, and (2) musically, by highlighting the flow of music through people, via non-stop boundaryless performances, linking diverse regions and societies around the world through continuous sheets of sound. Socially, we aim to represent our community, drawing membership from every corner, in all its diversity, transcending rather than reinforcing boundaries in our performances. Musically, we focus on the idea that music crosses putative boundaries, just like we do, and erases them in the process - we look for melodies and sounds that have traveled, and invent new ones that will travel in the future.

The ETO is committed to representing and creating connections above and beyond perceptions of individual, discrete "cultures", imagined to be separable, countable bubbles ("Chinese culture", "Arab culture", "Norwegian culture"...). Rather, in our view, culture is individual - we're all culturally unique, just as we're genetically unique, and we each view "culture" from a unique perspective... at the same time the phenomenon of culture is pan-human, connecting us all. It is impossible to separate one culture from another... "cultures" are not internally homogeneous, because too much is shared, and all is in motion. We transcend "culture" considered as a countable noun to reveal -- and help create-- a more general cultural flow, through sound.

Repertoire map


Upcoming performances

We're on hiatus during the PE (Pandemic Era). But see the TranceCultural Orchestra on Bandcamp.

Past performances

  • Feb 21, 2020: Benefit performance and workshops at the Calder School, Edmonton, for Multicultural Day.
  • Feb 8, 2019: 2019 International Week concert: Music for Sustainable Development Goals, with fundraiser for Oxfam Canada, in Convocation Hall. Gateway concert review
  • January 28, 2019: ARMTA workshop, 9:15-11:15am
  • November 10, 2018 World music concert, “We Remember,” for Remembrance Day, co-organized with the Graduate Music Students Association.
  • Oct 16, 2018: Aga Khan inaugural garden event, with internationally-renowned artist, percussionist Abbos Kosimov, arranged through UofA Advancement, ALES, and the Aga Khan Music Initiative. Distinguished guests included His Highness the Aga Khan, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, and Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Lois Mitchell.
  • Wed Oct 10, 2018: Benefit performance for United Way fundraiser on campus with the Chair of Board of Governors and UofA President, in attendance, noon - 1, SUB
  • Aug 1, 2018: Performance for the North American Interfaith Network conference (NAIN), Edmonton.
  • June 27, 2018: Overlanders School: world music demonstration performance
  • June 21, 2018: Make Music Edmonton
  • June 17, 2018: World Partnership Walk, Edmonton
  • March 8, 2018 - Faculty of Arts and Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) 2018 Celebration of Research, Timms Centre for the Arts, from 2:45. video
  • Feb 26, 2018 - Norwood School Music Program at Winspear Centre.
  • Feb 11, 2018 - Benefit concert performance for Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action - "Building Bridges Among Faith Traditions", at the Orange Hub.
  • Feb 10, 2018 - 12:30 - 2:00 pm - Prelude to Winspear Centre's percussion event "Wall to Wall Percussion", for children and their parents
  • Jan 31, 2018 - 7 pm - Convocation Hall Concert, Music for a Better World: Transcending Boundaries (part of International Week: For a Better World)
  • Dec 10, 2017 - noon; City Hall
  • Nov 10, 2017 - noon; City Hall


Anyone is welcome as performer or listener or both. Please join us! Music is such a powerful tool for connection and understanding. Contact Michael Frishkopf for more information.

ETO rehearsals and repertoire