Wednesday 27 February 2013

Mike Romaniak, Saxophonist at LARGE

"I had a very busy and exciting 2012, 
but one of the best shows I’ve played...
in Romania 
with the Lemon Bucket Orkestra. 
We played twice 
at this small venue 
in Cluj-Napoca, 
and both times were incredible...
 The crowd was fantastic, 
the city is gorgeous, 
...what more can you ask for?"

What's your next show?

  • On St. Patrick’s Day weekend, 
    I’ll be celebrating the third anniversary of 
    Toronto’s only 

    What other groups do you play with on the regular?

    I run an Afro-Latin Polka band called Crazy Voda. 
    The group is a great advocate of music fusion, 
    a concept that has had, 
    for many years now, 
    a strong presence in the folk music world. 

     I also regularly play with a group called Rambunctious. 
    This is a big horn ensemble 
    that improvises party music on the spot
    You make up a title, we make up a song

    I jammed with that guy in Kensington once. Fun!

    I get most excited about shows where 
    the musicians are part of the audience, 
    together with the crowd, 
    integrated with the party. 
    Some of the most exciting music making 
    happens when the line between the audience 
    and performers is blurred.

    What instruments do you play?

    My musical training started 
    with many years of 
    private piano lessons. 
    In middle school, high school, and undergrad, 
    I studied saxophone. 
    It wasn’t until my last year of undergrad 
    that I started playing the instrument 
    I was probably destined to play
    the sopilka 
    a traditional Ukrainian folk recorder-like instrument.

    Are you living in Toronto full time,
    or are you out of town for school?

    I’m currently working towards a Masters 
    of Music degree at Central Michigan University. 
    With a mere six-hour commute,
    I still make it back and forth quite often, 
    so I’m lucky to be able to sustain 
    my networks in both Canada and the USA.

    What do you like best about Toronto?

    I’m always interested in knowing 
    what my peers, 
    and other composers 
    in my network are up to. 
    This often turns out to be 
    a good source of inspiration for me.

    The number one reason why people like Toronto 
    is because it is so eclectic and diverse. 
    It’s a great city for the arts, 
    because it holds opportunities 
    around every corner. 
    With the right angle, 
    enough push, 
    and an open mind, 
    you can make anything happen.

    What can you tell me about your contemporary music projects?

    Torontiade IV, 
    in collaboration with the Central Michigan 
    New Music Ensemble, 
    is bringing networking 
    and collaboration 
    between composers 
    and performers 
    to a whole new level. 
    Composers from Toronto, 
    and Michigan 
    are coming to CMU 
    to rehearse, 
    and record with the ensemble.

    What excites you about composing?

    I’m always excited about 
    writing for specific performers 
    and working with them 
    during the writing process. 
    I recently finished a solo flute piece 
    for a fantastic flutist, Ayca Cetin
    We’ll be releasing a recording 
    in the next two months. 

    What overlap do you see between the classical and jazz scenes in Toronto?

    I’d have to say that the biggest overlap 
    is that they both have 
    the expected 
    ‘main’ scene at the foreground 
    (the typical shows at Koerner Hall, 
    Roy Thompson Hall, 
    The Rex, 
    and they both have a more
    that is flourishing now 
    in the shadows 
    of Toronto.

    What are the respective strengths and shortcomings of these two scenes?

    These two scenes are quite stable 
    and rich in resources 
    (creative minds, venues, etc.). 
    I’d like to see the ‘underground’ 
    sub-scenes integrated 
    and brought to the foreground. 
    I truly believe that
     these smaller projects 
    are the key to moving 
    a scene forward.

    What are your favourite toronto artists?
    I’ll mention the band 
    that I’m listening to 
    as I answer these questions. 
    There’s a great Drum n’ Bass/
    Jazz/Pop band 
    around town 
    called Falcon Punch. 
    Fantastic stuff, 
    fit for any audience, 

    Whats your next goal?
    I’ve got a lot of projects on the go
    potential Canadian and European tours 
    with the Lemon Bucket Orkestra this summer, 
    finishing my master’s degree next year, 
    and future collaborations.
    Lots of exciting stuff to look forward to!

     Whats the strangest style of music you're into?

    I’m very into 
    traditional Ukrainian 
    unaccompanied folk singing, 
    which is not the strangest style of music, 
    but it is strange to find that 
    in a big city like Toronto. 
    A great urban-folk collective 
    called the Kosa Kolektiv 
    hosts singing workshops 
    and other fun workshops/projects. 

    For people looking 
    to hear something 
    unusual in Toronto, 
    I recommend checking out 
    a hip group 

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