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CHATTER: Tango mesmerizes crowd (Dec. 2021)

December 17th, 2021 · No Comments

Solidaridad Strings performed their first live concert to a sold-out audience on Nov. 14. From left: Aparna Halpé and Suhashini Arulanandam (violin), Esme Allen-Creighton (viola), Valeria Matzner (vocals), Adriana Arcilla Tascón (viola), Heyni Solera (bandoneon), Sybil Shanahan (cello), Shannon Wojewoda (double bass). COURTESY MICHAEL WOJEWODA

The string ensemble of Orquesta Solidaridad Tango, a new all-women tango orchestra, performed their first live concert to a sold-out audience at 918 Bathurst on November 14th. The physically-distanced crowd gave the musicians two standing ovations after enjoying an evening of contemporary and classic tango music. It is a style infused with longing and mystery. 

A highlight of the programme was “On the TTC with Troilo,” an original composition by Annex resident Aparna Halpé, co-founder and lead violinist. The song is about her experience of being stuck on the TTC on her way to a milonga, tango’s social dance.

Tango was born in the 1880s in the dance halls and brothels of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Orquesta Solidaridad Tango was founded in December 2020 by violinist Aparna Halpé, formerly of the Sri Lanka Philharmonic, to celebrate the diversity of women in tango, and to create great tango in Canada. Members of this all-women collective come from diverse backgrounds.

Halpé also had a growing frustration with the treatment of women in tango ensembles. 

“Heyni Solera [co-founder] and I were talking about this one evening,” said Halpé. “And she suggested that I channel my frustration into creating an actual ensemble. The thought was terrifying at the start, but here we are!” 

Orquesta Solidaridad Tango has already won a $50,000 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to produce music videos on their YouTube channel. They will have two albums out in 2022, the first of which will feature original compositions by Halpé, “which touch on our collective experiences during the pandemic.” 

They have been invited to play in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. They hope to hit the road soon to share their music and their story..

—Nicole Stoffman/Gleaner News

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