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Special Reports

MA 30 The Innovators: Adrian Fung

December 6, 2016 | By Richard S. Ginell

Vice President, Innovation, Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Cellist/Producer, The Afiara Quartet

Adrian Fung has placed himself in the vanguard of Canadian music, first as the founding cellist of the Afiara Quartet and, within the past year, as vice president of innovation at the Toronto Symphony.

Trying to make the Afiara stand out among the plethora of young, highly trained quartets in the world, Fung came up with a project called Spin Cycle, an attempt to connect the tradition-encrusted ethos of the classical string quartet with the electronic sounds and culture of now.

In Stage One of Spin Cycle, the Afiara commissioned four young Canadian composers (Kevin Lau, Laura Silberberg, Rob Teehan, Dinuk Wijeratne) to write new works based upon popular themes. Stage Two had DJ Skratch Bastid remix recordings of these into altogether new pieces of music. And in Stage Three, the original composers were asked to respond to the results of Stage Two—in other words, make a remix of a remix—in the form of yet another work featuring a string quartet plus DJ, creating what Afiara calls “a complete musical conversation.” The result is engaging classical chamber music allied tightly to an insistent electronic rock beat.

With the TSO, Fung is spearheading The Canadian Mosaic Project, a year-long, musically diverse celebration of Canada’s Sequicentennial in 2017. Supported by the government, the project offers 16 programs focusing upon Canadian composers and artists throughout the year. It also includes commissioning 38 two-minute compositions, called “Sesquies,” to be played by the TSO and orchestras from all of the provinces and the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Fung says that he is especially proud of the Canadian Mosaic microsite and digital e-learning platform, from which TSO Mosaic performances will be streamed. The initial offering is an interactive O Canada as performed by the TSO and sung in 12 languages.


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