About the Attar Project: Violinist, sometime violist, improviser, composer-arranger, performance artist, occasional songwriter and ethnomusicologist, Parmela Attariwala is a self-confessed music junkie, who finds her creative home in the Attar Project. Initially conceived as a vehicle to integrate the eclectic strands of Attariwala's own musical background, the Attar Project engages artists across musical genres and artistic practices in virtuousic collaborations that maintain the essence of each while challenging the boundaries between them. Over the past few years, and as a direct result of having formed a strong performance bond with Montreal tabla player Shawn Mativetsky, Parmela resurrected the moniker the Attar Project as a band name. Shawn's bimusicality lends itself easily to exploring the avant-garde sound worlds of the tabla and the violin through both improvisational and compositional means. The Road Ahead... features the works of five young, Canadian composers, four of them challenged by the Attar Project to compose for the unusual duo. About the music The opening work, Oracle by London Ontario-based composer Paul Frehner, is the only work not commissioned by the Attar Project. About his piece, Paul writes, "Oracle (2007) is a short piece for violin and hand drums that evokes a primal setting in which communication with the spirit world is achieved through frenzied shamanistic notions. Exotic sounding passages in the violin part grow outward from a repeated "A" that acts like a drone. The two instruments interact very closely with each other throughout the piece, each part punctuating the other. As the piece progresses the tempo is increased as if in reaction to the proximity of the spirit world." From 2004-2009, Parmela and Andrew Staniland jammed weekly in Bill Grove's improvising band, The Human Remains, while both worked on their doctoral degrees. Parmela commissioned her prize-winning co-improviser to write a piece for the Attar Project. Andrew writes, "Sudoku (2008), which means single number, is a recently popularized number game. I have an ongoing fascination with the relationships between numerology, the natural world, and music. All three of these are frequently described as being "beautiful". The sudoku-concept adapts to musical composition quite naturally. In this piece, specific musical parameters are assigned values corresponding to the numerical values 1 through 9. These parameters include registers, drum patterns, notes, rhythms, and formal proportions. The result of using these techniques makes for an interesting compositional pallet, which is explored in a rather free and intuitive manner. Having a first hand knowledge of Parmela musically, I chose to include several sections that feature improvisation within particular sudoku-determined parameters." In conceptualizing this album, I felt strongly that at least one female voice needed to be included. My producer, Juno award-winning Andrew Hurlbut, immediate suggested Toronto-based trumpeter and free-improviser Nicole Rampersaud. The Road Ahead... Is Longer Than the Trail Left Behind takes Shawn and me into a different kind of compositional territory than that in which we are used to performing as classically trained musicians. Our respect to the composer's work lies in playing faithfully what is on the page in addition to interpreting it in such a way that our musical improvisations, which become the bulk of the composition, maintain the integrity of the work's intent. I met Gemini Award-nominated composer Meiro Stamm in Toronto, while working on commercial studio sessions. I discovered that in addition to training in Western music, Meiro had also studied tabla and gamelan, and that he was not beyond referencing "classical" era techniques in his music. He is also of Swiss parentage, and as I had spent two rather traumatic years in Switzerland, Meiro and I discovered that between Switzerland and music, we had much in common. So, I challenged Meiro to write a piece that would allow me to tap into the Mozart and classical-era style I studied in Switzerland. The result is, I suspect, not unlike Mozart: the music sounds much simpler than it is. Shawn and I also discovered that a big challenge lay in negotiating between harmonic time and linear time. About his work, Meiro writes: The central concept of this composition is that though there is a finite number of tonal combinations possible with the 12 notes found in Wetern music, there is an infinite number of rhythmic combinations possible since each beat can be subdivided endlessly. A melody can be radically changed by alering the rhythm of the notes within a given time signature or by recasting the melody in a different time signature. The Melody of Rhythm is an exploration of how a simple theme with limited harmony can be transformed by rhythmic devices alone...The meeting of Eastern and Western instruments is explored through the use of a drone - a musical device common to both cultures. The tabla drum is tuned to an "A" which serves as the drone. The notes used throughout the compositioin are restricted to the pitch "A" functioning as scale degrees 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7, thus relating to the drone and the time signatures (4/4, 2/4, 3/4, 5/8, 7/8) employed. Like Paul Frehner, composer Christien Ledroit also crossed paths with Shawn when they were students at McGill. Having both a knowledge of Shawn's tabla gharana (as well as having composed other works for Shawn) and also being a violinist by training, Christien was a natural choice for commissioning. Never the Twain Shall Meet was, in fact, the first work that Shawn and I commissioned together. The work received it's premiere at the Hamilton, Ontario GO train station - as part of the Canadian Music Centre's "New Music in New Places" initiative - where it received a very warm reception by the many commuters stunned to find a concert taking place in the middle of their station at the tail end of rush hour. Never the Twain Shall Meet takes it's title from Rudyard Kipling's "The Ballad of East and West". The full stanza, however, reveals a different picture than the commonly-held perception of this phrase: "Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, / Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat; / But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, / When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!" About the performers Described as "one of Canada's most original and compelling artists", violinist Parmela Attariwala has been active in genre-bending music and performance since moving to Toronto in 1994. She has toured and recorded with an array of musicians including Carla Bley, Ravi Naimpally, James Campbell, Anthony Braxton, John Taylor, Ernst Reijseger, Ed Hanley and Quinsin Natchov. She has also collaborated extensively - as composer, musician and movement artist - with a diverse range of choreographers. An ardent improviser and proponent of improvisational pedagogy as a tool for cross-genre musical communication, Parmela performs regularly at AIMToronto events. In addition to traditional symphonic work, she performs contemporary music with some of Toronto's most progressive contemporary music ensembles, including the Esprit Orchestra, Toca Loca, New Music Concerts and the Queen of Puddings Theatre Company. Parmela is also currently working on an ethnomusicology Ph.D., the focus of which is the effects of official multiculturalism on contemporary Canadian music-making and governmental funding. This is Parmela's third Attar Project album. Versatile percussionist Shawn Mativetsky performs in a variety of musical genres with dynamism and skill. Equally at home in Western classical and contemporary/new music, Indian classical music, and world music, Shawn also composes and performs music for dance and theatre. He is active in the promotion of the tabla and North Indian classical music through lectures, workshops, and performances across Canada and internationally. Fascinated by the possibilities of combining his dual backgrounds in Western classical and Hindustani music, Shawn has been regularly commissioning and performing new works for tabla since 1999 and has been playing with the Attar Project since 2006. His solo CD, Payton MacDonald: Works for Tabla, was released in 2007 on the Atma Classique label. Shawn is a ganda-band disciple of Pandit Sharda Sahai of the Benares tabla gharana and has also studied tabla with Bob Becker. Shawn holds a Master's degree in music from McGill University.