Dragon Ball - 2015 

 
Canada’s largest Chinese New Year Gala will feature performances by singer Jully Black, flutist Ron Korb with the Toronto Yuefang Ensemble, and dinner by Celebrated Michelin Chefs.
 
The Dragon Ball is in its 26th year and is one of the most important benefit galas in North America— regularly appearing on BizBash Magazine Top 100 lists.  The 2015 Dragon Ball will be held on Saturday February 21 2015 at the Allstream Centre, Exhibition Place, 105 Princes' Blvd. Toronto, ON  M6K 3C3.  
 
The opening performance will feature music by Canadian flutist and composer Ron Korb with the Toronto Yuefang Ensemble, dragon dance by Sunny Tang Performance Troupe, and ribbon and golden Buddha dance by the Chinese Collective Arts Association.

(photo by Steven Su)

Canada’s Queen of R&B, Juno Award singer Jully Black, will be featured as the closing performance. Jully was chosen by CBC Music as one of the top 25 greatest Canadian singers. 
 
The dinner will be prepared by the 3-star Michelin Chef Alvin Leung the first-ever MasterChef Canada winner Eric Chong of Toronto and Michelin Star Chef Lai Wai-Hung.
 
This annual event attracts over 1200 guests and the funds are raised to support quality care for seniors at the four Yee Hong Centres. Yee Hong serves 16,000 seniors across the GTA on a daily basis and fulfills 200,000 service requests every year.

Dragon Ball benefactor tickets are priced at $600; supporter tickets are priced at $480. 

Happy Holidays 

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to our new website just launched in 2013. Since we launched the new site we lost a lot of our ranking but we are very happy to work with Bandzoogle where we can sell mp3s, sheet music and hopefully very soon some flute and woodwind instruments as well.

In this blog section you can see some new blogs about my recent tour of the Far East. I have adapted and reposted some of my older blogs from The Flute Portal and Blogger just for your information. Please give us comments on our site as we are always looking to improve things.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all,
Ron

First show in Hsinchu 

I felt like the jet lag was mostly shaken off when we arrived in Taiwan and I was looking forward to playing the eight shows we had scheduled. The first concert was just flute and piano which we were a little worried about because the venue was fairly large. I am always wondering if my music will translate to a large crowd with just a two piece.  I met my new accompanist Oren Dashti at KHS where we rehearsed. KHS is a major retailer in Taiwan who generously lent me an Altus bass flute for the duration of the tour.  
Oren is originally from Israel but has lived in Taiwan for over ten years and speaks Mandarin fluently.  He is very active playing jazz in a number of different groups. We had only corresponded through email where I had sent him my charts and mp3 a month earlier. He had worked on my material quite a bit on his own and we were able to put together the program without much problem.
 It was a long drive from the city of Hsinchu to the International Conference Hall which is up the mountain.  Our set up was very basic, just one ambient microphone for the flute and nothing for the grand piano. You can see I am standing back quite far from the mic which is really just giving the both of us a bit of support.   It is nice to perform simply this way without drums , bass and monitors etc. etc. You can see Oren is using an IPad where he can read the charts.

Unlike Elton John, I love Taiwan. 

Back in 2004 Elton John called a group of Taiwanese reporters waiting at Taipei airport "Rude vile pigs,...Do you know what that means? Rude vile pigs. That's what all of you are." Personally I find Taiwanese rather polite and unlike Elton John, Taiwan is one of my favorite places to visit and play. This Island nation is just slightly bigger than Lake Ontario yet is one of the most important technology and manufactering hubs in the world. Warm friendly people are everywhere and there is evidence of the old country style Taiwanese and the urban modern Asia in every town.  Here is a video of the newsfeed .

Kuala Lumpur 

We travelled by skytrain to downtown Kuala Lumpur which is Malaysia’s capital and often abbreviated as K.L. This is the biggest and most economically driven city in the country. It is hard to believe that the last time I was in KL was before the Petronas Twin Towers were built. For a brief period from 1998 to 2004 they were the tallest buildings in the world until Taipei 101 was built. Now there are many other buildings taller like the new ones in Shanghai and of course the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Twin Towers were used in the film "Entrapment" with Sean Connery.

These towers are very beautiful incorporate quite ingeniously motifs found in Islamic art and the way they are lite is quite amazing. I also like the bridge that connects the two towers. Although it looks like it this photo hasn't been retouched in any way.

The next day we took a flight to Taiwan and we were surprised that the airport was so far. More than an hour by taxi in what seemed like a moonsoon. Fortunately the weather cleared up before our flight.

Theremin in Petaling Jaya 

After Malacca we pressed on to Petaling Jaya on the outskits of Kuala Lumpur. We played in a venue called Toccata Studio run by two Malaysian classical musicians who had studied in England. The space is multi- purpose and can be used for dance and some theatre.  The venue is mainly for experimental work. One of the owners Ng Chor Guan is a composer pianist who also is quite skilled on the theremin.  We did some jamming at sound check and found it would be nice to treat the audience to an improvisation for theremin and bamboo flute.

Exotic Malacca  

After performing at the NUS Culture Centre in Singapore we took a bus North to Malacca in Malaysia which is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Malacca has a long and interesting history. It was the home of the Malay Sultan before being overthrown by the Portuguese in 1511, then the Dutch in 1641 and then the British in 1826. This predominantly Islamic town is an exotic mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultures.  We stayed at the historic Majestic Hotel built in the 20s on Jalan Bunga Raya near the river that weaves through the old city. Walking into the Majestic from the humid 33 degree heat feels like walking into an old movie. One feels Bogart or Ingrid Bergman could be sharing a drink in the café just to the right of the entrance. As you arrive you are greeted with a refreshing drink and a cold towel. The ceiling fans, period furnishings and clawfoot tub all make one feel as you are back in time. Outside the lively and noisy city is a pleasantly assaults your senses as you wak the narrow lanes careful not to be run down by a pedal tuc tuc.

Kicking off the Tour in Singapore 

In front of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore 2005
The tropical garden city of Singapore is the perfect place to start a tour. A beautiful, friendly, modern, multicultural place with a blend of Chinese, Malay, Indian and British colonial culture. It is quite warm since it is situated just slightly above the equator. Today's temperature is 31 degrees centigrade.
This will be my third trip to the Lion City and I am really looking forward to seeing all my old friends. This time my tour is being organized by the lovely people at The National University. I am looking forward to playing with the young musicians that will be accompanying me. Here is an interview from my first trip in Singapore.

Travels Through China 

In 2007, I had the privilege of playing a concert at the recently relocated and beautifully renovated historic Shanghai Concert Hall. Yes, I did say relocated, as the Shanghai local government spent six million dollars to jog the hall over two blocks. This concert hall was in the 1979 documentary Mao to Mozart with violinist Isaac Stern. Our performance was part of the Shanghai International Spring Music Festival and featured my band along with The Oriental Angels, which is a traditional classical instrumental music group chosen from the top female virtuosos from across China. They play the Chinese erhu (2 string violin) the dizi (6 holed bamboo flute) yangqin (hammered dulcimer) zheng (21 string zither) and the pipa (4 string lute). Aside from concertizing, the Angels all teach music in either the Central or Shanghai Conservatories.

To Blog or Not to Blog? 

A month ago I went to a writers meeting at a local restaurant. It was very enriching to get feedback on my writing and learn a little about the way the writing world works. The discussion quickly moved to the impact of social media and blogging. In the old days the only pipeline for a writer was through traditional means such as magazines, newspapers and book publishers. Of course this was difficult because you need to be approved by all the various gate keepers. Even if a publisher liked your story you would then have to work with an editor before public presentation. Now anyone who wants to express themselves can simply post online, mistakes and all. Personally, I can’t believe how many mistakes I have made when I read my older postings.

Many professional writers have commented on the low level of blogs in terms of research, formation of ideas and execution. However, today we live in a DYI society and bloggers don’t have editors. By the time we get to the bottom of our screen we hit send.
I always thought that if there was an open and shared platform like the internet that people’s minds would open up more as well. In some ways the opposite has happened. Because you can focus on only what interests you and to sites with opinions you share many people actually become narrower in their views. I have seen some friends become obsessed with certain sites that seem to polarize their views even more.
As far as my own blog well we will see how it goes. I tend to blog in a flurry and then nothing for months and months.

Gala Charity Event in Shanghai 

Ron Korb and Li Jia
Li Jia and Ron Korb, Shanghai
     The Charity Carnival is a grand event held annually in Shanghai at the Millennium Hotel in Hongqiao. This charity raises money for operations for children from poor families with congenital heart disease. Charity Carnival is now in its ninth year but that was the first year it featured live performance. It was an honor to be asked to headline in 2010 along with many talented local performers.
     I played a few of my own pieces and then was joined by Pipa virtuoso Li jia. She did a lovely rendition of a challenging piece from the Chinese classical pipa literature.  Then we played one of my pieces, Dark Eyes, which she knew by heart since she is in a traditional group that plays an arrangement of the song as part of their repertoire. Li Jia is the first woman to receive a PhD in Chinese classical music.
     The administration of the charity are all volunteers and the entire proceeds go directly to sponsor the children. That year we raised over 1,000,000 RMB (approx. $165,000 USD) for the cause.

Iridium Club in New York 

iridium club band photo
 Steve Lucas, Jann Klose, Larry Crowe, John Hawken, Jesse Gress, Jim McCarty, Ron Korb

    In May 2012 I went on the road with the Jim McCarty Band again. John Hawken from the Strawbs was joining us and since he lives in nearby Metuchen N.J the drummer Larry Crowe and I stayed at his place during this trip. Our opening gig was in Lakewood New Jersey at the historic Strand Theater. I actually had played in this theater before as a headliner with Ray Hickey in the late 90's. The Strand is still as nice as ever. Joining the band for the two NYC area dates were American guitarist Jesse Gress. Jesse has played with Tony Levin and also in Todd Rundgren's band and is well known in the guitar world for making transcriptions and various other music books. His soloing was so amazing at the show I found it hard to concentrate on my own parts. A few days later we played at famous The Iridium Club on Broadway and 51st street in the heart of Times Square. The club is well known for presenting Jazz fusion music and for its long association with the legendary guitarist Les Paul. When we went downstairs for the soundcheck there was a huge group of high school kids being serenaded by the waitresses singing pop karaoke like Britney Spears and Katy Perry. The waiter said this is New York where you can't have any dead time in a club. We played two sets one at 8pm and another at 10pm. It was a lot of fun. Singer Annie Haslam from Renaissance was there and the audience was filled with many New York area musicians.  Also Phil Unger from the New York Flute Center came down to watch the show.

Beethoven's Apartment 

beethoven's apt. ron korb
 Beethoven's Pasqualatihaus
  Beethoven moved 60 times while living in Vienna. Roughly once every six months. One such place is the Pasqualatihaus named after its landlord Josef Benedikt Baron Pasqualati. In this four room apartment Beethoven wrote some of his most beautiful music including Fur Elise, the 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th symphonies and his opera Fidelio.

A  tourist blog reported that this place is hard to find and that he had to bang on the door for about ten minutes before anyone answered. It certainly is difficult to find. I walked up and down the street several times and couldn't figure out the street number. I asked local shop keepers who had no idea either. Finally, I realized it was up the hill behind a grove of trees. It is a nice little musuem that has some of his original parchments, several paintings and his piano. This was one of the maestro favorite accomodations where he spent several years. This was the inspiration for my song Beethoven Pasqualatihaus for flute, piano, cello, bass and drums.

flautist Ian Clarke 

Ron Korb and Ian Clarke
Ron Korb and Ian Clarke
      Celebrated British flautist Ian Clarke gave a concert in Toronto at St. Andrews on Bloor Street on October 8th 2011. He is a professor of flute at the Guildhall School of Music and a very popular clinician in the masterclass curcuit. The Concert featured a nice assortment of his own music with some well loved repertoire such as a Bach Sonata and the Carmen Fantasy. After the show a few of us flutists Diane Aitken, Patricia Dydnansky and Cathy Miller from Miyazawa flutes all went to a nearby English pub. In this shot you can see Ian and I caught in the act of air fluting while discussing the differences and similarities between the French flute and various World flutes.

 

90th Birthday for a Canadian Legend 

    
Monty Hall Party in Los Angeles
Monty Hall, Marilyn Hall, Ron Korb, and Canadian Embassador Gary Doer
This photgraph was taken at Monty Hall's 90th birthday party at the residence of the Consulate General in Los Angeles. In the photo are Monty Hall, his wife Marilyn, myself and Canada's Ambassador in Washington Gary Doer.
     The organizers put me up at  That day I had to get up early and take a propeller prop plane from Eureka,CA to San Francisco and then to LAX. Shortly after I arrived at the airport I was taken to the The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills and was picked up and hour later and taken to soundcheck with the four piece band.
The event was a well paced variety show hosted by Peter Marshall with entertainers like Gloria Loring, Norm Crosby, Nita Whittaker and Jack Jones. Paul Anka and David Foster both gave birthday salutations via video. My whole contribution was two songs Cuchulainn and the first performance of St. Johann.

Yosemite Flute Festival 

yosemite park
 Yosemite National Park
In September 2011 Ron had a wonderful experience playing at the Yosemite Flute Festival. He got a ride from Los Angeles with Scott August who is a prominent flutist in the Native Flute genre. His albums are featured in all the National Parks gift stores. The lovely organizers of the festival Rick and Linda Dunlap provided a beautiful ranch style house for the artists outside of Oakhurst where the festival is held. Really enjoyed hearing the other musicians and what they have created using the Native Flute. One of the participants was kind enough to take Ron on a tour through the park and seeing the giant Sequoia trees. It is really a thrill to experience such incredible nature.

That night Ron headlined a concert with two other acts at the Sierra Sky Ranch. Halfway through his show he was joined by native musician Randy Granger on the halo drum. For his encore Ron was joined by the two other performers Rona Yellow Robe and Rafael Bejarano. The following morning Ron gave a class on breathing and tone production.

Collaborating with a classmate - Anne Louise-Turgeon 

I attended the Faculty of Music at U of T with Anne Louise and her husband Ed Turgeon many moons ago. Later the couple went to graduate school at Yale University where they got their masters and PhDs in Music. Both Anne and her husband are professors of music Florida Atlantic University and have travelled the world as one of the top piano duos. Back in 2011 Anne and Ron did two classical recitals at the Summertime Series in Toronto and at the Kitchener Waterloo Chamber Society. At the same time Anne did a fantastic job when we recorded St. Johann for the new album Europa. She suggested adding some runs and ornamentation that really brought the piece alive. We perfomed a very eclectic program contrasting major classical works with jazz, blues and world influenced pieces. One such piece was Winter in Gros Cap written by Anne for bass flute and piano inspired by the beauty of the nature of Northern Ontario.

ron korb and anne loiuse-turgeon
Ron Korb and Anne Louise Turgeon
Other pieces included were:
Prokofiev Flute Sonata in D Major
Franz Liszt: Etude de Concert "un sospiro"
Wladislaw Szpilman: Suite "The Life of the Machines"
Winter at Gros Cap, composed by Anne Louise-Turgeon

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Two Etudes-Tableaux op.39 nos. 1
Rachmaninoff-Kreisler: Liebeslied
A Muse, Dark Eyes, Casco Viejo, La Sirena, Mozart's Wedding, Pasqualiti House, St, Johann: Ron Korb

Hiroshima Lantern Festival 

Hiroshima day 2011
Attendants release the paper lanterns at the end of Hiroshima ceremony.
Every year the Hiroshima Day Coalition presents an event on August 6th. This year it was the Commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. The event had a particular resonance this year because of the Fukushima Nuclear disaster. This year there were lectures by several scientists informing us on the dangers of nuclear power as well as eye witness accounts by some Atomic bomb survivers such as Setsuko Thurlow.


Ron Korb performed at the beginning of the event at the Holy Trinity Church. At the end of the night, he played the Japanese ryuteki and walked the crowd Pied Piper style over to the reflecting pool at Nathan Phillips. There the participants set adrift their paper lanterns as a symbol of peace similar to the way Obon is celbrated in Japan.

J.S. Bach's Church - Thomaskirche, Leipzig 

ron korb J.S Bach statue
J.S. Bach's Statue outside St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.
On our way to Prague we stopped off in Leipzig. A few people in Hamburg discouraged us from visiting it saying there wasn't much to see but actually it was a high point for me.

Leipzig is not only the city from which Mendelssohn, Mahler and Schumann are closely associated but also the Father of Harmony himself - Johann Sebastian Bach. I had only been there once as a child and I must say it has improved since reunification. First stop was the Bach Archive which was very moving for me to see some of J.S's original parchments. Across the square was St. Thomas Church where Bach had composed and choir directed for more than 25 years of his career. However, the tourist hours had past After we toured the archive the church was closed to tourists but then we noticed worshippers going into the service. peopWhene actually watched a service which contained quite a bit of music. Amazing to realize that many of the most beautiful pieces of music were written and premiered in that very space such as  St. Mathew Passion and The Magnificat.



Unlike Elton John, I love Taiwan

Back in 2004 Elton called a group of Taiwanese reporters waiting at Taipei airport "Rude vile pigs,...Do you know what that means? Rude vile pigs. That's what all of you are." Unlike EJ, Taiwan is one of my favorite places to visit and play. This Island nation is just slightly bigger than Lake Ontario yet is one of the most important technology and manufactering hibs in the world. Warm friendly people are everywhere and there is evidence of the old country style Taiwanese and the urban modern Asia in every city and town. I have spent a couple weeks here and performed at 8 venues and appeared on radio.Here is a shot of our first show in Hsinchu. This concert was just flute and piano. Israeli pianist Oren Dashti was my accompanist. 
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