University of Toronto Blog » Music

By: Blogut  09-12-2011

University of Toronto Blog » Music

Post written in collaboration with Tian-Yuan Zhao.

Marshall McLuhan, an alumnus of our university, once stated that ‘the medium is the message’. But did you know that he was also a graduate of the same high school as Tian-Yuan Zhao, the founder of Tales of Harmonia? Amongst the many reasons Tian had for starting his own choir, the most important one stemmed from the knowledge that McLuhan had passed down. Tian felt that, because a choir is the medium whereby the message of a song is portrayed, it doesn’t matter if there’s variety within the genres of music that each choir at U of T specializes in. The only thing that matters is the medium – if, for example, jazz is the only genre of music performed by a choir, their performance can become stale. Tales of Harmonia intends on showcasing music from all genres. Its slogan is:

Whether it’s Accompanied or A Cappella, Arranged or Artistic, Occidental or Oriental, Sacred or Secular, as long as there’s a fire burning from deep within the song, we’ll be there to dish it!

Through practicing what they preach, Tales of Harmonia intends to generate a more personal, intimate, and special experience not only for their choral members, but for their audience.

Tales of Harmonia is a mixed 30-voice auditioned choir that aims not only to provide talented musicians with the opportunity to pursue excellence in music within a friendly, focused environment, but to do so alongside others who share the one other commonality that unites us as one – our collective power to geek* out about the various insanities of life.

*’Geek’: A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest. This definition is very broad but, because many of these interests have mainstream endorsement and acceptance, the inclusion of some genres as ‘geeky’ is heavily debated. Persons have been labelled, or have chosen to identify, as physics geeks, mathematics geeks, engineering geeks, sci-fi geeks, computer geeks, various science geeks, movie and film geeks (cinephiles), comic book geeks, theatre geeks, history geeks, music geeks, sport geeks, art geeks, philosophy geeks, literature geeks, historical re-enactment geeks, video game geeks, and role-play geeks. – Wikipedia

The group is built on the following tenets to provide all choral members with:
1) A more holistic musical experience.
2) A more heterogeneous (diverse) musical experience.
3) A geekier musical experience. In this context – ‘geeky’ isn’t a derogatory term as it refers to anything and everything from all mediums whereby art is expressed, such as movies, TV shows, books, anime, video games, math, history, engineering, and so on and so forth. I hope you get the gist.
4) A more ‘underground’ musical experience. While some songs are widely recognizable, most of the showcased songs are less popular amongst the masses. ToH’s repertoire draws from all genres.
5) A more innovative approach to musical groups as a whole. Now what does this mean? ToH not only intends on revolutionizing ‘what’ will be performed at concerts, but ‘how’ they’ll be performed as ToH intends on having multimedia concerts in the future, collaborating with other musical organizations as well as hoping to all ToH to grow into something more than just a choir into an entire musical/artistic experience for all who’s involved with it. Expect great things to come of this.

Tales of Harmonia dares to explore strange new worlds and to seek out new life and new Civilizations (I, II, III, IV, V, etc.). They boldly go where no choral ground has gone before. So join them for the ride – I assure you, you won’t ever regret it!

Here’s a sneak peek of the lists of songs ToH will be singing this year:


, Ipharadisi, and Parismaalase Lauluke
5 Chinese Songs songs, including Jasmine Flower, , and The Butterfly Lovers3 Korean and 3 Japanese Folk songs
I Love the Whole Wide World
The Grand Fonic Hymn
Tshosholotza
The Legendary Sorcerer and Guiding Star
Le Ali Del Principio and To the End of the Journey of Glittering Stars
Zulu Mama
Les Misérables
Engineering Songs

Auditions for Tales of Harmonia will be held in the second or third week of September. One audition time/place has already been confirmed (September  12th, 3PM, Bickersteth Room at Hart House), and another time/place has yet to be confirmed, but expect it to be in the Engineering Complex a day or two after the first day of auditions.


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