On Nov. 29, the York University R&B Ensemble will perform at 12:30 p.m. in the Martin Family Lounge. Directed by Mike Cadó, music professor, the ensemble will perform music by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight, and other popular artists.
“I developed and have directed this ensemble for about 16 years,” says Cadó. “It has been a pleasure performing and sharing this music with students — many of whom have gone on to perform in groups, theatre productions, record and produce their own music, teach in the public school system, and continue the legacy of exposing students to music.”
Eric Shi, a fourth-year music student, will be playing the bass in the performance. He admits that being part of the ensemble is more work than most might think.
“As an ensemble, we learn about 15 to 16 songs per semester, which all vary in duration, difficulty, and form. As the ensemble’s bass player, my responsibility lies with the rhythm section, which can either be one of the most exciting or challenging roles within the group,” says Shi.
Cadó explains that “the ensemble provides a unique opportunity for the students to perform in a large ensemble with horns and multiple vocalists. The group is a 19-piece ensemble that features a full horn section, six vocalists, and a six piece rhythm section.”
In addition to directing the ensemble, Cadó expresses that he has had the pleasure of teaching the group about the cultural and historical significance of the artists and music they perform.
According to an article from the Conversation, while Toronto had a strong R&B presence particularly in the 50s – 70s, the community experienced racism and did not receive support from the Canadian recording industry.
However, the article explains that popular Canadian R&B artists like Drake, Jessie Reyez, and Justin Bieber are redefining the racial identity of R&B music and what it means to be an artist representing its rich history in a diverse way.
“Mike Cado, who has been the ensemble leader for as long as I can remember, really pushes us to understand the tunes on both a practical and historical level so that we as a group understand the fundamentals of Rhythm and Blues,” Shi says.
Shi also adds, “I’m most excited to play some of the pieces that have some groovy baselines. I won’t spoil any songs (you’ll have to come see them yourself) but we’ll be playing some tunes by Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, and Bruno Mars so stay tuned!”
To learn more about this performance, click here.