Rhythms of Canada 2023: Performances

Special Performances

Rhythms of Canada 2023: Performances

Date: June 30-July 3, 2023

Learn more about the exciting Rhythms of Canada Festival performers and performances.


Please note: Main stage performances are lawn seating only. No outside chairs are permitted. Blankets or low-profile soft surfaces for sitting on the grassed area are welcome.

Accessible seating: Limited accessibility seating will be available. Chairs can be provided if necessary. 


Evening Performances


Friday, June 30

7:30 pm | Main Stage | $25 | Reserve tickets



Mas Aya



The double meaning of Brandon Valdivia's pseudonym Mas Aya neatly encapsulates his musical outlook. Over the past fifteen years, the Toronto composer, percussionist and producer has established himself as an integral part of the city's vibrant and varied music community through his membership in groups such as Not The Wind, Not The Flag, Picastro, The Cosmic Range, I Have Eaten The City, and Lido Pimienta, 
Máscaras is anchored by Valdivia's deft and atmospheric production style that folds together intricate spiralling synths, balmy environments, and crisp drum programming, variously drawing from trap, footwork, early Warp-label gestures, and the digital end of dancehall-reggae yet it's his love of organic instrumentation that truly cements his commitment to an eclectic, unclassifiable aesthetic.


Learn more about Mas Aya
Follow Mas Aya on Instagram

Listen to Mas Aya on YouTube and Apple Music


The Halluci Nation



As they enter a new cycle, Bear Witness and Tim “2oolman” Hill are reintroducing themselves as The Halluci Nation to reflect the evolution of their music and mission. The Halluci Nation takes its name from a phrase coined by John Trudell, to describe the vast global community of people who remember at their core what it means to be human. They maintain focus on what they feel they can impact most — how Indigenous people are seen. Through ground-breaking stage shows and ever-changing visuals, Bear Witness and 2oolman are working to create media that reflects today’s Indigenous identity, blending hip-hop, reggae, moombahton and dubstep-influenced dance music with elements of Indigenous music.


Learn more about The Halluci Nation
Follow The Halluci Nation on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
Listen to The Halluci Nation on YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify


Saturday, July 1

7:30 pm | Main Stage | $25 | Reserve tickets





Toronto-based multi-disciplinary artist Borelson's unique sound combines hip-hop and Afrofusion with jazz, classical music, and gospel. Inspired by Afrofuturism and Ubuntu philosophy, the award-winning musician's work bridges communities and aims to drive hope and a sense of collective freedom. Borelson has performed all over the world, from Paris to Miami and Ghana to Montreal.


Learn more about Borelson
Follow Borelson on Instagram and Facebook
Listen to Borelson on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music


Balaklava Blues



Balaklava Blues is the brainchild of Mark and Marichka Marczyk, creators of the multi-award winning guerrilla-folk-opera Counting Sheep and leaders of Lemon Bucket Orkestra — a 12-piece Balkan-party-punk-massive. Falling somewhere between a traditional song cycle and a full-blown multimedia techno show, the duo fuses Ukrainian polyphony and other folk traditions with EDM, trap, and dubstep, using their music as a launching pad to explore the blues that have long emanated from the Ukrainian steppe.


Learn more about Balaklava Blues
Follow Balaklava Blues on Instagram and Facebook
Listen to Balaklava Blues on YouTube, Soundcloud, and Spotify


WARNING: The Balaklava Blues performance contains a sequence of flashing lights and strobe lights, which may affect visitors who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy or have other light-induced sensitivities.



Sunday, July 2

8:30 pm | Main Stage | $25 | SOLD OUT


Mekaal Hasan Band


Founded in 2001 by Mekaal Hasan, the Mekaal Hasan Band brings together the finest musicians in Pakistan and India. The unique Sufi rock band has played major stages in India, Pakistan, Europe, and North America. Featuring musicians of international calibre, the Mekaal Hasan Band builds on Eastern classical music with contemporary rhythms, incorporating guitar, traditional flute (bansuri), and compelling vocals into their sound.


Learn more about Mekaal Hasan
Follow the Mekaal Hasan Band on Instagram and Facebook
Listen to the Mekaal Hasan Band on YouTube, Soundcloud, and Spotify


Parachute Thieves



Welcoming wistfully emotive melodies, the contemplative cadence of Scarborough-native, Latif Murji, coalesces with the radioactive riffs of lead guitarist, Rob Mayo, to bring you “Parachute Thieves."


Exploring an eruption of nuclear heartache, and enduring themes of self-discovery, longing, and belonging, Parachute Thieves will have you finding your footing on the edge of everything. Written in Toronto and recorded in Los Angeles, their debut “Shed My Skin EP” is true to heart, decisively rhythmic and harmoniously hopeful — a curated treasure map where X marks the convergence of acceptance and identity. 


Front-man and a medical doctor by day, Latif Murji, lays down his stethoscope in exchange for a microphone to bring you the synesthetic spatter of cosmic clarity you didn’t know you needed. A prescription for dancing, “Parachute Thieves” teases nostalgic millennial alt-rock, anthemic soundscapes, and a secret sauce you’ll wish you had the recipe for.


Learn more about Parachute Thieves on Instagram
Listen to Parachute Thieves on Spotify and YouTube


Daytime Performances


Saturday, July 1


Band of the Royal Regiment of Canada
10 am (Canada Day Ceremony) and 11:30 am



The Band of The Royal Regiment of Canada is based at Fort York in Toronto and has a continuous tradition reaching back to 1863, making it the oldest permanently formed military band in Canada. A decree by Queen Victoria authorized the Regiment to wear the distinctive scarlet uniform and bearskin cap of the "Guards" on all ceremonial occasions. The Band appears at various functions across Canada and internationally. The Band is under the musical direction of Captain Kevin Anderson, CD, Director of Music and is led on parade by Drum Major Steven Yasinsky.


The Band performs by kind permission of Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Martinis, MB, CD, Commanding Officer.


Nagata Shachu (Japanese Drummers)
2 pm | Main Stage



Toronto-based Nagata Shachu has enthralled audiences with their mesmerizing and heart-pounding performances of the Japanese drum (taiko) since 1998. The group has toured widely throughout Canada, the U.S., and Italy, and has performed at major engagements in both Lebanon and Mexico. While rooted in the folk drumming traditions of Japan, the ensemble’s principal aim is to rejuvenate this ancient artform by producing innovative and exciting music that seeks to create a new voice for the taiko.


Follow Nagata Shachu on Facebook


The Amazing Afghani Singers
1 pm | Social Hall, Ismaili Centre, Toronto
3 pm | Main Stage



Performing mostly at Nowruz and Eid celebrations, The Amazing Afghani Singers perform devotional songs and qasida — poetry of praise. The ensemble is accompanied by the daf (frame drum) and often times the dombura and harmonium.


Listen to The Amazing Afghani Singers on YouTube


Sounds of Afghanistan Choir
3:15 pm | Main Stage



Famous in Afghanistan for their songs about human dignity, democracy, and women's rights, Sounds of Afghanistan has earned millions of views on YouTube. Recently evacuated to Canada by the 30 Birds Foundation, they will be singing songs to raise awareness of the need to support Afghan girls, both in Canada and Afghanistan. 


Learn more about the 30 Birds Foundation


Havana Toronto Safari
Presented by the Jazz Performance and Education Centre
4 pm | Ismaili Centre, Toronto


Dance, sing, and play along with the musicians of Havana Toronto Safari under the music leadership of Joaquin Nunez Hildago. 


Learn more about the Jazz Performance and Education Centre


Sunday, July 2


Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
12:30 pm | Main Stage


In Japan, summer is a time for festivals — matsuri — and this year, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC) will be bringing the matsuri to Rhythms of Canada. The JCCC Kyowa Taiko group is made up of volunteers dedicated to cultivating and sharing the performance of “kumi-daiko” — a Japanese drum ensemble. Based out of the JCCC, where they practice and teach taiko, the group's repertoire consists of contemporary music written by local composers. The performance will also feature the Ohana Hula Club — a group formed in 2009 as a way to exercise, socialize, and learn about the music of Hawaii and French Polynesia and a Jodo demonstration — the Japanese art of the staff.


Follow the JCCC on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
Learn more about the JCCC on their website


Presented by the Jazz Performance and Education Centre
2 pm | Main Stage



Built around the sound of the steel drum and accompanied by other percussive instruments, Kalabash is a distinctive jazz group. The name Kalabash is recognizable in the Caribbean and is evocative of Continental Africa. Influenced by both regions, the ensemble's unique sound combines reeds and flutes with steel drums in their original music.


Learn more about the Jazz Performance and Education Centre
Learn more about Kalabash


Havana Toronto Safari
Presented by the Jazz Performance and Education Centre
4 pm | Ismaili Centre, Toronto


Dance, sing, and play along with the musicians of Havana Toronto Safari under the music leadership of Joaquin Nunez Hildago. 


Learn more about the Jazz Performance and Education Centre


Abhimanyu Lal and Company Performance presented by the Consulate General of India
4 pm | Main Stage



Abhimanyu Lal, son and disciple of renowned Guru and SNA Awardee Smt. Geetanjali Lal, is recognized as one of the most accomplished Kathak dancers. Hailed as a bright star in the firmament of Kathak, Lal has received acclaim as a dazzling dancer by numerous media outlets and connoisseurs of the arts. He has been awarded Shri Krishana Gana Sabha Endowment and Nritya Jayantika Awards and has performed at the highest level in India and abroad in many prestigious Dance Festivals like the Sydney Dance Festival at Seymour Center, Australia 2014, the 64th Indian Republic Day celebration in Dubai 2013, and the London Olympics in 2012.


Follow Abhimanyu Lal on Instagram


Monday, July 3


Kathak Dance Performance
11:30 am | Main Stage



Rashmi Mishra is a highly acclaimed figure in the world of Indian performing arts, having received numerous accolades and awards for her incredible talent and dedication to Kathak, which a beautiful dance form that originated as a storytelling art in the temples of North India.  As a recipient of the prestigious "Saraswati Samman", "Braj Ratna Award", "Best Kathak Dancer Award", and the "Medallion of Honour of Nadezda Petrovic", she is widely recognized as one of the most accomplished and celebrated Kathak exponents in the world. 


Follow Rashmi Mishra on Instagram and Facebook
Watch Rashmi Mishra on YouTube


Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto
12:30 pm | Main Stage



Enjoy a special martial arts demonstration, a mesmerizing performance by a Chinese music ensemble, and experience a traditional Lion Dance — a dance believed to drive away bad spirits and negative energies, as well as usher in good luck and prosperity.


The Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto (CCC) is a vibrant multicultural hub in Canada with three decades of experience serving a diverse community. CCC takes pride in taking the leadership role when it comes to promoting and preserving Chinese culture and heritage in the context of Canadian society. 


Follow CCC on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
Visit CCC at their website


Toronto Burundi Drummers
2 pm | Main Stage



Toronto Burundi Drummers consisting of drummers from ages 8 years old to 70 years old has performed drumming and dancing for more than 20 years. They have appeared at events across the Greater Toronto Area, and have performed internationally at the Civitanova Danze Festival in Italy. From the moment that they enter carrying drums on their heads, to dynamic jumping and rhythmic chanting, their performances enthrall audiences at community festivals, arts events, corporate and private events.  


Learn more about The Toronto Burundi Drummers



Haneen Choir
3 pm | Main Stage



The Haneen Women Choir in Toronto was established in 2018 by Rahaf Alakbani with a vision to revive Arab heritage, preserve Arab identity, and empower women through the power of music. Inspired by her own experiences of harmony and empowerment through singing with other women in other projects, Their primary objective is to empower Arab women in Canada through musical and artistic expression, creating a safe and supportive space for women to come together and share their love for music. Additionally, the choir aims to offer social and emotional support to women in a positive and uplifting environment, facilitating the integration process of Arab women into Canadian society through musical and artistic programs.


Follow The Haneen Woman Choir on Instagram & Facebook
Learn more about The Haneen Woman Choir


Havana Toronto Safari
Presented by the Jazz Performance and Education Centre
4:30 pm | Main Stage


The Caribbean Jazz Collective is a Latin-Caribbean-Jazz Project featuring a great lineup of local and international musicians. Under the music leadership of Joaquin Nunez Hildago, sing, dance, and play along to the smooth melodies of the Havana Safari Toronto


Learn more about the Jazz Performance and Education Centre


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