Music in the Courtyard 2021

The Firehall Arts Centre and the Vancouver Independent Music Centre (VIM) are pleased to present the 2021 Music in the Courtyard series this summer from Friday, July 30 to Sunday, September 5. Performances for the second edition of this series will take place outdoor in the courtyard at The Firehall Arts Centre Wednesdays to Saturdays at 7:00pm, and Sundays at 3:00pm, with the exception of the concert on Sunday, August 1st, which is scheduled for 7:00pm.

Ticket prices range from $20 to $40, and it is strongly recommended that tickets be purchased in advance at as tickets will go quickly. Each performance will be limited to 50 patrons. Patrons will be required to wear masks in public areas within the building, but may remove their masks once seated in the outdoor courtyard area.

Patrons are limited 10 tickets per show. No resale.

Masks are recommended.

The lobby will open 1 hour prior to showtime.


Friday, July 30 at 7:00pm


Percussive hand drum songs that blend harmonies to reflect their cultural practice and personal journeys.

Renae Morriseau, Michelle Bardach, Sherryl Sewepegaham: vocals, drums
Beaver Thomas: guitar

M’Girl is an ensemble of Indigenous women with stories and songs on the gifts received from Mother Earth. Though officially performing for over 15 years, their musical histories and cultural practice spans throughout each of their lives. Their hand drum songs blend harmonies into a contemporary style that reflects their expertise of voice and their personal story of home. They are honoured to share their songs on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Their Music in the Courtyard performance will include one set of traditional songs and a second set of both traditional and guitar songs with covers and original music.


Saturday, July 31 at 7:00pm

Haram (presented in partnership with the Vancouver Folk Music Festival)

Arabic/Avant-garde ensemble mixing wild abandon with lyrical time-tested melodies, which are blown wide open with the inclusion of noise, electronic soundscape, and free improvisation.

Gordon Grdina: oud, guitar
Francois Houle: clarinet
Jesse Zubot: violin
Jp Carter: trumpet
Chris Kell: sax
Emad Armoush: vocals, ney
Tommy Babin: bass
Kenton Loewen: drums
Liam MacDonald: riq
Tim Gerwing: darbuka

Juno Award winner Gordon Grdina formed the ensemble Haram in 2008 to interpret classic Arabic repertoire. Starting with Iraqi folk music and the great era of Egyptian radio music when Oum Khalsoum and Farid Al Atrash reigned, they have since expanded to include classic Sudanese and Persian repertoire. The pieces are lovingly reinterpreted with an ensemble half studied in the tradition and half in avant-garde improvisation. This blend of traditions is what gives Haram its unique sound. By combining improvisation and arrangements, the band keeps alive the spirit and Tarab inherent in the compositions. The music has developed into a state of effortless cohesion mixed with wild abandon conjuring up a sense of respect and homage while being explosively self-expressive. Haram is a powerhouse ensemble playing a repertoire that has been revered by millions.


Sunday, August 1st at 7:00pm

Gentle Party (guest curator, Peggy Lee)

Lush, mischievous, “achingly beautiful” soundscapes and harmonies.

Meredith Bates: violin
Elisa Thorn: harp
Jessicka: voice

This Music in the Courtyard appearance will include the musical projects of the members of Gentle Party.
(Guest curator, Peggy Lee)

Gentle Party is an avant chamber pop ensemble described as “lush and somewhat mischievous, yet shimmering with melancholy” (Dave O Rama, BC Musician Magazine). Jessicka’s hauntingly evocative voice rests on a sumptuous bed of luscious processed strings emanating from harpist, Elisa Thorn, and violinist, Meredith Bates.
If Not Now is multiple award-winning violinist Meredith Bates’ solo project featuring “achingly beautiful string harmonies that slowly advance and retreat, like breathing” (Mary Dickie, MusicWorks).
The Years In Between uses harp, voice, and electronics, which Elisa Thorn weaves together through song-writing, improvisation, and soundscape to create a rich tapestry of sound she likes to call “pretty shred.”
Power Squeezer, the eclectic experimental duo of Elisa Thorn and Meredith Bates, has been enthralling audiences since its inception with music that washes over you in waves of dramatic intensity and peaceful reflection.


Wednesday, August 4 & Thursday, August 5 at 7:00pm

Small Town Artillery (with guest opener Aza Nabuko)

Small Town Artillery are a Rock & Roll band with a horn section, originally from Kaslo, BC. They write songs about things they care about and use riffs, brass and emotion as their main weapons. Founding members and blood brothers, Tom and Derek van Deursen, have been playing together since they were 10 and 12. STA are signed to JumpAttack! Records and are currently self-managed.

In 2019 they played more than 70 shows, including a headlining spot at Edge Of The World Festival on Haida Gwaii, the Holland stage at Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival, and organizing & hosting their own local Festival called East Van Block Party.  As well, they completed their first tour in Ontario, BC, opening up for critically-acclaimed Canadian funk band Five Alarm Funk. The year ended at the Commodore Ballroom, with a support set for Five Alarm Funk.

They booked themselves a 42 date cross country tour for spring 2020, spanning 8 Provinces & 2.5 months. However, as restrictions led to cancellations, they pivoted and managed to play shows all summer to small outdoor crowds. They are currently based out of Vancouver and are always working on new music and performances.

STA’s success & growth are due to their high-energy live show, powerful horn section, relentless work ethic and strong desire to see a childhood dream realized, 20 years in the making.


Friday, August 6 at 7:00pm

Microcosmos Quartet

String Quartet Masterworks: Franz Schubert’s Death and the Maiden and Thomas Adès’ Arcadiana.

Marc Destrubé: violin
Andrea Siradze: violin
Tawnya Popoff: viola
Rebecca Wenham: cello

Microcosmos, formed in Vancouver in 2010, performs from the rich string quartet repertoire written in the past 100 years. They harness the intimacy of a string quartet to present some of the greatest music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Aside from the quartet’s ‘house’ concerts, they have been guests on series such as Music on Main’s lauded ‘Cellar’ series, Vancouver Pro Musica’s ‘Further’ Series, and ‘Speaking in Ligeti,’ a collaboration with MMHop Productions and four dancers that toured to Halifax and Ottawa.
“thank you for learning and programming these wonderful pieces! It is truly wonderful to be able to communicate the beauty and excitement of these pieces at all” (Martin Reisle, composer)”


Saturday, August 7 at 7:00pm

The C.R. Avery Orchestra (presented in partnership with the Vancouver Folk Music Festival)

The C.R. Avery Orchestra – presented in partnership with the Vancouver Folk Music Festival
“a creative avalanche…one has to remember to breathe through it all” (Shane Koyczan).

Elyse Jacobson: violin one
Shannon Scott: keyboard, vocals, yuke
Molly MacKinnon: violin two
Ross Fairbairn: upright bass, vocals
John Kastelic: viola
Doug Gorkoff: cello
C.R. Avery: vocals, harmonica

what men do with their mouths (Bio for c.r avery by P. Smith)
cue the frenzied combo of molar and spit.
his tongue touches every chroma on its way to blue. he’s been rinsing with gravel, flossing with wire and chewing brick again, he’s been a bad, bad boy.
but he is crackerjack conjurer of washboards and rubber, even suburb girls welcome the twinging. i want to nibble yesterday’s corona from his chin, rub my index finger along the surface of his laugh, pull the maw open to check the slick road of his throat.
there’s something illegal going on down there, the sweet keening of ancient instruments. the orchestra is fidgety, click-hipped, steaming inside that skin.
the boy opens the beauteous and, in gut rendering, words become both otherwise and everything.


Sunday, August 8 at 3:00pm

Only a Visitor

Vocal-driven Art Pop / Indie. Deceptively catchy, poetry-forward songs.

Robyn Jacob: synth/keys, vocals
Emma Postl: vocals
Celina Kurz: vocals
Jeff Gammon: bass
Kevin Romain: drums

Described by CBC Music as one of 10 Vancouver acts to watch, Only A Visitor is a quintet that resists being bound and exists in an estuary of sound informed by art music and pop. Classically trained composer and arranger Robyn Jacob’s eclectic songwriting showcases vocal techniques and arrangements that feature subtle asymmetrical rhythms twisted around a pop skeleton. Joined in 2015 by drummer Kevin Romain, bassist Jeff Gammon, and singers Emma Postl and Celina Kurz, Only A Visitor has released three recordings and with composer Nancy Tam co-produced Double Happiness: Detour This Way, a docu-song cycle exploring the complexities of the Chinese diaspora using material from their 2019 album Technicolour Education. They are currently preparing their next release Decay, which will be released in early 2022.


Thursday, August 12 at 7:00pm

Emily Molloy with opener Cat Madden

Emily Molloy is one part soul, one part blues and a gallon of rock and roll. Her voice would be at home in the smokey basements of a Chicago cabaret or down the graffiti and rain soaked back alleys of Seattle.

Emily has performed at Canadian Music Week, Rockin’ River Fest and Pemberton Music Festival. She was also named the winner of the 2015 Whistler Music Search.

Emily has become a staple of the Vancouver music scene, with an all-star cast of some of Canada’s best musicians behind her. As her career grows, the need for an introduction dissipates.

Cat Madden:
“Her voice is like an opera singer mixed with a Husqvarna chainsaw” – the words of a bleary eyed gas station attendant from Squamish, the morning after a Cat Madden set. Perhaps this  unique tone stems from a childhood spent with a rock, punk and ska enthusiast for a father  (Madness, The Specials, Blondie, Who, Clash, Beat, Jam) and a mother in love with French  classical composers; Debussy, Ravel and Erik Satie.



Friday, August 13 at 7:00pm

Murray Porter

Soulful blues piano man from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory

Blues Man Murray Porter’s music career has taken him all over the world for the last 40 years. Murray may have a blues soul to the core, but he also grew up on rock and roll, R & B and country music. Porter’s love of performing comes across clear and strong. He has been compared to Dr. John, Joe Cocker and even Elton John! He captivates audiences wherever he performs and he makes new fans and they never leave his show disappointed. He’s a proud Mohawk man from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in southern Ontario, who now lives on Squamish Nation unceded territory in North Vancouver, BC.
“a master bluesman” (Robbie Robertson).




Saturday, August 14 at 7:00pm

Mohamed Assani Trio

Assani is known for his innovative, genre-defying approach to the sitar, stretching the boundaries of the instrument.

Mohamed Assani: sitar
Jeans Le Doujet: electric bass
Liam MacDonald: drums, percussion

Mohamed Assani is an award-winning sitar player and composer, known for being a proactive ambassador for his rich musical tradition. He has brought the sitar to new audiences through innovative, genre-bending collaborations. Mohamed has performed Hindustani classical music as well as his own original music across the globe — with orchestras, string quartets, hip hop artists, DJs, world music ensembles, jazz artists, Indian & Pakistani classical artists — and as a soloist. Trained in both Indian/Pakistani and Western Classical music, his music-making seamlessly draws from different genres and cultures with depth and authenticity. He forges new paths while remaining committed to the rich roots from which his tradition has emerged.
“Assani is both a musician who’s deeply rooted in the artistic traditions of South Asia and a one-of-a-kind innovator” (Georgia Straight).


Sunday, August 15 at 3:00pm

Tonye Aganaba

Their music is connected and intimate; a kind of vulnerability that we all hunger for.

Tonye Aganaba is a queer and non-binary multidisciplinary artist, musician, and facilitator residing on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish & Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Their new album Something Comfortable is an intentional and devotional endeavour inspired by their battle with Multiple Sclerosis. The album serves as the score to ‘AfroScience’ an immersive performance and workshop series fusing live music, dance, visual art/digital media and storytelling to stimulate conversation and action around identity, addiction, healing, public health, and expression.




Friday, August 20 at 7:00pm

Ad Mare with guest artist Julia Nolan

Stellar woodwind quintet performs a great spectrum of repertoire across genres and epochs.

Julia Nolan (guest artist): saxophone
Marea Chernoff: oboe
Sophie Dansereau: bassoon
Christopher Lee: clarinet
Mark McGregor: flute
Andrew Mee: horn

Founded by clarinetist AK Coope and bassoonist Sophie Dansereau, Ad Mare specializes in performing rich and unusual musical programs, entertaining educational concerts, and new compositions and commissions. Alongside the standard wind quintet works they perform new compositions, promote local Canadian composers and are regular guests at popular concert series around British Columbia. They regularly present new compositions in the Vancouver Pro Musica annual festival Sonic Boom and they had the honour of being the only group invited to simultaneously perform live on CBC’s West Coast Performance and Radio-Canada’s Les musiciens du dimanche programs.



Saturday, August 21 at 7:00pm

The History of Gunpowder

Blues-inspired orchestrated chaos with an experimental tendency; Tom Waits meets Mars Volta meets Nick Cave.

Alex Morison: vocals, guitar
Katie Stewart: violin
Mike W.T. Allen: saxophones
Nikko Whitworth: bass
Nik Focht: drums, samples
Cole Tinney: keys, synths
Bradshaw Pack: pedal steel
Jen Davidson: tenor sax, vocals

The History of Gunpowder is a freak-out ensemble from Montreal, now based in Vancouver, with an ever-changing cast of members that put on unpredictable, chaotic live shows. A staple of the Canadian live scene, The History is devoted to constantly pushing the envelope on stage and in the studio and has built a community around them that consists of some of the best musicians in Canada. They are set to release a string of live-videos from quarantine and works from a residency project of compositions centered around a 19th century pipe organ in anticipation of their upcoming record, The Epileptic Vol. II, supported with a 2022 European Tour. The group’s line up is expanding to reach new musical heights along with a different featured artist that makes an appearance every show, ensuring a unique experience every time they hit the stage.


Sunday, August 22 at 3:00pm

Rumba Calzada

Eclectic, powerful mix of salsa, jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms.

Raphael Geronimo: timbales, drums, bongo, vocal
Allan Johnston: bass, vocal
Lou Mastroianni: keyboard
Rolo Preza: congas, vocal
Rod Murray: trombone, percussion
Tristan Paxton: guitar

Rumba Calzada’s countless tours, festivals and sold out shows across Canada, the US, Malaysia and Philippines has set the standard for excellence for authentic Latin Jazz and Salsa music. Originally formed in 1991 by Boying Geronimo and now headed by his son, Raphael Geronimo, the band has recorded four albums with an array of nominations, including a Juno Award (2002 World Music Album of the Year), Westcoast Music Awards (2002 Outstanding World Recording of the Year) and Canadian Independent Music Awards (2002 Best Global Album). With airplay and media praise around the globe, Rumba Calzada is gearing up for more shows and recordings, with an all-new album planned for 2021.
“This one stays in the CD player. A classic” (, New York).


Wednesday, August 25 at 7:00pm

Ophelia Falling

Symphonic metal band, Ophelia Falling, hails from Vancouver Canada, and has been garnering attention and gathering fans since their first performance in 2018. They have performed from Victoria to Calgary, bringing their heavy sound to all those that love music on the dark and melodious sides. With the release of their album, Destroyed in Delight (2020), which spawned videos for three singles (Anybody’s Daughter, Witigo, and Savage Love), Ophelia Falling is rushing forward to grab the post-Covid music scene by the throat, and not let go





Friday, August 27 at 7:00pm

Quatuor André Lachance

Music shaped by jazz and informed by pop, prog rock and improvised analog electronic music.

André Lachance: guitar
Brad Turner: Rhodes, piano
Chris Gestrin: Moog synth
Joel Fountain: drums

Quatuor André Lachance’s approach is electric, improvised and in the moment. The blend of acoustic and electric instruments creates a wide range of energy, dynamics and exchanges in the music. It is the coming together of four strong voices, old friends and the sum of their experiences in the music world, for a truly unique group sound that references jazz, prog rock, fusion as well as funk and electric ambient textures. Their music includes original compositions by André, as well as groove-oriented and ambient improvisations. The group was founded in 2010 and nominated for best jazz artist at the 2017 Western Canadian Music Awards for its album “The Orange Challenge.” A second album is due for release at the end of 2021.


Saturday, August 28 at 7:00pm

Electronica Night

An evening of progressive electronica with three of Vancouver’s most exciting performers.

x41: ambient
Jen Pearson has been an electronic music producer, promoter and dj for over 20 years. In the 90s she started with an online radio station, created experimental jungle in the early 2000s, then moved into dark ambient and most recently she’s an active dj in the underground scene. She has played live sets at festivals including Mutek (Montreal), Decibel (Seattle), Active/Passive (Galiano Island) and Communikey (Boulder).

Hitori Tori: breakcore
Julian La Brooy has a handful of electronic music releases on labels such as Peace Off Records, Concrete Collage and Occult Research Records. He has worked closely with Vancouver New Music Society (VNM) and over the past several years Hitori Tori has toured Japan, Europe and played improvised sets at the Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition.

Sara Gold: drone
Sara is a non binary experimental interdisciplinary film maker and sound artist operating on unceded Coast Salish Territories. Utilizing No-input mixing, an experimental noise technique, Sara weaves circuits by routing cables in various ways into large format vintage analog console mixers creating self generating feedback loops that can be controlled. This is saturated with a layer of 1/4 inch reel to reel magnetic tape delay to create a warm yet strange journey.


Sunday, August 29 at 3:00pm

Brad Turner Quartet

Internationally recognized Vancouver quartet of keen, intuitive and skilled masters of jazz.

Brad Turner: trumpet
André Lachance: bass
Bruno Hubert: piano
John Lee: drums

Formed 28 years ago, the Brad Turner Quartet has been a mainstay on the Vancouver jazz scene, and has garnered national and international attention as an ensemble of keen interactive sense, formidable improvisational skills with a strong and varied repertoire gathered over their years together as a group. The individual members of the quartet have performed and/or recorded with such artists as Lee Konitz, Dave Douglas, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Renee Rosnes, Joe Lovano, Michael Moore, Mino Cinelu, Ingrid Jensen, Gary Bartz, Harold Mabern, Seamus Blake, Peggy Lee, Achim Kaufmann, and Charles MacPherson . The Brad Turner Quartet has released eight recordings, and has been nominated for Juno awards three times, most recently for their 2019 release “Jump Up”.


Thursday, September 2 at 7:00pm

Made in Canada: an agricultural song cycle (A Rice & Beans Production)

Originally slated as a live theatre show titled Made in Canada: an agricultural operetta, the work has evolved into an album featuring 10 songs composed by Mishelle Cuttler. Blending mariachi influences with lyrics sourced from the words of seasonal temporary foreign workers, news articles, and legal text surrounding the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, Made in Canada: an agricultural song cycle braids a musical journey that amplifies the narratives of the people who harvest our food and nourish us throughout the pandemic. You can find more info as well as the companion podcast at





Friday, September 3 at 7:00pm

Alvaro Rojas’ Gran Kasa (guest curator, Peggy Lee)

A 70s prog band, a salsa band and a string quartet going on a road trip together.
(Guest curator, Peggy Lee)

Meredith Bates: violin
Peggy Lee: cello
Chris Gestrin: piano, keyboards
Alvaro Rojas: guitar
James Meger: bass
Sam Cartwright: drums
Liam MacDonald: percussion

Alvaro Rojas is an award-winning guitarist and composer based in Vancouver BC. His latest recording, Gran Kasa, features an all-star lineup of some of Canada’s finest musicians in the jazz, improv and world music. Gran Kasa combines elements of Afro-Peruvian rhythm and form with Alvaro’s own unique approach to melody, harmony, texture and sound. It’s a forward thinking project that puts old and new together in an intense and exciting musical experience. As a composer, Alvaro has had works performed by many of Canada’s finest new music groups and he has written music for choir, big band, orchestra, chamber groups, small ensembles and has scored numerous short films.


Saturday, September 4 at 7:00pm

Handmade Blade (guest curator, Peggy Lee)

Striking and explosive improvisations and compositions from three musicians with a huge sonic palette.
(Guest curator, Peggy Lee)

JP Carter: trumpet, electronics
Aram Bajakian: electric guitar
Peggy Lee: cello

Each member of this trio contributes compositions that launch striking and explosive improvisations. This small group has a huge sonic palette and great energy. In addition to collaborating with Dumb Instrument Dance, the trio has performed at numerous venues in Vancouver and in May 2016 made their US debut at Constellation in Chicago for the Chicago String Summit. The group has produced one recording: 3 interpretations of guitarist Aram Bajakian’s Dolphy Formations.


Sunday, September 5 at 3:00pm

Alpha Yaya Diallo

Guinean born singer-guitarist who’s earned a matchless reputation for the excellence of his musicianship and the excitement of his live shows.

Alpha Yaya Diallo: guitar, vocals
Naby Camara: balafon

Guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo, from Guinea in West Africa, is one of the hottest acts on the world music scene. His dexterous acoustic and electric guitar-playing, with its fluid melodic lines and compelling grooves, places him in the front ranks of African axemen. By successfully uniting the traditional and the contemporary in African music, Diallo has carved out a niche beside such luminaries as Salif Keita, Baaba Maal, Youssou N’Dour, and Mory Kante. He has recorded eight highly-acclaimed albums, many of them nominated for or winning JUNO awards. With Doy doy, his latest release, Diallo takes his art to new heights. Always seeking new territories to explore while at the same time respecting his roots, Alpha Yaya Diallo is one of the most inspired and inspirational world music artists performing anywhere.



“The Firehall is thrilled to be working with the Vancouver Independent Music Centre on Music in the Courtyard,” says Artistic Producer Donna Spencer. “It is fabulous to be welcoming people back to live music performances and with such an amazing range of musical talent. I think this series is fast becoming a must-hear event in the Vancouver summer season!”



About Vancouver Independent Music Centre Society (VIM):

VIM is a non-profit, charitable organization established in 2011 with a mandate to develop a well-designed, central, accessible, sustainable and culturally diverse music centre. Through research and planning, we’ve heard from hundreds of musicians, music presenters, concertgoers, managers and others to determine the vision and feasibility for a new state-of-the-art venue for Vancouver. In 2018, the City of Vancouver passed zoning at the Plaza of Nations to include a 20,000 square foot music centre based on the VIM’s vision and plans.


About the Firehall Arts Centre:

The Firehall Arts Centre continues to open doors through the arts in celebration of the Canadian experience. Located in a heritage fire station that was built in 1906, the Firehall Arts Centre is one of the most unique cultural institutions in Vancouver, hosting over two hundred performances each year and bringing diverse audiences together to enjoy, discuss, question, and explore artistic works that reflect the society and world in which we live. With Artistic Producer Donna Spencer at the helm, the Firehall Arts Centre produces and presents theatre that is innovative, eclectic and at times politically-charged, as well as exquisite, cutting-edge dance performances and interdisciplinary works that challenge assumptions. The venue also acts as a host to visual arts exhibitions and performances from other performing arts organizations, supporting local and national artists. The Firehall Arts Centre is proud to support emerging artists and companies, and strives to program work that is inclusive, culturally rich, and reflective of the many voices and perspectives in Canada.