Music in Toronto


Graffiti and posters on the front of 241 Augusta, Kensington Market, Toronto, ON. Photo by F. Hemmasi.

“Toronto Music City: The View from Kensington Market”

“Toronto Music City: The View from Kensington Market” is a collaborative research project that takes the City of Toronto’s 2016 “Music Strategy” rollout as an opportunity to investigate the intersections and divergences of cultural policy, new musical developments and already-existing musical scenes, businesses, and musicians. With a team of student ethnographers, I am undertaking a team ethnographic investigation of music-making in Kensington Market, one of Toronto’s most diverse downtown neighbourhoods, to apprehend the Strategy’s impact on the ground.


A mural off of Baldwin Street in Kensington Market. Photo by F. Hemmasi.

Research for the project began in 2017 with the inspiration and support of University of Toronto’s Ethnography Lab‘s Kensington Market Research Project led by Professor Joshua Barker. Original student team members  were Ethnomusicology M.A. students and recent graduates Jennie Horton, Jardena Gertler-Jaffe, and Ryan Persadie. In 2018, I received an Insight Development Grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to support the graduate student research component. Current student researchers are Dennis Lee (doctoral student), Jon Wu (MA), and Helen Abbott (MA candidate).


Illustrator and map-maker Marlena Zurber’s rendering of Kensington Market.

Canadian Music Week, May 2018


Image source: @Music_Canada

In 2018, I had the chance to moderate a fascinating panel at Canadian Music Week’s Music Cities Summit called “How Public Spaces can Contribute to Scenes and Strategies.”   Read more and see a video of the event here.

Music and the Marketing of Kensington Market

music-in-kensington-posterThe original KM team and I were delighted to speak in the Ethnography Lab’s Methodological Extensions speaker series. I talked about the musical ecosystem metaphor as it appeared in my conversations with KM residents and city policy-makers. Jennie Horton spoke about Toronto’s vanishing venues crisis as it appears in Kensington. Dennis Lee talked about his research at the now defunct Coalition music venue. And Ryan Persadie spoke about Round Venue’s queer people of colour burlesque scene.