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“Refuge is a fantastic, moving, dreamlike, epic, timely album.” – Ken Micallef (Jazz Times, Stereophile, Downbeat)

“Dazzles with inventiveness!” (ROCKnREEL Magazine, UK)

 

Listen/Buyhttp://smarturl.it/RefugeAlbum

(videos below)

A collaboration with over 30 musicians, including Béla Fleck, Robi Botos, Ifrah Mansour, Demetrios Petsalakis, Imad Al Taha, Amir Amiri, Duke Redbird, Twin Flames and others on wide-ranging treatise on displaced peoples.

Addressing the struggles of life on Mother Earth has always inspired Toronto-based quintet, Sultans of String. On their visionary seventh album, Refuge, Sultans of String bring their unique brand of musical synergy and collaboration to bear on 13 songs that speak to the challenges facing the world’s displaced peoples–their stories, their songs, their persistence and their humanity.

Joined by an international cast, some of whom are recent immigrants to North America, the celebrated quintet immerses themselves in the plight of the international refugee on Refuge, and the humanitarian response that should greet everyone in search of a home.

The Sultans of String will tour with the Refuge project throughout the US, Canada and Europe in 2021. On Oct 16, 2020 the the CD release show will take place at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre in Toronto with the full cast. A documentary of the project is currently in production.

“This project is centered around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to U.S.A. and Canada,” says bandleader Chris McKhool (ancestral name Makhoul), whose Lebanese grandfather stowed away on a ship bound for North America a century ago.

“We’re collaborating with special guests on the album who are newcomers to this land, Indigenous artists, as well as global talents who have been ambassadors for peace. We wish to celebrate the successes of those who make the journey here and bring their extraordinary talents with them. We hope the conversations we can have as musicians will provide a model for peace that will inspire our politicians and citizens.”

Sultans of String’s McKhool, five-stringed violin, vocals; Kevin Laliberté, nylon, steel, and electric guitar, vocals; Eddie Paton, nylon and steel guitar, vocals; Drew Birston, bass, vocals; and Rosendo Chendy León, percussion, vocals, join forces with an extraordinary cast of internationally-based musicians on Refuge. The album’s 13 songs include contributions from renown American banjoist Béla Fleck, Hungarian-Canadian keyboardist, Robi Botos, Somali-American poet Ifrah Mansour, Greek-Canadian oud player Demetrios Petsalakis, Iraqi violinist Imad Al Taha, Iranian santur master, Amir Amiri, and many more.

Refuge reflects its theme of working together for a common goal, the quintet recording with 30 amazing musicians who’ve come to North America as recent immigrants and refugees, each with exceptional talent and extraordinary stories. Like Imad, now living in Ohio, whose house was destroyed by a grenade because he played violin for the wrong faction in Iraq. Or Amir, whose wrist was broken by thugs in Iran for playing “illegal scales” on his instrument. Or Iraqi actor and singer, Ahmeh Moneka, unable to return home after receiving death threats for portraying a gay man in a film.

“We love to expose people to sounds they might not have heard before,” explains McKhool, summarizing the mission statement of the groundbreaking and acclaimed world music ensemble. “And we love collaborating with other artists.”

Thrilling listeners across North America with their genre-hopping fusion of Celtic reels, flamenco, Gypsy jazz, Arabic, Cuban, and South Asian rhythms, Sultans of String celebrate diversity and creativity, with warmth and virtuosity on every album. From their 2007 debut, Luna, and 2011’s JUNO nominated Yalla Yalla to 2013’s Symphony! and 2017’s chart-topping, Christmas Caravan, Sultans of String achieve in song what seems nearly impossible elsewhere, a true fusion of language, style, culture, and spirit.

As Ojibway Elder Duke Redbird says in opening song, “The Power of the Land,” “The spirit of the people is equal to the power of the land,” a call for unity among peoples and with the earth that gives them life and sustenance. The song features the interwoven vocals of spoken-word artist Redbird and Quebec’s Indigenous folk duo, Twin Flames.

“I actually heard Duke recite that poem years ago,” McKhool says. “I was so moved that I introduced myself to him after the performance and asked, ‘Have you ever thought about putting this to music?’ ” Fast-forward three years, to the day when McKhool completed the profound backing track for Redbird’s stirring words. “It was just one of those beautiful moments where I realized those lyrics might work perfectly.”

Over a glowing guitar rhythm, yearning violin and powerful drums, “The Power of the Land” is a mediation, an anthem, a call to arms, and a call for mercy. Redbird’s spoken word verses are solemn and moving, given release in Twin Flames’ Jaaji and Chelsey June’s uplifting chorus, an homage to Mother Earth itself.

Redbird expresses: “It’s essential that we understand that nature is our survival and survival is nature. Money and power has interrupted the power of the land, and until we understand that nature is the real economy and the economy is nature and that’s the only way we’re going to survive, is if we take care of our mother, the Earth. And money and power, it doesn’t really have a place in the healing associated with what needs to be done as the climate changes and the earth retrieves her sacredness and plants it in our minds and our bodies.”

“Hurricane” pulsates over a joyous, Latin-style rhythm complimented by the evocative strings of Turkey’s Gündem Yayli Grubu, Sammy Figueroa’s compelling congas, and the stirring world percussion of Mehmet Akatay. McKhool sings “And I survived/ And I feel strong / And for the first time in my life I feel like I belong.” The groove is irresistible, the melody infectious, the message timeless.

“’Hurricane’ is an ode to the many who came to the New World planning to work hard and save up enough to bring their loved ones over,” McKhool explains. “Sometimes it didn’t work out, partners would pass away before they had the chance to be reunited. Other stories have a happier ending. This is a journey that has repeated many times, right up to the present day, with some of the guest performers on Refuge saving up to sponsor their parents to come join them. We release this album for all those who travel great distances at extreme risk, to make new lives for themselves and their children, and parents.”

The song’s strings were recorded in Istanbul with Gündem Yayli Grubu, a collection of Roma string players that work with many Turkish pop stars. “They have a very distinct sound all of their own,” McKhool says, “that cannot be replicated anywhere on the planet.” Gündem Yayli Grubu give a strong flavor of the ‘old world’ to “Hurricane,” McKhool’s personal ode to the first Lebanese immigrants to North America.

Combining Syrian, Greek and Turkish influences, Lebanese traditional song “El Bint El Shalabeya” could be mistaken for an international surf rock hit, its undulating Turkish strings, Zorro-styled electric guitar and twist beat an inspired mashup of nationalities and personalities.

The song’s clarinetist, Majd Sekkar, currently a Canadian resident, says “Understand that there is [a variety] of nationalities and ethnicities [in] this land, and you have to respect them and learn from them. Explore the Canadian culture and traditions – then add your back-home experience to have a good mix… Canadians are the kindest people in the world.”

“Music is about sharing ideas with people,” adds “Hurricane”’s oud player, Demetrios Petsalakis. “In Canada it’s great, because it allows us to meet the world class musicians who live in Toronto, experts in their field. Something you wouldn’t find in a lot of places. So that’s beautiful. And when you bring all these people together and meet and play music together, you become like a family. Music is awesome.”

That is a sentiment reflected by American banjo innovator Béla Fleck, who also reflects thoughtfully on his roots: “My family’s story involves immigration. Of course, we came in through Ellis Island, my grandparents on my mother’s side, Jewish-Russian refugees. I was fortunate that they were able to get out of a dangerous part of the world, and that America took them in at that time.

“The banjo is a story of immigration,” Béla continues, “It’s a perfect story of immigration, involuntary immigration. The slaves came to the Americas, not of their own free will, but when they got there, they brought their culture. They built banjos and they played their music, and it got incorporated into what would become American music, and became a major part of it. Yeah, if the banjo isn’t going to welcome people from different countries, I don’t know who would.”

The musicians of Refuge are brave, talented, inspired. That inspiration couldn’t be summed up more clearly than in the gorgeously evocative and powerful first single, “I Am a Refugee,” its lyrics penned and recited by Somali-American poet and multi-media artist, Ifrah Mansour, who now makes her home in the Twin Cities.

The song unfurls, Mansour’s powerful words, the tale of the international refugee laid bare, its mesmerizing groove never disguising the song’s frankness.

“I am a refugee,” Mansour speaks, “globally villainized, but I bring you a slice of my home, right here in your backyard. I walked and ran and screamed miles on end to find peace before I could pronounce my own name. “

“I wrote the poem for me, for my community,” said Mansour, “and for those that are yearning for change, those are yearning to deepen their empathy,” explains Mansour. “Writing the poem was a way to unleash some pain that I could name finally – I wrote it because I was so frustrated with so many people sending me emails and asking me what I thought about the travel ban, the first time our American government here shared the first travel ban. And that an artist’s job is to draw that hope, especially in a time of deep hopelessness.”

Click on PROJECTS tab and then the thumbnail pics to explore some of our different live projects!

Now Streaming Live to your living room!!

SULTANS OF STRING have developed a LIVE STREAM program to help out concert series and symphonies this coming season. It can be all Live or a combination of a Live-stream performance and playing videos from our past performances, as well as an artist chat component. This is with Sultans of String as well as young audience shows with Fiddlefire.

This can be done through Zoom, direct to concert subscriber homes without downloading software, simply by clicking on one link.

We can have the local host/promoter/music director introducing the show – either in real time remotely as part of the Zoom show, or as a pre-record segment, so they can be maintaining that connection with their audience.

We have been working on a pro livestream 4 camera sound stage with a gigabyte ethernet connection, and nice mics and lighting. Concerts through Zoom have a different tone than the livestreams found on YouTube or Instagram Live. Concert goers find themselves in a room with families from a series and an artist’s most devoted fans; people can chat directly to each other and the group in the chat window, see other people and their kids singing along on their webcams, and speak directly with the artist between songs. The feeling is very similar to that of a small show in a real venue.

In the past couple months (with a different setup, a simple iPhone stream) I have presented for national events NAC CanadaPerforms, Coalition Canada’s Music Monday, and Canadian Musician Magazine, as well as Toronto’s City Hall Live, Hamilton Arts Council, Pied Piper Kidshows, events for Luminato Festival, Markham Virtual Music Festival and Canada Day.

But what we’re able to get out of these shows with our new setup over Zoom is creating community among our respective audiences, and the ability to maintain that connection with our patrons in this year when we cannot be physically together in large numbers. We create a live experience together, and then it is gone, just like an in-person concert. And it is amazing for those who have mobility issues, or those with kids. I watch zoom concerts here at home with my wife, and daughter, and she loves them.

It’s really cool to see the number of people watching who have been quarantining by themselves. It really means something to be able to bring music into people’s homes at a time like this, especially for those who have been alone for months

It can be wonderful for presenters, as there are no hotel rooms to book, no tech people, no venue rentals, no hospitality riders.

Presenters can keep promoting the online shows and selling tickets, like they would any other gig. Then the day of the show they send their ticket holders the link by email, and the show is run by me and my tech crew.

It is super easy to attend a Zoom concert. All people need to do is click on the link. They do not need to download any software. Our tech person can keep their mics muted until the end of a song, and then when people are clapping the mics are all unmuted for a few moments, and then muted again for the next song. And the tech person we have working with us can spotlight families on the screen, much like what happens in a sports game on the Jumbotron.

By the way this makes it super easy to do education programming with K-12 students this way, with private links through Zoom, YouTube Live, Google Meet, whatever they are used to, complete with Q&A at the end.

Contact us to find out more!

 

 

BIO

Over the past dozen years and six albums, McKhool and his bandmates — co-founding guitarist Kevin Laliberté, bassist Drew Birston, Cuban percussionist Rosendo Chendy Leon and second guitarist Eddie Paton — have excelled at both. Thrilling listeners around North America with their genre-hopping fusion of Celtic reels, flamenco, Gypsy jazz, Arabic, Cuban, and South Asian rhythms, Sultans of String celebrate diversity and creativity with warmth and virtuosity. And they often do it with artists such as Paddy Moloney and The Chieftains, Richard Bona, Benoit Bourque (Bottine Souriante), Nikki Yanofsky, Alex Cuba, Ruben Blades, Crystal Shawanda and Ken Whiteley.

With their historic and visionary seventh album Refuge, McKhool and co. bring their unique brand of musical synergy and collaboration into the studio like never before. Their most ambitious, diverse, inclusive and passionately political album, Refuge puts the Toronto-based Sultans face-to-face with a VIP roster of artists from around the globe — including American banjo master Béla Fleck, Israeli vocalist Yasmin Levy and others, like Iraqi violinst Imah Al Taha and Iranian santur master Amir Amiri, who have fled the peril and persecution of their homelands for the safer shores of North America.

Of course, Sultans of String have never taken the easy road. Since releasing their debut album Luna in 2007, they have continually strived to make each chart-topping album more original and meaningful than the last. That includes working with an orchestra (2013’s Symphony), teaming with Pakistani sitarist Anwar Khurshid (2015’s Subcontinental Drift) and even crafting a world-music holiday album (2017’s Christmas Caravan), which landed them on the Billboard charts and the New York Times. Their ambition and work ethic have garnered them multiple awards and accolades, including three Juno nominations, first place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries), three Canadian Folk Music Awards, and countless other honours.

Their live resumé is similarly stellar. Equally at home in a concert hall, jazz club or festival setting, the Sultans have gigged at the legendary club Birdland in New York, the renowned Celtic Connections Festival in the U.K. and the San Jose Jazz Festival. They have performed with symphonies across Canada and the U.S., and played live on BBC TV, Irish National Radio, World Cafe and SiriusXM in Washington. No matter the venue, the goal is the same, McKhool says.

“I’ve always wanted our concerts to be a place where everyone feels welcome. I want to reach out to diverse communities to say, ‘Come out and enjoy music with us — you’re going to have a really good time. It benefits society as a whole, to have people from around the world blending their ideas, mixing their cultures.”

And sharing the wealth.

 

“Virtuoso playing…. An exuberant and infectious sound… Powerful and moving…The Sultans are simply an awesome musical group!” – Mike Hill, Artistic Director, Mariposa Folk Festival

“They are players without borders… world music that transcends place and time with a heavy dose of playfulness added in.” – The Vancouver Province

“Chris McKhool and the boys were fantastic!  They can play my Bar Mitzvah.” – Bob Ezrin, producer (Pink Floyd, Kiss)

“Simply brilliant!” – Jeff Mifsud, 3NRG 99.3FM, Australia

Nominations and awards

  • 2020 Independent Music Awards – Instrumental Song of the Year –  The Grand Bazaar
  • 2020 Independent Music Awards – World Music Producer of the Year – Refuge
  • 2019 International Songwriting Competition- Folk semi-finals – “Power of the Land”
  • 2019 International Songwriting Competition- Performance semi-finals – “Power of the Land”
  • 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards– Producer of the Year nomination for McKhool
  • 2017 New York Times Hits List
  • 2017 USA Billboard World Music Charts – CHRISTMAS CARAVAN CD hits #6
  • 2017 JUNO Award Nominees – World Music Album of the Year- SUBCONTINENTAL DRIFT
  • 2017 USA Billboard World Music Charts – SUBCONTINENTAL DRIFT CD hits #15
  • 2016 Canadian Folk Music Award – World Group of the Year- SUBCONTINENTAL DRIFT
  • 2016 Global Music Awards– World Music / Beats
  • 2015 JUNO Award Nominees for “Instrumental Album of the Year” – Symphony!
  • 2015 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) – Subcontinental Drift
  • 2015 Toronto Independent Music Award Winner – World Music
  • 2014 SIRIUSXM Independent Music Awards Winner- World Group of the Year
  • 2014 IMA Independent Music Award Winner – Instrumental Song – “Josie”
  • 2014 IMA Independent Music Vox Pop Award – Music Producer – Symphony! -Chris McKhool (Producer), Rebecca Pellett (Associate Producer)
  • 2013 ISC  International Songwriting Competition- Instrumental category – “Monti’s Revenge”
  • 2013 Folk Music Ontario- Songs of the Heart Winner – Instrumental category – “Monti’s Revenge”
  • 2013 Festivals & Events- Performer of The Year
  • 2013 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for bandleader Chris McKhool
  • 2013 SiriusXM Canadian Indie Awards Nominee for World Group of the Year
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards winners– World Music Group of the Year
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominees – Instrumental Group of the Year & Pushing The Boundaries
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee- Producer of the Year for Chris McKhool
  • 2012 OCFF Songs of the Heart Winner
  • 2012 Festivals & Events- Entertainer of The Year
  • 2011 Ontario Contact – Artist of the Year
  • 2011 International Acoustic Music Awards Finalist – Instrumental
  • 2011 Independent Music Award 2x Finalist – Instrumental Album & World Beat Album – Yalla Yalla!
  • 2011 ISC International Songwriting Competition 2x Finalist-  Instrumental & World Music categories
  • 2010 JUNO Award Nominees for “Instrumental Album of the Year” – Yalla Yalla!
  • 2010 Canadian Independent Music Awards nominees- Favourite World Artist/Group
  • 2009 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) First Place Winners – Instrumental
  • 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award triple nominee winning Instrumental Group of the Year (also nominated for Ensemble of the Year and
  • Pushing the Boundries)
  • 2009 Toronto Exclusive Magazine Award 2x Winner- Best Toronto World CD & Artist of the Year
  • 2008 International Songwriting Competition Winner (ISC) – Instrumental
  • 2008 Festivals & Events Ontario- Best Variety Act
  • 2008 Canadian Independent Music Awards Finalists- Favourite World Music Band
  • 2008 International Independent Music Awards Finalists- Best World Fusion Song
  • 2007 Canadian Folk Music Award nominees – Best Instrumentalist Group

DIE 21663_1HMONPCKT_1TRYWith their new release, Subcontinental Drift, the Sultans serve up a blend of ragas, reels and rumbas with special guest and sitar master Anwar Khurshid (featured in the Oscar winning Life of Pi, Kama Sutra, and Love Guru). Sultans of String are particularly excited about this new, east-meets-west offering with Khurshid. “There is something magical about joining the world music rhythms we play, but with pop sensibilities and forms and lengths, and blending that with the music of the East”, says bandleader and violinist Chris McKhool. Indeed, while the album treks across all kinds of musical terrain, the fertile soil beneath each track is fed by hope unhindered and freedom found. “One of the songs we wrote together, “Journey to Freedom”, beautifully traces Anwar’s journey from Pakistan to Canada, finding his new home here.

The band’s US manager and acclaimed promoter David Wilkes (Bela Fleck, Emmylou Harris, Joan Baez) states, “Over the decades, I’ve worked with numerous top ten and #1 Billboard artists. In all that time, I have not worked with composers more talented than Chris McKhool and Kevin Laliberté from Sultans of String. Not only are they a superb writing team, they are also amazing arrangers & musicians. Adding the virtuosic talent of Anwar Khurshid adds to their truly global and mesmerizing sound!”

 

sultans-of-string-duo-temple-jamming

 The songwriting, the sounds, the magic

Chris McKhool (violin) and Kevin Laliberté (guitar), the songwriters behind the music of Sultans of String, take you on a musical journey around the world!

McKhool met Laliberté just as the guitarist was coming off the road from touring around the world with Jesse Cook and cross Canada with The Chieftains. When McKhool (who has performed with Jesse Cook, Pavlo, Club Django) first heard guitarist Laliberté’s rumba rhythm their musical mind-meld created Sultans of String’s sound – the intimate and playful relationship between the violin and the flamenco guitar.  Acoustic strings meet with electronic wizardry to create layers and depth of sound, creating soundscapes that seem impossible to be coming from just two people.

Larger than the sum of its parts, this 3x JUNO Award nominated, 3x CFMA Award winning dynamic duo take you on a journey to hear the horses of Sable Island, underwater to hear the calls of Luna the Whale, and on the silk road through Spain and the Middle East, through the Gypsy-jazz cafés of Eastern Europe, and then back to Canada for a trip to the majestic Arctic.

“Thrill of improvising makes Sultans a thrill to experience… gripping suspense for both the audience and the musicians… Superb!” – Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal

“Kevin and Chris are two extremely talented and creative musicians. Each of them have an extensive background in various traditions and numerous musical accomplishments to their credit. Their own compositions are … exciting and highly original. They are musicians and songwriters of the highest calibre!” – Ken Whiteley, Producer

“Virtuoso playing…. An exuberant and infectious sound… Powerful and moving… The Sultans are simply an awesome musical group!” – Mike Hill, Artistic Director, Mariposa Folk Festival

“An organic mix of rumba, Gypsy, jazz, Middle Eastern and Spanish flavours – they all mix together beautifully… brilliantly executed!” – Errol Nazareth, CBC Radio One

“I remember the shiver up my spine on hearing the calls of Luna- the west coast killer whale searching for his pod- amazingly recreated on Chris’ electric violin. Haunting, moving and not to be missed!” – Charles McFarland, Artistic Producer, Centrepointe Theatre

sultans_of_string_album_cover_lo_res2015 JUNO Award Nominees and “Canada’s ambassadors of musical diversity” Sultans of String thrill their audiences with their global sonic tapestry of Spanish Flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms, foot-stomping Celtic, and French Gypsy-jazz in a celebration of musical fusion and human creativity infused with warmth and virtuosity. Fiery violin dances with rumba-flamenco guitar while a funk bass lays down unstoppable grooves. Acoustic mastery meets with a symphony of sound, deepened by world rhythms that inspire whole audiences to get up and dance.

Discover a Symphony of World Music

Sultans of String’s Pops show was developed under the direction of luminary John Morris Russell, (Conductor-Cincinnati Pops Orchestra), and was scored by illustrious arranger/composer Rebecca Pellett (Toronto Symphony Orchestra, IMAX & Hollywood film productions). The show runs up to two hours including song introductions/storytelling, and the instrumentation is 2222 (no doubling), 4331, timp + 2 perc, optional harp and orchestral strings. A full library of ready-to-play, bowed parts is available. No music need be rented.

Sultans of String have been riding a wave of success, from their CDs hitting #1 on world/international music charts in North America, to their nine Canadian Folk Music Award nominations, winning Instrumental Group of the Year and World Group of the Year twice. They also took home 1st place in the International Songwriting Competition out of 15,000 entries! The band has been recorded live for broadcast on BBC Television, SiriusXM in Washington DC, CBC’s Canada Live, and has topped global campus/community radio charts.

A Canadian string super-group, Sultans of String includes 5-string violinist and JUNO Award nominee Chris McKhool – who has guest starred with Jesse Cook and Pavlo. McKhool’s unbridled passion for exploring rhythms and melodies has led him to the far corners of the world, and he incorporates instruments and styles from far and wide into his music. Drawing from a collective of master musicians, Sultans of String brings their unique blend of Global music to audiences around the world including Celtic Connections Festival in the U.K., Birdland Jazz Club in NYC, Canada’s National Arts Centre, Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre, and symphony orchestras throughout North America.

They are also available for family concerts, as well as educational concerts developed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Sultans of String performed a triumphant run at Roy Thompson Hall, playing 8 shows with the TSO.

Listen

Downloads


Sultans of String Christmas Caravan!

SOS_Christmas Fiesta pic smallerAlso available is Christmas Caravan!, a world music romp through the holiday season.

Celebrate the Christmas season with a trip around the world! 2015 JUNO Award-nominees Sultans of String deliver an exuberant performance featuring originals, world music inspired classics, and seasonal favourites to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night.  From fiery fiddle tunes to a Caribbean sleigh ride, this surprising and delightful holiday fiesta heats up when Sultans of String bring their signature sound to well known gems such as Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Jesous Ahatonhia (with gorgeous newly-translated Indigenous lyrics), a Turkish twist on Greensleeves, Silent Night, as well as a Gypsy-jazz inspired Django Christmas, and a Rumba-Flamenca fuelled Jingle Bells. Sultans of String are joined by shimmering guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell (Jane Siberry, Emmylou Harris, Alanis Morissette).

This show was created in collaboration with Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Artist in Residence and Community Ambassador Lucas Waldin, who combines a flare for pops with a passion for audience engagement and innovative programming.  http://www.lucaswaldin.ca

Le concert des Sultans of String est également disponible en français.

“I had so much fun working with Sultans of String.  They bring their great talents, fantastic orchestral arrangements and an abundance of energy on stage. There is something for everybody here!’ – Shalom Bard, RBC Resident Conductor, Toronto Symphony Orchestra

“Sultans of String have an infectious energy and an enviable talent that allows them to slide easily between styles and genres.  Combining with top quality orchestral arrangements and a stylish, easy-going onstage presence, the Sultans have found a recipe for success!” – Lucas Waldin, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra


More press

“Sultans of String were a huge success! The Sultans’ sound is fresh, exotic and entrancing, and the orchestral arrangements are absolutely first class.  They also had a great time with the audience who were mesmerized and ecstatic throughout the show. Each of the Sultans are virtuosic soloists and as an ensemble are one of the tightest groups I’ve ever worked with!” – Maestro John Morris Russell, Conductor-Cincinnati Pops Orchestra

“I absolutely love your material!  The arrangements, orchestration and performances are all spectacular!” – Lucas Richman, Music Director & Conductor, Bangor Symphony Orchestra

“Take Chris McKhool’s Sultans of String and add the power of a full symphony orchestra – what do you get?   One great big world-music Kitchen Party!  This rollicking concert bursts onto the stage with infectious charm, outstanding musicianship and a genuine connection with the audience!” – Candice Turner-Smith – Niagara Symphony Orchestra

“Fantastic program… a smash success with a near sellout crowd and almost every audience member stopping to share their gratitude and appreciation for both the music and the energy of the band.  The success was magnified with the Fiddlefire! program the next day.  We were astonished at the turnout and the audiences reaction. We found that Chris’ Fiddlefire! program worked beautifully with the whole orchestra bringing a fun and educational concert to our community.  The band members are consummate musicians and very easy to work worth.  In addition, the charts have been expertly conceived.  Our entire ensemble was smiling through the rehearsals and right to the very last note.  I would highly recommend this program for your series as it was a critical win for the SOTK and our ongoing efforts to keep a Symphony Orchestra alive in the interior of BC.” – Jeff Faragher, Music and Artistic Director, Symphony of the Kootenays

“I had the pleasure of hearing the Sultans of Strings perform with the Toronto Symphony in April, 2013.  It was terrific, and included everything I look for… the Orchestra had many opportunities to shine, the Sultans provided engaging/entertaining world music elements… I look forward to presenting Sultans with the Minnesota Orchestra!”  – Jim Bartsch – Minnesota Orchestra

“Sultans of String have created an exciting sound world that is completely their own. They have mastered the perfect balance of spontaneity and virtuosity that makes for an energetic, tight and entertaining show!” – Olga Mychajluk, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony

“I was impressed by the virtuoso musicianship displayed by all of the members of this group. The orchestrations were sumptuous, providing a lush background to the captivating performance of Chris and his colleagues. The audience was brought to its feet at the end of the show, demonstrating that they really enjoyed a truly Canadian musical experience!” – Maestro Norman Reintamm, Conductor CBSO

“You were amazing! We are continuing to  receive wonderful feedback from our patrons, many of whom are asking to have you back!” – Shelley Sharpe, Windsor Symphony Orchestra

“The show was just wonderful — a friend (who has lived hither and yon and seen lots of great music in his life) said it was the best concert he’d ever seen in his life. Wow!” – Deborah Sutton Robie, Executive Director, Kingfield POPS!, Maine

“The incredible blending of musical influences, steeped in stories of real Canadians, portrayed the diversity of Canadian life in all its glorious wonder as only an eclectic group of professionals like Sultans of String can deliver!”  – Laura Vaillancourt, Executive Director, Ontario Philharmonic

“The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Sultans of String presented a fast-paced, energetic and engaging program… remarkable for its eclectic, rich programming that represented music of many different cultures. Bravo!”  – Allan Gaskin, Symphony Nova Scotia

“Thanks so much for the beautiful music. Your group is terrific- outstanding!” – Kathy Coltof, Ontario Philharmonic

“Your music is contagious and our audience loved it!  Working with all of you was a joy–professional, a great variety of musical styles, wonderful arrangements that were accessible for our audience and the orchestra loved them, exciting and colourful performances. A real treat to work with a group of talented, down-to-earth musicians. Can’t wait to do it again!” – John Kraus, Music Director, Northumberland Orchestra & Choir

sultans-of-string-smaller-symphony-recording-sessionSome of the symphonies we have played with

  • Annapolis Symphony Orchestra
  • Bangor Symphony Orchestra (Maine)
  • Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra
  • Catskille Symphony Orchestra
  • City of Prague Symphony Orchestra
  • Chicago’s Full Score Chamber Orchestra
  • Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
  • Kamloops Symphony Orchestra
  • Kingfield Pops
  • Kingston Symphony Orchestra
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony
  • Niagara Symphony Orchestra
  • North Bay Symphony
  • Northumberland Orchestra and Choir
  • Ontario Philharmonic
  • Peterborough Symphony Orchestra
  • Quinte Symphony
  • Sault Symphony Orchestra
  • Stratford Symphony Orchestra
  • Symphony of the Kootenays
  • Sudbury Symphony Orchestra
  • Toronto Symphony Orchestra
  • Windsor Symphony Orchestra
  • Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

 

Celebrate the season with Sultans of String!

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NY TIMES HITS LIST!

#6 on the BILLBOARD WORLD MUSIC CHART!

Celebrate the season with an adventurous musical trip around the world! 3x JUNO Award nominees Sultans of String deliver an exuberant performance featuring originals, world-music inspired classics, and seasonal favourites to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night.

From fiery fiddle tunes to a Caribbean sleigh ride, this surprising and delightful holiday fiesta heats up when Sultans of String bring their signature sound to well known gems such as Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Jesous Ahatonhia (with gorgeous newly-translated Indigenous lyrics), a Turkish twist on Greensleeves, Silent Night, as well as a Gypsy-jazz inspired Django Christmas, and a Rumba-Flamenca fuelled Jingle Bells. Sultans of String are joined by shimmering guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell (Jane Siberry, Ian Tamblyn).

Since forming 10 years ago, Sultans of String have hit #1 across Canada on Top 10 national radio charts, and received multiple awards and accolades, including 2 JUNO Award nominations  (Canada’s Grammy), 1st place in the ISC (15,000 entries), and 3 Canadian Folk Music Awards out of 8 nominations. Bandleader and violinist Chris McKhool was recently awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work in creating community through music.

When McKhool  (who has performed with Jesse Cook and Pavlo), first heard founding guitarist Kevin Laliberté’s (Jesse Cook) rumba rhythm, their musical synergy created Sultans of String’s signature sound – the intimate and playful relationship between violin and guitar. From this rich foundation, the dynamic duo grew, featuring such amazing musical friends bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), jaw-dropping Cuban percussionist Rosendo Chendy Leon (Parachute Club, Alex Cuba), and guitarist Eddie Paton (Robert Michaels).

Sultans of String have been crisscrossing North America for the last several years. Equally at home in a concert series, folk or jazz club, or festival setting, they have been featured at many taste-making forums such as JUNOFest, legendary jazz club Birdland in NYC, the renowned Celtic Connections Festival in the UK, and California’s hip music scene, including the San Jose Jazz Festival. They recently sold out Koerner Hall (Toronto’s Carnegie Hall), and performed with Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestras. Sultans of String have performed live on BBC TV, Irish National Radio, and the internationally syndicated shows WoodSongs, and on SiriusXM in Washington DC.

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Hailed as a “Children’s musical star” (National Post) and “Canada’s greatest eco-troubadour for young people”, bandleader Chris McKhool is one of Canada’s greatest musicians for young audiences. McKhool has reached over 1 million children live in concert, winning 3 USA Parents’ Choice Awards, 2 Canadian Folk Music Awards and a JUNO Award nomination. He also won Best Children’s Entertainer at the Festivals & Events Ontario Awards, a Green Toronto Award of Excellence, an Environment Canada Action Award and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his commitment to multicultural and environmental issues through music. He also created the World’s Largest Bicycle Bell Ensemble in Canada!  McKhool performs solo as well as with Sultans of String for young audiences.

Sultans of String have been called “the very epitome of world music: no boundaries, no rules”. Individually, they’ve performed with internationally acclaimed artists such as Jesse Cook, Pavlo, The Chieftains and Chantal Kreviazuk. Together, they combine Spanish flamenco, Arabic folk, East Coast Celtic, Cuban rhythms and Gypsy-jazz. They have played for BBC Television, Irish National Radio and SiriusXM in Washington. They recently entertained a sold-out audience at Koerner Hall, accompanied by a full symphony orchestra. From CBC’s Canada Live to Birdland Jazz Club in NYC, to Roy Thompson Hall with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, they’ve done it all!

Read more about workshops and educational options on the Prologue to the Performing Arts website.

 

Sultans of String School Shows

Chris McKhool School Shows