KUNÉ: Canada's Global Orchestra (Nicola Betts)

Conservatory Orchestra Announces Debut Album, Management Deal, and New Name

A major initiative by The Royal Conservatory of Music was the formation a new ensemble of musicians created to celebrate the cultural diversity and pluralism of Canada during the country’s sesquicentennial. It was conceived by Mervon Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts at The Conservatory. The ensemble, then known as the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra, launched in Koerner Hall on June 2, 2017 and toured Canada with stops in Ottawa, Calgary, London, Guelph, and Montreal. It has now been renamed KUNÉ – Canada’s Global Orchestra. 

Kuné means “together” in Esperanto. The Royal Conservatory auditioned 150 newcomers to Canada and was overwhelmed with the talent that was heard. 13 virtuoso musicians were selected – 12 from abroad who had each chosen to start a new life in Canada and one Métis Canadian, whose ancestors have been here for centuries. The ensemble came together in December 2016 and, under the artistic direction of David Buchbinder, began the journey to create a band that looks and sounds like Canada today. Through writing, rehearsals, cultural exploration, and touring together, the members of KUNÉ have formed a sound that is at once global and uniquely local. They illustrate what is possible when we listen to each other and play together.


KUNÉ’s self-titled debut album is scheduled for release on April 6 via Universal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company. As a celebration of Canada’s strong cultural diversity, the ensemble is an authentic reflection of the multicultural talent that UMC is committed to supporting. The album release comes just one day ahead of their launch concert at Koerner Hall on April 7 alongside Juno award-winning trumpeter and composer David Buchbinder and Grammy Award nominated Cuban piano master Hilario Durán and their band Odessa/Havana, renowned for textured and tuneful music with powerful, swinging, and lyrical playing.

Produced by David Buchbinder and recorded by L. Stu Young at the Media and Production Program at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the album was mixed by Buchbinder and Young at LoudMouse Studios and mastered by Noah Mintz at Lacquer Channel Mastering. Mervon Mehta serves as Executive Producer of the entire project. The debut album will contain 14 tracks, written by each member of the Orchestra, plus Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn to Freedom,” and lyrics are in English, Farsi, French, Portuguese, Tibetan, and Bwamu. 

In addition to their global partnership signing with Universal Music Canada, KUNÉ have also been signed by one of the leading arts management firms in the world, Opus 3 Artists, who manage artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Project, pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov, Rosanne Cash, Béla Fleck, Branford Marsalis, and the late Hugh Masekela, all of whom have appeared in Koerner Hall. Opus 3 Artists will be the ensemble’s exclusive agent for the United States and Europe. 

Members of KUNÉ

  • Padideh Ahrarnejad (Iran): tar & vocals
  • Sasha Boychouk (Ukraine): woodwinds & ethnic Ukrainian flutes
  • Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk (Canada – Métis): violin, viola & vocals
  • Luis Deniz (Cuba): saxophone 
  • Anwar Khurshid (Pakistan): sitar & vocals
  • Lasso (Salif Sanou) (Burkina Faso): Fulani flute, n’goni, talking drum, djembe, doum-doum & vocals
  • Paco Luviano (Mexico): acoustic & electric bass
  • Aline Morales (Brazil): Brazilian percussion & vocals
  • Demetrios Petsalakis (Greece): oud, lyra, acoustic & electric guitar
  • Matias Recharte (Peru): cajón, drums & percussion
  • Selcuk Suna (Turkey): clarinet
  • Dorjee Tsering (Tibet): dranyen, flute, piwang & vocals
  • Dora Wang (China): bamboo flute, flute, hulusi & xiao

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The New Canadian Global Music Orchestra was created by The Royal Conservatory of Music in partnership with: Aga Khan Museum, Batuki Music Society, CBC, Diasporic Genius, Lula Music and Arts Centre, Small World Music, York University Department of Music, and 918 Bathurst Centre.

KUNÉ – Canada’s Global Orchestra 
will perform a concert with David Buchbinder’s Odessa/Havana
on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 8pm 
in Koerner Hall

A limited number of $15 BMO Rush Tickets are available starting 90 minutes 
before all performances presented by The Royal Conservatory.

The concert takes place at The Royal Conservatory of Music
TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto

Media Contact: Barbora Kršek, Concert Publicity Manager and Publications Editor
416.408.2824 ext.265; barbora.krsek@rcmusic.ca