THOMPSON EGBO-EGBO TO EMCEE DIXON HALL MUSIC SCHOOL’S ANNUAL MUSIC FOR LIFE GALA ON DECEMBER 5
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Toronto, ON – December 4, 2018 – On Wednesday, December 5, celebrated Toronto artist, Thompson Egbo-Egbo, is giving back to the school that provided the foundation of his career as the official Master of Ceremonies of Dixon Hall Music School’s annual Music For Life Gala. The event marks the 40th anniversary of Dixon Hall Music School, and will take place from 6-9 p.m. at Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park (Toronto). An alumnus of the school, and the Secretary of Dixon Hall’s Board Of Directors, it is the first time the gala will have a former student as emcee. Thompson is stepping into the role to honour a place and community that has supported his artistic development since his youth, and recently visited the school for a candid interview segment with etalk on CTV – tune in tonight at 7 p.m. ET to watch.
“As a former student of Dixon Hall Music School, and now a board member of the organization,” Thompson says. “It's a gift to be able to be a part of something you know first hand add so much value to people's lives.”
Annually, Music for Life raises over half of the Music School’s operating budget.The evening combines food, drinks, music, and entertainment to celebrate student achievement and success. Guests enjoy special performances from students, past and present, and a special guest artist. Music For Life recognizes the power of music education to positively impact youth through the development of beneficial skills like focus, concentration, discipline, self-esteem, emotional expression, and more. You can learn more about the gala here.
“Thompson Egbo-Egbo has been one of Dixon Hall Music School’s most effective and genuine ambassadors. Even from a young age, his burgeoning talent and outgoing personality made him a natural on stages around Toronto, drawing attention to his journey and to our Music School for supporting him,” says Dixon Hall Music School Director, Bob McKitrick. “Now, years later, Thompson is still an active member of the community he grew up in. He joined Dixon Hall’s Board of Directors in 2014, and continues to give back to Regent Park and to our Music School through his performances and advocacy work.”
Dixon Hall Music School offers subsidized music lessons for children from low-income families in Regent Park and the downtown east. The school hosts 320 students per week, with 12,500 lessons a year in 22 subject areas, both individual and ensemble disciplines. Students also attend free music and art camps in Toronto and outside the city, and receive free tickets to attend cultural events.
“Thompson thinks strategically and is constantly looking for beneficial partnerships for Dixon Hall Music School,” Bob adds. “His infectious smile combined with his gifts of communicating with kids and passion for their wellbeing make him a natural role model and ambassador for his community.”
Thompson’s latest album, A New Standard, was released on January 19, 2018 via Entertainment One Music, and is a display of his limitless musical vision. It is his inaugural album on the label, and the first made with his trio consisting of drummer, Jeff Halischuk, and bassist, Randall Hall. Listen to and purchase the album here.
Thompson has been making his rounds to share insight on A New Standard, highlighted in The Whole Note as their April 2018 cover feature, an interview at CP24 Breakfast, CBC Radio One’s Fresh Air , Girth Radio’s Creative Imbalance podcast, and an in-depth feature with PRODUCT Toronto. In an exclusive interview and performance for CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition, Thompson delved into his career and philanthropy work with host, Michael Enright.
As A New Standard’s title playfully suggests, Thompson's song selection touches on relatively recent compositions by artists such as Bob Dylan and Radiohead, while deftly transforming some old favourites, with a nod to the legacy of John Coltrane. Interpreted another way, A New Standard represents Thompson's continuing evolution as a player, writer and arranger while staying true to a classic trio format.
That range of influences is further underscored by A New Standard’s opening combination of Benny Golson’s Whisper Not from 1956 and Sing To The Moon, the title track from British artist Laura Mvula’s 2013 Mercury Prize-nominated debut. Thompson's arrangement of the latter is the only vocal on A New Standard, performed by Toronto singer, Nikki Ponte, whom the pianist had met in Greece after her stint on the country’s version of the television show, The X Factor. Elsewhere on the album, You Must Believe In Spring is a tip of the cap to Bill Evans, while a jaunty take of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Favela adds some Brazilian flavour to the mix.
About Thompson Egbo-Egbo
Born in Nigeria, Thompson came to Toronto with his family at the age of four and started playing piano two years later. His talents were quickly developed through studying at Dixon Hall Music School, created specifically to provide neighborhood kids with affordable lessons. Egbo-Egbo went on to study Jazz Performance at Toronto’s Humber College and then, with the help of a partial scholarship and several benefactors, attended Berklee College of Music in Boston for three years.
Such boundless musical curiosity and inventiveness is what continues to drive Egbo-Egbo creatively, and also motivates him to help a new generation of Toronto kids to transcend their social and economic circumstances through music, just as the Dixon Hall Music School in Regent Park helped him. Specifically, the Thompson T. Egbo-Egbo Arts Foundation has run a program in the Jane/Finch neighborhood teaching composition to kids, and has also collaborated with Regent Park urban music artist Mustafa The Poet on a video, Spectrum Of Hope, intended in part to showcase the community’s revitalization.
Egbo-Egbo’s mantra has long been that you always make the best choice if you have a choice. Perhaps it could be added that music is rarely ever the wrong choice. “I was very fortunate when I was a kid,” he says. “So I feel I kind of have a responsibility to be an example of how when you give a kid opportunities, it can lead to real results. Some people still don’t realize how isolated many communities are, so engaging with them, and encouraging others to do likewise, will always be the main goal of my Foundation, and, in essence, my music as well.”