Turkwaz is a unique combination of four musician/singers, immersed in diverse traditions from mysterious Sufi devotional love songs, to rousing Thracian dance music. Each performer brings a special flavour to the group. Maryem Hassan Tollar draws on her Arabic language heritage, Jayne Brown and Sophia Grigoriadis bring their experience with Greek music to the mix and Brenna MacCrimmon adds her Turkish fascination.
They have a long-standing collective interest in Balkan traditions and add Albanian, Bulgarian and Macedonian and whatever else strikes their fancy to their repertoire. The love and respect they have for the traditions they draw from are clear but they are not afraid to arrange the tunes in new and unexpected ways to give them a fresh spin.
Find our upcoming performances here.
Check out our Juno-nominated CD, Nazar
Read about the CD here.
Maryem Tollar is a renowned Egyptian-Canadian vocalist, known for her world music performances. Her voice has been heard on the theme of CBC’s Little Mosque on the Prairie and A.R. Rahman’s Bollywood hit, Mayya Mayya. Tollar was the featured vocalist in Tafelmusik’s production of multi-media performances of “Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee Houses” and the narrator and vocalist in “Safe Haven”. She performed Christos Hatzis’ piece “Syn-Phonia – Migration Patterns” with The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Inuit throat singer Tiffany Ayalik; and his multi-media piece “Constantinople” with The Gryphon Trio and Patricia O’Callaghan. She performs with several Toronto musical groups including Al Qahwa (Traditional Arabic Music and Original compositions); Turkwaz (Traditional Turkish, Greek, Arabic and Balkan vocal repertoire); and storyteller Dawne McFarlane, adding music and sounds for performances at the Toronto Storytelling Festival, The Scottish International Storytelling Festival and at Silence Guelph. Maryem will be touring in the fall of 2022 in “The Cave” (Libretto by Tomson Highway, Music by John Millard, Script by Martha Ross). In early 2023 she will be touring with the stage adaptation of Ann-Marie MaDonald’s book “Fall On Your Knees” providing music and acting in the role of Mrs. Mahmoud (Directed by Alisa Palmer, Script by Hannah Moscovitch). Maryem was awarded the inaugural Johanna Metcalf Prize for Performing Arts in 2019.
Brenna MacCrimmon is a Toronto-based interpreter of Turkish and Balkan songs – an adventure that began with a trip to a local public library’s vinyl collection in 1983. She has studied and performed with many notable masters of the traditions in both Turkey and the USA. She works in a diverse range of musical projects, travels frequently to perform and teach and thinks you can never stop learning.
Sophia Grigoriadis, is a musician and teacher. Over the past 30 years her study of Greek, Balkan and Middle Eastern singing and percussion has led her to compose, perform and tour with many Toronto world and fusion ensembles. Her love of teaching and sharing her musical passion extends to all ages: as Church Choir Director of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, as Music teacher from Preschool to Grade 8 at Metamorphosis Greek Orthodox School, and to young children through her Clapping Land music studio, where her compilation world music CD Sound Adventures — Global Music for Children garnered the Parent’s Choice Foundation Silver Award.
Since making the switch from classical to folkloric singing, Jayne Brown has been learning, performing, travelling and recording with several ensembles, including Latin American ensembles, Nazka and Ilédé, Macedonian band Staro Selo, and Mediterranean mash-up bands Maza Mezé and the Maryem Tollar ensemble. For the past couple decades, Jayne has been concentrating her efforts on Greek folkloric song, studying in both Greece and Toronto. Jayne balances her time between music and her psychotherapy practice.