TTC Chair Jaye Robinson named the Toronto Foundation lead charitable partner for the TTC’s Underground Sounds subway musician program at an event this afternoon.
Toronto Foundation has established an endowment that will generate approximately $12,000 annually for the next three years, to install and maintain new Underground Sound stages across the TTC’s subway network. Dedicated performance areas at Bloor-Yonge, Queen’s Park, Osgoode and Union stations have already been revamped, improving visibility and identity for subway musicians.
The new areas consist of vinyl ‘stages’ on the floor and complementary wall decals aimed at helping to raise the profile of the 90 talented and professional acts that perform for customers throughout the subway system. The remaining installations will take place throughout April and May.
“We are thrilled to be working with the TTC again, and especially for its Underground Sounds program,” said Sharon Avery, President and CEO, Toronto Foundation. “Musicians are instrumental in the role that the arts play in our city. The arts positively impact social integration, as well as personal and community development. In a multicultural city, those benefits should be a part of everyone's lives.”
“We are very grateful to the Toronto Foundation for their generosity and support,” said TTC Chair Jaye Robinson. “Subway musicians enrich our customers' commutes and brighten their days. We’re proud to be able to enhance their performance spaces with the help of the Toronto Foundation.”
Underground Sounds is the TTC’s recently revamped subway musician program. Every three years, hundreds of talented buskers audition for the chance to be awarded a license to perform in the subway system. One lucky winner also walks away with a Universal Music Canada contract.
Leo Zhang, a TTC subway musician for the last two decades, was named the first ever winner of the TTC's Underground Sounds competition last year. Through a partnership with Universal Music Canada, Zhang was offered the opportunity to professionally record and release a song. His song ‘Cancion’ is now being featured in “Chill Commute”, a TTC Tracks on Tracks playlist exclusively available on Apple Music.
Chunjie Wang, the TTC subway musician who performed at today's event, is a Chinese bamboo flute (Dizi) player, national class-I performer in China and a faculty member at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada. After graduating from Jilin University of Arts, he joined Jilin Orchestra in China and served as a Dizi soloist and the first Dizi player in the Chinese folk music orchestra. He has been performing for more than 20 years and his musical talents have led him all over Europe and Asia.