Composers Delf Maria Hohmann and Raven Chacon with Allison Cameron, John Oswald and Marc Sabat bring St. John’s celebrated Harbour Symphony to Toronto, transforming boats berthed near the city’s shoreline into an orchestra on the water. Featuring music written for the horns of tugboats, trawlers, ferries, leisure vessels, and ocean-going freighters, each Harbour Symphony since 1983 has begun with a radio countdown transmitted to the bridge of the ships by the coast guard where players stand at the helms of their respective vessels. At the signal, a giant, floating horn section reverberates off the surrounding landscape and through the streets. Musicians from all over the world have been invited to create a Harbour Symphony, and the concept has so far been shared with the cities of Amsterdam, Vancouver, Montreal, San Francisco, and now Toronto. This Harbour Symphony includes newly commissioned compositions for the event.

With special thanks to Manager of Marine Operations – Harbourfront Centre, Craig Weekes and all participating vessels.

Harbour Symphony is co-presented by Harbourfront Centre and the Toronto Biennial of Art.

Participant List:

  • Kajama (Great Lakes Schooner)
  • Challenge (Great Lakes Schooner)
  • Escape To (Escape to Charters)
  • Yankee Lady III (Yankee Lady Yacht Charters)
  • Island Mariner (Toronto Island Marina/Toronto Island Yacht Club)
  • Ongiara (Toronto Island Ferries)
  • The Barnacle (Redpath Sugar Refinery)
  • Sail Boats (various, 22 – 41 foot sailboats; Gone Sailing Adventures)
  • Serendipity Princess (City Sightseeing Toronto)
  • Personal Sailboats

Image Credit: Harbour Symphony, 2019. Photo: Yuula Benivolski


Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay W
Toronto ON
M5J 2G8

September 21


Allison Cameron (born in Edmonton, AB, Canada; lives in Toronto, ON, Canada) grew up in North Vancouver at the foot of Grouse Mountain. She is currently developing a large-scale composition project with Trace in collaboration with the Netherlands and new works for British pianist Philip Thomas and members of Apartment House.

Delf Maria Hohmann (originally from Germany, lives in St. John’s, NFLD, Canada) plays guitar, five-string banjo, recorder, concertina, dulcimer and various percussive instruments. His repertoire features contemporary and traditional folk music in English, French, Yiddish, and German. From 1981 to 1985 he worked for the environmental project Clearwater on the Hudson River, and performed with Pete Seeger at Carnegie Hall in New York City and Massey Hall in Toronto. He writes Music for Ships’ Horns, the so called Harbour Symphoniesand is exploring ambisonics and multichannel sound diffusion for live performances and sound installations. He serves on the programming committee of Sound Symposium in St. John’s.

John Oswald (born in Kitchener, ON, Canada; lives in Toronto, ON, Canada) – aside from his directing, designing, dancing, and visualizing – is a Governor General Media Arts Laureate and McLuhan Fellow, and one of Canada’s most internationally-renowned composers (arguably its most infamous one.) His album plunderphonic is on the Polaris Heritage Prize shortlist. The Kronos Quartet commissioned his piece Spectre, and have performed it hundreds of times, recently with guest soloist Tanya Tagac.

Marc Sabat (born in Kitchener, ON, Canada; lives in Berlin, Germany) is a Canadian composer of Ukrainian descent, and has been based in Berlin since 1999. He makes pieces for concert and installation settings, drawing inspiration from investigations of the sounding and perception of Just Intonation and of various music forms — folk, experimental and classical. He studied composition, violin and mathematics at the University of Toronto, at the Juilliard School in New York, and at McGill University, as well as working privately with Malcolm Goldstein, James Tenney and Walter Zimmermann. Scores and artist editions are available through Plainsound Music Edition: 

Raven Chacon (Navajo First Nation, born in Fort Defiance, AZ, USA lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA) is a composer, performer, and installation artist. As a solo artist, collaborator, or with Postcommodity, Chacon has exhibited or performed at venues including: Whitney Biennial, New York City; documenta 14, Kassel; REDCAT, Los Angeles; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; San Francisco Electronic Music Festival; Chaco Canyon, New Mexico; Ende Tymes Festival, New York City; 18th Biennale of Sydney; and The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. Every year, he teaches twenty students to write string quartets for the Native American Composer Apprenticeship Project. In addition, he is the recipient of multiple prizes.