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Ari Posner has found success as a composer after growing up in a musical family

Ari Posner

By ORI BELMONT Born in Winnipeg in 1970, Ari Posner was exposed to music and performing at an early age.

The son of Gerry and Sherna Posner, Ari learned that playing a musical instrument – or singing can bring so much joy to people (something with which his father was well acquainted after having performed in so many comedic musical performances at the Shaarey Zedek over the years), while his mother was an accomplished pianist.

With musical performances and talent shows a staple of the Posner household, it was only natural that music would play a major role in Ari’s life, as well as for his younger siblings, Rami and Amira.

Along with the melodious tunes of his father’s singing echoing through the home, his mother and grandmother offered great piano accompaniment. And so it was, that at the age of six, Ari was introduced to the piano. He became immediately captivated by the tones, rich harmonies and melodies that the instrument offered. His parents were thrilled that he was drawn to the musical arts, requiring little if any encouragement or motivation to practice. From the first time that he “tickled the ivories,” he was self-motivated to always learn and improve.
From that point in Ari’s life to the present day, one of the primary reasons that Ari continues to produce original and well received musical pieces is because of the sheer joy and nachas that it brings to his parents, he says.
In high school Ari was a member of various rock and roll bands, participating in many concerts – something that motivated him to want to aspire to a career in music, he explains.
Ari attended the University of Manitoba in the late 1980s. He continued his performing career by playing with the Chai Folk Ensemble before moving to Toronto to continue his studies at York University. It was at that time that Ari made the decision to pursue a Fine Arts degree while majoring in music. Half of the curriculum involved studies in General Arts, while the other half focused on music.
At York, Ari also acquired additional skills, including musical composition. He says that throughout his time at university he was excited to go to classes and be surrounded by like-minded people.

Upon graduating, Ari made the decision to stay in Toronto. He explains that he had been presented with several opportunities that he believed would continue to allow him to chart his path towards realizing his dreams.
For the following six years, Ari played piano in a wedding band, as well as providing musical accompaniment for ballet and modern dance classes.

It was also at that time, when he was in his early twenties, that Ari met Stacey Hersh, a Toronto composer. With Stacey’s guidance and support, Ari was able to learn first-hand how the music industry worked. It was also at that time in Ari’s life that he connected with Amin Bhatia, a TV and film music composer. Amin took Ari under his wing, offering useful guidance and support. Over the years he became a dependable mentor for Ari.
Amin strongly believed in Ari’s abilities as a musician and composer – and he had a proposition that would ultimately prove pivotal for Ari’s career arc. Amin required assistance with various composing jobs for television. Specifically, Ari was tasked with writing and arranging music for a children’s series called “Nelvana.” That would be the first of many opportunities for Amin and Ari to work together. Subsequently it led to their involvement in another successful TV series, “Flashpoint,” which ran for five seasons on CBS and CTV. That was followed by work on a series called “X Company,” and more recently, “Anne with an E,” which was on Netflix.

As time progressed, Ari’s abilities began to draw the attention of other prominent individuals in the entertainment industry. In 2001, Ari had a lucky break when he met Rick Shurman, CEO and founding partner of Pirate Radio and Television, which is a prominent name in the advertising industry. Rick took a keen interest in Ari’s composing abilities and eventually offered him a job as an in-house composer at Pirate.
“To me it was like a composing boot camp,” Ari says. “I was writing music every day, in all different styles, with fast deadlines always looming.” To this day Ari still maintains a very close relationship with the staff at Pirate, and continues to make advertising a regular part of his work every year. (Fans of the very popular radio show, “Under the Influence,” with Terry O’Reilly, will be familiar with hearing Ari’s name mentioned as co-composer of that show’s very recognizable theme music after every episode.)

Recently, with Covid-19 restrictions slowly easing, Ari and Amin have collaborated once again, this time on an award-winning animated series which aired on PBS, called “Let’s Go Luna.” In addition, the duo worked together on “Rosie’s Rules,” which will soon be broadcast on PBS. The plot involves a child who lives in southern Texas, whose father is Mexican and whose mother is American. As a result, the series features a good deal of Mexican culture, something that has proven to be an interesting challenge for Posner in terms of his incorporating that culture into the music he composes.

In addition, Ari was involved in a series called “Detention Adventure,” where Ari and Amin joined forces with singer-songwriter Sarah Slean. The series ran on CBC and was well received. It garnered the CSA award in 2021 for “best original score in a dramatic series.”

Often, Ari will encounter individuals who approach him to ask for advice. His words of wisdom?
“Be flexible in your thinking in order to navigate the issues you may have surrounding your work, family and life in general.”

Ari is married to Tamar Kagan, and they have three children: Zachary, Jesse and Leila. Ari says that they are also disciplined in their approach to learning and ambitious to do well in whichever paths they eventually decide to pursue.

Ori Belmont is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Canada

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Features

“Ain’t No Grave” – new novel set in Deep South in early 20th century combines interracial love story with searing description of the Leo Frank trial and lynching

Book cover/author Mary Glickman

Reviewed by BERNIE BELLAN In 1975, American novelist E. L. Doctorow made waves with “Ragtime,” a novel that interspersed true historical American figures from the first part of the 20th century with fictitious characters. The novel explored the overt racism faced by Blacks in America at that time, along with the antisemitism that was also prevalent.
Now, with a new novel by Mary Glickman, who has specialized in writing historical fiction centering around Jewish characters in the Deep South of the U.S., the themes of anti-Black and antisemitic prejudice in the South reach a traumatic apex, culminating with the lynching of New York-born Leo Frank in Georgia, in 1915.
But – since I don’t like to read too much about what a novel is about before I delve into it, I really didn’t know to what extent the Leo Frank case was going to play a role in this particular book. I prefer to be surprised. Unfortunately, if you’re also of a similar mind, I’m afraid I’ve already let the cat out of the bag.
The story opens, however, not in Atlanta, which is where Leo Frank was framed for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, but in a part of backwoods Georgia known as Heard County, where we meet the two central characters of the book: Young Max Sassaport, the son of the only Jewish couple in his small rural village, and Max’s best friend, an equally young Ruby Johnson, the Black daughter of a sharecropper.
The two children – though from totally dissimilar backgrounds, share a deep bond – which they keep hidden from all around them. Glickman’s lilting prose and her depiction of rural Georgia life reminded me of another wonderful novel, also set in the Deep South: “Where the Crawdads Sing.”
Of course, a relationship between a Black girl and a White boy (and a Jew no less) is bound to come asunder – and even as youngsters, Ruby and Max are aware that they are fated to be split apart. Yet, with the introduction of a fascinating character known as Mayhayley Lancaster, who is described as a “witch,” but who later turns out to be a real person who actually played somewhat of a role in the Leo Frank trial, the children’s fate is foretold. (Again, I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but Mayhayley Lancaster’s transformation later in the novel turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the book.)
As the first part of the story develops – and it becomes apparent that Ruby and Max are destined to take different roads in their lives, one of the interesting aspects of the story for Jewish readers will be what life would have been like for the only Jewish family in a small Southern town. The Sassaports operate a general dry goods store – as did many Jews in rural locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, but their connection to Judaism is tenuous at best.
In time, both Max and Ruby make their way to Atlanta, but with Ruby leaving when she is only 12 years old and Max waiting another six years before he ends up in Atlanta, neither one of them holds much hope that they will ever see each other again.
Max, however, meets up with a reporter for the Atlanta Journal known as Harold Ross (who would later go on, in real life, to found The New Yorker). Ross takes Max under his wing as a cub reporter and it’s in Max’s capacity as a reporter that he finds himself enmeshed in the Leo Frank trial.
As a press release for the novel explains: “1913. The year heart-sick Max travels to Atlanta to find Ruby, his lost love and childhood friend. And the year New York Jew, Leo Frank, is charged with the murder of a child laborer at the National Pencil Factory. Max is Jewish and Ruby’s Black. Their reunion takes place just as Frank is arrested, a racially charged event that sparks an explosion of antisemitism across the city of Atlanta.”
Although I had somewhat of a recollection of reading about the Leo Frank trial, reading about the events surrounding that trial and its aftermath comes as somewhat of a shock. Leo Frank was framed for the murder of a 13-year-old White girl but the degree to which the police and the prosecutor were determined to pursue a totally made-up case against an innocent Jewish businessman is still jarring to read. As well, when one contemplates how comfortable Donald Trump is with telling one lie after another to suit his agenda, it becomes much easier to understand how so many White authority figures in “Ain’t No Grave” were willing to engage in a total frame-up so as to enrage their White base. The role that many newspapers at the time played in stoking antisemitism also provides a salutary experience in how easy it has always been to dupe a huge proportion of the American public though fictitious media reporting. In 1915 it was through newspapers; today, it’s through the internet.
As the book’s press release notes the parallels between what was happening in the early years of the 20th century and what we are seeing playing out around the world today, “With global antisemitism on the rise, “Ain’t No Grave” draws attention to the fact that garden variety antisemitism can be stoked by bad actors and quickly explode into violence. Sometimes, the media play a role.”
The Jewish community of Atlanta in 1915 was so terrified by what was happening to Leo Frank that events at the time led to the creation of B’nai Brith’s Anti-Defamation League.
The juxtaposition of vicious antisemitism and anti-Black hatred in the Deep South with a love story between a White Jew and a Black woman makes for a compelling read. As a member of the Southeast ADL by the name of Sandra Brett noted after reading “Ain’t No Grave,” “Mary Glickman vividly captures milestones in the Leo Frank saga through sympathetic characters as real as the events surrounding them. She deftly intertwines Leo Frank’s trial and lynching with the founding of the ADL, the rebirth of a moribund KKK, and an interracial love story. Meticulously researched, fast-paced, and thoroughly original, Ain’t No Grave is a moving, satisfying read.”
And, as Pat Conroy, author of another best selling novel set in the Deep South – “Prince of Tides”, wrote about Mary Glickman: “Mary Glickman is a wonder.”

Buy this book on Amazon

Ain’t No Grave
By Mary Glickman
280 Pages,
Publication Date: July 2024
Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.


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Features

The environmental benefits of lawn care

(NC) Caring for your lawn isn’t just about aesthetics – it’s about nurturing a healthy ecosystem right in your own backyard. A well-maintained lawn not only adds charm to your property, it also plays a crucial role in supporting a healthier environment. Here are some of the ways that taking care of your lawn can benefit our surroundings.

Enhancing air quality: Your lawn acts as a natural air purifier, capturing dust, pollen and other airborne particles, making the air cleaner. Through photosynthesis, grass absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) and releases oxygen, helping to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Preventing soil erosion: Healthy lawns are crucial to preventing soil erosion. The dense grassroot keeps the soil in place, minimizing the risk of decay caused by water or wind. Soil erosion not only strips away valuable topsoil, it can also pollute nearby water bodies.

Cooling outdoor spaces: Compared to urban areas filled with buildings and concrete, places with more grass and trees are noticeably cooler. Additionally, it requires less energy to cool a building surrounded by grass than one surrounded by concrete. A lush lawn not only keeps your outdoor area cooler but could also lower air conditioning bills.

Ensuring clean water: Maintaining a healthy lawn contributes to better water quality. The thick grass cover is a natural filter for rainwater, cutting down on runoff and stopping pollutants from reaching waterways.

How to keep your lawn healthy

To keep your lawn healthy, it’s important to focus on three areas: fertilizing, watering and cutting.

Fertilize: Plants need the proper balance of nutrients to grow and stay healthy. Fertilizer ensures your lawn has all the nutrients it needs in the proper amounts to grow. Fertilize your lawn every other month, beginning in the spring when it starts to turn green, and continue until just before the ground freezes to promote thick, healthy growth that can fight off weeds.

Water: Regular watering is essential to maintaining a healthy lawn. Water your lawn early in the morning to reduce evaporation and fungal growth.

Cut: Mowing your lawn correctly can greatly influence its health. Keep your mower blades sharp and set your mower to the correct height for your grass type.

When fall begins, it’s important to continue caring for your lawn to ensure it remains healthy. Fertilizing in the fall helps strengthen roots and provides essential nutrients for the colder months. Additionally, keep up with watering if there is insufficient rainfall and continue mowing until the cold weather hits.

A vibrant lawn isn’t just a patch of green – it’s a miniature ecosystem that offers a variety of environmental benefits. By taking care of your lawn, you’re enhancing your property’s appeal and playing a vital role in preserving our planet’s health.

Find more information on lawn care and environmental benefits at fertilizercanada.ca/lawncare.

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Features

4 things to know about the Canadian Dental Care Plan

(NC) Have you heard about the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP)? It’s a federal government program that helps reduce the cost of dental care for Canadian residents with a family income under $90,000 who do not have access to dental insurance.

Here are four things you should know about the plan.

What does it cover?
The plan helps cover a wide range of oral health services for eligible Canadians, such as examinations, teeth cleaning, X-rays, fillings, dentures, root canals and oral surgeries. Some services may only be available as of November 2024 and will require prior approval on the recommendation of an oral health provider.

When can I apply?
The application process began in stages, starting with seniors. As of June 27, 2024, two more groups can sign up for the plan: children under the age of 18 and adults with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate.

When will other adults be able to apply?
All other eligible Canadian residents will be able to apply in 2025. Once fully rolled out, the plan aims to help reduce the cost of dental care for up to 9 million Canadians.

Does it fully cover all dental expenses?
The CDCP will reimburse a portion of the cost, based on established plan fees and your annual family income. There are three tiers of coverage that are based on household income.

  • If you have a family income lower than $70,000, 100 per cent of the plan’s established fee for eligible services will be covered;
  • If your family income is between $70,000 and $79,999, 60 per cent of the plan’s established fee for eligible services will be covered;
  • If your family income is between $80,000 and $89,999, 40 per cent of the plan’s established fee for eligible services will be covered.

The plan may not cover the full cost of your treatment, even if you have a family income lower than $70,000. You may have to pay a portion of the cost if the plan’s established fees are lower than what your provider normally charges. Additionally, you may agree to receive treatment that is not covered by the plan.

Before receiving oral health-care, you should always confirm that your provider is accepting CDCP members, that they will bill Sun Life for direct payment and ask about any costs that won’t be covered by the plan.

Learn more about the plan at canada.ca/dental.

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