Alan Hetherington’s performing experience spans many of the musical genres in the west where percussion can be found today. He has played widely in North and South America and the Caribbean: Cumbia in Colombia, the Joropo tradition (maracas) in Venezuela, Afro-Peruvian music in Lima, Peru, Cuban folkloric music in Havana, and today specializes in the many musical styles of Brazil.
His extensive background has allowed him to perform in a variety of musical settings including with Hermeto Pascoal, Guinga, Henrique Cazes, Nexus, The Toronto Symphony, The Vancouver Symphony, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Michael Bublé, Trichy Sankaran, John Wyre and World Drums, Evergreen Club Gamelan, The Canadian Opera Company, Peter Erskine, Glen Velez, Filó Machado, Celso Machado, among others. He is a member of Ravi Naimpally’s critically acclaimed Indo-Jazz ensemble, Tasa, which has toured North America, Europe and Japan. He has performed and recorded with many accomplished Canadian vocal artists including Lenka Lichtenberg, Maryem Tollar, Sophie Milman, Carol Welsman, Emily-Claire Barlow, Melissa Stylianou and Kiran Ahluwalia. He has made numerous recordings for television and film and has toured with ensembles or as a solo artist throughout Europe, North and South America and Asia.
Alan holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of British Columbia where he studied with John Rudolph, and a Masters Degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Toronto under Russell Hartenberger.
Since 1989 Alan has spent Canadian winters in Brazil performing with Sombra e Agua Fresca, Bell Brasil, Carlos do Cavaco, Chocolatte da Vila Maria and Filó Machado. Since that time he has been a devotee of the samba school tradition of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, performing with some of the largest and most exciting percussion ensembles (baterias) on the planet. He has studied and performed with great masters including Mestre Serjão from the Escolas de Samba Arco Iris and Leões da Hortolândia de Jundiaí, Mestre Sombra from Mocidade Alegre, Mestre Odilon from Acadêmicos do Grande Rio, Mestre Celinho from Unidos da Tijuca, Mestre Beto from Imperatriz Leopoldinense, and Mestre Paulão from Beija-Flor.
Alan is the founder and Director of Toronto’s own Escola de Samba de Toronto, now teaches the tradition at The Royal Conservatory of Music, and has traveled throughout Canada, the United States and Japan teaching the tradition.
The Escola de Samba de Toronto toured Brazil in 2008 and 2011 to high acclaim, and today the ensemble is considered one of Canada’s principal cultural links to Brazil.
Alan’s Brazilian musical life is the subject of filmmaker Avi Lev’s feature documentary, We Are Samba.
In 2001 he founded the collective, Samba Toronto, together with the creative spirits of his Brazilian colleagues, and in 2006 formed the band Sambacana. Their first CD, Nós, was released in 2009.
His newest CD, A Fantástica Bateria de Alan Hetherington and Chocollatte, recorded in São Paulo and Toronto, is recently completed and was released in 2013.
Also of note is Alan’s present role as producer and musical director of Canadian Folk Music Award winning artist Lenka Lichtenberg; releasing 3 CD’s together, including the latest in 2013, entitled Embrace.
Alan is a Sonor Drums and Contemporânea Instrumentos Musicais endorser.