Upcoming Concerts

Following successful back-to-back performances of our concert Fallen, Camerata Nova has a quick turnaround with a free Santa Clause Parade Day Concert at the Manitoba Hydro Building (Nov 17), as well as A Concert in Benefit of Sistema Winnipeg (Nov 18). Read more below.

Santa Claus Parade Day Concert

Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 2:30 pm in the Atrium of the Manitoba Hydro Building – A light holiday concert led by conductor Vic Pankratz to get you in the spirit before watching the Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade. Enjoy cookies and hot chocolate at this free concert in the Atrium of the Manitoba Hydro Building. Our free performance features Christmas classics, Camerata Nova originals, as well as some sing-alongs.
The event is supported by Manitoba Hydro

A Concert in Benefit of Sistema Winnipeg

Sunday, November 18, 2018 at 2:00 pm, at St. John’s College, University of Winnipeg – This concert in benefit of Sistema Winnipeg will feature the Sistema students in their first public performance of the 2018 – 2019 season. Sistema Winnipeg is an intensive after-school program that uses orchestral music to serve children with the fewest resources and the greatest need. The concert will also feature the innovative choral music of Camerata Nova. The event is hosted by Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Resident Conductor, Julian Pellicano and held at the St. John’s College Chapel, University of Manitoba, 92 Dysart Road on Sunday November 18 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $40 for adult and $15 for students and children. Help us to help this innovative inner-city music program.

Reception and Silent Auction to follow the concert.

For more info and to purchase tickets, please visit Sistema Winnipeg.

Fallen: From a Singer’s Point of View – Dr. Liz Przybylski

Before the band started to play, the director came to the mic to prepare the audience for what we were about to hear. The players on stage were about to begin their version of an armed forces salute. The director invited those of us seated in the concert hall to stand if we or a family member served in the branch of the armed services when we heard the corresponding anthem. Dozens of college students picked up their instruments, and the band began to play. With my fellow audience members, I turned to see men and women stand around me in the hall, the audience applauding service members past and present and their families. This salute, the director explained, was a way for the band at my city’s local college to pay tribute to veterans. It’s something I’ve heard before here where I live in the U.S., but the timing resonated with me as I’d never experienced before: we had convened to raise money and support for local people experiencing homelessness.

Why a military salute at a concert for those in our community who are not stably housed? Veterans are represented in significant numbers among people who lack stable housing. In that concert hall, I felt the discomfort of the juxtaposition of the audience’s desire to honor veterans even as we have a way to go in terms of providing material and social supports to individuals who served in the armed forces.

At the First World War centenary, concerts and events are being staged to honor veterans throughout Canada, the U.S., and around the world. Yet, how many of these programs encourage us also to act and reflect in response to how veterans were and are treated upon their return home?

I felt that question strongly when I was in the audience at a concert hall. Group music making generates a reflective space in which these questions can resonate. It’s fitting then to listen for another concert space that offers an opportunity to work through answers.

This November, Camerata Nova will be performing Andrew Balfour’s new work “Notinikew.” In collaboration with conductor Mel Braun, pop ‘cellist Cris Derksen, Drummer/singer Cory Campbell, the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir, and an ensemble of vocalists, Balfour will share a musical story that sits between reverence and responsibility. While acknowledging the service of Indigenous veterans such as Sergeant Tommy Prince, “Notinikew” will let us ask ourselves, what might it mean for Indigenous young people to have signed up to fight for their country, and then returned home second-class citizens? This piece, while historical in nature, has us face contemporary questions: Where are we in our journey towards remembering Indigenous individuals among the canon of Canadian historical greats? What has – and has not—changed in the past hundred years in the relationships between First Nations and the Canadian state, and what work needs to be done?

I was honored to sing with Camerata Nova when Balfour first presented “Take the Indian” at the New Music Festival in 2015 and later at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. This composition in many ways sparked the three-part series of concerts that serves as the ensemble’s response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I’ll be in the audience at the concert Fallen this November 3rd and 4th, ready to listen to Camerata Nova’s reflection on service, responsibility, and community. As in the concert I heard this past weekend, I’ll also be ready to ask myself, what can I do to move us together towards fulfilling our collective responsibility towards each other? I hope you’ll join me.

An Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Riverside, hip hop scholar Dr. Liz Przybylski specializes in Indigenous popular music practices in Canada and the United States. A graduate of Bard College (BA) and Northwestern University (MA, PhD), Liz has presented her research nationally and internationally. Her recent publications have appeared in Ethnomusicology, Journal of Borderlands Studies, IASPM@Journal, and others. She teaches courses on Indigenous music, popular music, ethnographic methods, and gender studies. In addition to her university teaching, Liz has taught at the American Indian Center in Chicago, hosted the world music show “Continental Drift” on WNUR in Chicago, and has conducted interviews with musicians for programs including “At The Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research” on CJUM in Winnipeg. Liz serves as the Media Reviews Editor for the journal American Music.

Dr. Liz Przybylski

An Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Riverside, hip hop scholar Dr. Liz Przybylski specializes in Indigenous popular music practices in Canada and the United States. A graduate of Bard College (BA) and Northwestern University (MA, PhD), Liz has presented her research nationally and internationally. Her recent publications have appeared in Ethnomusicology, Journal of Borderlands Studies, IASPM@Journal, and others. She teaches courses on Indigenous music, popular music, ethnographic methods, and gender studies. In addition to her university teaching, Liz has taught at the American Indian Center in Chicago, hosted the world music show “Continental Drift” on WNUR in Chicago, and has conducted interviews with musicians for programs including “At The Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research” on CJUM in Winnipeg. Liz serves as the Media Reviews Editor for the journal American Music.

Meet Some of the Amazing Singers Who Will be Joining us for our Fallen Concert

 

from top left: Ben Sellick, Jane Fingler, John Anderson, Kathleen Murphy

Camerata Nova, and the Manitoba choir community as a whole, are so lucky to have access to some of the best talent in the country. Ben Sellick, Jane Fingler, John Anderson, and Kathleen Murphy are just four of the 14 amazing singers who’ll be joining us this weekend (Nov 3-4) for our concert Fallen, taking place at the Crescent Fort Rouge United Church.

Fallen performers include Artistic Director / Directeur artistique, Andrew Balfour; Sopranos: Jane Fingler, Sarah Sommer, Brittany Mielnichuk, Sydney Clarke; Altos: Donnalynn Grills, Angela Neufeld, Kathleen Murphy; Tenors: Scott Reimer, Andrew Thomson, Dave Sawatzky; Basses: Alan Schroeder, Ben Sellick, John Anderson, George Bajer-Koulack; Featured Artists: Cris Derkesen, Cory Campbell; as well as the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir.

Ben Sellick grew up playing music, traveling, and watching movies. He went to the University of Manitoba, where he studied piano and film. First with Elroy Friesen, and then under Michael Zaugg, Ben began singing and writing choral music, receiving his first major compositional premiere by Pro Coro Canada in their 2017-2018 season. Ben likes the colour orange, olive oil, wool socks, lakes, film music, El Greco, and podcasts.

Jane Fingler is a Winnipeg based Soprano who has has the pleasure of singing in Camerata Nova for the past seven seasons. She also sings in other Winnipeg based choral groups Polycoro and Canzona, performing music old and new, appearing as a soloist as well as an ensemble member. Jane teaches voice lessons, tries to write music sometimes and loves to sing and perform pop/folk music that have great harmonies! She loves being a part of the Camerata Family! <3

Born and raised in Winnipeg, John Anderson has been a lifelong lover of singing. With a passion for choir, theatre and composition, John has recently graduated from the University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music and is excited to now begin making music and telling stories more widely in the Winnipeg community.

Kathleen Murphy is a mezzo-soprano & pianist from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  She is currently completing her degree in undergraduate piano at the University of Manitoba with David Moroz, and pursues vocal studies with Mel Braun.  She has performed in concerts, masterclasses, & festivals as a vocalist, pianist, and choir member. Kathleen also has a passion for music theory & history, and is planning to pursue a post baccalaureate degree in vocal performance.

TICKETS

*Tickets are available from our website, at McNally Robinson Booksellers, by phone (204-918-4947), or at the door. Two- or three-concert subscriptions ($35 to $125) for Camerata Nova’s 2018-2019 season are also available. See cameratanova.com for details.

DONATE

Camerata Nova is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization. Exploring, taking risks, and developing exciting new programming, takes time, energy, and money.

Click here to find out more about donating.

Fallen: A Truth and Reconciliation Concert

Camerata Nova’s landmark concert series highlighting truth and reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples of Canada is returning this November with Fallen, the second of three concerts designed by artistic director and composer Andrew Balfour. As with many trilogies, you don’t need to have seen the first to appreciate the second.

Andrew Balfour leading a rehearsal with the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir

Fallen will be presented on Nov. 3 and 4. The first of the series, Taken, premiered on March 4 and 5, 2017 in Winnipeg before moving out east to be performed in the National Arts Centre’s Canada 150 Festival in June.

Taken – which featured Polaris Prize-winning artist Jeremy Dutcher, hip hop artist Eekwol from Muskoday First Nation in Saskatchewan, CBC reporter and throat singer Madeleine Allakariallak and cellist Leanne Zacharias with Camerata Nova’s chamber choir – received praise for being “innovative, inclusive and thoroughly engaging” (ARTSFILE). It dealt with the subject of Indigenous children being taken from their homes and the stripping of their culture by residential schools.

Fallen continues the conversation of truth and reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples of Canada by exploring the contributions of Indigenous soldiers in the First World War, featuring a choral drama entitled Notinikew (He who takes part in war), written by Balfour. This time around, Camerata Nova will be joined by Indigenous cellist Cris Derksen, traditional drummer and singer Cory Campbell and the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir. The concert, conducted by Mel Braun, will also feature Requiem, a piece by English composer Herbert Howells on the death of his young son.

Balfour’s inspiration for Notinikew was sparked by his love of history, particularly the European wars. “While Indigenous individuals of Canada have fought in every major conflict from the War of 1812 to Afghanistan, they were rewarded for their contributions to WWI by being denied benefits and forbidden to leave their reserves,” said Balfour.

The motivations as to why Indigenous people would fight for a country that eradicated their culture fascinated Balfour. “All war is insanity”, said Balfour. “I wanted to do an anti-war piece, but also question why Indigenous people would go and fight in that war, and what would drive them to sign up and travel overseas and fight in the bloodiest conflict ever at that time.”

“Maybe they went to fight to better their cause at home; maybe they thought if they fought for Canada that our country would reward them with giving them their ceremony or language back. Maybe they had a sense of honour. Maybe they wanted adventure.”

Balfour founded Camerata Nova in 1996 to explore early music – sparked by his love for Renaissance and medieval works – but it wasn’t until years later that he began composing his own music and exploring the power of Indigenous music.

Balfour was a victim of the Sixties Scoop, taken from his Cree family at a young age and placed in the home of an Anglican priest. While he says his home was loving and supportive, it disconnected him from his people, his culture and his music. Through writing pieces for Camerata Nova and researching Indigenous cultures, Balfour rediscovered a part of his identity and learned to embrace his people’s music.

“I didn’t know anything about my language or my heritage, so it’s a process,” said Balfour. “It’s a very important way of reclaiming a lost identity.”

For Sandi Mielitz, president of Camerata Nova’s board of directors, watching Balfour grow as an artist and embrace his identity has been a rewarding experience.

“I’ve seen a guy with a huge amount of musical talent who then took it and learned how to not only evolve his music into something more and more sophisticated and abstract, but also evolve his whole identity,” said Mielitz.

While the struggles and triumphs of the Indigenous peoples of Canada can be researched through spoken and written works, Balfour and Mielitz agree that music provides another layer of connection for audiences to understand their experiences.

“When a story is told in music, it touches you in a way that dry facts just simply don’t,” said Mielitz. “All of the arts have a way of touching you and emotionally engaging you in experiencing stories.”

“The legacy of storytelling is so important, and I feel that the power of music or word or dance or visual arts are really important for people to either heal or explore their own wounds and legacies through art,” Balfour agreed. “The idea of doing these call-to-action concerts has been very important for myself as an artist and our community.”

Camerata Nova’s rehearsals are well underway, and for Balfour, the journey from looking at notes on a computer screen to hearing them sung live by the full chamber choir is an exciting one.

“It takes a lot of work, but we have an amazing organization and we have people, mostly non-Indigenous, that realize the importance of this, and that’s the country that I want to live in,” said Balfour. “Where people are healing or helping the healing or listening, because that’s really the most important thing. Particularly politicians – they need to listen.”

Fallen takes place at 7:30 pm on Nov. 3 and at 3 pm on Nov. 4 at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (corner of Nassau and Wardlaw), with pre-concert talks 45 minutes before both shows*. The third and final concert of the series, Captive – a piece on Indigenous peoples’ incarceration – will be presented in 2020.
-Graeme Houssin

TICKETS

*Tickets are available from our website, at McNally Robinson Booksellers, by phone (204-918-4947), or at the door. Two- or three-concert subscriptions ($35 to $125) for Camerata Nova’s 2018-2019 season are also available. See cameratanova.com for details.

DONATE

Camerata Nova is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization. Exploring, taking risks, and developing exciting new programming, takes time, energy, and money.

Click here to find out more about donating.

‘Fallen’ is the Second Concert in a Trilogy Dedicated to Truth and Reconciliation

Artistic Director Andrew Balfour and the Camerata Nova team continue to innovate and celebrate choral music with ‘Fallen’ (Nov 3-4, 2018), the second concert in a trilogy dedicated to truth and reconciliation.

Composer, and Camerata Nova’s Artistic Director, Andrew Balfour, puts the finishing touches on Fallen (Nov 3-4) at the Herdsman’s House in Neubergthal, Manitoba.

Fallen – November 3, 2018 at 7:30 pm and November 4, 2018 at 3:00 pm at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (Pre-concert talks at 6:45 pm on Saturday and 2:45 pm on Sunday)

Experience the poignant drama of a Manitoba Indigenous hunter/trapper who signs up to fight in World War I. Join conductor Mel Braun and composer/singer/Artistic Director Andrew Balfour with Indigenous cellist Cris Derksen, traditional drummer/singer Cory Campbell and the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir, among other guest artists. Beauty and drama that is 100 years young. This concert also features Herbert Howells’ Requiem, a masterwork on the death of his son.

Fallen is the second concert in a series dedicated to truth and reconciliation. In 2020, look for our third concert, Captive, expressing the power and sadness of Indigenous incarceration.

About Andrew Balfour
Of Cree descent, Andrew Balfour has written a body of more than 30 choral, instrumental and orchestral works, including the chamber opera Mishabooz’ Realm, Take the Indian, Empire Étrange: The Death of Louis Riel, Migiis: A Whiteshell Soundscape, Bawajigaywin, Gregorio’s Nightmare, Wa Wa Tey Wak (Northern Lights), Fantasia on a Poem by Rumi, Missa Brevis and Medieval Inuit. He has been commissioned by the Winnipeg, Regina and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, L’Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, Ensemble Caprice of Montreal, Highlands Opera Workshop, Winnipeg Singers, Kingston Chamber Choir and Camerata Nova, among many others.  His choral works have been published by Cypress Choral Music and CNova Publishing and have been performed and/or broadcast locally, nationally and internationally.

Andrew is also the founder and Artistic Director of the innovative, 14-member vocal group Camerata Nova, now in its 23nd year of offering a concert series in Winnipeg.  With Camerata Nova, Andrew specializes in creating “concept concerts”, many with indigenous subject matter (Wa Wa Tey Wak (Northern Lights), Medieval Inuit, Chant!).  These innovative offerings explore a theme through an eclectic array of music, including new works, arrangements and innovative inter-genre and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Andrew has become increasingly passionate about music education and outreach, particularly on northern reserves and inner city Winnipeg schools where he has worked on behalf of the National Arts Centre, Camerata Nova, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and various Winnipeg school divisions for the past eight years.

Andrew was Curator and Composer-in-Residence of the WSO’s Indigenous Festivals in 2009 and 2010 and in 2007 received the Mayor of Winnipeg’s Making a Mark Award, sponsored by the Winnipeg Arts Council to recognize the most promising midcareer artist in the City.  In 2017, he was awarded a Gold Medal by the Senate of Canada for his contribution to Canada’s indigenous and music communities.

TICKETS

Tickets for individual concerts are available at McNally Robinson Booksellers, by phone (204-918-4547), through our website, or at the door. Subscriptions (three concerts) are $65 (adults), $55 (seniors) and $35 (under 30), with a subscriptions-for-two offering at $125, $105 and $65 respectively. This season, two-concert mini-packages are also available ($35, $30, $20, or for two, $65, $55, $35). Individual ticket prices available on our website.

DONATE

Camerata Nova is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization. Exploring, taking risks, and developing exciting new programming, takes time, energy, and money.

Click here to find out more about donating.

Celebrated Indigenous Cellist/composer, Cris Derksen, Joining us for “Fallen”

Cris Derksen is a celebrated Indigenous cellist/composer known for building layers of sound into captivating performances. Originally from Northern Alberta, Cris has a line of chiefs from North Tall Cree reserve on her father’s side and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s side. Her music braids the traditional and contemporary in multiple dimensions, weaving her traditional classical training and her Aboriginal ancestry with new school electronics, creating genre-defying music. For Fallen, Cris will be joined by traditional drummer/singer Cory Campbell and the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir, among other guest artists. Read more…

Fallen is the second concert in a series dedicated to truth and reconciliation. In 2020, look for our third concert, Captive, expressing the power and sadness of Indigenous incarceration.

TICKETS

Tickets for individual concerts are available at McNally Robinson Booksellers, by phone (204-918-4547), through our website, or at the door. Subscriptions (three concerts) are $65 (adults), $55 (seniors) and $35 (under 30), with a subscriptions-for-two offering at $125, $105 and $65 respectively. This season, two-concert mini-packages are also available ($35, $30, $20, or for two, $65, $55, $35). Individual ticket prices available on our website.

Donate

Camerata Nova is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization. Exploring, taking risks, and developing exciting new programming, takes time, energy, and money.

Click here to find out more about donating.

Camerata Nova’s 2018-2019 Season

From an early music mystery to the second concert in a trilogy dedicated to truth and reconciliation, Camerata Nova is a vocal group without fear!

Following a spectacular 22nd season, 2018-19 provides a thrilling range of music that highlights Manitoba performers and composers. Highlights include Fallen, the second concert in a series dedicated to truth and reconciliation; a concert featuring an alleged death by chocolate poisoning; and a concert with great Prairie folk and pop standards as well as recent tunes by exciting local artists. Once again, Artistic Director Andrew Balfour and the Camerata Nova team continue to innovate and celebrate choral music from the Renaissance to the present day in all its forms.

Andrew Balfour, Mel Braun

Major Concerts

Fallen
November 3, 2018 at 7:30 pm and November 4, 2018 at 3:00 pm at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (Pre-concert talks at 6:45 pm on Saturday and 2:45 pm on Sunday)

Experience Notinikew (“he who takes part in war”), a choral fantasy of a Manitoba Indigenous hunter/trapper who signs up to fight in World War I. Join conductor Mel Braun and composer/singer/Artistic Director Andrew Balfour with Indigenous cellist Cris Derksen, traditional drummer/singer Cory Campbell and the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir, among other guest artists. Beauty and drama that is 100 years young. This concert also features Herbert Howells’ Requiem, a masterwork on the death of his son.

Fallen is the second concert in a series dedicated to truth and reconciliation. In 2020, look for our third concert, Captive, expressing the power and sadness of Indigenous incarceration.

The Prairie Songbook 
March 9, 2019 at 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm and March 10, 2019 at 3:00 pm at the Park Theatre

Every few years, we kick back to just have fun with friends and fans. For this special Park Theatre event, Camerata Nova will present great folk and pop standards as well as recent tunes by cool, local artists. From the Wailin’ Jennys to The Guess Who, from Joni Mitchell to Royal Canoe, from KD Lang to JP Hoe, we’ll celebrate our “wheatfield soul” in all its diversity.

Led by Mel Braun and Vic Pankratz and featuring a 4-piece house band of talented musicians, Camerata Nova will turn the Park Theatre into your favourite coffee house. Come join us and blow away your winter blues!

Daniel Cabena

Death by Chocolate: The Life and Death of Henry Purcell
May 4, 2019 at 7:30 pm and May 5, 2019 at 3:00 pm at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (Pre-concert talks at 6:45 pm on Saturday and 2:45 pm on Sunday)

In this concert curated and conducted by John Wiens, Camerata Nova seeks to showcase choral works by Henry Purcell (1659-1695) and to explore the life of this composer, arguably the greatest of the English Baroque period. Join us to find out how cocoa can kill…

Death by Chocolate offers top quality performers and powerful repertoire – a rare musical treat. Four Winnipeg vocal soloists: Dayna Lamothe, soprano, Jane Fingler, soprano, James Magnus-Johnson, tenor, and Jereme Wall, bass will be joined by early music instrumentalists Claudine St-Arnauld, violin, Jeremy Buzasch, violin, Greg Hay, viola, Yuri Hooker, cello, Andrew Goodlett, bass, and Michael McKay, organ continuo. To add a star attraction and flair to the concert, we are also bringing in the exciting young Canadian countertenor, Daniel Cabena, who specializes in early and contemporary performance.  The countertenor voice has a caché and curiosity that is sure to send many a heart afflutter.  Repertoire will include: Rondeau from Abdelazar; O Sing unto the Lord; My Heart Is Inditing; Hear My Prayer, O Lord; Te Deum and Jubilate in D; plus Three Funeral Sentences.

Other Highlights

Santa Claus Parade Day ConcertSaturday, November 17, 2018 at 2:30 pm in the Atrium of the Manitoba Hydro Building

A light holiday concert with Camerata Nova. The free performance features Christmas classics, Camerata Nova originals, as well as some sing-alongs.

A Concert in Benefit of Sistema Winnipeg  Sunday, November 18, 2018 at 2:00 pm, at St. John’s College, University of Winnipeg

Celebrate the holiday season with the kids of Sistema Winnipeg and Camerata Nova! All proceeds will go to support the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Sistema Winnipeg inner-city music education program, offered in partnership with Seven Oaks School Division and Winnipeg School Division. Help us to help this innovative inner-city music program.

For more info and to purchase tickets, please visit Sistema Winnipeg.

Tickets

Tickets for individual concerts are available at McNally Robinson Booksellers, by phone (204-918-4547), through our website, or at the door. Subscriptions (three concerts) are $65 (adults), $55 (seniors) and $35 (under 30), with a subscriptions-for-two offering at $125, $105 and $65 respectively. This season, two-concert mini-packages are also available ($35, $30, $20, or for two, $65, $55, $35). Individual ticket prices available on our website.

Donate

Camerata Nova is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization. Exploring, taking risks, and developing exciting new programming, takes time, energy, and money.

Click here to find out more about donating.

 

Program Notes for Red River Song

The following text will be published in the program for Red River Song, presented on April 28th and 29th:

Red River Song is a celebration of Manitoba’s Métis heritage – from culture to carts. From the first decade of the 19th century through to the 1870s, the Métis people developed a way of life perfectly suited to the prairies, one that incorporated influences from all sides of their Indigenous, French Canadian and Scottish heritage. A proud people, the Métis cut a colourful swath in prairie society with their distinctive jackets and sashes, with their songs and dances, with their blue and white flag featuring the infinity symbol.

Our concert begins with an Invocation to the Four Directions, combining the opening words of the Latin Requiem mass with Cree and English texts that describe the Four Directions, the Four Seasons. It is a reflective opening, respectfully combining the Indigenous/European influences that shaped Métis culture. Mel Braun wrote it for Winnipeg’s 2017 concert in the Mysterious Barricades project, where performances were held across the country for World Suicide Prevention Day. Much of the music of the Métis is bright and full of fun, but there is a much darker side to this history. Invocation gives us a calm space to contemplate this.

From solemnity, the concert moves to rhythm and history with the songs of Métis Bard Pierre Falcon, a.k.a. Pierriche or Pierre the Rhymer. Born in Somerset House (or Elbow Fort, near Swan River, Manitoba) in 1793 to a Cree mother and French Canadian fur trader from the North West Company, Falcon was also a fur trader and, later, a farmer near present-day St. François-Xavier. He was famous as the bard of the Métis, creating poems and tunes to tell of the great exploits of his people in their struggle to be an independent nation under Louis Riel. In 1816, at age 23, he wrote La Chanson de la Grenouillère or The Battle of Seven Oaks which, 200 years later, remains a standard of Métis music.

The Buffalo Hunt is the second Falcon song in this concert, describing an activity at the very heart of the Métis culture. From the buffalo hunt came pemmican, which the Métis fashioned from dried, pounded buffalo meat, berries and grease. Pemmican was big business for the Métis. A 19th-century version of today’s Power Bar, it was much in demand by the voyageurs as they paddled umpteen hours a day in search of furs.

This set of historical Métis songs also includes the beautiful La Métisse with words by Louis Riel to a tune by priest Georges Dugas, who worked in Manitoba from 1866 to 1888. The words express the pride of a young Métis woman at the time of the Métis Provisional Government in 1869-70 – “If ever I am loved, I will choose for my faithful lover one of the soldiers from the little army commanded by our proud adjutant.”

A word about the arranger, Manitoban Chester Duncan: pianist, composer, author, CBC critic/producer/broadcaster and Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Manitoba, Duncan wrote more than 150 art songs. In the 1990s, he was commissioned to arrange all the songs from the compilation Songs of Old Manitoba, published in 1960 by Margaret Arnett MacLeod. They were premièred at the Summer Festival of Music on the Red. Mel Braun is delighted to bring three of them back to life for Red River Song.

Fiddlin’ and Jiggin’ – Camerata Nova is very pleased to present 15-year-old champion Métis fiddler Alexandre Tétrault with piano accompanist Yvette Audette. A descendant of Louis Riel, Tétrault not only plays up a storm but also writes his own fiddle tunes, which have become popular on the fiddle circuit. He is playing one of his own compositions today, as well as a tune by Andy de Jarlis (b. Desjarlais, 1914-1975), the famous Métis fiddler from Woodridge, Manitoba. From a family of Métis fiddlers, Andy was a descendant of Pierre Falcon and is credited with more than 200 jigs, reels, polkas and waltzes, some of which have become standards in North America.

Alexandre will also play another well-known tune, Reel de Sainte-Anne, to accompany jiggers Julien Beaudette-Loiselle and Marcus Merasty. Julien, a Métis from St. Boniface, has been dancing with the Ensemble folklorique de la Rivière-Rouge for seven years. The Ensemble specializes in traditional and not-so-traditional French-Canadian jigs and dances. Hailing from Pelican Narrows, Saskatchewan, Marcus is of Cree descent. In addition to traditional Métis jigging, Marcus is pursuing a career in contemporary dance. He is currently in the Professional Program of The School of Contemporary Dancers. Marcus and Julien are also performing an “a cappella dance” which they created for this concert with choreographer Myriam Leclercq and which combines Métis and French Canadian steps.

About Run Freddy Run!, Eliot Britton writes that it is “the second instalment in a set of pieces that looks at Manitoba’s heirloom bison culture. The text is constructed from bison-themed varia copied down during my post Ph.D. gap year in Winnipeg.

One can’t get far in Manitoba without encountering a bison-branded object, organization, business or activity. For example, I attended Nature Manitoba’s The Natural and Unnatural History of Bison in Manitoba lecture by Dr. Randy Mooi, Curator of Zoology at The Manitoba Museum – business as usual for a Tuesday evening in Manitoba. A group of nature enthusiasts and I crowded into Room 31 at Kelvin High School (I think I even paid full price as a non-member!). The lecture ran late. As expected, bison are awesome. As it turns out, bison are a handful and every so often the herd produces a particularly rebellious soul. Nothing has changed.

I heard about Freddy on the news. A “brazen bison” from Lorette, Manitoba who “just won’t stay home on the range.” I laughed out loud and immediately remembered Dr. Mooi’s 2016 lecturette on the last buffalo hunt and the truant, rebel bison. The juxtaposition of an obscure New York Times article from 1911 and the hilariously obscure 2018 Freddy story was too much to pass up. I then started to think about distant but related processes and uncommon intersections of historical and contemporary materials. That’s how I got to making a piece that integrates Renaissance polyphony with pop chord progressions, contemporary speech synthesis and sound design. I use “integrate” fairly loosely in this context. Sometimes it’s like hitting a brick wall, which is part of the fun of such a remote juxtaposition.

So, there you have it. Run Freddy Run! is a uniquely Manitoban mash-up that combines old and new, something borrowed and something… brown. And hopefully by the time you are reading this, I have secured an authentic Run Freddy Run! hoodie.”

Ode to the Red River Cart – Red River carts were the soundscape of the prairies. Wood-on-wood construction, no axle grease, well, you get the picture. More accurately, you hear the picture, with its endless moans, squeaks and squeals… We won’t speculate on why Mel Braun is inspired by moans, squeaks and squeals but he really went to town on this Ode to the Red River Cart!

The piece is constructed incorporating six Métis songs/reels, each found in Métis Songs: Visiting Was the Métis Way, compiled by ethnomusicologist Dr. Lynn Whidden, after years of searching out, recording and transcribing the music of Métis singers and fiddlers across the prairies. Published by the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association, the book in its entirety can be found as part of the Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture created by the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research (www.metismuseum.ca). Dr. Whidden has created a wonderful gift to current and future generations of people interested in Métis music. As part of this Red River Song concert project, the score of Ode to the Red River Cart and individual choral scores of these Métis tunes arranged by Mel Braun will be made available for schools and community choirs via CNova Publishing on our website (www.cameratanova.com).

Before, after and even during these Métis tunes, Mel has written a colourful, detailed recitative about the Red River cart and its role and importance in Métis culture. The story is not just about the romance. It ends with the coming of the railway and the disappearance of not only the cart, but the Métis way of life. This “magnum opus” is fun, sad, wild and instructive! Be prepared to join in to the chorus at the end… Can you sound like a Red River cart??

Party d’cuisine! (Kitchen Party) – Just as would have happened in the kitchen of a Métis homestead, redolent with smoke, whiskey, warmth, fiddles, tapping spoons, toes and heels, Red River Song ends with a crazy “mash-up” of fiddles and dancers, plus singers doing “turlutte” or French Canadian scat. Bring out your spoons and get ready to join in!

The party starts quietly – as most parties do – with a cappella singing of À la claire fontaine. You will recognize the words, but perhaps not the tune – this beautiful melody was created by the Quebec group Barde, then arranged by the Saskatchewan group Folle Avoine. The party then picks up the pace with La Belle Catherine by Louis “Pitou” Boudreault (1905-1988), fiddler and storyteller from Chicoutimi, Québec. The next song, La disputeuse, is a famous Acadian reel also known under many other names, including Growling Old Man and Cackling Old Woman, The Disputant, and Growling and Grumbling! It will be followed by Fisher’s Hornpipe, another tune of many names and one of the most popular, widespread and frequently published fiddle tunes in the world.

Next up is Red River Jig or “oayache mannin,” as it is known in Michif. This is the unofficial Métis anthem, which was very popular in the mid 1800s when it was known from Alaska to James Bay. The dance is a combination of Plains First Nations footwork with Scottish, Irish and French-Canadian dance forms. The basic jig step is danced in most Métis communities, however, dancers often add their own “fancy” steps in parts of the tune. Even more specific, some dancers add certain variations which identify their home community. The origin of the Jig is unknown. One theory is that the Scots were on one side of the river (Red, Assiniboine or Seine – take your pick…) playing the bagpipes one night while some French Canadians and Métis were kicking back on their homestead porch on the other. A Métis fiddler decided to imitate the bagpipes. He started with a slow, sad, whining tune and then stepped it up with a fast, rollicking beat – everyone wanted to dance and the Red River Jig was born…

It is fitting to end the party with Whiskey Before Breakfast, another melodious composition by Andy de Jarlis, the famous Métis fiddler.

From Pierre Falcon to his descendent Andy de Jarlis, our concert comes full circle. Louis Riel said that the Métis people would sleep for a hundred years before their artists and visionaries led them back to nationhood. How right he was. The current resurgence of Métis culture and nationhood is a joy to behold. Long live the Métis Nation, long live the Red River cart!

Camerata Nova would like to thank Mel Braun for his wonderful curation, compositions, arrangements and conducting – but, most of all, for his passion for the story of the Métis and the history of Manitoba. We would also like to thank Myriam Leclercq, dance choreographer, and Karine Beaudette, Camerata Nova singer and long-time volunteer, for bringing together the fiddlers, dancers and choreographer to create the fiddling sequences.

Acknowledgements are also due to Dr. Lynn Whidden for providing authentic versions of Métis music and historian Fred J. Shore of the Native Studies Department at the University of Manitoba for his book, Threads in the Sash: The Story of the Métis from which we have liberally borrowed facts and stories.

Red River Song

You could hear them coming from miles away. Those Red River Carts, using no axle grease,were the soundscape of the prairies, the pride of the Metis traders. Made entirely of wood, lashed together with rawhide, able to carry vast loads and negotiate anything the Red River Valley topography could throw at them, the Red River Carts were the perfect eco-vehicle for the 19th C. prairie. They could transport trade goods, Buffalo meat, household furniture, tools, weapons, alcohol, and of course, the ever-present Metis fiddles. In hunt or battle, they could also provide shelter, a circle of protection for hunters and their families. In summer, their tall wheels cruised through Manitoba gumbo. In Spring, they could float across the river with their wheels lashed beneath. In winter, placed atop runners, they traversed the snow. Repairs were as easy as the next grove of trees. Wood-on- wood construction, no axle grease, well, you get the picture. More accurately, you hear the picture, with its endless, moans, squeaks, and squeals…

Red River Song brings some of the many songs and stories connected to the 19 th C. rise of the Metis nation. From the first decade of the 19 th C to through to the 1870’s, they developed a culture perfectly suited to the prairies, one that incorporated influences from all sides of Indigenous, French Canadian, and English Settlers culture. The Red River Cart provided the means for their entrepreneurial endeavours, carrying trade goods south to St. Paul, Minnesota or west to Fort Edmonton. It was also instrumental in the Buffalo Hunt, the very heart of the Metis culture. From the Buffalo Hunt came the pemmican, which the Metis fashioned from dried powdered buffalo meat, berries, and grease. A 19th C. version of today’s Power Bar, pemmican was much in demand by the voyageur as they paddled umpteen hours a day in search of furs. Pemmican was big business for the Metis. A proud people, the Metis cut a colourful swath in prairie society with their distinctive jackets, chapeaux and sashes, with their
songs and dances, with their Blue and white flag featuring the infinity symbol.

Our concert begins with an Invocation to the Four Directions, combining the opening words of the Requiem Service with Cree and English text that describes the Four Directions, the Four Seasons. From there we move to the songs of Metis Bard Pierre Falcon, who recorded the great exploits of the Metis in their struggle to be an Independant Nation under Louis Riel’s leadership. Fiddling and dancing features throughout the concert, with two fiddlers, acclaimed young Manitoba fiddler Alexandre Tetrault and WSO regular Claudine St. Arnauld joined by two dancers. They provide the heart of the Metis musical experience. A new commission by Manitoban Eliot Britton, for choir, fiddle, and electronics, traces the true adventures of Freddy, a rogue bison on the loose in the Lorette area of the province. And an Ode to the Red River Cart combines arrangements of Metis folk-songs with the story of the Red River Cart. Everything closes with a kitchen party that combines fiddle tunes and dancing with “turlutte” a Metis form of scatting undertaken by the choir. Be prepared to play your spoons during the kitchen party and to make the sounds of the Red River Cart during the performance of the Ode.

This celebration of Metis culture must also acknowledge the long dark period that came for the Metis in the 1870’s once Prime Minister John A. MacDonald and his railway took over their prairie and dis-abused them of their lands, their culture, and the need for the Red River Cart. Louis Riel himself said that the Metis people would sleep for a hundred years before their artists and visionaries led them back to nationhood. How right he was. The current resurgence of Metis culture and nationhood is a joy to behold and we celebrate with you. Long live the Metis Nation, long live the Red River Cart!

– Mel Braun

Run, Freddy, Run!

Run, Freddy, Run! is second installment in a set of pieces that looks at Manitoba’s heirloom bison culture. The text is constructed form bison themed varia copied down during my post PhD gap year in Winnipeg. One can’t get far in MB without encountering a bison branded object, organization, business or activity. For example, I attended Nature Manitoba’s The Natural And Unnatural History Of Bison In Mb lecture by Dr. Dr. Randy Mooi, Curator of Zoology at The Manitoba Museum. Business as usual for a Tuesday evening in Manitoba.

Freddy the Bison

Myself and a group of nature enthusiasts crowded into room 31 at Kelvin High School (I think I even paid full price as a non member!). The lecture ran late. As expected, bison are awesome. As it turns out, bison are a handful and every so often the herd produces a particularly rebellious soul. Nothing has changed.

I heard about Freddy on the news. A “brazen bison” from Lorette Manitoba who “just won’t stay home on the range”. I laughed out loud and immediately remembered Dr. Mooi’s 2016 lecturette on the last buffalo hunt and the truant, rebel bison. The juxtaposition of an obscure New York Times article from 1911 and the hilariously obscure 2018 Freddy story was too much to pass up. I then started to think about distant but related processes and uncommon intersections of historical and contemporary materials. That’s how I got to making a piece that integrates renaissance polyphony with pop chord progressions contemporary speech synthesis and sound design. I use “integrate” fairly loosely in this context. Sometimes it’s like hitting a brick wall, which is part of the fun of such a remote juxtaposition.

So there you have it. Run Freddy Run! Is a uniquely Manitoban mashup that combines old and new, something borrowed and something… brown.  And hopefully by the time you are reading this I have secured an authentic Run Freddy Run hoodi

Run Freddy Run! Text:

Brazen bison won’t stay home on the range
Run! Home! Range! Run!
He looks like a bison. I don’t want to be insensitive but they all look the same… you know?

The last big buffalo hunt in the history of the world
Sold to the Canadian government, five hundred head

Freddy’s out. He is just outside his yard on river road
I think people need to remember that Freddy is not a pet and is large and somewhat dangerous.

  • A daily bison report began popping up on a facebook groupSold to the Canadi
  • an Government five hundred head of buffalo The taxidermy shop
  • on main street that is the backdrop for the bison skullsle bison semble s’échapper à travers
  • une clôture électrique qui ne fonctionne pas correctement

Avant tout, les gens doivent se rappeler que Freddy n’est pas un animal domestique; c’est un animal imposant
C’est une rebelle depuis le début, that bull.

Manitoba
Run! Run! Run!

Brazen bison, won’t stay home on the range in Lorette
Manitoba Outlaw

The last big buffalo hunt
The official taxidermist of the Manitoba Government

Just outside my office there is a big, hairy outlaw that can stare anybody down

Run!