CNova’s History of Collaboration – Thoughts on the Prairie Songbook by Mel Braun

Camerata Nova has a long history of collaborations and the Prairie Songbook is no exception. Whether it’s early, contemporary, and Indigenous-infused music, we always welcome the opportunity to explore new ways of collaborating. The Prairie Songbook collaboration has several interesting angles.

We begin with our crackerjack band, comprised of cousins Micah Braun, Jason Pankratz and David Pankratz, who are collaborating as a unit with their dads, Mel Braun, and Vic Pankratz, for the first time. Veterans of local bands Quinzy, Begonia, The Nods, and Jicah, these terrific singers, players, and songwriters anchor this event with their stunning vocal and instrumental talents.

Crack band, comprised of cousins Micah Braun, Jason Pankratz and David Pankratz, collaborating with their dads, Mel Braun and Vic Pankratz, as well as the amazing CNova choir, for the first time

Singer-songwriter Raine Hamilton, fresh off the success of her new album “Night Sky”, brings her unique fiddle style and beautiful voice as our special guest artist. A former Medieval Musicologist, Raine has a fresh approach to song-writing. Her paean to Hildegard of Bingen has to be heard to be believed, a perfect opportunity for Camerata’s characteristic drones and overtones.

Prairie Songbook special guest, Raine Hamilton

A word on the arrangements you’ll hear tonight: The Manitoba choral scene is blessed with an abundance of fine composers and arrangers. Philip Lapatha, conductor of Ecco; and Prairie Voices conductor, Geung Kroeker Lee, have been thrilling their audiences with new arrangements of recent pop offerings. Philip brings us imaginative new perspectives on Joni Mitchell and Ruth Moody songs, while Geung Kroeker Lee contributes funky arrangements of hits by local bands Begonia and Royal Canoe. Steven Webb, an award-winning film score and choral composer brings us tasty arrangements of more Manitoba hits by Imaginary Cities and JP Hoe, while Dan Wiebe, veteran WSO pop arranger and longtime lead singer for House of Doc, brings us an unexpected take on Neil Young and KD Lang.

Mel Braun and his son, Micah

I had the pleasure of creating new versions of familiar songs by The Guess Who, BTO, and Corb Lund, as well as arranging two favourite songs from my son Micah’s catalogue. Each of the arrangements heard tonight is by a Manitoban and ten of them are brand new. Of course, none of this would be possible without the amazing singers that constitute Camerata Nova. Whatever the style, these flexible musicians bring it to life with joy and integrity. Thank-you singers, our Prairie Hymns have never sounded better! We’ve had a great time exploring all these delightful and varied arrangements from the Prairie Songbook.  We can’t wait to share them with you. – Mel Braun

Mel Braun (forefront) and Vic Pankratz (left) lead the choir through a rehearsal for the Prairie Songbook

The Prairie Songbook will be performed twice on March 9 at 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm and again on March 10 at 3:00 pm at Park Theatre (698 Osborne) in Winnipeg.

Every few years, Camerata Nova likes to kick back to just have fun with friends and fans. For this special event, we 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. With the help of 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!


Tickets are available online at, at McNally Robinson Booksellers, by phone
(204.918.4547), or at the door. Purchase the last two concerts of Camerata Nova’s 2018-2019 season at the special price of $50 for adults, $40 for seniors and $20 for under 30s (or, for two, $90, $70 and $30). See  for details.


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.