Muskoka To-DAILY

MCB presents Voice of a Nation, a First Nation tribute with Mnjikaning school choir Nov. 19

GRAVENHURST — The Muskoka Concert Association presents Voice of a Nation, a collaborative family concert featuring Indigenous artists, Nov. 19, at the Gravenhurst Opera House in the second of their four-concert series this season.

Dancers Mayumi Lashbrook and Syreeta Hector in rehearsal for Igor Stravinsky's L'histoire du soldat, re-imagined by First Nations choreographer Aria Evans. The dance performance is part of the Voice of a Nation program, coming to the Gravenhurst Opera House Nov. 19.

Dancers Mayumi Lashbrook and Syreeta Hector in rehearsal for Igor Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat, re-imagined by First Nations choreographer Aria Evans. The dance performance is part of the Voice of a Nation program, coming to the Gravenhurst Opera House Nov. 19.

Tickets, $30, for the Sunday at 2 p.m. show are available at the  Opera House.

Presented by the Toronto Concert Orchestra and led by the renowned conductor Kerry Stratton, it is in recognition of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

The concert highlights Métis music and poetry sung by indigenous artists and the Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Elementary School choir from Chippewas of Rama First Nation.

Opening the Voice of a Nation program are orchestral songs of poems by Cree/Métis poet Marilyn Dumont, written by Métis and French-Canadian composer Ian Cusson and sung by Métis Canadian mezzo-soprano Rebecca Cuddy. This work explores the Canadian experience from a First Nations lens within the context of a largely European form.

As well, there is a performance of Stravinsky’s ‘The Pulcinella Suite’ choreographed by Aria Evans.

Voice of a Nation includes songs of poems by Cree/Métis poet Marilyn Dumont written by Métis and French-Canadian composer Ian Cusson and sung by Métis Canadian mezzo-soprano Rebecca Cuddy, an original choral piece composed by Cusson and sung by the Peterborough Children's Chorus, and a screening of the documentary 'Twelve' by local filmmaker Lester Alfonso. Dancers Mayumi Lashbrook and Syreeta Hector in rehearsal for Igor Stravinsky's L'histoire du soldat, re-imagined by First Nations choreographer Aria Evans. The dance performance is part of the Voice of a Nation program, coming Nov. 19 at the Gravenhurst Opera House. The program also features the Toronto Concert Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Kerry Stratton, performing orchestral (Photo: Aria Evans)

The show includes songs of poems by Cree/Métis poet Marilyn Dumont. (Photo: Aria Evans)

Cusson says it is uncommon to hear First Nations stories presented in the classical music context, but believes that “this bridging of traditions and cultures speaks to our current moment as a nation where the rich diversity of our history is being recognized, acknowledged and celebrated.”

The six poems are from Dumont’s award-winning collection “A Really Good Brown Girl” (published by Brick Books in 1996) and centre on the experience of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, focusing particularly on the Métis experiences of ‘half-ness’ and existing in-between cultures.

The poems confront the often-disturbing history of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples including the disappearance of Aboriginal women (“Helen Betty Osborne”), issues of territorial expansion and government apathy (“Letter to Sir John A. MacDonald”), shame over not being deemed ‘respectable’ (“The Red & White”), and the use of language as a tool to control (“The Devil’s Language”). The tone of the poems range from ironic and scathing to tender and intimate.

The MCB concert is led by the Toronto Concert Orchestra and renowned conductor Kerry Stratton, it is in recognition of Canada's 150th anniversary.

The MCB concert is led by the Toronto Concert Orchestra’s renowned conductor Kerry Stratton, and is in recognition of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Following the song cycle, “L’histoire du soldat” by Igor Stravinsky will be re-imagined by First Nations choreographer  Evans through a truly Canadian lens. Distilling traits of the Trickster, this piece explores the motif of shape-shifting in terms of contemporary curated identities. The dance work will be performed live during the concert with dancers Syreeta Hector, Mayumi Lashbrook, and Raelyn Metcalfe.

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