Camerata Nova's latest compositions inspired by Manitoba
Posted by Andrea Ratuski, SCENE Producer | Wednesday May 22, 2013
Correction Line Ensemble will perform with Camerata Nova (Cory Penner)
This concert affects me in that I've thought of a different way to approach where I come from, what my land is, what my identity is in terms of the environment.
—Andrew Balfour, artistic director of Camerata Nova
Camerata Nova's final concert of the season is firmly rooted in the culture, the landscape and the history of Manitoba. And it's all music you've never heard before.
Troubadours and Tricksters brings together the 14 singers of Camerata Nova with musicians John K. Samson and Christine Fellows. "I think they're such strong songwriters," says artistic director Andrew Balfour, "and if we were going to make this a Manitoba-based concert then why not have songwriters involved in the mix as well?"
"Christine and I write about this place quite often so I think it's a nice way to explore all the elements musically and historically," Samson says.
"I think I've come to the understanding that this is 'my theme.'
It's the theme I keep returning to and can't escape. But I don't really
want to. I think that it's kind of endless and the history of the place
is fascinating and the landscape itself does something - is profoundly
affecting. It's really something that is kind of impossible to talk
directly about but is really profound."
Samson and Fellows were each asked to write an original piece involving the choir and the Correction Line Ensemble, a group they frequently perform in, which includes classically trained musicians Leanne Zacharias (cello), Cristina Zacharias (violin), Ed Reifel (percussion) and Robert Honstein (composer/pianist).
Samson feels the collaboration with Camerata Nova is very unique. "I don't know that it's ever been done before. It's a nice way to approach the music and musical communities of a place like Winnipeg. It addresses different musical traditions -- the choir tradition in Winnipeg is so strong and Camerata Nova is such an interesting example."
Samson grew up singing in choirs, but has never written for one. "It's always something I've dreamed of returning to," he says.
Gérald Laroche, Ed Reifel and Andrew Balfour in rehearsal (John K. Samson)
Balfour's main contribution is a brand new oratorio based on the death of Louis Riel called Empire Étrange and he approached the story in a dramatic way.
"Riel saw visions and he felt he was being spoken to by a greater power so we've approached that greater power as being a trickster spirit," says Balfour.
The five movement work also incorporates a song each by Samson and Fellows. "Christine has written extensively about St. Boniface," he says. "She did a project two years ago as writer in residence at Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum where she wrote a lot about the women of St. Boniface. In this song she incorporates letters written by Louis Riel's sister, Sarah."
Samson's song is called "Bigfoot," about a sighting of a mysterious creature by a man in the Norway House First Nation. "It's also appropriate because it's about belief and faith," says Samson.
The whole concept of this concert has been transformative for Balfour, whose roots are Cree. "This concert affects me in that I've thought of a different way to approach where I come from, what my land is, what my identity is in terms of the environment. That's why I feel that this concert has changed me a little bit as an artist."
Camerata Nova's Troubadours and Tricksters will be presented at Crescent Fort Rouge Church on May 23 and 24.