Thank you for your warm welcome, Whitehorse
“You really get it!”
LEARNING FROM THE BEST – Akinisie Sivuarapik, centre and Evie Mark, left, are travelling and performing with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Here, they work Thursday afternoon with Bianca Martin at a throat singing workshop in the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre. Star photo by VINCE FEDOROFF FIDDLIN’ AROUND – National Arts Centre Orcheatra concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki and friends fiddle at a workshop in Iqaluit. Photo by FRED CATTROLL
“You really get it!”
These words are music to a composer’s ears.
They’re the words that Randy Henderson, a CBC TV host in Yellowknife, spoke to Canadian composer Alexina Louie after a performance Tuesday night of her original piece Take the Dog Sled.
The piece is one of the highlights of the National Arts Centre (NAC) Orchestra’s Northern Canada Tour, with two final performances on Saturday here in Whitehorse.
Take the Dog Sled is composed of eight movements that convey the atmosphere and rhythms of life on the land, and the resilience of the people who live in Canada’s North.
To capture the truth of people’s day-to-day existence, as well as the layers of history and centuries of survival stories, Louie spoke to musicians and throat singers, and listened for two months to the Inuit throat singing.
She learned the stories that the songs tell – the language of throat singing, as she calls it.
Louie is on the NAC Orchestra’s northern Canada tour, joining 22 orchestra members as well as northern artists who have travelled from Iqaluit to Yellowknife and now to Whitehorse.
The goal is to showcase the music that is the intersection of northern musical traditions and the orchestral discipline at which the NAC Orchestra members excel.
Norwegian-born guest conductor Arild Remmereit is leading the orchestra across the tundra.
It takes a certain knack for nuanced leadership to be able to weave all of these on-stage elements together – accomplished throat singers Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik, an orchestra, and solo musicians like James Ehnes.
Sometimes, the maestro waited and ad-libbed on stage as snowsuit-clad students came into concerts late.
He wanted them to hear the music, so he waited for them to be comfortable.
An internationally-known conductor, waiting on school kids? This is the kind of tour it is; everyone’s priority is for children to have maximum exposure to the music.
In Iqaluit, Remmereit was right at home, having grown up in a small village in Norway that sits at the same latitude. He’s been in the homes of musicians and musical presenters in Iqaluit, where the community created a feast of narwhal, caribou and other “country food” delicacies.
The raw cubes of Arctic char that was caught just days before by one of the women’s sons was delish.
“I love fishing,” she proclaimed. “I told my son, ‘I want to go too! No more fishing until I get back from Iqaluit!’”
James Ehnes – the virtuoso Canadian violinist who has a fast-building collection of Juno Awards and New York Times rave reviews – has been enjoying life on the road on this tour, travelling to places he’s always wanted to go.
Almost every day of the tour, Ehnes can be seen walking the land, or in Yellowknife, the Old Town – looking at architecture and observing the rhythms of life.
The NAC Orchestra musicians are loving this northern Canada tour.
Thank you, Whitehorse, for welcoming us to your capital city. The landscape is breathtaking, and we are about to discover – through our musical workshops, masterclasses, fiddle and choir performances – your music.
Please come and hear Take the Dog Sled, Lars Erik Larsson’s Horn Concertino, performed by Lawrence Vine, and James Ehnes’ brilliant Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi.
Limited tickets are still available for Saturday’s 2 p.m. concert at the Yukon Arts Centre. The evening concert is sold out. Call the arts centre to purchase tickets over the phone.
If you happen to see men and women on the sidewalks of Whitehorse carrying violin and other instrument cases, please stop and say hello. They’ll offer several events over the next two days:
• at 4:30 p.m. today, David Thies-Thompson leads a violin workshop at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.
• at 7:00 this evening, composer Alexina Louie leads a public piano masterclass at Joyce Klassen Music Studio.
• At 7:30 this evening, there’s a String workshop with James Ehnes and the Whitehorse String Ensemble at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.
• On Saturday at 2 p.m., the NAC Orchestra’s Northern Canada Tour concert at the Yukon Arts Centre (limited tickets available).
• Saturday at 7 p.m., composer Alexina Louie gives a public pre-concert chat at the arts centre.
• Saturday at 8 p.m., NAC Orchestra’s Northern Canada Tour concert (sold out).
• Music online, for free:
The NAC offers Canadians a chance to learn more and do more in all of the performing arts.
To hear more online about the intersection between classical music and the northern traditional music that the NAC Orchestra has played along this northern Canada tour, you can go to the NAC’s website and listen to a free audio interview done by orchestra principal bassoonist and podcast host Christopher Millard.
A podcast can be downloaded for free directly at http://radio.nac-cna.ca/podcast/NACOcast/NACOcast_20121101.mp3
The writer is affiliated with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.
By Andrea Hossack
Special to the Star