Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Celebrates Second Indigenous Festival

Posted on

On National Aboriginal Day, June 21, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra kicks off its second Indigenous Festival. Launched in April last year, the four-night festival is a celebration of different cultures from around the globe. This year's event features music and dance from North America's Aboriginal peoples, as well as traditions from India, China, and South America. The festival explores different elements of music and rhythm with performances and collaborations by a diverse group of artists, both traditional and contemporary. 

The festival opens at the Centennial Concert Hall with Ritual, featuring an Intertribal Grand Entry, arranged by Charles Cozens and sung by Spirit Rising. The evening continues with a performance of Cree composer Andrew Balfour's "Manitou Sky," followed by two works by Chinese-Canadian composer and Erhu master, George Gao. Audiences will be treated to Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" featuring the world premiere dance performance by members of the Contemporary School of Dance and the Manitoba Aboriginal School of Dance, choreographed by Odette Heyn-Penner and Buffy Handel. 

Night two of the festival moves to the West End Cultural Centre for Friendship, an evening of music and dance from Canada and India. The Manohar Performing Arts of Canada and Traveling West with Amjad will present traditions from India, while First Nations dancer/choreographer and The Asham Stompers with fiddler Melissa St. Goddard will present music and dance from Métis traditions. Walking Wolf will open the evening with a traditional drum song with rock outfit Eagle & Hawk closing the evening. 

The third night, also at the WECC, will highlight stories and traditions from three Southern cultures. Ulali's Pura Fe and Jennifer Kreisberg will share the songs of their Native American ancestors followed by a dance performance by Viva Brasil, Licanantay will share musical traditions from Chile with contemporary twists.

The final evening at the Burton Cummings Theatre, called Celebration, will feature some of Canada's top Aboriginal recording artists performing with the WSO. Performers include Canadian Aboriginal Music Award and Canadian Folk Music Award winner Don Amero, Juno Award winners Digging Roots and Eagle & Hawk, and Shy-Anne Hovorka.

During the festival, the newly reconstructed Old Market Square in the Exchange District will also feature free lunch-hour entertainment, with performances by First Nations traditional ensemble the Walking Wolf Singers & Dancers, Inuit throat singer Nikki Komaksiutiksak, Métis country duo DJ St. Germain and Gerry McIvor, Métis fiddler Melissa St. Goddard, award-winning country legend C-Weed, rocker Aaron Peters, and Coffieman, a traditional song and dance ensemble from Ghana.

Festival curator Vince Fontaine, who also performs in Eagle & Hawk, hopes that audiences will leave the festival feeling engaged in Winnipeg's vibrant and rich cultural communities. "There's a sense of community, kinship, friendship, and there's also colourful, powerful cultural traditions that are shared on the stage."

Click here for more info about the WSO Indigenous Festival.  

Read more news