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Volume 20 Issue 9 - Summer 2015

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Wendake/Huronia Beckwith

Wendake/Huronia Beckwith at Brookside DAVID PERLMAN In an article that will be featured in the forthcoming summer issue of the Canadian Music Centre’s digital magazine, Notations, composer John Beckwith writes about how, late in 2013, John French, director of the Brookside Music Association in Midland, invited him to compose a piece to be performed in July 2015, marking “the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Samuel de Champlain and a few fellow adventurers from France to the ‘Mer douce’ or ‘Freshwater sea’—today’s Lake Huron. I said yes,” says Beckwith. The Ontario Arts Council approved the commission, and, effectively, that’s where the story of Wendake/Huronia, as the work is titled, begins. Brookside’s John French first described the undertaking to me back in April: “The new work will be performed by a chamber choir, the Brookside Festival Chorus, comprised of members of regional choirs, a pair of First Nations drummers, Shirley Hay and Marilyn George, Laura Pudwell, alto, and Theodore Baerg, narrator, accompanied by the Toronto Consort under the John Beckwith direction of David Fallis. It’s a 30-minute work in six movements, reflecting on the Wendat culture from pre- European contact to the present day and ending with a prayer for reconciliation between the two cultures. It will be presented in a tour of Georgian Bay communities including Midland, Parry Sound (as part of the Festival of the Sound), Barrie and Meaford and potentially others.” In the upcoming Notations piece, Beckwith describes his reasons, sociopolitical and musical, for taking on the project. “I had encountered Champlain’s history 25 years before, in preparing Les Premiers hivernements (First Winterings), a work for two voices and chamber ensemble commissioned by the Toronto Consort, that concerned Champlain’s earlier voyages in what is now Nova Scotia. … The new proposal immediately intrigued me, and has occupied much of my composing energy for over a year. My paternal forebears were New England immigrants who came about a decade after Champlain’s venture. I imagined Europeans in that era [planting] … a flag and [announcing], ‘This land now belongs to the King of Spain (or France, England, or Holland).’ Ownership of land was not part of the indigenous way of thinking. The Wendats, inhabitants of Huronia for several generations (without feeling they “owned” it) were ready to share with the DANIEL FOLEY Stewart Goodyear Black Umfolosi VOCES8 TorQ Percussion Quartet Mark Masri David Baskeyfield Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal Jackie Richardson David Jalbert Nota Bene Baroque Players with INNERchamber 38 | June | July | August, 2015

An agency of the Government of Ontario. Un organisme du gouvernement de l’Ontario. French newcomers: native canoes and native paddlers had brought Champlain to the territory.” Champlain’s arrival led to profound changes: “By mid-century, the Wendat villages were abandoned,” Beckwith writes, “and the survivors dispersed, some to a reserve near Quebec City and others to the Midwest, where the name survives as ‘Wyandot.’” “This is a truly unique work for several reasons,” says John French. “From the outset the composer and commissioner were sensitive to the First Nations attitude toward the events being planned to commemorate Champlain. The Huronia Museum is working with a firm to design and install a new gallery devoted to the First Nations. The opening of the new gallery is coincident with the tour of this composition and both will highlight the fact that the Wendat people are an extant culture. As revealed by Kathryn LaBelle in her recent book, they were dispersed but not destroyed. The museum will be providing a travelling exhibit to accompany the tour. Also, the composer has worked closely with Georges Sioui, head of Aboriginal Studies at the University of Ottawa, for advice and content for the piece. Professor Sioui, himself of Wendat heritage, has embraced this project and his poetry will provide the text for some of the movements. He will also be working with the choir on pronunciation of the Wendat language. The composition will be sung in French and Wendat.” Reconciliation is, as French stated earlier, an overall goal of this undertaking. It is also explicitly the theme of the work’s final movement. But truth of necessity comes first in the phrase “truth and reconciliation,” so the work’s first five movements have a large chunk Celebrating New Traditions Canada’s Premier Celebration of World Cultures July 9-12, 2015 • 21 st Annual Edition Victoria Park, London, Ontario Music, Dance, Food & Crafts from Around the World FREE ADMISSION! More than 300 Unique Exhibitors DakhaBrakha Afro-Cuban All Stars Breabach (Ukraine) (Cuba) (Scotland) Over 30 Top Professional World Music & Jazz Ensembles from Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Cuba, USA, Angola, Senegal, UK, Ukraine & beyond The Sunfest Jazz Stage & Le village québécois return & NEW this year … Pan American Journey 2015 519-672-1522 519-672-1522 Fiddler on the Roof Valérie Milot A Lot of Hot Airs Stewart Goodyear La traviata Improv All-Stars Marie-Josée Lord Music from the Sistine Chapel Jazz Fringe Festival The Good Lovelies Jane Bunnett MAZ and more… 705-653-5508 1-877-883-5777 WWW.WESTBEN.CA i ❤ Brahms stéphane lemelin artistic director september 18-27, 2015 picton, ontario Celebrating the ultimate master of chamber music – Johannes Brahms. His muses, followers, and more! Gryphon Trio, New Orford String Quartet, Arion Baroque Orchestra, Patricia O’Callaghan and others... June | July | August, 2015 | 39

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