Posted on 17 July 2013.
A recent opening ceremony of the 37th Annual BC Elders Gathering united the Lheidli T’enneh Drum Group and 9 members of the Prince George Symphony, led by Music Director Kevin Zakresky.
“We were so fortunate to have the PGSO in our community, and they did us quite an honour by agreeing to work with us,” said group spokeswoman Deryl Seymour. “They brought new life into an old way of doing music.” Speaking for the PGSO, Kevin Zakresky said, “I heard about the gathering just as most people did, but I remember thinking we don’t do much in the summer, we want to support this major event, and what a great opportunity to do something new and important with our First Nation.”
Composer David Duke took recorded versions of four traditional Lheidli T’enneh songs and transcribed them, adding orchestral flourishes. “The singers and drummers are the stars. What we are doing is the orchestral version of ‘doo-wops’ in the background,” said Duke, who came to Prince George to also play violin at the event. “Combining like this is such a metaphor for British Columbia. We are all here, and we should learn to play together.”
“It’s the beginning of a new relationship,” said Seymour, describing the symbolism she felt for the collaboration, and the world premiere of the four pieces at the elders gathering. “It is a new journey, it is about healing, deciding how we want to move forward, focus.”
The four pieces – Bear Clan Song, Caribou Clan Song, Grouse Clan Song and Morris Kwah’s Lament – will live on. An effort is underway to for the drum group to perform with the full Prince George symphony at Vanier Hall this fall and a possible annual collaboration between the two groups.
“It might become a tradition of its own,” said Zakresky. “They [the drum group] are just so kind, so stoked, and our musicians were so delighted. Everyone has been having a really good time. I think it is going to be in people’s memory for a long time.”
The musicians on stage were Helen, Merle, Curtis, Nate, Samantha and Deryl Seymour, Jennifer Pighin, Marcel Gagnon of the Lheidli T’enneh Drum Group, joined by symphony players Anne Harris, David G. Duke, Indra Egan on violins, Sebastian Ostertag (cello), Ariane Nelles (flute), Erica Skowron (oboe), Simon Cole (clarinet), Lynn Giesbrecht (bassoon), Laszlo Klein (French horn) and Kevin Zakresky (conductor).
For more information, click here.