Posted on 31 October 2012.
Phase one of the National Arts Centre’s Year of the North commenced last Friday, October 26, when the NAC Orchestra left Ottawa for a performance and education tour of northern Canada that will include six orchestral concerts and more than 50 educational events in all three Northern Territories. Featured performers include violinist James Ehnes and guest conductor Arild Remmereit, along with Northern Canadian musicians: throat singers Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik, Sylvia Cloutier, Madeleine Allakariallak, accordionist Simeonie Keenainak, the Iqaluit Fiddle Club, and the Aqsarniit School Choir. NAC musicians will perform in Iqaluit, Pangnirtung, Rankin Inlet, Yellowknife and Whitehorse.
Tour repertoire focuses on the north, and includes music by Grieg, Sibelius, Alain Trudel (a new commission), Alexina Louie, and more. As well, the orchestra will perform the world premiere of a new piece composed by students at the Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit with throat singer Nancy Mike and composer Tim Brady.
Digital media has a role in this tour as well: last Saturday, the NAC’s New Media department connected children in Iqaluit and Ottawa through broadband videoconference technology. Members of Iqaluit’s fiddle club and the Inuksuk Choir were linked to Ottawa’s Orkidstra and the KidSingers, and they discussed their teaching and learning philosophy to promote social action through music.
Distance learning is made possible via a broadband connection the NAC helped establish with Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit last year. The connection can be used for masterclasses between NAC Orchestra teaching musicians in the South and students in the North, part of the pioneering work the NAC is doing in Music Education.
Phase two takes place April 25 to May 4, 2013, when the NAC will be inviting 250 artists from Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut to be presented on stages and in galleries in the nation’s capital during Northern Scene, a major festival that includes Music, Theatre, Dance, Visual and Media Arts, Film, Storytelling, Food and Fashion.
Speaking about this exchange of gifts, NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf says, “We are thrilled to be celebrating the artistry and heritage of the extraordinary talent of Northern Canada by touring the North with the Orchestra in the Fall and by staging the biggest showcase of Northern artists Canada has ever seen in the Spring during Northern Scene.”
NACO’s tour builds on the strong relationship the NAC’s Music Education Department has established over the past three years through The Music Alive Program: Nunavut. NAC teaching musicians have worked with local educators, musicians, elders and community leaders to support local music-making, arts, culture and language through school music programs and education initiatives.
You can follow the NAC Orchestra as it travels across Northern Canada on its website: NACOtour.ca or tourneeOCNA.ca or on Twitter at #nacotour or #tourneeocna.