Adizokan is a collaboration between indigenous production company Red Sky and the TSO. The program last night kicked off with a “sesquie”. This time it was Blood Echo by Carmen Braden. It was about as memorable as most of the sesquies have been. This was followed by Fara Palmer singing her own composition My Roots about the residential school system and cultural survival. It’s in a pop idiom with native drumming and while musically it’s not my thing it had to be there.
The main piece; Eliott Briton’s Adizokan was being premiered. It’s an ambitious piece combining orchestra, a throat singer (Nelson Tagoona), dancers, electro-acoustics and video. It was impressive although I would have liked the seven parts into which it is, apparently, divided, to have had more individual sonic identities. Too often it seemed like a throat singing interlude would be followed by a sort of amorphous orchestral/electronic crescendo and climax. No denying though that it had power; greatly enhanced by the excellent dancers operating mainly in an energetic yet graceful modern classical choreography, by Sandra Laronde, Jera Wolfe, Eddie Elliott, and Michel Muniidobenese Bruyere, and the touching video, by Andrew Moro. Nobody is going to forget the husky puppy falling off the sled! Well done to the TSO for commissioning this.
That this concert happened is probably more important than the details. It begs the question, why, if we can produce this sort of collaboration in the arts, we can’t incorporate indigenous perspectives better in other aspects of the public sphere? If Toronto is the city where “trees grow in the water” why do we have a mayor and council who want to make it Detroit c.1950?
Photo credits: Jag Gundu