In streaming news Soundstreams has added a lovely concert of Ian Cusson’s Five Songs on Poems of Marilyn Dumont and Raven Chacon’s Ella Llora. The performers are mezzo Rebecca Cuddy and pianist Gregory Oh. I really urge people, Canadian or otherwise, to take a look at this. The news, as it pertains to Indigenous people in Canada, has been really grim in recent weeks and I don’t know anything quite like Dumont’s verse for conveying certain aspects of the Indigenous experience. She combines, sadness, anger and disarming humour in a way that touches me deeply and Ian’s settings intensify that. I’ve written about these songs before but never at such a moment.
The latest Arts Anyway webstream is up on Youtube. This edition features two varry varry posh dinosaurs introducing Alexander Hajek singing Fauré and Rebecca Cuddy singing two of Ian Cusson’s settings of texts by Marilyn Dumont. I think this is the kind of music and the kind of engagement that I miss most hunkered down here in the KittenKondo. I can live without Mozart or Wagner (just about) but artsong, especially artsong that speaks to what matters to us most today… not having that hurts. Keith Lam’s interviewee is also Rebecca Cuddy.
The latest concert in the Confluence series featured Marion Newman and friends addressing the question “What is Indigenous classical music?” through a carefully curated programme of works; all of which featured words by Indigenous women. We began with Marion singing Barbara Kroall’s Zasakwaa (There is a Heavy Frost) with words in Odawa describing the earth going to sleep for the winter with flute accompaniment by Stephen Tam. It was followed by Rebecca Cuddy singing three of the Five Songs on Poems by Marilyn Dumont by Ian Cusson. These are really fine settings of interesting, pithy, angry texts that have a wicked humour to them. I particularly like Letter to Sir John A. Macdonald which I’ve written about before.
Voice of a Nation is a Métis inspired collection of works that has been touring Ontario as part of the Canada 150 thing. Last night the Toronto leg of the tour happened at Grace Toronto Church. There are three pieces in the program. Different Perspectives is a setting by Ian Cusson of a text synthesized from the sometimes surprising reactions of a group of young people asked “what Canada meant to them”. It was designed to be sung by community choirs on the tour and last night was given by three (uncredited) female singers accompanied by the thirteen player Toronto Concert Orchestra under Kerry Stratton.
Here’s the blurb for a new piece being presented in Toronto this Thursday…
In 1885 Louis Riel proclaimed, “My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” And so we bring you Voice of a Nation, an interdisciplinary concert featuring dance, orchestra, and theatre. Presented by Ontario’s première touring ensemble, the Toronto Concert Orchestra led by Kerry Stratton, in recognition of Canada’s 150th year, concert highlights include a new orchestral song-cycle based on the Métis poet Marilyn Dumont’s A Really Good Brown Girl, composed by Métis composer Ian Cusson, directed by Michael Mori, and sung by Métis Mezzo-Soprano Rebecca Cuddy; a reimagining of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire de Soldat by First Nations choreographer Aria Evans featuring the shapeshifting Trickster; and Perspectives, a new text by the Scarborough youth collective Couronne du Canada also composed by Cusson.
It’s at Grace Toronto Church on Jarvis at 7.30pm. Ticket details here here.