For more information, and for scores and parts, please visit the Canadian Music Centre.
Title: Where Waters Meet
Year Completed: 2019
Duration: 18 mins
Instrumentation: Choir (SSAATTBB)
Premiere: - upcoming October NWT / Yukon
At the places where waters meet, there is turbulence. There is a mixing, sometimes a muddying, maybe the waters get rough. And then the two waters move on together.
While this piece was conceived and written, the importance of water was present in many ways world-wide.Too much water caused havoc and, in some lucky cases, resulted in dramatic rescues. Too little water burned towns and brought famine. Concerns for the environment continued to clash with the desire for industry. And the relationship between First Nations and settler people demanded - and continues to demand - reconciliation for the many wrongs done in the past and the present.
The commissioning choir, the Canadian Chamber Choir, had no Indigenous representation among its singers when this piece was written, and they sought out Indigenous artists and voices to learn from, listen to, and be part of the creative process.Yolanda Bonnell, an Anishinaabe/ Ojibwe/South Asian playwright and performer, contributed two poems to be set to music. The choir and I met with artists and elders inVancouver,Winnipeg, and Chicago including Sarain Carson Fox, Chickadee Richards, and Cris Derksen, among others. I myself was able to reflect on my own connections to Indigenous people and Indigenous ancestry in a deep and personal way. Musically, WhereWaters Meet is a set of five movements that touch on water in different ways but that come from blood-deep knowledge that we all need water, are made of water, and have impacts on water.
Movement 1 -Water Memories (5:30)
If water is a part of life then maybe that means water is alive, holds memory. I asked each member of the Canadian Chamber Choir to tell me a memory of a special encounter with water - any kind of water! Then they had to re-tell that memory as imagined from the point of view of that water. You’ll hear the human and the water perspective of several vignettes, each cobbled together from my own arranging and combining of some of those memories.
Movement 2 - Nibi (3:00)
Yolanda Bonnell created this text to be set and she brought this word Nibi, which means water in Ojibwe. The poem travels through images of water beautiful and rich, and also water under threat. It is the current reality in many choirs that there are few, if any, Indigenous choral singers. What does it mean for non-Indigenous singers to sing Indigenous words - words from languages that non-Indigenous people have deliberately attempted to silence and eradicate? What does it mean for non-Indigenous audience members to hear these words? It is with deepest respect and thanks that I am allowed to include this word in the music, and that this word is sung by choirs, and heard by audiences.
Movement 3 - In Local News,Water (2:30)
This movement was designed to make use of a different text with each performance.The choir or conductor is tasked with finding a news story about water localized to where the performance will be held.Words and phrases are harvested from the story for the text to be sung in a style as if delivering a newscast. Audiences may be asked to participate by reading or singing the text along with the choir - a participation in this response to the endless stream of news and information in today’s society.
Movement 4 - McIntyre (4:50)
The McIntyre River runs through Thunder Bay, Ontario. It is called the River of Tears because of the history of violence against Indigenous peoples there. Since 2000, seven Indigenous youth have been pulled from the river.Yolanda Bonnell’s poem McIntyre gives glimpses from the river of this tragic situation that continues to this day. The music carries the listener along the journey, thesounds of the words themselves connect to the river’s voice.
Movement 5 -Where Waters Meet (2:30)
I wrote the five movements of WhereWaters Meet over the course of a year. During that time I carried my daughter inside me, gave birth and watched her first months of life.The wonder of her life has been a daily reminder of the liquid’s deep magic, its complexities, and its ties to all our lives.