Melody McKiver playing in Jumblies Four Lands touring project at the Sioux Lookout Historic Train Station, 2016

Odaabaanag is a collaboration between Jumblies and Soundstreams, funded by an Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed Grant, to develop and explore collaboration across community arts and contemporary music, as well as across cultures (Indigenous and Settler/Immigrant) and regions (Toronto, Northern Ontario).

Our launchpad for this project was Steve Reich’s Different Trains, presented by Soundstreams in February 2019. Where Reich’s piece incorporates Holocaust survivor voices referencing his Jewish heritage, Odaabaanag (meaning ‘trains’ in Ojibway), draws on the cultural memories of parent-child composer duo – Melody and Beverley McKiver – and interviews conducted in their Anishenaabe family home of Lac Seul First Nation.

Melody’s piece, echoing the instrumentation of Different Trains, is for string quartet and recorded voices. Beverley is setting text from the interviews to a cycle of songs for Jumblies’ mixed-ability choir, the Gather Round Singers, directed by Shifra Cooper.

Soundstreams and Jumblies have twice collaborated in the past, combining community and professional musicians and composers (Emilie LeBel and Lieke van de Voorte). Through this, we have experienced first-hand how this coming together can lead to exciting new experimental works and inspire and include new audiences and participants.

Odaabaanag received a work-in-progress performance on May 5, 2019, at the Arts and Letters Club. Following this we are moving into a next stage of development, leading to a full premiere performance of Odaabaanag in late November 2019.

For more info: https://soundstreams.ca/odaabaanag/

Odaabaanag is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

“It was exciting. I hadn’t heard Melody’s work. I’d heard little bits of it, but to hear it performed by players of such calibre was a big thrill and to see the interest in the audience that came out for a work in progress, that was also pretty exciting, and to hear my own work performed, to be able to listen to that, was a huge honour.” – Beverley McKiver, composer of song cycle for the Gather Round Singers

Melody McKiver

Melody McKiver is an Anishinaabe (Lac Seul First Nation) violist and composer located in Sioux Lookout on Treaty #3 territory. They are a compelling solo performer, integrating contemporary electronics into rigorous Western classical musical training to shape Anishinaabe compositions for the new millennium. Melody’s December 2017 EP “Reckoning” is the score to Article 11’s theatre production of the same name, exploring the effects of Indian Residential Schools and the repercussions of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. In addition to their solo practice, Melody is an in-demand collaborator and drummer, and has collaborated with many artists including Polaris Music Prize-winners Lido Pimienta and Jeremy Dutcher.


Beverley McKiver

Beverley McKiver (Lac Seul First Nation – Anishinaabe) is a pianist, composer and storyteller currently living in Ottawa. She is a collaborative pianist and piano teacher and also directs the Knox Edwards United Church Choir. Her musical suite “Boozhoo Manoomin” was presented at the Weesageechak Begins to Dance developmental festival at Native Earth Performing Arts in November 2018. She participated in the inaugural Indigenous Classical Music Gathering held at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in February 2019. Beverley believes that our understanding, relationships and health are strengthened by sharing music and stories.


Gather Round Singers

Original song by Melody McKiver sung by community choir (Gather Round Singers), conducted by Shifra Cooper, in Jumblies’ 2017 production of Talking Treaties at Historic Fort York.

The Gather Round Singers is a roving community choir, founded and directed by Shifra Cooper, that creates and performs new musical works in collaboration with arts and community partners. The choir is made up of mixed-ability, multi-aged singers, from around Toronto, particularly from CityPlace, Parkdale, Central Etobicoke, thanks to partnerships with arts organizations rooted in those neighbourhoods (Jumblies, Making Room, MABELLEarts). We maintain core values of inclusion and access by eschewing auditions; learning music by ear, providing transportation, catering, cultural interpretation and childcare; using step-free venues, and welcoming new singers at any point of the process (up to and including the day of a performance!). The Gather Round Singers have performed many newly-commissioned works, including by Juliet Palmer, Daev Clysdale, Binaeshee-Quae Couchie-Nabigon, Jason Doell, Alex Eddington, Britta Johnson, Emilie LeBel, Melody McKiver, Keith McNair, Cathy Nosaty, Alejandra Nunez, Rosary Spence, Martin van de Ven and Lieke van de Voort.


Shifra Cooper

Shifra has almost ten years experience working as a community-engaged artist and choir conductor. She is the founding conductor of The Gather Round Singers, an intergenerational, mixed-ability community choir, and has worked on community-engaged arts projects in Toronto and across Canada, including with MABELLEarts, Jumblies Theatre, Vancouver Moving Theatre, Spence Neighbourhood Association, Making Room Community Arts, and The United Jewish People’s Order. Shifra has received a nomination for the Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting (2016), and a Metcalf Performing Arts Internship (2017). She is currently pursuing a Masters of Teaching at OISE (University of Toronto). 


String Quartet (for Melody McKiver’s Piece):
Timothy Ying, violin
Aysel Taghi-Zada, violin 
Arie Verheul Van de Van, viola 
David Hetherington, cello

Musicians (for Beverley McKiver’s Piece):
Daev Clysdale, piano
Melody McKiver, viola
Arie Verheul van de Ven, viola for rehearsals
Alejandra Nuñez, percussion
Reesa de Rege, soprano solo line

Daev Clysdale

Daev (pronounced Dave) Clysdale is a musician from Ottawa, now living in Toronto. Daev plays irish traditional music on wooden flute, tin whistle, accordion and piano and has been playing, performing and composing music for over twenty years. Daev studied in the music program at Carleton University, where he became the first person in Canada to earn a performance degree in tin whistle. Now, after years of playing sessions, ceilis, weddings, and other events, he has developed a reputation as a skilled performer and teacher. In 2012, Daev competed in the prestigious Midwest Fleadh Cheoil in Chicago, placing first in tin whistle and third on flute.


Arie Verheul van de Ven

Arie Verheul van de Ven is a composer and string player hailing from Toronto, Ontario. Arie strives to work in fiercely collaborative environments and explore new ways of communication through sound. Arie’s work is informed in equal parts by his background in klezmer violin and classical viola, as well as his fascination with the physicality of music-making and free improv. In 2018, Arie travelled through Ontario twice as a guest performer/composer with the Cygnus Trio on their Lost Islands tour, and improvising on viola and electronics with the HARP+ ensemble. Arie’s compositions have been performed by Ensemble Paramirabo, the Cygnus Trio, and Orkest de Ereprijs. Arie also frequently works as a composer in the independent film scene in Toronto, with short films featuring his scores being screened internationally. Arie’s score for Adam Bovoletis and Sam Hughes’ High Scores Hang was a winner of the 2015 SOCAN Young AudioVisual composer awards. His recent collaboration with Bovoletis, COOKSTOWN: THE MUSICAL was screened at the Ryerson University Film Festival in 2018. Arie studied viola with Christine Vlajk, improvisation with Kathryn Ladano, and composition with Linda Catlin-Smith and Cameron McKittrick at Wilfrid Laurier University.


Alejandra Nuñez

Alejandra Nuñez is a vocalist, percussionist, composer and mother to Natalia and Mathew. Born in Santiago Chile, Alejandra has lived and worked as a musician in Canada and the United States, she has performed in Europe as well as North and Central America. Her training on percussion has taken her to Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, New York and Egypt. Band leader of Latin Jazz Band Projecto Urbano Self titeled CD with Mano Music. Alejandra has performed with The Toronto Dance Theater and written scores for various plays, including Djanet Sears Adventures of A Black Girl in Search of God (Dora MD Nomination) MD Trey Anthony’s The Kink in My Hair, Score, Soundscape, MD Michael Miller’s The Power of Harriet T!


Reesa de Rege

Classical soprano Risa de Rege has performed operetta in Canada and England, and sings regularly in recitals, choral concerts, and operas around Toronto. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and art from the University of Toronto, and studied writing at Humber College. She is currently a member of the Mendelssohn Choir, and is looking forwards to singing in their upcoming performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She enjoys having many opportunities to perform with her boyfriend, baritone Brian Dearden; they will be singing Zerlina and Maesetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Opera By Request in June.


March 4, 2019
THE WHOLENOTE: Musical Creation Through Community Engagement
(pdf version: Beat Columns (Live Music) | The WholeNote)

Blog Posts on Soundstreams Website
Odaabaanag and The Gather Round Singers

The Story So Far