UPDATE! Check out this new blog post by Felix Mills from Soundstreams on this project.

The Story So Far

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

Odaabaanag is a collaboration between Jumblies and Soundstreams 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). The project is proud to present two interconnected musical compositions by parent-child composer duo – Melody McKiver and Beverley McKiver.

How you can take part:

  • Join our choir to sing the Odaabaanag songs: first rehearsal Sept. 12, 6 to 8pm, 132 Fort York Blvd. All experience levels welcome!
  • Bring a workshop or presentation to your community group!
  • Come to a performance: Nov. 30 or Dec. 1! Reservation info available soon.
  • Contact info@jumbliestheatre.org or call 416 203 8428 for more info on these options.

Project Background:

Our launchpad for the project was Steve Reich’s Different Trains, presented by Soundstreams in February 2019. Where Reich’s piece incorporates Holocaust survivor voices referencing his own Jewish heritage, Odaabaanag (meaning ‘trains’ in Ojibway), draws on the cultural memories of Melody and Beverley McKiver, and interviews conducted in their Anishenaabe family home of Obishikokaang, or Lac Seul First Nation. Their compositions so far include the words and voices of Garnet Angeconeb and Josephine King.

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 3 songs for Jumblies’ mixed-ability choir, the Gather Round Singers, directed by Shifra Cooper.

Odaabaanag received a work-in-progress performance on May 5, 2019 at the Arts and Letters Club. We are now moving towards its performance, at Harbourfront Centre’s Brigantine Room, on Nov. 30th and Dec. 1st, in partnership with the Toronto Biennial. This performance will feature solo soprano Nicole Joy-Fraser.

For more info about the project you can also go to: https://soundstreams.ca/odaabaanag/

Odaabaanag is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Canadian Heritage, and the Socan Foundation.

Media Articles:

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

Melody McKiver

Melody McKiver is an Anishinaabe (Lac Seul First Nation) violist and composer located in Sioux Lookout on Treaty #3 territory. They integrate 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, 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.


String Quartet (for Melody McKiver’s Quartet):
Timothy Ying, violin
Aysel Taghi-Zada, violin 
Kathleen Kajioka, viola
David Hetherington, cello

Musicians (for Beverley McKiver’s Song Cycle):
Nicole Joy-Fraser, soprano
Gather Round Singers
Shifra Cooper, Conductor
Daev Clysdale, piano
Melody McKiver, viola
Alejandra Nuñez, percussion

Guest Sioux Lookout singers/drummers:
Victor Lyon & Tom Chisel

Nicole Joy-Fraser

Nicole Joy-Fraser (Bear Clan-Cree, Métis, Denezaa -Treaty 8 and Settler Heritage) began her Performing Arts career as a top soprano for The Nathaniel Dett Chorale while completing her graduating year at Toronto’s Randolph Academy. Less than a year later she was cast in the Original Toronto cast of Mamma Mia! which followed with a US Tour and inspired her to pack her bags and travel to London, England. Nicole eventually made her West End debut in the multi-award-winning “Jerry Springer-the Opera” and settled in the U.K. for several years. Being an adoptee, she yearned to make her way back to Turtle Island to find out more about her Indigenous roots and is thankful for the Toronto Aboriginal Community, Native Earth, Red Sky and Unsettled Scores for helping her reclaim her identity. Other selected credits include; “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” (UK Tour & Athens, Greece), “Giiwedin-A First Nations Opera”, (Native Earth/Indien Rights), “The Penelopiad” (Nightwood), “Evangeline” (Charlottetown Festival), “Stag and Doe”, “Ipperwash” (Blyth Festival) and most recently “Baroness Von Sketch” (CBC). Nicole lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario with her partner and son and has been carving out cultural community work with various organizations in the Niagara Region promoting and sharing Indigenous ways of knowing

Gather Round Singers

Original song by Melody McKiver sung by Gather Round Singers, Talking Treaties, Historic Fort York, Jumblies 2017.

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.choir is made up of mixed-ability, multi-aged singers, from around Toronto. 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, Jason Doell, Alex Eddington, Britta Johnson, Emilie LeBel, Cathy Nosaty, Alejandra Nunez, Binaeshee-Quae Couchie-Nabigon, Daev Clysdale, Rosary Spence, Martin van de Ven, and Lieke van de Voort.

Shifra Cooper

Shifra is the founding conductor of The Gather Round Singers. She has ten years experience working as a community-engaged artist and choir conductor. She has worked on community arts projects in Toronto and across Canada, including with MABELLEarts, Jumblies, 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). 

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 music at Carleton University, where he became the first person in Canada to earn a performance degree in tin whistle. In 2012, Daev competed and placed first on tin whistle and third in flute in the prestigious Midwest Fleadh Cheoil in Chicago.

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, and performed in Europe as well as North and Central America. She is the leader of Latin Jazz Band Projecto Urbano Self titled CD with Mano Music. She has performed with The Toronto Dance Theatre and written scores for 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, and MD Michael Miller’s The Power of Harriet T!