Odaabaanag is a suite of two original musical compositions by Melody McKiver and Beverley McKiver, inspired by the words and stories of Garnet Angeconeb, Josephine King and Tom Chisel from Obishikokaang (Lac Seul First Nation). It was co-commissioned by Jumblies and Soundstreams, collaborating across community arts and contemporary music, and across cultures (Indigenous and Settler/Immigrant) and regions (Toronto, Northern Ontario).
Odaabaanag received a work-in-progress performance in May 2019 at Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club, and its full premiere performance in November 2019 at Harbourfront Centre’s Brigantine Room.
In Spring 2022, there will be a performance of Odaabaanag in Ottawa in partnership with No Borders Voices, Ottawa New Music Festival and Debaser.
Project Background: 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 own Jewish heritage, Odaabaanag (meaning ‘trains’ in Anishenaabemowin), 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, with elders: Garnet Angeconeb, Tom Chisel & Josephine King.
Melody’s piece, echoing the instrumentation of Different Trains, is for string quartet and recorded voices. Beverley set text from the interviews to 3 songs for community choir and soprano solo. At the premiere, they were sung by Jumblies’ all-ages all-abilities choir, the Gather Round Singers, with soloist Nicole Joy Fraser, and other guest musicians.
The creation of Odaabaanag was supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Government of Canada (Canadian Heritage), the Ontario Arts Council and the SOCAN Foundation.
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
Odaabaanag - The Story So Far
Odaabaanag – Get ready for the final performance
Photos from performance, November 2019:
Melody McKiver’s musical work integrates electronics with Western classical music to shape a new genre of Anishinaabe compositions. Their debut EP Reckoning was nominated for an Indigenous Music Award, and they were a participant in the Banff Centre for the Arts’ inaugural Indigenous Classical Music Gathering. A frequent performer across Turtle Island, Melody has performed at the National Arts Centre, Luminato Festival, Vancouver’s Western Front, and the Toronto International Film Festival. They have shared stages with Polaris Prize winners Lido Pimienta, Tanya Tagaq, and Jeremy Dutcher, and performed with acclaimed filmmaker and musician Alanis Obomsawin. As a composer, Melody was recently commissioned by Soundstreams and Jumblies Theatre to write a string quartet responding to Steve Reich’s Different Trains, drawing on interviews conducted with local elders. They also re-imagined Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring through an Anishinaabeg lens alongside choreographer Brian Solomon. Melody is involved in their community as a mentor with the Indigenous Music Mentorship Program, and is employed as a youth worker in Sioux Lookout, providing mental health and cultural supports to First Nations students. Upcoming projects include a song and music video premiering on Amplify, a new APTN show that explores musicians’ creative processes.
Beverley McKiver is an Ottawa-based pianist, teacher and composer. She grew up in Dryden, Ontario, close to her mother’s Anishinaabe community of Lac Seul First Nation (Treaty 3) in northwestern Ontario.
Her musical suite “Boozhoo Manoomin” about the historical and cultural importance of manoomin to the Anishinaabeg was presented at the Weesageechak Begins to Dance developmental festival at Native Earth Performing Arts in November 2018. Beverley participated in the inaugural Indigenous Classical Music Gathering held at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in February 2019. She recently returned to Banff in October 2019 for the Banff Musicians in Residence program, where she collaborated with flutist Jessica McMann on an upcoming album.
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
Saskia Tomkins, Viola
Alejandra Nuñez, Percussion
Guest Sioux Lookout singers/drummers:
Victor Lyon, Romaine Lyon, Tom Chisel
Gather Round Singers
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. 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 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 (pronounced Dave) Clysdale is a musician from Ottawa, now living in Toronto. Daev plays a variety of instruments and musical styles, specializing in the performance of Irish traditional music on his main four instruments: wooden flute, tin whistle, piano and accordion. He has been playing, performing and composing music for over twenty years. Daev attended the music program at Carleton University, where he studied both classical and traditional Irish music. In 2015, Daev composed an original suite for orchestra and tin whistle, and performed it with the North Bay Symphony Orchestra. Daev is a member of the band Rant Maggie Rant and a regular piano accompanist for the Gather Round Singers.
Saskia Tomkins moved to Canada from the UK in 2007 with her family. Her musical abilities on bowed strings are wide ranging, classical to Celtic, Django-jazz to songwriter accompaniment, and she works frequently with Theatre companies, including 4th Line Theatre. Saskia’s current music groups are Celtic trio “Cairdeas”, instrumental duo “2ish” and with her husband Steafan Hannigan. She also plays in orchestras and teaches violin and viola.
Praised for her “fire and chamber music smarts” (Globe and Mail), Canadian violinist and violist KATHLEEN KAJIOKA maintains a varied career, moving easily between musical worlds ranging from early to modern, from pop to Middle Eastern. She is a member of the bi-continental baroque chamber group Ensemble Masques, with whom she has performed throughout Canada, the US and Europe, including appearances at New York’s Frick Collection, Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw and London’s Wigmore Hall. They have recorded several critically acclaimed discs for the AMTA, Zig-Zag Territoires and Alpha labels, and have been awarded the ffff Telerama, Gramophone Magazine’s “Editor’s Choice” and the Diapason d’Or.
Since returning to her home town after studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, Kathleen has been a fixture in Toronto’s Early Music scene, touring and performing with Tafelmusik, Aradia, and Toronto Masque Theatre, and in Montreal as principal viola of Arion Baroque, among others. She enjoys revisiting her maternal roots in Iceland, where she has served as guest concertmaster of the Reykjavik Chamber Orchestra and guest director of the Skálholt Bach Consort. She teaches Historical Performance at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School, and brings all her musical experiences to bear in her role as broadcaster and co-music director at the New Classical FM in Toronto, and as host of “The Concert Series,” airing across Canada on Vision TV.
Violinist Aysel Taghi-Zada’s varied career as a staunch proponent of contemporary music has led her to explore a wealth of eclectic repertoire as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player. Aysel regularly performs with Tapestry Opera, 21C New Music Festival, New Music Concerts, and is a co-founder of Ensemble Paramirabo, a group the showcases the music of Canadian composers. In her mission to expand contemporary repertoire, she has fostered many working relationships with international artists such as Philip Glass, Salvatore Sciarrino, and Gidon Kremer. Aysel holds degrees from McGill University and the Glenn Gould School, where her principal studies were with Jonathan Crow and Barry Shiffman respectively.
For many years the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Assistant Principal Cellist, David Hetherington is a founding member of the Amici Chamber Ensemble which presents an annual series of concerts at Mazzoleni Hall in Toronto. With Amici he has recorded twelve discs for Summit Records, Naxos, CBC records and ATMA Classique. Their first CD won a Juno award for Chan Ka Nin’s “Among Friends”. In 2013 Amici won a Juno award for their recording “Levant”, and their most recent recording “Inspired by Canada, Notre Pays” was released in November of 2017.
In addition to the Amici Chamber Ensemble, Mr. Hetherington is also a founding member of the string quartet Accordes, which performs regularly for New Music Concerts, Soundstreams Canada and other contemporary music organizations. In 2001, the Canadian Music Centre, through Centrediscs, released Accordes’ recording of Harry Somers’ String Quartets, for which it received a Juno Award nomination. Accordes has also recorded works by several other Canadian composers such as Norma Beecroft, David Eagle, Harry Freedman, Hope Lee, Alexina Louie and Jean Papineau-Couture.
Mr. Hetherington has appeared on several recordings for the CBC and for Centrediscs with whom he made the Canadian première recording of Talivaldis Kenins’ prize-winning cello sonata. Mr. Hetherington plays a cello made in 1695 by Giovanni Battista Grancino. David currently teaches cello at the Glenn Gould School, coaches the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and is Music Director of the Interprovincial Music Camp.
Timothy Ying performed for over 20 years as first violinist of the Ying Quartet. With the group he appeared in every major city in North America, and made tours abroad to Europe, the Far East, and Australia. A winner of the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award, he also won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Recording and three Grammy Nominations in the categories of Best Chamber Music and Large Jazz Ensemble recordings. He has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and from Chamber Music America, and was a tenured faculty member at the Eastman School, where he served as chair of the Chamber Music department. For seven years he was one of the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University. He currently lives in Toronto with his wife Catherine and their three children, and teaches at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory.
Other Jumblies Artists, Staff & Production Team:
Sam Egan, Jamie Oshkabewisens, Tijana Spasic, Nimikii Couchie,
Oshan Starreveld, Karis Jones Pard, Caroline Hollway, Steafan Hannigan, Ashley Bomberry, Lochlan Cox, Marianne Alas, Adrienne Marcus Raja
Photos from Work-in-progress performance, May 2019: