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

Odaabaanag is a year-long 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).

Melody McKiver will create a short musical work for string quartet and recorded voices, inspired by Steve Reich’s Different Trains. Where Reich’s piece incorporates Holocaust survivor voices referencing his Jewish heritage, Odaabaanag will draw on Melody’s Anishenaabe background to includev oices from their own community. Reich’s idea of intertwined realities and his use of voice recordings within his score, forms our launchpad. Both draw on inherited and received cultural and family memories as well as own actual memories and experiences. Diverse Toronto community participants will respond to both works, as we open up the theme to other stories concerning associative and inherited memories.

Since launching this project, we have included second composer: Melody’s mother: Beverley McKiver, also from Lac Seul First Nation, and now based in Ottawa. Beverley is composing a companion choral piece, drawing on the same themes and source material, for Jumblies’ mixed-ability, mixed age community choir, the Gather Round Singers, directed by Shifra Cooper, with accompanist Daev Clysdale. 

Soundstreams and Jumblies have twice collaborated in the past, creating short musical works combining community members of mixed ages and abilities with accomplished composers and musicians. Through this, we have experienced first-hand how community engagement interwoven with professional music programming can lead to exciting new experimental works and inspire and include new audiences and participants. The first of these collaborations involved a shared residency with Emilie LeBel, culminating in a presentation (Take this Card) at the Gardiner Museum. The second – ‘Endings’, composed by Lieke van de Voort, in response to Claude Vivier’s ‘Music Fur Das Ende’ – was subsequently funded by the Ontario Arts Council and received its own full production and performance in November 2018.

Odaabanaag will have a work-in-progress performance on May 4, 2019 and a premier performance at the end of November 2019 (venues are yet to be determined). The November performance will include interdisciplinary elements drawn from Jumblies’ community-engagement processes, and will also provide a companion piece for Jumblies’ Talking Treaties project, lead by Ange Loft, which will be mounted as a multi-media exhibition during the 2019 Toronto Biennial.

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.

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

Odaabaanag is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

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.


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). 


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(pdf version: Beat Columns (Live Music) | The WholeNote)