It’s not often that a performing arts centre, several university departments, six Northern performing artists, a university choir and a world premiere coincide – but when it happens, you know it’s going to be something special.
On Friday, January 27th, the Jeanne & Peter Lougheed Performing Arts centre will host Images of the North, an innovative concert featuring the New North Collective performing “Add Your Voice,” a piece commissioned by the University of Alberta and UAlberta North, alongside the Augustana choir.
Written by the members of the New North Collective, an ensemble made up of a number of performers from various regions across Northern Canada, “Add Your Voice” embodies the spirit of reconciliation and doesn’t shy away from the tough subjects, the darker histories that are a part of Canada, as it seeks to inspire positive action among listeners.
“Writing ‘Add Your Voice’ was a process of collaboration, and growing friendship” noted Carmen Braden, one of the composers. “I remember feeling that each of the members of the NNC reflected individually and deeply, and that our sharing and co-creating was a gentle process but had a kind of quiet strength.”
This quiet strength comes through even in the lyrics that use imagery from the North to evoke a sense of hope, and acknowledges our dark past without dwelling on it. Instead, there is a call to action to make things right, to “Add Your Voice.”
The Augustana choir will embody that call quite literally as they perform the piece alongside the New North Collective. Director John Wiebe notes his choir’s excitement for the show, and another at the Arden Theatre in St. Albert the following night.
“It’s a fantastic piece that starts simply with a soloist, building to a strong climax with full band and choir” he says of the song. “It both challenges and encourages the listener [and] gives us the opportunity to cross boundaries and champion reconciliation – I can think of no better way for us to celebrate Canada 150.”
Images of the North is the second event in the Passport Across Canada Series, a joint venture between the Jeanne & Peter Performing Arts Centre and The Bailey Theatre here in Camrose. The series aims to find artists to represent each corner of the country as well as as many genres as possible, celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday in a way that exemplifies its diversity.
Bringing the New North Collective to Alberta was a combined effort between the Banff Centre of the Arts, the Arden and the Esplanade Theatre in Medicine Hat where they will be performing as well. In fact, “Add Your Voice” will be added to the New North Collective’s set list, and performed across Canada over the coming year. The ensemble will also be facilitating a Language & Culture workshop in a series on building capacity for reconciliation, a program in its pilot year on Augustana campus, a few days before the world premiere concert.
Nick Beach, director of the Jeanne & Lougheed Performing Arts Centre, spoke of things coming together for the concert as a “sequence of smart people and excited people seeing what we could do” after inviting the New North Collective to perform, and opening it up to the University of Alberta. UAlberta North was brought into the conversation, and helped to sponsor the piece, as proponents of Northern art.
“One of UAlberta North’s priorities is to connect thoughtful and creative northerners directly with our campuses and communities,” said UAlberta North director Roger Epp. “From all that we know, the New North Collective will meet that expectation memorably.”
“We’re pretty excited to be a part of this whole thing” added Beach. “I think what they’re doing is really something special, and will give people a real rare chance to come and hear such an accomplished group of musicians who have joined together to bring this great show to us.”
Images of the North begins at 8 pm on Friday, January 27, 2017 in the Cargill Theatre of the Jeanne & Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre. To purchase tickets, visit the Box Office at the Lougheed Performing Arts Centre, or purchase them online through camroselive.ca. Tickets are $39 (adults) or $36 (students/seniors), plus GST, and 10% off for all U of A faculty, staff, students and alumni with promo code “UofA”.