Posted on February 14, 2017 by Tia Lalani

See the Augustana choir perform the newly commissioned song “Add Your Voice” – written in the spirit of reconciliation – alongside NNC, a collection of Northern performing artists.

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.

In late January, the Jeanne & Peter Lougheed Performing Arts centre hosted 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 took the call to action quite literally as they performed the piece alongside the New North Collective when the song was premiered.

“It’s a fantastic piece that starts simply with a soloist, building to a strong climax with full band and choir,” Director John Wiebe 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.”

“Add Your Voice” will now be a part of the New North Collective’s set list, and performed all across Canada over the coming year.

Find the lyrics of “Add Your Voice” below!

We don’t speak about the things that caused the scars.
We look down at the ground like we don’t hear.
But we hear, we hear every word,
And it’s clear.

There’s beauty in the healing.
There’s a a fragile peace that’s hanging by a thread.
A truce and nod to bridge the canyon walls,
Strength unseen.

If you had the chance, the will to make it right
Do you ask the question Why, the question How?
The smallest steps you take can change the story.
The time is now.

Add your voice to the song.
Slow spring begins, Small voices will grow.
Be free of the past.

We can make the light last
Add your voice the song.

The tangled mess of history lays before us.
No one wants to be the first to step to the line.
But I move in your story
And you move in mine.

The buried hurt and unknown stories
Can be moved out into the light.
There’s power in the telling. It takes courage to hear.
Let go of the fear.

Add your voice to the song.
Slow spring begins, Small voices will grow.
Be free of the past.

We can make the light last
Add your voice the song.

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