The Songs of our Waters, The Songs of our Hearts
The Amabile Boys & Men’s Choirs will present a cultural event that will serve to build artistic bridges in London by illuminating the past legacies of our lands, including telling the truths of our First Nations experiences, in a concert at either the Attawandaron Museum or in one of the communities and follow the concert up with an educational video that can be shared free to the entire community using a vehicle such as Youtube.
We acknowledge that we are situated on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Lunaapeewak and Attawandaron peoples, who have longstanding relationships to the land and region of southwestern Ontario and the City of London. There are 11 First Nation communities in our area, including Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames, Munsee-Delaware First Nation, Delaware Nation at Moraviantown, Chippewas of Caldwell First Nation, Walpole Island First Nation, Aamjiwnaang First Nation,Kettle Point First Nation, Stony Point First Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River, and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, as well as a growing Indigenous urban population.
Further, we signal that we value and have deep appreciation for the significant historical and contemporary contributions of local and regional First Nations and all of the Original peoples of Turtle Island (North America). While the 11 communities outlined above extend beyond what we geographically recognize as London and Middlesex region, our original inhabitants lived collaboratively within and on the adjoining land and rivers and were not bounded by contemporary political and geographically structures. Thus, while this project will be produced locally, it’s scope acknowledges and respects fluid boundaries in an attempt to encourage inclusivity, broaden perceptions and knowledge, and contribute to the development of meaningful relationships between the people and the rivers and lands around us.
This is intended as a process that brings together local indigenous and non-indigenous musicians to work together on a theme inspired by the Thames River that will inculcate a deeper understanding and promote awareness of truth and reconciliation within and among our communities and our collaborative relationship to our shared lands and waters. To accomplish this, we will feature creative works including solo and joint performances by indigenous singer-songwriters, Sadie Buck and George Buck, new works about the River by 4 well-known and respected composers of our region, the Six Nations Singers, and150 singers from the four Amabile Boys & Men’s Choirs. The theme of the concert will be our relationship to, as well as the historical and current significance of, the Thames River that runs through our communities, hence the title of this project: The Songs of our Waters, The Songs of our Hearts.
Specifically, our plan includes the commissioning of music and the development of workshops with indigenous artists and the choirs to ultimately present a concert event.
- Commissioning of original compositions about our relationship to the Thames River for the choirs by indigenous and local composer/performers.
- Sadie Buck – well-known indigenous scholar, musician, composer who will look to the past, present and future to create songs for the choirs (see http://www.native-dance.ca/index.php/Scholars/Sadie_Buck for further information)
- George Buck – indigenous songwriter who will create a song and perform a solo set.
Sadie and George will create new music that honours and teaches the traditions of their people.
Non-indigenous Composer Partners
- Mark Payne – local composer, pianist, singer, conductor, and artistic director
- Sarah Quartel – recognized composer and alumna of Amabile Choirs
- Matthew Emery – prolific award-winning composer and alumnus of Amabile Choirs
- Jeff Christmas – former composer-in-residence for Orchestra London
Although they are all local, we will work with the non-indigenous composers to develop poetry and music that focuses on the role of the river and its historical, cultural, social, political, and economic (re)connections. The permanence of this new set of repertoire from these 6 composers will provide an ongoing legacy from the community to the national level.
Six Nations Singers will be guest performers with a solo set and also along with George and Sadie will develop a collaborative song cycle with the choirs.
The Six Nations Women Singers is one of the most influential female Native American singing groups. An arm of the larger organization, the Six Nations Women’s Singing Society, the group has recorded with Robbie Robertson and performed at the presidential inauguration in 1997. Formed on the Six Nations Reservation in Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada, the Six Nations Women Singers are led by Sadie Buck, a member of the Tonawanda Reservation in New York who teaches at McMaster University. The group, which includes members of the Seneca, Onondaga, and Cayuga tribes, focuses on the religious and social music and dance of the Longhouse tradition. (http://www.allmusic.com/artist/six-nations-women-singers-mn00000172570
The plan is also to invite the first woman chief of the Chippewas of the Thames Chief, Leslee Whiteye, to be guest speaker at the concert and to ask elder, Myrna Kicknosway, to open, and Bruce Stonefish Wolf Clan of the Onyota’a:ka (People of the Standing Stone) Nation to close the events with traditional ceremonies. Brent Stonefish, former education officer of the Delaware Nation has also indicated his support.
In summary, the Amabile Boys & Men’s Choirs, as hosts, will celebrate our 150th birthday with a cultural event that will serve to build artistic bridges in London by illuminating the past legacies of our lands, including telling the truths of our First Nations experiences, and our ties to our indigenous communities and the importance of the Thames River in our collective culture and development, in song.
Watch for more details on this incredible cultural event coming soon.