I have long considered ice to be alive, to have an energy, to have a spirit. Lake Skin is inspired by the ice of the many lakes around Yellowknife NWT, and specifically Great Slave Lake and Prosperous Lake. Since my childhood, this fantastic natural phenomenon has been my playground, my highway, and my fascination. As it grows from paper-thin to over five feet thick, the ice constantly cracks and seals itself, growing ever-stronger. A part of the soundscape has been brought into this piece: wind moving snow over ice, and then descending into the black water itself, full of the cracks of the ice song.
Story: the premiere and the tour with the Elmer Iseler Singers
One of my all-time professional highlights happened in February when the Elmer Iseler Singers premiered my choral work Lake Skin during their February tour of the Northwest Territories. I saw this fantastic choir perform on the very same stage almost 20 years ago – perhaps no coincidence that I have been very passionate and involved with choirs ever since! It was incredible to hear my work performed by such an amazing ensemble, and even more thrilling to join them on their 10-day tour. A huge thanks to the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre Mentorship Program for allowing this connection to be made!
This picture is from the performance in the gym at Bompas Elementary School in Fort Simpson. After hearing the choir sing three concerts, and doing some intense score study on the bus, Lydia and the rest of the choir (especially the altos!) graciously allowed me to sing with them for their final concert. Without a doubt, this was my favourite part of the tour – but the hardest part for me was singing my own piece!
(Score excerpt above). Conducted by the formidable Lydia Adams, the choir premiered the work in Yellowknife at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre. Bus trips lasting from 5 hours up to 11 hours followed as the choir travelled to Hay River, Fort Smith and Fort Simpson. With temperatures that fell to -33 Celcius, and daylight limited, it was an extreme time of year for a road tour.
The frozen Liard River, in Fort Simpson.
A snowy view from the bus to Fort Simpson.
At a stretch break with soprano Amy Doddington, one of the two soloists who sang in Lake Skin.
In Our Lady of Assumption Church – wooden relief of old music notation on the walls, and in Fort Smith there is a lectern carved from moose antler that was used by the Pope!
A highlight for the choir was seeing buffalo on the side of the road – not the most unusual sight for me, but everyone behind me was very excited!
And of course, the Toronto-based choristers were desperate to see the Northern Lights, but it wasn’t until the very last stop on the tour in Fort Simpson that they came out! This shot was by alto-and-budding-photographer Alison Roy.