Tanya Tagaq will perform with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra in Kelowna Oct, 13 and Vernon Oct. 14. (Katrin Braga Photography)

OSO steps into contemporary light with Tanya Tagaq

Performances in Kelowna Oct. 13, Vernon Oct. 14

When she saw her perform under the Yellowknife’s midnight sun, Rosemary Thomson knew it would be a beautiful, brazen performance far removed from the classical mainstream.

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of music director Thomson, welcomes renowned Inuk throat singer and experimental performer Tanya Tagaq to the Kelowna stage Oct. 13 and Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Oct. 14.

“The biggest thing that I’ve heard about Tanya perform is, ‘It’s unlike anything I’ve heard before,’” Thomson said of the Polaris Music Prize-winner. “My brother-in-law said to me, ‘When I see her live, I feel like I want to weep one moment and laugh the next, and I don’t know why.’”

Traditional throat singing, heavy metal and rock interpretations coalesce into Tagaq’s unique, and often highly improvised, operatic presence. Drawing inspiration from her Inuk roots, the Nunavut vocalist uses her artform to express her political statement.

“There’s sort of an underlying rhythmic pulse that’s continuant. There’s vocalization both on the inhale and exhale — that’s what allows it to be so continuant,” Thomson said of Tagaq’s throat singing. “She has the widest vocal range of anyone I’ve heard. I wouldn’t describe it as pretty. It’s such an immediate vocal expression of her being. It’s wondrous. It bypasses your brain and goes straight to your heart. It’s hypnotic.”

Originally performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Tagaq will close the performance with her own 25-minute composition dedicated to Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women and girls entitled Qiksaaktuq — the Inuktitut word for grief. Following the Kübler-Ross model for the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — Qiksaaktuq is a five-movement piece combining improvised vocals from Tagaq and brass under Christine Duncan, while the strings, woodwind and percussion lead by Thomson provide a musical base.

Related: OSO launches 59th season

Related: Tagaq pushes U.S. band Eskimeaux to change its name

While it marks a departure from traditional OSO programming, Thomson said Tagaq’s performance represents a shift in the orchestral world.

“Orchestras have always been influenced by popular music. This is being influenced by a more contemporary music,” Thomson said. “We’ll have some die-hard classical lovers in the audience – this might not be for them. For some in the audience, it will make them feel uncomfortable. She pushes the envelope for sure.”

Thomson said there is always a level of uncertainty when bringing in an experimental artist like Tagaq, but it’s an opportunity the OSO couldn’t bypass.

“Without risk, life is boring,” Thomson laughed, noting that when western European composers originally brought cymbals into the mix it was considered a risk whereas now it’s commonplace.

“That’s the great thing about contemporary music – it keeps it fresh,” Thomson said, adding that she hopes Tagaq’s performance will instil a love of the orchestra in younger listeners.

Before Tagaq takes the stage, however, the OSO will perform Christos Hatzis’ Thunder Drum – a three-movement piece featuring a live orchestra and an electronic soundtrack and samples of Tagaq’s vocalizations.

The second half of the performance will open with Dinuk Wijeratne’s First Winter. Commissioned by the Calgary Philharmonic, First Winter is an expression of the Sri Lankan’s first experiences with Canadian winter.

“I love exploring the whole gambit from across the centuries,” Thomson said. “That’s what gives us a rich entry into the world of art.”

The OSO will take the Kelowna Community Theatre stage alongside Tagaq Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available through Kelowna Tickets, 250-862-2867. Tickets to the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Show Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. are available through the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.


@VernonNews
parker.crook@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

LETTER: Slow down to save fuel and money

Many motorists observed speeding along Highway 97

COLUMN: Finding the joy during the holiday season

For some, instead of joy and cheer there is sadness, loneliness, even depression at Christmas

Zucca melons were once used in fruitcakes

The zucca melon, introduced to the Okanagan in the late 1930s, was once used in fruitcakes and jams

Godsmack and Volbeat coming to Penticton

Tour includes a stop at the South Okanagan Events Centre

Sagmoen back in Vernon court this week

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will appear on all three Vernon matters this week

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Omar Khadr to ask for Canadian passport to travel, permission to speak to sister

He spent years in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay after he was caught when he was 15

One of Tori Stafford’s killers transferred to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Military closes book on oft-criticized support unit for ill, injured troops

The transition unit will provide support and services to military members struggling with physical and mental injuries so they can return to work.

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson named NHL’s first star of the week

Canucks centre scored two goals and six assists in three games

Protester says Canada doing U.S. ‘dirty work’ outside Huawei exec’s bail hearing

The U.S. wants to extradite Meng to face fraud allegations after Canada arrested the high-profile technology executive.

Man pulls out gun at Keremeos gas station

RCMP arrested an Olalla man around 10 a.m. Sunday after he pulled a gun earlier that morning.

Most Read