Song of the Salish Chief – Rehearsals

Song of the Salish Chief – Rehearsals

Since our Christmas concert – and to an extent a few rehearsals prior to that – we have been working on the following repertoire for our concert tomorrow March 5:

  • Song of the Salish Chief – Peter Bjerring based on text by Earle Birney,
  • Eatnemen Vuelie (Song of the Earth) – Frode Fjelheim, Arranged by Emily Crocker – you may recognize this from the Disney movie Frozen,
  • Iroquois Lullaby – Stephen Eisenhauer,
  • Nootka Paddle Song – Arranged by Imant Raminsh,
  • Bye, Bye Baby – Arranged by Imant Raminsh,
  • And Einstein Said – Trent Worthington,
  • A Canadian Rhapsody – Peter Bjerring.

You may see this as a varied and kind of eclectic program, but it does work well together.

Since January 3 we have been getting ready for this concert, singing the rep above interspersed with some Brahms, Bach, Willan and Schutz just to make life interesting. It’s very interesting to see how the choir comes together around different repertoire, how challenging certain pieces are versus others, how everything changes when we add other musicians and instruments into the mix and how we all groan when James asks us to memorize one or more pieces…  For this concert we are only being asked to memorize one piece with which we open the second half of the concert.

In my time in both Edmonton and now here, after life in the Army, I have more and more heard that phrase that starts many council meetings or events related to the cities I have lately been to – Welcome to Treaty Six Territory!  When at a conference in Vancouver the opening ceremonies involved welcome to the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.  It has become something that people say, think about and are just starting to recognize.  It is beginning, only just, to become ‘normal’.  When I was a kid growing up we never thought about that, there were only two or three first nations kids in our school, never mind our class.  By the time I was 26 I had more cultural experience with Syrians, Jordanians, Palestinians, Egyptians than I had with the first nations of my own country.  Sadly, I have not gained much additional experience in the intervening 30 years either.  So when we had the chance, last night, to participate in a smudge with Joseph Naytowhow who is our Narrator for Song of the Salish Chief I wanted to be there.  It was very quick, but I found it moving.  Then later, when I actually listened to the text of the narration, the words Joseph was speaking it hit home just how powerful the words and music together were for this piece.

We have all, I think, enjoyed learning the pieces in this program.  As musicians, one of my former conductors always exhorted us to remember – that space between the notes on the page – that’s where the real music comes from.  These pieces, some challenging some not so, form a little tableau of our country, whether because of the composer (And Einstein Said),  historical texts arranged by Canadian Composers (Salish, Iroquois, Nootka, Bye Bye),  Canadian folk songs (Canadian Rhapsody), or modern Canadian History – (Eatnemen) try and tell me you have not seen hundreds of Elsa or Anna’s wondering around at Halloween!

We have learned the songs, polished them to performance standard and will present them for our audience to hear and enjoy!  Wish me luck!


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