Truth & Reconciliation Workshop

For two chilly days in February, Spiritus sequestered themselves at the cSPACE King Edward and embarked on a very private journey of truth and reconciliation. This exercise was led by singer/songwriter Leela Gilday, accompanied by Blackfoot Elder Saakokoto, known to many as Randy Bottle. The journey involved an immersion in Blackfoot traditions as told through stories, as they had been passed on for generations, while gathered in a circle. 

There was a lot of sharing, listening and soul searching as the group grappled with issues surrounding personal biases and beliefs that were passed on through our individual life experiences. This workshop was created in the larger context of group musical composition with influences derived from what the group learned through the stories they heard. The group, which was divided into four subgroups, were each tasked with composing original lyrics and music.  As a recap, a sweetgrass smudge—a ceremonial braid of dried herbs that symbolize purification and healing—was passed around and each one was given a chance to share what they had learned.

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Yellowknife Tour

The coolest airport sculpture greeted us on our arrival.

Timothy Shantz, Spiritus Artistic Director, coaching Carson Moore (soloist) on nuances for "Frobisher Bay".

Margo Nightingale, Artistic Director for Aurora Chorealis

Our first rehearsal at St. Patricks Catholic Church in Yellowknife

Soprano and alto sections rehearsing "Blades"—the challenging third movement of Carmen Braden's "The Ice Seasons".

Aurora Chorealis, the Yellowknife Choral Society, joins Spiritus in a joint rehearsal at the Calvary Community Church.

Aurora Chorealis joins Spiritus as they envelope the audience in a glorious performance of Northern Lights by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, replete with chimes and tuned water goblets to provide atmosphere.

Carmen Braden introduces "The Ice Seasons" before its Yellowknife premier, explaining how each of the six movements represent the six different states of water and ice, as the six-member string ensemble look on.

Just one of the many larger-than-life sculptures surrounding the Snow Castle courtyard.

Just one of the many larger-than-life sculptures surrounding the Snow Castle courtyard.

Spiritus performs a short program as they squeeze their way on stage in the Snow Castle surrounded by onlookers. This definitely qualifies as the top three of the most unusual venues the choir has ever performed in.

One cannot possibly leave the Snow Castle without a selfie with the indefatigable Snow King,

One cannot possibly leave the Snow Castle without a selfie with the indefatigable Snow King,

Spiritus joined by composer Carmen Braden and members of the string ensemble, pose for a group shot at the famous Snow Palace.

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Spiritus gets a luminous photo op with the northern lights providing an incomparable backdrop. Photo by Bill Braden.

 

Spiritus 2017 Banff Choral Rehearsal Workshop

Deer forage in the snow right outside the Rolston Recital Hall at the Banff Centre for the Arts as Spiritus is about to dive into their 2017 Banff Workshop/Rehearsal.

Artistic Director, Timothy Shantz welcomes Spiritus to the workshop.

Spiritus warms up for a grueling day of rehearsal, polishing pieces for their upcoming recordings and learning new music for their upcoming concert, Ice and Fire where they will be premiering a new work by composer Carmen Braden.

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The choir takes a short walk toward the Vistas Dining Hall for lunch break

The choir takes a short walk toward the Vistas Dining Hall for lunch break

The spectacular view right outside the Vistas Dining Hall

The workshop resumes with the learning of soon-to-be-premiered work, The Ice Seasons by Carmen Braden

Composer Carmen Braden sits in on rehearsal for the premier of her magnum opus The Ice Seasons

Carmen takes careful notes as she hears her composition come to life during first reading

Back to the Rolston Recital Hall for the second half of the workshop.

Even the simple walk back to rehearsal offers breathtaking eye candy

Composer, Carmen Braden discusses executional nuances with Spiritus Artistic Director, Timothy Shantz

No Banff workshop would be complete without the requisite group shot to mark yet another important milestone in Spiritus Chamber Choir's journey toward choral excellence.

Photography by Bob Serrano