Canada’s NAC Orchestra performs works based on local poet in Eskasoni First Nation community

Posted on: May 4, 2017

“The National Arts Centre Orchestra was welcomed with open arms Wednesday in the First Nations community of Eskasoni for a special performance based on the words of local poet Rita Joe,” writes Joan Weeks in Wednesday’s (5/3) CBC News. “Rita Joe, who died in 2007, is known as the poet laureate of the Mi’kmaq people and was a member of the Order of Canada and the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada. Orchestra music director Alexander Shelley said he was overwhelmed by the community’s welcome, which included a feast of seafood and a performance by local musicians.… The orchestra’s performance included … a multimedia work based Joe’s poem about her experience at a residential school in Subenacadie. It also included … a new song by Eskasoni high school student Kaolin Johnson” and her father and a teacher. “Shelley and orchestra musicians held music clinics with band students from across Cape Breton, as well as a special workshop for Eskasoni students with artist Alan Syliboy, violin virtuoso James Ehnes and Kaolin Johnson…. ‘I was actually pretty overwhelmed,’ said Sarah Prosper, a Grade 11 student.… ‘It was a very emotional moment for everybody here in Eskasoni.’ ”

Posted May 4, 2017

In photo: National Arts Centre Orchestra Music Director Alexander Shelley works with Cape Breton band students as part of the orchestra’s Eskasoni residency this week. Photo: Holly Conners/CBC