The Spirit Horse Returns
Saturday, July 29 | 1:30 pm
About the Performance
Script by Jodi Contin, Ken MacDonald, and Rhonda Snow.
Music by Kevin Lau with original songs by Jodi Contin, and music and consultation by Andrew Balfour.
Original art and visual direction by Rhonda Snow.
Larry Beckwith, conductor; Elizabeth Loewen-Andrews, violin;
Peter Stoll, clarinet; Christian Sharpe, bassoon; Mike
Fedyshyn, trumpet; Rachel Thomas, trombone; Joel
Quarrington, bass; Beverley Johnston, percussion
In 2019, James Campbell introduced Jodi Contin to Ken MacDonald and invited them to visit ten Parry Sound schools for the Festival's "Music Scores" program. He confidently made an unlikely pairing of the Indigenous hand drum with the French horn, trusting them to" make it work." They developed a short presentation about an Ojibwe Horse at Ken's farm named Asemaa'kwe and the so-called "Indian Ponies" that were once numerous around Wasauksing and other First Nations as helpersand spirit animals. Jodi and Ken told this story at the 2019 Gchi Dewin Indigenous Storyteller's Festival, incorporating artwork by Anishinaabe artist and breed expert Rhonda Snow. Encouraged by the response, Jodi, Ken, and Rhonda invited composers Kevin Lau and Andrew Balfour on board to create a production for full orchestra entitled "The Spirit Horse Returns." The Festival of the Sound hosted the group to workshop the piece in the summer of 2021. They brought a pair of Ojibwe Horses to an encampment outside the Stockey Centre. The emotional response felt by many of the elders on Wasauksing when the horses appeared there for the first time in fifty years ago was profound. The work was premiered by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in 2022 and has been greeted enthusiastically by audiences of the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, the Kitchener- Waterloo Symphony, the Stratford Symphony, and will be by the National Arts Centre Orchestra and others. Today's performance features a re-orchestration by Kevin Lau for the Sounding Thunder instrumental ensemble. "The Spirit Horse Returns" resonates with audiences of all ages with its combination of gentle humour, adventure, and a narrative about the power of reconciliation when we care for the land and each other.
This performance is presented by Kerri Mutrie in Memory of Roy Hardie.