CBC Music decided to surprise Toronto composer Alexina Louie with an impromptu lesson in the art of throat singing last weekend, given by Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik. Mark and Sivuarapik are performing Louie's Take the Dog Sled (for two Inuit throat singers and ensemble) with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, as part of their current northern Canada tour.
Watch below as Mark and Sivuarapik show Louie what it takes to be a throat singer, backstage at Aqsarniit Middle School in Iqaluit.
Special thanks to the NAC's Marnie Richardson for capturing the moment for us on video.
Louie first visited the North back in 2000, as part of a tour led by Adrienne Clarkson (who was, at the time, the Governor General of Canada). Louie was privileged to visit the Northwest Territories, where she feasted on caribou and Arctic char, marvelled at the beauty of the Mackenzie River Delta from the window of a small twin-engine Otter and experienced first-hand the art, music and culture of the incredible people who live there.
"It would take time for the experience to resonate with me," Louie says, but she remembers having an immediate sense "that the exposure to the North had changed [her]."
Several years later, back home in Toronto, Louie began to process her memories by composing Take the Dog Sled, creating a sound world that she hoped would "capture some of the joy, tenderness and energy of life in the North as well [as] the mystical quality of the land."
Wanting to integrate the sound of throat singers into her work, she approached Inuit performer Evie Mark for help.
"Evie ... gave me so many insights into the people of Nunavik," Louie says of their collaboration. "I was inspired by her many stories of the character of her people — their courage, resilience, humour, their great love for their children, their respect for their land and traditions."
Mark sent Louie several songs, four of which were incorporated into the final score. Mark was also one of the two throat singers who premiered the piece under Kent Nagano with members of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, who originally commissioned the work for their 2008 Nunavik tour.
Mark's most recent performances of Take the Dog Sled have been with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, which has revived this piece for their above-mentioned tour of the Canadian North. With Louie in attendance, they've already given performances in Iqaluit and Yellowknife, with one more to come on Saturday, Nov. 3, as the tour wraps up in Whitehorse.
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on Nov 02, 2012