The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir commissioned a work from Cree composer Andrew Balfour as part of its 125th anniversary season – following on a long tradition of the Choir commissioning works by Canadian composers.
Mamachimowin (the act of singing praises) was premiered at the TMC’s 125th anniversary gala concert, October 20, 2019 at Koerner Hall. Performed by the TMC, with the strings of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, under conductor David Fallis.
The TMC is now able to share the recording of this stunning choral-orchestral work which we hope will be added to the repertoire of many choirs.
Here is Mamachimowin — you can read more about Andrew and this work below the video.
Of Cree descent, Winnipeg based composer Andrew Balfour is an innovative composer/conductor/singer/sound designer with a large body of choral, instrumental, electro-acoustic and orchestral works, including Take the Indian (a vocal reflection on Missing Children) and Empire Étrange: the Death of Louis Riel. His new Indigenous Opera, Mishabooz’s Realm, was recently premiered in Montreal and Haliburton, Ontario, commissioned by L’Atelier Lyrique de Opéra de Montréal and Highlands Opera Workshop. He has also been commissioned by the Winnipeg, Regina and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, among many others.
Andrew is also the founder and Artistic Director of the innovative, 14-member vocal group Camerata Nova, now in its 22nd year of offering a concert series in Winnipeg.
Andrew writes of his work:
“Mamachimowin (The act of singing praises) is a choral work that explores the difficult relationship between Indigenous spirituality and the impact of the Christian culture on First Nations people. Translating Psalm 67 into Cree, I wanted to add a musical perspective that added a dimension of fragmentation into the structure of the work. Also I wanted to utilize the instrumentation of violas, cellos and double basses to give the idea of the strings representing a foundation of the ground, or Mother Earth. I wanted to present the idea of musical tension and musical phrases along with the choir whispering some of the text to add an element of uncertainty. Many thanks to David Fallis and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for commissioning this work, and I am so honoured to be part of this concert that celebrates the choral legacy of Canada’s oldest choir. Chi Migwiich!”
The Cree Text – Andrew Balfour’s translation of Psalm 67:
kisē-manitow, kisēwātotawinān mīna sawēyiminān; kitimākinawinān,
ēkosi ta-kiskēyihtākwanwa kitisīhcikēwina piko itē ōta askīhk; kipimācihiwēwisōhkisiwin ka-kiskēyihcikātēw piko itē ayisiyinīnāhk.
hāw, kisē-manitow, kiyām kahkiyaw iyiniwak kika-mamihcimikwak; kiyām kahkiyaw iyiniwak kika-wī-mamihcimikwak!