Creators & Performers Natalya Gennadi And Kristine Dandavino Discuss About Grandma’s Scarf

L: Soprano Natalya Gennadi; R: Mezzo-soprano Kristine Dandavino (Photos courtesy of Soundstreams)
L: Soprano Natalya Gennadi; R: Mezzo-soprano Kristine Dandavino (Pictures courtesy of Soundstreams)

Soundstreams has introduced the Grandma’s Scarf as the ultimate efficiency of its 2023/24 season. The live performance presents a musical journey that was impressed by the connections between Indigenous and Ukrainian immigrant girls in Canada and the enduring Kokum scarf.

Natalya Gennadi, winner of Soundstreams’ annual New Voices Curator Mentorship program, curates and directs the efficiency, which takes place on Might 4.

Natalya Gennadi, soprano, and Kristine Dandavino, mezzo, narrate the story, accompanied by Jo Greenaway (piano) and Oleksandra Fedyshyn (violin). It options the music of Ukrainian artists Stefania Turkevych, Lesia Dychko, Oleksandra Fedyshyn and Alla Zagaykevych, and Canadian composers Kristine Dandavino, Anna Pidgorna, Ian Cusson, and Andrew Balfour.

We requested just a few questions of Natalya (NG) and mezzo, collaborator and featured composer Kristine Dandavino (KD) concerning the manufacturing.

The Q&A

LvT: How did this story and mission come collectively? It appears like there’s a story of discovery on this connection between Ukrainian and Indigenous girls — it’s actually not widespread data.

NG: Final 12 months I used to be an artist in Civic Engagement Residence with Pacific Opera Victoria the place our director and mentor Rebecca Haas launched us to a number of Indigenous neighborhood leaders. We received to be taught a lot and, most significantly, hear their tales. That is once I began realising that there are loads of similarities and surprising parallels between the Indigenous and Ukrainian cultures and even historic paths.

One among my tasks at POV referred to as for a collaboration with Irish Cree multimedia artist Nathalie Rollins and within the course of of making it I heard the tales of Kokum shawls. Initially Ukrainian khustkas — headscarves — got as an emblem of neighbourly gratitude to Indigenous peoples, such because the Cree, and rapidly grew to become a conventional piece that everybody, not solely kokums (grandmas) would put on, a mode that continues in modern-day. After additional analysis I’ve realized concerning the specific struggles that the primary Ukrainian settlers confronted in Canada at the start of the twentieth century, and the way Indigenous communities provided help.

I do know that it impressed many artists up to now however for me it’s an intimate look into immigration, motherhood and friendship.

KD: Natalya referred to as me to explain her thought of the imaginative and prescient for Grandma’s Scarf. She requested me if I knew the story. I defined that I had heard of it however wasn’t certain about all the main points. I used to be conscious of Indigenous folks being welcoming and type to different cultures.

LvT: How have been the works which are featured within the live performance chosen? (And please add any particulars you’d like to spotlight concerning the musical works.)

NG: For years now I’ve been making an attempt to find Ukrainian music that’s not from the Soviet-approved mainstream repertoire. The factor is, for years Ukrainian music was introduced as folksy and one-dimensional, nevertheless, there’s a huge expanse of works that supply an countless number of kinds and genres!

So, on the Ukrainian aspect I’ve picked works by feminine composers of the twentieth century: Stehania Turkevych — the primary feminine PhD in composition, Lesya Dychko, who was knighted, Alla Zagaykvych, probably the most prolific audio-visual composers of contemporary Ukraine, Anna Pidgorna — fellow Ukrainian Canadian and a extremely profitable multi-genre composer. For the Indigenous musical half we’ve got Ian Cusson (Métis), whom to myself I name our Canadian Mozart due to his tireless dedication to melody and kindness to singers. Award-winning Cree composer Jessica McMann; Métis composer and pianist Jesse Plessis, and, in fact Andrew Balfour together with his wonderful Imaginative and prescient Chant.
Furthermore, each Kristine and Oleksandra are sturdy composers, bringing their works, and it’s such a privilege to listen to these items sing by their creators’ voices, to listen to their private tales. Kristine is ending her first opera and we get an opportunity to listen to an excerpt as a world premiere.

KD: To be sincere, Natalya did the majority of the work. Personally, I used to be daring and requested her if we might characteristic my composition “Pie Jesu” from my chamber opera Kanti. Additionally, I found The Water Music that was composed for the late Chief Comanda who was the Chief for my neighborhood Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg. I used to be thrilled to find this work.

L-R: Singers Andrew Haji, Kristine Dandavino, Natalya Gennadi & Gregory Dahl in rehearsal (Photo courtesy of Soundstreams)
L-R: Singers Andrew Haji, Kristine Dandavino, Natalya Gennadi & Gregory Dahl in rehearsal (Photograph courtesy of Soundstreams)

LvT: Together with a narrative centering girls, you’re additionally celebrating handwork similar to embroidery and textiles, that are sometimes related to girls. How vital is it to acknowledge this a part of historical past (and social historical past), a aspect that’s nonetheless uncared for by fashionable media?

NG: Kokum shawls are vibrant cuts of material that keep it up so many traditions and recollections, you’ll be able to’t sing about these tales with out having one thing tangible, tactile. Grandma’s Scarf is supposed to invoke a sense of your favorite home made garment – it’s linen, it’s comforting, respiratory and heat from a human contact. Identical to your mom and grandmother used to stitch. I’m constructing two costumes for Kristine and me which are symbolic reflections of the normal clothes of our folks, they’re completely different however alike on the similar time.

And, most significantly, the present options two different characters — figures of girls embroidered and beaded by the visible artists. We’re extremely fortunate to collaborate with a Ukrainian award-winning designer and textile historian Tetyana Znak who created the photographs in genuine Ukrainian model. The Algonquin art-inspired beaded figures have been digitally constructed by permission from the works of Cassandra Tolley who stepped in on the final second and provided her experience.

KD: As a baby, I used to be spoiled, my mom was a gifted dressmaker and quilter. All my outfits have been customized. I miss these days! Natalya has taken over costumes and we’re blessed along with her abilities!

LvT: Would you agree that the mixture of music and track is usually one of the best ways to convey the emotion of a narrative like this one — feelings that may be refined and mild in addition to intense?

NG: Sure, and… I’m a really visible particular person and fairly often I “see” the story of a track unfold in my thoughts. Generally, usually actually, I’ve a sense that the track has extra to it than the textual content and melody alone, so I’m very grateful for the chance to be extra expressive with different media.

KD: In the long run, I imagine any inventive medium is suited to share tales. These tales have to be advised, shared, and skilled. I encourage any Indigenous artist to share their tales by any artwork medium that resonates with them.

LvT: What particulars are you able to inform us concerning the multimedia parts you point out — animated embroidery, visuals, and so forth?

NG: The present gives an array of movies — a set of impressions, recollections, associations and hidden tales. I’m combining authentic and inventory footage, information clips, archival pictures and even the now-accessible work by Emily Carr and Lauren Harris. As an rising multimedia artist and a linguist by first diploma, I’m experimenting and looking for my inventive voice however I positively love taking part in with textual content changing into the visible element, the meta message.

Some issues are fairly private — like faint movies of Kherson Area after the Russian military destroyed the Kakhovka dam (I unofficially devoted it to Anna Pidgorna — a Kherson native), or a cityline of my hometown of Sevastopol taking part in the position of a distant reminiscence. Some are provocative with a touch of sarcasm just like the Star Wars meets produce for Ian Cusson’s Breakfast for Barbarians. It’s laborious to elucidate what’s occurring with out sounding weird or giving out spoilers.

I’m utilizing animation for the embroidered / beaded characters since they change into our alter egos on screens. This half was notably difficult since, though I’ve some expertise, I haven’t labored on animation on this scale earlier than.

We’re additionally bringing in a component of an interactive video — one thing I’ve been researching since I’ve seen a number of functions of it in Europe: I’d say I’m simply testing the waters however there’s a huge potential for this type of visible / sound interplay in dwell performances it doesn’t matter what style we’re in.

Not a visible component, however we’ve got a digital choir! We wanted a sound of neighborhood and that’s when tenor Andrew Haji and baritone Gregory Dahl stepped in and lended their voices.

LvT: Is there the rest you need to share about Grandma’s Scarf?

N.G: My gratitude. Past the truth that New Voices is a mentorship program with Soundstreams the place I set to work and be taught aspect by aspect with a few of the most inspirational artwork creators, I get to inform a narrative that someway can be a narrative of many ladies, and lots of newcomers, regardless of the place they discover themselves. There’s hope and kindness on this present. And friendship! Kristine and I’ve been very shut buddies for years, and I at all times love working with Jo Greenaway and Oleksandra Fedyshyn.

KD: Greater than ever, our world wants storytellers to assist us heal from the present psychological well being disaster. We live in a disconnected world. The humanities convey us collectively, to assist us perceive our human expertise. We want one another. We can not proceed this “me-myself-and-I” mindset. We’re one with the environment. The bees and the bushes are simply as vital as my existence.

Present & Pre-Present Particulars

Ladies’s Voices as Cultural Keepers: TD Encounters | April 30

A Prelude to Grandma’s Scarf

Ladies’s Voices as Cultural Keepers, a free Soundstreams TD Encounters occasion, takes place on April 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Hugh’s Room.

This night will highlight girls and feminine vocal traditions spanning North America and Europe, together with performances revolving sround Algonquin, Swedish, and Ukrainian folks traditions. Performers embrace Kristine Dandavino (mezzo), Elena Howard-Scott (soprano), Ella Farlinger (soprano), Xin Wang (soprano), and Ryan Scott (percussion).

Together with the music, there might be a dialogue of the position girls play in preserving musical and cultural identities, together with an viewers Q&A. Reserve tickets for the pre-show [HERE].

  • Grandma’s Scarf takes place on Might 4 at 7:30 p.m. on the Redwood Theatre; extra particulars and tickets out there [HERE]

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