Toronto, ON—September 14, 2021: Red Sky Performance and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) have collaborated on a digital reimagining of Red Sky’s award-winning stage production for young people, Mistatim, in association with Crow’s Theatre. Indigenous music creators and TSO musicians worked in partnership to create new musical additions to the play’s score. The video will be available for viewing for schools and classrooms and the general public, beginning on September 30, 2021, Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
An unforgettable story of reconciliation, Mistatim, a performance for young audiences, tells the story of a wild horse named Mistatim who encounters Calvin on his ranch and Speck on her reservation. Under a prairie sky, a simple wooden fence is all that separates them but in many ways, they are worlds apart—that is, until Mistatim turns their worlds upside down and the truest of friendships is forged. When the production had its stage première, it was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production.
“Mistatim is about a fast-paced horse who will gallop into the hearts of children. This is a story of reconciliation for young people that asks its audience, ‘Why tame and punish when we can learn to listen and seek to understand,’” says Sandra Laronde, Executive and Artistic Director of Red Sky Performance. “Its release on September 30 (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation) is an opportunity to set the stage for children to dream about the kind of world they want to live in, and an opportunity for us to shift our perspectives in light of historical inequities, and equip young people with the vocabulary to continue these critical conversations about reconciliation and diversity.”
The collaboration between the Red Sky and the TSO began in the winter of 2021 with a call for Indigenous music creators to join TSO musicians in exploring and learning together, to create the new music. In April, four Indigenous music creators joined with a chamber group of seven TSO musicians, with Zoom music sessions held throughout April and May, 2021.
The Indigenous music creators collaborated with TSO Composer Advisor, Gary Kulesha, to translate their instrumental, electronic, or digital sound worlds into music to be played on acoustic instruments.
“So much about how I tell stories is through how I feel about where we live. I try to invoke that feeling in my pieces,” says Stan Louttit, a Cree member of the Moose Cree First Nation at Moose Factory, Ontario. “My people live on an island, so our environment—the sunset, the water, the land—plays a huge part in how I express myself. It was really exciting to hear my music being interpreted and performed by orchestral musicians. I’m grateful for the experience because it has sparked my imagination to widen the possibilities of what I do creatively, and shown me new roads to explore with my music.”
Kulesha also worked closely with the TSO musicians to help stretch the boundaries of the sounds, tones and potential of their classical instruments, collaborating on a writing process that was new to them all.
“Finding the common ground between the desired sound and what was physically possible on my instrument was fascinating and a reminder that, no matter how unfamiliar, music and sound can be universally shared experiences,” says Darren Hicks, TSO Associate Principal Bassoon. “It was a novel and enriching creative space for me to work with Indigenous creators and to be part of the Mistatim story, a space that I hope continues to be explored and expanded.”
“The TSO has been immeasurably enriched by our collaboration with Red Sky. Musicians are trained to listen to each other, but it is the musical interaction behind the notes that we have valued so much in this collaboration,” said Daniel Batholomew-Poyser, Barrett Principal Education Conductor and Community Ambassador, Toronto Symphony Orchestra. “We are acutely aware of how resonant this story, and by extension the music, will be to young people across the country, and are committed to continuing the listening, learning, and engagement with Indigenous groups and schools across Canada to enhance students’, and our, comprehension of history.”
Schools: To purchase access for multiple classrooms or schools: SchoolConcerts@TSO.CA
Mistatim is available for viewing September 30–October 18, 2021.
Bryden Gwiss; Lancelot Knight; Stan Louttit; Mali Obomsawin, Music Creators
Sandra Laronde, Concept & Director
Rick Sacks, Principal Composer and Sound Designer
Erin Shields, Playwright
Eric Abramovitz (Associate Principal Clarinet); Chas Elliott (Double Bass); James Gardiner (Trumpet); Darren Hicks (Associate Principal Bassoon); Joseph Kelly (Assistant Timpani & Percussion); Wendy Rose (Associate Principal Second Violin); Gordon Wolfe (Principal Trombone): TSO Musicians
Gary Kulesha TSO Composer Advisor and Mistatim Conductor
Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, TSO Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador