In Wednesday’s (6/23) Winnipeg Free Press (Canada), Gwenda Nemerofsky writes, “What better way to celebrate National Aboriginal Day than to launch the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Indigenous Festival, New Traditions? Monday’s opening night presentation, entitled Ritual, was a genuine tour de force from beginning to end. Festival manager Vince Fontaine and music director Alexander Mickelthwate have incorporated music and dance from many cultures. This was evident in the Grand Entry, with the rousing Honour Song performed by First Nations drum group Spirit Rising. The Intertribal Dance reached intercultural heights, as Chinese lion dancers, East Indian dancers, Japanese dancers and more proceeded onto the stage.” The orchestra’s performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, led by Mickelthwate, featured dancers from the [region’s] School of Contemporary Dancers and the Manitoba Aboriginal School of Dance. In addition, “Winnipeg composer Andrew Balfour’s tone poem, Manitou Sky, was a stirring depiction of a storm over a Manitoba lake. Balfour, of Cree descent, has outdone himself with this composition that is sensitively in touch with nature. … But Chinese composer and erhu master George Gao stole the show. In his hands, this ancient two-stringed instrument is as relevant and insistently alive as any today. … This was a well-paced and most entertaining evening of music.”

Posted June 24, 2010

Photo of Alexander Mickelthwate by Craig Koshyk