Captive concert at PODIUM 2022 — May 21, 2022

May 19, 2022

After two years of delay due to the pandemic, composer Andrew Balfour, with vocal group Dead of Winter, will finally premiere the latest concert in Balfour’s Truth and Reconciliation series.

This is the third in a series of Truth and Reconciliation concerts created by Andrew Balfour to acknowledge and honour the pain, sorrow and beauty of the experience of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. 

On Friday, May 13, celebrated composer Andrew Balfour will bring his much-anticipated Captive concert to life at the West End Cultural Centre, a week before he presents the same concert at PODIUM Choral Conference and Festival in Toronto on May 21. 

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Download the Captive concert program below

On Friday, May 13, celebrated composer Andrew Balfour will brought his much-anticipated Captive concert to life in Winnipeg, MB, a week before he presents it at PODIUM Choral Conference and Festival in Toronto on May 21. 

Conductor Mel Braun will lead the Winnipeg vocal group Dead of Winter in Captive, the third installment in a series of Truth and Reconciliation concerts that began in 2017. Dead of Winter will share the stage with a slate of talented guest performers, including Melody Mckiver on viola, Alexandre Tetrault on fiddle, Rosary Spence, and Cheri Maracle.

The Truth and Reconciliation concerts are Balfour’s brainchild, and each concert centers around a theme that resonates with the Canadian Indigenous experience. Past concerts in the series have featured collaborations with an impressive range of Indigenous artists, including Cree hip hop artist Lindsay Knight and Polaris winner Jeremy Dutcher (Taken, 2017), and traditional Ojibway drummer-singer Cory Campbell and cellist Cris Derksen (Fallen, 2018). Captive will feature compositions by Andrew Balfour, Cris Derksen, and Kristi Lane Sinclair, with a glorious mix by Eliot Britton for commercial release after-the-fact. 

The ideas for the Captive concert started percolating during a composer gathering hosted by Dead of Winter back in February 2020. Balfour had gathered with Eliot Britton and Cris Dirksen in Neubergthal, Manitoba, where they spent four days workshopping their ideas. The gathering was an essential event in the creative development of the concert, and, originally, the plan was to perform Captive in May 2020. Then COVID-19 hit, and like so many live music events in the last two years of the pandemic, the performance was canceled.

Well, not exactly canceled.

The last two years have given Balfour and his fellow composers the unexpected gift of time, which they have taken full advantage of to build on and strengthen their original writing.

“I think that Captive will be profound in part because it’s changed so much,” says Balfour. “To have an extra couple of years to sit with the project has been very eye-opening as to what we want its statement to be.”

Ultimately, the pandemic has given Balfour the time to go deeper into the story he wants to tell, and figure out the best methods to provide the context of this story to his audiences. His own 25-minute piece sharing the concert’s namesake, ‘Captive,’ has evolved quite a bit over the last two years. Initially intended to tell the story of Chief Poundmaker, a famous chief of the Poundmaker Cree Nation, the narrative has transformed into a larger story of Indigenous incarceration, to be presented in five abstract scenes.

There’s a legacy in our country of imprisonment of Indigenous people, and it’s a very tragic part of our colonial history here; indeed, most of our prisons are still filled with Indigenous people. One of the key things these Truth and Reconciliation Concerts do is allow me and other composers to reset and rethink how we want to tell a story. Like ‘Notinikew’ (from the Fallen 2018 concert), it is not my intention to end ‘Captive’ with a positive note. Although I am myself a positive person, this is a subject that doesn’t have an optimal conclusion.”

Balfour is also careful to highlight that he does not speak for all Indigenous people. 

“I can only speak from my perspective. I’ve had a little experience within the justice system myself, and have seen the powerful tragedy and racial injustice from the inside. But this injustice is everywhere; it’s in the medical system, it’s in the social system, it’s in our religious institutions, it’s everywhere. And the people who work in these systems, they are our intended audience.”

Balfour and Dead of Winter will debuted Captive in Winnipeg, MB, at the West End Cultural Centre on the evening of Friday, May 13. This performance, however, covered only half of the excitement. A week following the concert premiere, Balfour and Dead of Winter will present Captive on the national stage in Toronto at PODIUM, Canada’s national choral conference and festival. The invitation to perform at the conference is an immense honour for Balfour, whose much-anticipated concert will be a feature of the festival. 

For more information, including performer bios and additional show notes, please visit

Read more about Andrew Balfour:
Choral maestro Andrew Balfour pursues his Indigenous identity through musicThe Globe and Mail

Check out this video for I Went to War / Poni pimacisiwin (the end of living)— an excerpt from Notinikew (Going to War) by Andrew Balfour and featuring cellist Cris Derksen and the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir.

Captive concert features rich slate of guest artists

May 10, 2022

Andrew Balfour

Andrew Balfour’s Captive, which debuts this Friday, May 13th at the West End Cultural Centre, mines the depths of human vulnerability, portraying, through original vocal and instrumental compositions, the Indigenous body and spirit held captive by a colonialist way of life. It is a challenging story to tell and a difficult one for Settler audiences to hear, but the aim of the Captive concert is empowering the storyteller and engaging the listener through a shared experience of music and poetry. Though the centerpiece of the program is Andrew Balfour’s original composition “Captive,” which tells the story of Chief Poundmaker’s imprisonment in Stony Mountain Penitentiary during the 19th century, the program is fortified by an exceptional lineup of work and performances by Indigenous women. 

“This program is a statement on real truth-telling,” says Captive curator/composer Andrew Balfour. “The unique thing about it is that there are so many Indigenous voices featured, and especially women, which is a crucial reminder of the fact that there are still so many murdered and missing Indigenous women in this country.”

Melody McKiver

“This program is a statement on real truth-telling,” says Captive curator/composer Andrew Balfour. “The unique thing about it is that there are so many Indigenous voices featured, and especially women, which is a crucial reminder of the fact that there are still so many murdered and missing Indigenous women in this country.”

The lineup includes performances by Indigenous violist Melody McKiver, featured in Balfour’s “Captive,” as well as young Oji-Cree vocalist Keely McPeek as narrator for “Selkirk Avenue,” an earlier work of Balfour’s based on a poem of the same name by Metis poet Katherina Vermette.

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to perform Andrew’s work Selkirk Avenue at the Captive concert,” comments McPeek. “Art and music are such important avenues in working towards reconciliation; I’m honored to play any part I can in the effort.”

Keely McPeek

“Woman,” a choral piece by Haida/Cree singer-songwriter Kristi Lane Sinclair, is featured in the first half and sets a poignant tone for the concert. Sinclair is part of a new wave of cross-genre Canadian Indigenous artists and her musical roots fuse rock, folk, and classical. 

The second half of the program features the world premiere of “Same Wave, Same Sea” by internationally recognized Indigenous composer/cellist Cris Derksen. “Same Wave, Same Sea” portrays another kind of captivity that is no stranger to any of us, that of isolation during a global pandemic.

Alexandre Tétreault

A softer, though no less poignant tone is added to the program in the Metis fiddle tunes performed by Manitoba fiddler Alexandre Tétreault. Alexandre blends these traditions with polka, foxtrot, and the most beautiful waltzes.

“There is a heavy relationship between Metis and the Cree and Ojibwe people of the Red River Valley,” says Andrew. 

Through music and poetry, Captive roots the ugly truth of the Canadian Indigenous experience in the here and now, naming the injustices committed against Indigenous peoples as belonging to the present as much as the past. In naming this cultural oppression, however, the Captive program is an effort to plant something larger than hurt: a conversation that might move towards reconciliation and hope. 

St John Passion POSTPONED due to weather

April 11, 2022

Coming off the high of this weekend’s festivities, it is with some heaviness that we make this announcement. Most of you may already be aware of the recent weather statement issued for Manitoba as a Colorado low approaches our region. Due to the precarity of these upcoming weather conditions, we have decided to postpone the St John Passion performance with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, originally scheduled for this Friday, April 15. We are, of course, disappointed in this turn of events, but we would like to emphasize that we are not canceling the St John Passion performance. This event is very near and dear to our hearts, and we fully intend to present it at a later date that does not jeopardize the safety of our audience and performers. We are currently working to finalize this new date and will loop you in with all the details at your earliest convenience.

In the meantime, we greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate this stormy situation. The show must—and will—go on, so stay tuned!

Dead of Winter, Canzona, and Polycoro,
Winnipeg Baroque Festival Organizers

Dead of Winter (formerly Camerata Nova) getting ready to ring in the season

November 8, 2021

NOVEMBER 8, 2021 – Our first concert of the season – “Celebrating the Carol” – is fast approaching, and we cannot wait to ring, or should we say sing, in the holidays with our fans and supporters.

On November 27 and 28, we will be taking the stage for the first time as Dead of Winter (formerly Camerata Nova) at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church. With a program curated by Andrew Balfour and John Wiens, this first concert in our upcoming season is an invitation to audiences and supporters to embark on a journey with the ensemble for our first live performance after almost two years. “Celebrating the Carol” will be a rare opportunity for audiences to hear (and participate in!) a spectacular concert experience free of charge. This type of outreach is something that Camerata Nova engaged in for 18 years and we are delighted to bring it back after the long haul of COVID. This is one of the many ways in which we give back to the community, making it more accessible to families and diversifying the audience for choral music in Manitoba.

As we return to the stage, we want to take the opportunity to showcase work by some glorious Manitoba composers including Scott Reimer, Daniel Wiebe, and Mike McKay. We are an ever-evolving ensemble, and collaborations with local creatives continue to shape our identity in the most rewarding ways. Rounding out the repertoire for this concert will be music by di Lasso, Gabrieli, Schubert, Mueller, and Wishart.

We should highlight that we are being careful with this offering. To reduce operating costs, we will not be bringing in big guest instrumentalists, and we will be accepting donations to defray the cost of the event.

If you have not yet reserved your tickets, there are still two weeks before the concert; but it’s selling out fast! Reserve your tickets here. If you have reserved a ticket but have, for whatever reason, decided not to attend, please contact us ASAP so that we can offer your reservation to someone else. This is extremely important, as we are operating at a limited capacity and would like to allow for as many people to attend the concert as possible.

Looking ahead to 2022, we are taking our early music performances up a notch. In April, we will be presenting an unprecedented collaboration between three Winnipeg choirs who are passionate about Baroque music: Canzona, Dead of Winter and Polycoro. Each choir will produce its own concert (April 8, 9 and 10, 2022) focusing on early music from a different region: Canzona – England; Polycoro – Italy; and Dead of Winter – Germany. The festival will culminate on April 15, 2022 with a three-choir performance of J.S. Bach’s St John Passion with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, masterful Baroque soloists, and a combined force of powerful Manitoba choristers.

A limited number of early bird tickets are available at $60 for all concerts included in the Winnipeg Baroque Festival. Reserve your tickets here.

Of course, your safety is our priority. We are so looking forward to performing for you again, but we would like to do so as safely as possible. For our concerts on November 27 & 28 – Celebrating the Carol – we are:

– Selling tickets to approx. 33% capacity

– Requiring all patrons, choristers, volunteers, and staff to be fully vaccinated

– Requiring all patrons and choristers, volunteers, and staff to remain masked throughout the entire concert

We’re FREE-styling into the holiday season

October 13, 2021

This holiday season Dead of Winter is taking to the live stage with a free concert. Join us as we present Celebrating the Carol, performing time-honoured carols and early music, echoes our very first founding event 25 years ago. In 2021, it’s an invitation to journey with us out of our COVID-19 cocoons to enjoy our first safe, live performance in almost two years. 

We continue to have fun collaborating with top Manitoba choral composers including Scott Reimer, Daniel Wiebe and Michael McKay. Rounding out the repertoire will be divine music by di Lasso, Gabrieli, Schubert, Mueller and Wishart. Bring your kids, your vocal chords and something for Manitoba Harvest! See below for our COVID-19 protocols.

Saturday, November 27, 2021 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 28, 2021 at 3:00 p.m.
Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (525 Wardlaw Avenue)
Curated by John Wiens, Andrew Balfour, Mel Braun, Vic Pankratz
Conducted by John Wiens

Reserve your tickets today to guarantee entry!

A dynamic conductor hailed for “awe-inspiring” (Winnipeg Free Press) performances, John Wiens has cemented his reputation as one of Canada’s finest chamber choir conductors. He performs across Canada each season, and is at home in current, ancient, and romantic repertoire. He is known as an innovative programmer who is always ready to push the boundaries of what a concert can be to explore new ways of experiencing music. 

John has appeared on stages across the world, pursuing an innovative path as a programmer known for an uncommonly wide repertoire. John’s inquisitiveness and love of investigation often results in the performance of new music, and music from before 1700. His conducting career has ranged from Belgium (University Chorus for L’Université Catholique de Louvain) to Morocco (Ensemble Voca Me) to Montreal (St. Matthias Anglican Church, Westmount) and Winnipeg (Polycoro, Camerata Nova).

Born into a musical family in small–town Manitoba, John aspired to be a musician from an early age.  He studied violin at the age of four, and sang in choirs throughout his childhood. He holds degrees in Violin, Voice, and Conducting, from CMU, McGill, and the University of Sherbrooke respectively. He has studied privately  with Paul van Nevel, (director of the Huelgas Ensemble), Christopher Jackson (SMAM)Andrew Megill (University of Illinois), Konstantin Krechler, and Donna Grescoe.

John is constantly expanding his knowledge of music ancient and modern. He has conducted the premiers of works by Andrew BalfourNorbert PalejT. Pat CarrabréNeil Weisenthel, and Isaiah Ceccarelli, and regularly programs repertoire by many of Canada’s leading composers including Anna Sokolovic, Mychael Danna, Vivian Fung, Nicolas Gilbert, and Oleksa Lozowchuk.

When not performing, John is in more and more demand as a clinician, adjudicator, and juror, participating in these activities as often as his busy schedule will allow. He is honored to work with and support new talent. He loves spending his spare time with his wife and sons in the kitchen or outdoors, and he is an avid fencer.

We are so looking forward to performing for you again – as safely as possible. For our concerts on November 27 & 28 – Celebrating the Carol – we are:

– Selling tickets to approx. 33% capacity

– Requiring all patrons, choristers, volunteers, and staff to be fully vaccinated

– Requiring all patrons and choristers, volunteers, and staff to remain masked throughout the entire concert