Canadian countertenor Daniel Cabena and a consort of four viol da gambas join us for ‘Of Countertenors and Consorts’ at wbf2024!

March 22, 2024

The 2024 Winnipeg Baroque Festival begins on April 14th at 3 PM at the Crescent Arts Centre with our concert, Of Countertenors and Consorts. Curated by John Wiens, co-conducted by the dynamic duo of Andrew Balfour and Mel Braun, and featuring top Canadian countertenor Daniel Cabena and the Cardinal Consort of Viols, a consort of four viol da gambas, we will present works from the Elizabethan Renaissance alongside new works by Juno nominee Andrew Balfour and Carmen Braden.

CONCERT SPONSORS: Drs. Bill Pope and Elizabeth Tippett Pope

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Canadian countertenor, Daniel Cabena

About Daniel Cabena
Daniel Cabena sings, plays, writes, and teaches. He is also a curator of texts and music, and with Luke Hathaway he shares the artistic direction of ANIMA Early Music. Together they program concerts, commission new works of text and music, and create new works for the ear and for the stage.

To his work of curation and creation, Daniel brings a background in early music and liturgical music scholarship; an interest in how music functions in different performance contexts and traditions; and a curiosity about the ‘why’ of music, as well as its ‘how’.

Daniel teaches singing and historically-inspired performance at the Laurier Academy of Music & Arts (LAMA), where he also leads the Community Consort, a multi-instrumental, multidisciplinary community of practice and inquiry.

Daniel’s music-making and teaching are informed by the Alexander Technique, in which field he is a teacher. He also makes music with his hands, playing modern and Baroque violin, as well as vièle, viola da gamba, and recorders.

Daniel holds an Honours Bachelor of Music from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Doctorate of Music from l’Université de Montréal. He is a past recipient of the Bernard Diamant and Virginia Parker Prizes from the Canada Council for the Arts, and he holds a Master in Specialized Early Music Performance from the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland.

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Cardinal Consort of Viols — Linda Deshman, tenor viol; Sheila Smyth, treble viol; Sara Blake, bass viol; Valerie Sylvester, bass viol

About the Cardinal Consort of Viols
For well over a decade, the Cardinal Consort of Viols has been bringing exquisite music of the 16th and 17th centuries to Southern Ontario audiences, performed on the type of instrument for which it was written, the viola da gamba.

The consort has presented its own annual Thanksgiving Eve concerts and has been hosted by several concert series including Conrad Grebel’s (University of Waterloo), Music Mondays, Toronto Early Music Centre’s Musically Speaking, and the concert series of the Associates of the Toronto Symphony. Cardinal Consort has also performed with several choirs, among them the Grand Philharmonic Chamber Singers, Toronto Chamber Choir, and Tallis Choir. The consort has twice been the guest ensemble of the Toronto Continuo Collective and has also given many popular and engaging performances and demonstrations at the Toronto Early Music Fair. Recent Cardinal performances include last season’s multi-concert tour with the gifted and versatile countertenor Daniel Cabena, and featuring a plague-themed programme, To Our Great Joy. 

This season, the Consort will collaborate again with Daniel, in A Nest of Byrds, a new project in honour of the 400th anniversary of the 1623 death of composer William Byrd, with concerts in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, and on Hamilton’s Hammer Baroque series. Cardinal Consort is pleased to be joining Dead of Winter in Of Countertenors and Consorts (and we are happy to have you!!)

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Mel Braun photo by Matt Duboff

About Mel Braun
Music Director Mel Braun is a long-time baritone soloist, known for his work in Early Music with Tafelmusik and Opera Atelier, his New Music explorations with Banff Centre and Groundswell, and his Art Song projects focusing on the works of Schubert and Wolf. Professor of Voice at the Desautels Faculty of Music, where he also directs the Opera Ensembles, Mel has seen many of his students go on to professional careers as performers, teachers, and Arts Administrators. He has been with DOW since 2010, specializing in workshopping and directing the premieres of new works by Andrew Balfour. When not teaching or directing, Mel is an avid Bombers/Jets fan, with a keen interest in the local pop music scene, many of whose young singers he continues to mentor.

Andrew Balfour photo by Kristen Sawatzky

About Andrew Balfour
Of Cree descent, Andrew Balfour is an innovative composer/conductor/singer/sound designer with a large body of choral, instrumental, electro-acoustic and orchestral works. Andrew’s works have been performed and/or broadcast locally, nationally, and internationally. He has been commissioned by the Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, Roomful of Teeth, Tafelmusik, Ensemble Caprice, Groundswell, the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, Musica Intima, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Winnipeg Singers, and the Kingston Chamber Choir, among others. Andrew Balfour is also the founder and Artistic Director of the innovative vocal group Dead of Winter (Camerata Nova Inc.), now in its 26th year of offering a concert series in Winnipeg. With Dead of Winter, Andrew Balfour specializes in creating “concept concerts,” including a series of three Truth and Reconciliation events (Taken, Fallen, Captive, Notinikew, and Transformation), exploring themes through an eclectic array of new works, arrangements and inter-genre and interdisciplinary collaborations. Andrew is passionate about music education and outreach, particularly on northern reserves and inner-city schools where he has worked on behalf of the National Arts Centre, Dead of Winter, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and various Winnipeg school divisions. Andrew was Curator and Composer-in-Residence of the WSO’s inaugural Indigenous Festival and, in 2017, he was awarded a Gold Medal by the Senate of Canada for his contribution to Canada’s Indigenous and music communities.

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March 6, 2024

WINNIPEG, MB – The 3rd annual Winnipeg Baroque Festival, slated for April 14th through 21st, 2024, is set to provide Winnipeg music lovers with a buffet of musical offerings from the city’s best choirs and instrumentalists. 

“The Winnipeg Baroque Festival strives to build a sense of community celebrating music from the past and showcasing it in exciting and new perspectives,” says Festival artistic director Andrew Balfour. “Dedicated to showcasing and collaborating with musicians from across the musical spectrum in Manitoba and beyond, the Festival’s mandate is to provide access to some of the most glorious music in the musical canon to all in the community.”

Over the course of a week, the Festival is set to present nine concerts that run the gamut from the choral music that formed the foundation of the Festival in its first two years to instrumental offerings, which will be making their debut in this year’s Festival.

“We are so happy to be presenting a concert of instrumental music on period instruments for the first time at the Winnipeg Baroque Festival,” says Winnipeg violinist Momoko Matsumura. “Ancient composers’ intentions are timeless and if there’s anything the world needs in 2024, it’s a moment to unplug, put your life on ‘silent mode’ for a couple of hours and experience a real moment of shared humanity.”

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The 2024 Winnipeg Baroque Festival will begin on April 14th at 3pm at the Crescent Arts Centre in Osborne Village with Of Countertenors and Consorts, a concert presented by one of the Festival’s founding ensembles, Dead of Winter. Curated by John Wiens, co-conducted by the dynamic duo of Andrew Balfour and Mel Braun, and featuring top Canadian countertenor Daniel Cabena and a consort of four viol da gambas (like a cello but with frets and more strings in soprano, alto, tenor, and bass ranges), the ensemble will present works from the Elizabethan Renaissance alongside new works by Juno nominee Andrew Balfour and Carmen Braden.
Read more about Of Countertenors and Consorts

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At 7pm, audiences are invited to the College Chapel of St. John the Evangelist at the University of Manitoba to hear An English Restoration featuring the music of English Baroque masters performed by All the King’s Men. This concert is one of four in the Festival that are pay-what-you-can, making the music of the 17th and 18th centuries even more accessible!

The Festival resumes on Thursday, April 18th at 7:30pm for Mirrors. This concert features male quintet Proximus 5, who are making their return after a smashing debut in the 2023 Festival. They will be sharing a unique program of French and German Renaissance music inside the historic St. John’s Anglican Cathedral in Winnipeg’s North End. This concert also features NUOVOCE, one of Manitoba’s newest choral ensembles who will present repertoire that offers contemporary commentary on music from five centuries earlier. This concert is also being presented on a pay-what-you-can basis!

The second weekend of the Festival kicks off the following night, April 19th at 7:30pm, with another pay-what-you-can offering! The All Saints Anglican Church Choir invites you to Ascension Vespers in the historic All Saints Anglican Church, just across the street from the Manitoba Legislature on Broadway! This program, presented in the traditional Evensong format, will feature two beloved Baroque masterworks – J.S. Bach’s “Ascension Oratorio” and Dietrich Buxtehude’s “Magnificat”. 

Saturday, April 20th, promises to be the busiest single day in the history of the Winnipeg Baroque Festival. Three distinctive concerts by three Festival newcomers will be presented across the city, starting at 11am with the Canadian Mennonite University Festival Players. Their concert is entitled Cantatas, Cambers, Claviers & Coffee, which features solo offerings by two students in CMU’s Faculty of Music, along with a community ensemble presenting J.S. Bach’s beloved “Coffee Cantata”! This concert will take place in the Great Hall of CMU’s picturesque North Campus, and will also offer fitting refreshments for concertgoers!

Not to be outdone, the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Winnipeg Chapter will be adding their annual Bach Marathon to this year’s festivities. Hosted at Young United Church in West Broadway, this concert includes an open sign-up for performers of all instrument types to share their favourite Bach music. The best part – the event will be hosted by none other than J.S. Bach himself along with his wife, Anna Magdelena! 

Music fans will want to finish off their evening back at All Saints Anglican Church just down the street to hear the first-ever instrumental ensemble to play at the Winnipeg Baroque Festival! Comprised of violinists Momoko Matsumura and Tatiana Friesen, violist Jennifer Thiessen, cellist Nathaniel Froese, organist Theresa Thordarson, and guitarist John Himes, the group will share a program entitled Fidem in Fidibus (Faith in Fiddles), featuring music by well-known Baroque composers like Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber to underperformed gems, including a piece by the first-ever female Baroque composer to be featured in the Festival, Isabella Leonarda. 

The final day of the Winnipeg Baroque Festival (April 21st) will start at 3pm at St. Andrews River Heights United Church with a concert by one of Winnipeg’s leading classical music artists, violinist Karl Stobbe. Karl’s program is entitled Sei Solo (To Be Alone), and it features well-known Baroque violin works by Bach alongside Canadian works that speak into the Baroque repertoire, including a world premiere by Quebec composer Michael Oesterle

What better way to close out the 2024 Winnipeg Baroque Festival than with a celebration, and festival co-founders, Canzona has cooked up a humdinger! They invite you to Knox United Church at 7pm in downtown Winnipeg for 35! A Choral Celebration, commemorating the ensemble’s 35th season with performances of Bach and Handel, along with an original commission by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw. This concert will be led by new conductor Elroy Friesen, and will also feature a concert of alumni members performing an excerpt from Bach’s beloved “B Minor Mass” conducted by the ensemble’s founding director, Henry Engbrecht

“The festival is expanding every year and I hope Winnipeg audiences will hear music that is new to them,” says Matsumura. “There is a growing interest in historically-informed Baroque music performances among musicians and singers right here in our city, and the Winnipeg Baroque Festival is at the centre of it!”

“The Festival looks forward to bringing this passionate and exciting music for many years to Winnipeg audiences,” adds Balfour. “We’re even more excited to be doing so with the support of the local musical community, which is continuing to establish Winnipeg’s reputation as a cultural capital of the world.”

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March 25, 2023

An unprecedented collaboration between Winnipeg choirs who are passionate about Baroque music.

Canzona and Dead of Winter join forces to present the 2023 Winnipeg Baroque Festival. With three concerts and a week full of special events, you won’t want to miss this exciting addition to the Winnipeg arts scene!

Click below for Monteverdi Vespers Program

MONTEVERDI VESPERS PROGRAM for Saturday, April 15, 2023

April 15, 2023 / 7:30 PMDead of Winter presents Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 at the Crescent Art Centre.

Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers is one of the most revolutionary pieces of early classical music to date. This ambitious performance, by Dead of Winter under the artistic direction of John Wiens, represents a landmark event in the history of period early music in Winnipeg.
Monteverdi’s Vespers will feature top early music soloists from across Canada including, Jane Fingler, Soprano; Dayna Lamothe, Soprano; Karla Ferguson, Alto; Tim Shantz, Kerry Bursey, Kyle Briscoe, Tenor; Scott Braun, Paul Bruch-Wiens, Jereme Wall, and  Jonathon Adams, Bass; 14 powerful Manitoba choristers; and 14 specialized instrumentalists from across Canada playing period instruments such as cornettos, sackbuts, theorbo, and portative organ.

Special thank you to Monteverdi Vespers concert sponsors Drs. Bill Pope and Elizabeth Tippet Pope.

Published in 1610 and organized into thirteen movements spanning an impressive ninety minutes, the Vespers is one of the earliest large-scale masterpieces of the Western world, connecting music loving audiences across artistic styles, cultures, and eras. Indeed, Monteverdi was the radical composer of his time, moving from brilliant, traditional Renaissance music to creating the controversial, more expressive style we now call Baroque. His Vespers paved the way for all tonally centered music we have come to know and love in our modern venues and concert halls.

What makes the Vespers a work of such distinction? It is dance-like, with showy operatic elements and flashy moments of virtuosity. Though its individual movements are inspired by the biblical psalms, the Vespers are enjoyable and accessible to secular and sacred audiences alike. Comfortable as both a performer and composer, Monteverdi wrote the Vespers for the musician as much as the listener, a work of sophisticated musical language that might be one of the best gateway drugs to early music there is. Think Handel’s Messiah one hundred and fifty years before Handel was even a thought; Claudio Monteverdi was something of a Jimmy Hendrix, transforming people’s idea of what instruments could do and music could be. 

Why should we care about Vespers, in Manitoba? In fact, there is a burgeoning early music scene right here in Winnipeg. With a well-established choral music scene on the national and international stage, Winnipeg is steadily growing as a hub for early music performance. A performance of Monteverdi’s choral works, which require a certain calibre of vocal prowess and skill, would represent a landmark performance of early music on a local stage. Indeed, choral singing is a balm for the soul. This musical expression is core to Manitoba’s history and has proven to be a unifying art form amidst Manitoba’s complex and multi-generational identities.
“It’s extremely important to our audiences to have a live experience of this kind of music,” says Andrew Balfour, Dead of Winter’s Artistic Director, and Canada’s leading Indigenous composer of contemporary classical music. “For us, part of our mandate is to present high-level choral music, and Monteverdi’s Vespers is one of the earliest masterpieces in the Western world. It doesn’t get any better than this for Manitobans.”
Balfour’s own artistic journey embodies two radically different identities that come to the fore through his involvement in early music performances like this one. Though he grew up as a choir boy at the All Saints Anglican Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Balfour was also a child of the Sixties Scoop. His artistic sensibilities have been shaped by these unique realities of his upbringing, each one holding tension with the other though absolutely vital to his life as an artist. Indeed, Balfour credits seminal early music works like the Vespers as foundational to his love for and success as the contemporary musician and composer he is today.
“Early music like this has helped me understand choral composition better. The cool thing is that whatever we do today as choral groups goes back to that. Haydn taught Mozart, Mozart taught Beethoven, and it’s just a continuous chain of influence across history. We’re always learning from the past to make the future fuller. All this music has continued to teach me what I want to write, as I strive to tell the stories of my Indigenous heritage through this medium.”

April 19, 2023, at 7:30 PM — Join Proximus 5 for “A Proximus Baroque” at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church (160 Ethelbert Street) in the heart of Wolseley.

In observance of the 400th anniversary of William Byrd’s death, this program will feature several of his most profound works. Byrd’s Mass for five voices will serve as the centrepiece of the program, interspersed with works by Bach, Handel, Lotti, Monteverdi, Pitoni, and Purcell.

April 22, 2023 / 7:30 PM — The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra joins Canzona for Bach’s longest and most musically complex motet, Jesu Meine Freude at the Crescent Art Centre.

Alongside this famous masterpiece, you will experience sparkling presentations of Bach’s more rarely-heard motet, “O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht,” and Handel’s “The Ways of Zion Do Mourn” sung by some of Winnipeg’s finest choristers under the baton of Artistic Director, Kathleen Allan.

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FULL FESTIVAL PASSES and individual concert tickets are available HERE.

We look forward to seeing you at the festival!

Andrew Balfour’s Medieval Inuit

October 28, 2022

Saturday, October 29, 2022, 7:30 p.m.
Westgate Mennonite Collegiate (86 West Gate)

Join us as we perform one of Andrew Balfour’s works from his Truth and Reconciliation concert series. wonder of the North and features Inuit throat singers Aleatra Sammurtok and Zeann Manernaluk. We are dedicating this concert to the memory of Dead of Winter board member and long-standing board member and Manitoba Inuit Association President for several years, Fred Ford.

Please note, this will be a filmed performance (to be released as a concert film), and capacity is limited.


Aemilia Moser is in the 2nd year of a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Voice at the Desautels Faculty of Music, where she is singing the role of the Fairy Godmother in a performance of Massenet’s Cendrillon. She recently sang Alligator Pie with the WSO under the direction of Julian Pellicano.

Merina Dobson Perry continues to share her vocal gifts with many of Winnipeg’s professional choirs and also teaches music for young children. Merina has a secret “rock singer’ life.

Brittany Melnichuk is the conductor of the Rainbow Harmony choir and also works for the Manitoba Choral Association. She teaches at the Manitoba Conservatory.

Donnalynn Grills has sung with every major organization in town including Manitoba Opera, Rainbow Stage, Winnipeg Singers, and Canzona as well as the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, with whom was recently a soloist in Bach’s Mass in F.

Ange Neufeld, one of the founding members of Dead of Winter, is the tireless choir board rep for the choir. No one knows or cares more about the ongoing legacy of Dead of Winter and Ange is always there for everyone. When not singing with Dead of Winter or Winnipeg Singers, Ange is an Elementary School music teacher.

Carlie Fehr is in the first year of her Education Certification at the University of Manitoba. Every Monday she gets to work with the young singers at Dakota Collegiate, whose program is led by long-term DOW singer Justin Odwak.

Nolan Kehler is one of the busiest young tenors in the city, having recently sung the tenor solos in Bach’s St. John Passion under the direction of Kathleen Allan. When not involved in singing projects, Nolan works behind the scenes as a producer and studio director for CBC Radio.

Mike Thompson, another founding member of Dead of Winter is preparing for the Fall hunting season with his muzzle loader. Besides harvesting amazing venison, Mike is an enthusiastic drum hang participant and Manitoba’s only professional digeridoo player.

Kyle Briscoe is a recent graduate of the Desautels Faculty of Music. When not singing, he works as an assistant to Manitoba Opera CEO Larry Desrochers. Kyle will be singing the tenor solo in Peer Gynt with the WSO this winter and next season has him singing the tenor solos in the Messiah with the WSO.

Dr. Matthew Knight is our resident expert in Georgian music and has curated and arranged the Georgian portion of the upcoming DOW Christmas concert. Matt is much in demand on the local choral scene and is a father to two delightful daughters.

Al Schroeder is the 3rd founding member of DOW still in the choir and is also a member of Winnipeg Singers. Al’s facility as a woodworker and home renovator is much in evidence around the city. Al, along with Mike Thompson, is one of DOW’s overtoning experts.

John Anderson is a recent graduate in Vocal Performance from the Desautels Faculty of Music. When not sharing his voice with local choral groups, John can be found teaching at the Children’s House Montessori School.

Violist Jennifer Thiessen recently returned home to Winnipeg after two decades in Montreal. An accomplished performer on both viola and viola d’amore, Jennifer has commissioned and created numerous new works for viola, as well as playing early music. She has collaborated with many of today’s leading New Music composers, developing a particular specialty in improvisation. Jennifer is the Artistic Director For the Virtuosi Concert Series.

Percussionist Tori Sparkes is the Percussion Instructor at the Deasutels Faculty of Music, where she is inspiring a whole new generation of percussionists in the wonders of rhythm, colour, and exploration. Tori, the only true Icelander in tonight’s performance, plays with all the major Arts organizations in the city and regularly commissions new works.

Vic Pankratz has logged countless hours as a solo singer with Manitoba Opera, the WSO, and the RWB, and has also sung as a chorister with all the professional choirs in the city. By day he leads the choral program at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate. He is much in demand throughout the province as a choral clinician. If there is a hockey or football game on during rehearsal, Vic is sure to PVR it, so that he doesn’t miss a single period or down.

Mel Braun is the long-time Head of Voice at the Desautels Faculty of Music, where he delights in working with young singers both as a voice teacher and opera ensemble director. He has been heard as a baritone soloist in Opera, Oratorio, and Art Song all across North America. When not singing, teaching, or conducting, he keeps up with all the rock young bands around town. He has avidly followed the Blue Bombers for the last 55 years… has been a journey….Yikes!

Aleatra Sammurtok is a busy Mom with a long history of throat singing here in Manitoba. An active participant in the local Inuit scene, she can be found sharing her gifts at many of the Inuit ceremonies and celebrations. 

Zeann Manernaluk grew up in Rankin Inlet, where she started singing at the age of six under the tutelage of her aunt. After moving to Winnipeg, she immediately became an important part of the local throat singing scene. A mother of two, Zeann works in the health field.

Phoebe Mann – local singer and percussionist Phoebe Mann is an old friend of Dead of Winter and tonight finds her displaying her flag waving expertise as she creates the sound of those Norse sails whipping in the wind.

Medieval Inuit concert program — View on webpage or download to your device

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

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Check out this live concert film for Andrew Balfour’s Captive filmed in May 2022 at the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg, MB.

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. 

Click here to open Captive concert program in new tab


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