Jeremy Dutcher: "deep in dialogue" with his roots
Tenor, composer, activist, and musicologist Jeremy Dutcher is mid-tour of his Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, an album of "collaborative compositions" that makes a significant nod to his Wolastoq First Nation roots.
Dutcher is a member of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, one of six Wolastoqiyik/Maliseet reserves in the province. During his work at the Canadian Museum of History, Dutcher transcribed Wolastoq melodies - forgotten songs from generations past - from 1907 wax cylinders.
"Many of the songs I'd never heard before, because our musical tradition on the East Coast was suppressed by the Canadian Government's Indian Act," say Dutcher.
Dutcher's tour of Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa comes to Toronto's Great Hall on June 9, and features fellow Canadian singers Teiya Kasahara, Jonathan MacArthur, percussionist Adam Campbell, and cellist (and Schmopera contributor) Blanche Israël.
"I'm doing this work because there's only about a hundred Wolastoqey speakers left," he says. "It's crucial for us to make sure that we're using our language and passing it on to the next generation. If you lose the language, you're not just losing words; you're losing an entire way of seeing and experiencing the world from a distinctly indigenous perspective."