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University of Calgary alumna premieres choir composition at Bella Concert Hall

By Rachel Woodward, February 28 2017 —

While Yellowknife is known for inspiring lots of layers in order to keep warm, it also sparked some musical inspiration for one University of Calgary alumna.

Yellowknife-raised Carmen Braden received her Masters of Music in Composition in 2015 from the U of C. She will debut her piece, The Ice Seasons, on March 12 at Mount Royal University.

Braden says she incorporated the soundscape of her childhood into the piece.

“Growing up in Yellowknife didn’t exactly give me the clearest career path towards music, but when I went away to school and was studying more about it, I began to see my home in a different way,” she says. “There’s a lot of support [in Calgary]. There’s a vibrant artistic community that I’m very deeply engaged with. But also — like my piece is showing — it’s a place that has a lot of richness and opportunity to explore creativity in a lot of different mediums. I just happened to sink into the music.”

The piece will be performed by the award-winning Calgary Spiritus Chamber Choir. Braden says working with the group has been a positive experience.

“I’m not nervous for the music because the people who are performing it are top notch,” she says. “At this point, it’s almost like I have to start letting go. It’s a control thing — I have to start kind of letting go of being in control of the music. That role for me is done. I’ll be there and I’ll be able to give critical comments, but even during the piece I’m not going to be the one singing. So the amount of control I have during the actual piece is pretty minimal, which makes me nervous.”

While this won’t be the first time Braden’s work is performed.But she says writing The Ice Seasons was unique because of the support she has in Calgary.

“It felt like I had found a community that I had been seeking,” she says. “This was the place where I really decided to go deep and was able to. I felt extremely supported by the [U of C], the School of Creative and Performing Arts, all of my teachers that I had there and then of course the students that I was in the graduate program with, as well as the undergraduate program [where] I got to know who I was.”

Earlier this year, Braden released her debut album, Ravens, in which she pays homage to her childhood landscape through vocal and instrumental arrangements. She hopes that the performance of The Ice Seasons will resonate with audiences.

“I hope [the audience is] transformed. There might be ideas or sounds in the piece that maybe they haven’t heard before or that they have heard and resonate with them in a different way. It’s important for me to contextualize this piece from where it was inspired from — my home around Yellowknife,” she says. “For people who haven’t been to this part of the world, I hope they’re transported or I hope they get a glimpse into what my experiences were like. It may be a challenging listen for them.”

The Spiritus Choir will perform The Ice Seasons on March 12 at the Bella Concert Hall at Mount Royal University at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are available online.

For more information, visit spirituschamberchoir.ca



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