The TELUS original documentary feature The Lake / nx̌aʔx̌aʔitkʷ has been recently released and is available to audiences across Canada free on demand and online, worldwide. This unique film is a musical work of cross-cultural collaboration and discovery centering on a journey to decolonize a 1950s Canadian opera about the syilx people and first settlers in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. The feature has ties to the Okanagan, Vancouver, music and focus on decolonization in the arts.
It is the first Canadian opera shot specifically as a film and features Westbank First Nation elder and artist Delphine Derickson and award-winning Canadian soprano Heather Pawsey. The inspiring music documentary - with Vancouver director John Bolton (Aim For The Roses) at the helm - follows the extraordinary friendship between these two singers and teachers. The film captures the ground-breaking two-year cross-cultural collaboration that took place as they transformed The Lake, a historic opera written in 1952 by Canadian composer Barbara Pentland. They incorporate syilx / Okanagan perspectives, bringing to life the Indigenous and non-Indigenous music, stories and dance from the original live-staged production, alongside a bracingly honest oral history of the successes and failures of the project.
Filled with laughter and tears, and alive to the rhythms of water and wind, The Lake / nx̌aʔx̌aʔitkʷ celebrates the magic that's possible when people start to really listen to one another.
Watch the feature online at watch.telusoriginals.com
The UK's Thaxted Festival announces its 2024 Festival from 21 June to 14 July, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of local composer Gustav Holst. The festival features soprano Nadine Benjamin, The Joanna Eden Band, The Nash Ensemble and pianist Iyad Sughayer, alongside VOCES8, Mozart's Magic Flute with Wild Arts, the English Chamber Orchestra and The Festival's resident ensemble, the London Mozart Players. There will be a first performance of Symphony No 1 by Noah Max, who is composer in residence in 2024.
The Festival has a partnership with the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) and the London Mozart Players to feature their musicians throughout the year.
Holst stumbled upon Thaxted on a walking tour of north Essex and was so enamoured with the village that he rented a house there from 1913 - it is where he began work on what subsequently became known as The Planets. Holst was fascinated by the planets and their astrological significance, and especially how this affected the lives of ordinary people. Holst established the Whitsun Festival in 1916 at Thaxted's light-filled parish church.
Artistic director Andrew Jenkins commented:
Thaxted Festival is indelibly linked to Gustav Holst, and this year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth, with performances of his works throughout the festival. The highlight will be his First Choral Symphony with the English Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of King's College London, the same forces that memorably brought us Holst's Cloud Messenger in 2022.
With a whole evening inspired by Holst on 5 July, the festival celebrates the life of the great English composer, whose lifelong friend Ralph Vaughan Williams was a great influence. On Sunday 7 July, the Choir of Kings College London will perform Holst's First Choral Symphony, a work that sets verses by John Keats in a traditional four-movement structure. First performed at Leeds Town Hall in October 1925 by conductor Albert Coates and soprano Dorothy Silk, the work was initially well-received but fell into neglect, and today is rarely performed.
Thaxted Parish Church, amidst the rolling Essex countryside near Saffron Walden, has been described as the finest parish church in the country, and provides the perfect venue for the Thaxted Festival. With its origins in Gustav Holst's 1916 Whitsun Festival, Thaxted Festival attracts outstanding British and international musicians in genres ranging from orchestral, chamber and vocal music to jazz, folk, big-band and swing, from early music to contemporary styles - and Holst is never overlooked. The area is home to a number of writers and film makers and has a good working relationship with Saffron Hall to collaborate on orchestral concerts.
Festival patron Zeb Soanes commented:
Thaxted Festival has its origins in the music-making of Gustav Holst, whose 150th anniversary we will be celebrating next year. His Whitsuntide Festivals and other events brought together students, professionals [in] 'a feast' of music-making. Thaxted's new Developing Artists Programme continues Holst's passion and delight in developing young musicians, providing a platform for musicians and composers at the earlier stages of their careers. On a summer's evening, there really is nowhere better to relax and enjoy the music of your choice in beautiful surroundings, than at the Thaxted Festival.
The 2024 Festival will feature events for younger audiences and educational projects with schools in collaboration with the London Mozart Players. The Festival has a Developing Artists Programme, supported by a dedicated fund in partnership with YCAT (The Young Concert Artists Trust). It provides a platform for professional musicians and composers at the earliest stages of their careers, both within the main summer season and throughout the year.
Further information: thaxtedfestival.co.uk
Posted 9 January 2024 by Nicole Trask and Nicky Thomas