Tag Archives: performing

‘Tis autumn

4 Oct

I am back amid fiery maples and scarlet sumac. It has been close to a decade since I experienced an Ottawa autumn, and I love it as much as I ever did. Fall was always my favourite season: not too hot, not too cold, and gloriously alive with colour.

(It’s no coincidence my wedding anniversary is in October, at the height of Ontario fall. This year — just how did this happen?! I’m not old enough for this! — we will be celebrating 10 years of marriage.)

A week ago today, I was leaving Ottawa. With Michael at my side, and the kids safely ensconced at his parents’ house, we boarded a First Air plane and flew to Iqaluit, Nunavut. Iqaluit is the capital of Canada’s newest territory (formed in 1999), and a vital part of my own history. I spent two years at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, graduating with the class of 1995. Those two years went by in a flash, but made a lasting impression on my life.

I haven’t been back since my sister’s graduation in 1996. I’ve always wanted to visit again, but flying to and from Nunavut is prohibitively expensive. For this trip, I was invited to perform at a conference, and I jumped at the opportunity.

It was an amazing trip, revisiting familiar haunts, reconnecting with friends, exploring all the new areas of the much-expanded city, and finding musical opportunities at every turn.

Thursday, it was karaoke at the Legion with some of my high school classmates. Friday, I gave my very first house concert (with Grant Simpson from Whitehorse!) at my former music teacher’s house. Sunday there was a musical coffeehouse at the Francophone Association in the afternoon and then the conference performance we were hired to do, a “mini Frantic Follies”to give conference delegates a taste of the other end of northern Canada.

Now we’re all back in Ottawa. Grant and I will be playing (four sets!) at the Options Jazz Lounge this Saturday evening, and then we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with Michael’s family. This trip has been warm and wonderful makes me appreciate more than ever how much I have to be thankful for.

‘Tis autumn . . . and it’s still my favourite season.

First glimpse of the Iqaluit airport

Best boat name ever

Best boat name ever

Inuksuk High School

My old stomping grounds

Bilingual stop (Harper) sign.

A coast guard boat in Frobisher Bay, with an inverted qamutik (traditional sled) in the foreground

It's always fresh in Inuktut

It’s always fresh in Inuktitut

St. Jude's Anglican church

St. Jude’s Anglican church in Iqaluit has always had this unique “igloo-with-a-steeple” design, but the original wooden one burned down. This new (bigger) incarnation was completed earlier this year.


Creative spurt

20 Feb

I have a good friend who is a visual artist; I think of her primarily as a visual artist, even though she has “day job” as a teacher.  She does mostly watercolour paintings, but dabbles in other types of art, as well, and she’s always working on something.  It would seem strange if she didn’t have some kind of project on the go (more often several) at all times.  I get the impression that most artists are like that.

I, on the other hand, seem to get creative in spurts, with periods of drought in between.  There were the two years of high school where I used up reams of paper generating poetry like the angst-ridden introspective teen that I was.  The year in Germany where I got immersed in music, writing flute and piano pieces, performing on piano with a chamber orchestra, trying my hand at percussion.  There was the scrapbooking phase (which I hope to get back into sometime, especially as I have a crapload of money tied up in supplies) and the short watercolour phase.  Then there was that thing where I started doing a bit of travelling around the NWT as a singer.  After a couple of years’ hiatus where I got kind of busy with, you know, a baby, I’m back into a music phase now.  It feels good.

I don’t know if there’s anything I can do to smooth out the peaks and valleys, or whether I should even try.  I tend to be the kind of person who focusses a lot of energy on one thing for a while, but then new things come along and I’m off in a new direction.  But I sure do miss it when I’m not in a creative phase.  It stretches me and I learn so much. 

I know that when I am in a creative phase, other parts of my life are positively impacted.  The semester in university where I had a full (and tough!) course load, was holding down a job, plus had a major supporting role in a musical production, well, I thought I was going a bit nuts with all the commitments, yet I got the best marks I ever achieved at university.  (I know, that was 10 years ago now, but it still stands out in my mind.)

The past few months at work have been huge improvement over the previous time.  Partly it’s because I’m finally settling into the position and getting interesting projects, but I think it’s also partly because I have a better balance in my life, having a creative outlet.

I’m going to be “outletting” a bit this weekend at the Sourdough Rendezvous festival.  The organizers asked YWIM to have a few women perform at the main festival tent from 3:30 to 4:30 on Saturday afternoon, and I’m going to be one of them.  With four performers over the hour, we’ll probably each do about 3 songs.  I’m rather nervous, to be perfectly honest, and haven’t entirely decided whether I’ll be doing all original pieces.  It’s not like I’m taking a huge risk, really, but it feels like a big step for me.  So here I am stretching again.  Yeah… it feels good.


5 Feb

I think I need to amend my “extraordinary” post.  What I ought to have said is that when things go well singing makes me feel like I’m doing something extraordinary.  Otherwise, I just feel squirmily dissatisfied.

We had a few minutes to spare at the end of last night’s Big Band rehearsal, so Kelly had me go up to the mic to try out a couple of tunes that the band hasn’t done in a while.  Since I’ve never heard the band play them, I wasn’t familiar with the arrangements.  Add to that the little frog in my throat (vestige of the latest cold), my apparent inability to count (seriously, I’m going to have to go to kindergarten with Jade) and the fact that we were set up so that I was singing to a wall with my back to everyone, and I was suddenly tremendously self-conscious.  Ah well, that’s what rehearsals are for, right?  It wasn’t that bad, still fun to try, and I’m sure I’m the worst critic of all.  I just can’t believe I’m still squirming about it this morning!

On a different note (no pun intended) I recently came across a quote by Voltaire that had me slightly worried: “The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.”  But then I realized… he wasn’t a woman.