On Saturday, Oct. 26, Edmonds Center for the Arts presents classically-trained tenor and ethnomusicologist Jeremy Dutcher.
Winner of Canada’s prestigious Polaris Music Prize, Dutcher takes every opportunity to blend his Wolastoq First Nation roots into the music he creates. His compositions shapeshift between classical, traditional, and pop — forming something entirely new. Jeremy Dutcher performs at 7:30 p.m. in a trio format, to be preceded by a free Artist Pre-Show Talk at 6:15 p.m.
A member of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, Dutcher is one of only approximately 100 individuals who speak Wolastoq, which is classified as a “severely endangered language.” Working in the archives at the Canadian Museum of History, he painstakingly transcribed Wolastoq songs 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.” Dutcher heard ancestral voices singing forgotten songs and stories that had been taken from the Wolastoqiyik generations ago.
As he listened to each recording, Dutcher felt his own musical impulses stirring from deep within. Long days at the archives turned into long nights at the piano, feeling out melodies and phrases, deep in dialogue with the voices of his ancestors. These “collaborative” compositions are collected together on his debut LP, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa.
“I’m doing this work because there’s only about a hundred Wolastoqey speakers left,” says Dutcher. “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.”
Jeremy Dutcher identifies as two-spirit, a term used by Indigenous communities to describe those embodying both a masculine and feminine spirit. Says Dutcher, “It’s an important part of what I do and who I am … Pre-contact, two-spirit people were always a part of our community. They were not just accepted or tolerated, but given places of honor in our communities because they can see both ways at once.”
ECA is partnering with the University of Washington Bothell on all pre-show talk programming in the 2019/20 Season. Jeremy Dutcher’s pre-show talk will address the artist’s process in creating his award-winning album, and connect to Dutcher’s perspective on “Indigenous futurism.” The talk takes place from 6:15-6:40 p.m. in ECA’s theatre.
Tickets to ECA Presents Jeremy Dutcher: $19-$44 with 10% discount for seniors and military. $15 Youth/Student pricing available. Call the ECA Box Office at 425-275-9595, go online at www.ec4arts.org, or visit us in person at the ECA Box Office, located at 410 4th Ave. N. ECA is a partner of TeenTix, and offers $5 tickets to teens at the Box Office on the day of the performance, pending availability. To become a TeenTix member, register at www.teentix.org.