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March 17, 2015

Listen now: Derek Charke’s Tundra Songs

We’re pleased to announce Tundra Songs  - a new album featuring the music of Canadian composer Derek Charke - which is out now on Centrediscs, the label of the Canadian Music Centre. Tanya Tagaq, the Polaris Prize-winning Inuit throat singer appears on the title track. The album also includes Cercle du Nord III, which incorporates environmental sounds from northern Canada, four of Charke’s series of Inuit Throat Song Games, and storyteller Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory’s telling of the tale of Sedna. Stream the full album on Q2, or purchase Tundra Songs from iTunes and Amazon.

Tundra SongsCharke is noted for works that address current environmental issues, including climate change and the impact of oil exploration in the tar sands. Tundra Songs and Cercle du Nord III both feature field recordings he made on trips to Canada’s far North. The quartet has worked extensively with Charke in the past, including the recent commission Dear Creator, help us return to the centre of our hearts, which was inspired by a visit Charke made to the Athabasca Oil Sands in northern Alberta. The work received its premiere at Carnegie Hall in early March.

For Tundra Songs, Charke traveled with his gear to the Nunavut capital of Iqaluit on Baffin Island, proceeding to a two-day trip out on the ice by dog sled. There he recorded sounds of cracking and grinding ice sheets, shrimp, krill, and other marine life (via hydrophone), the shrieks of ravens, and various sounds of daily life in the region’s communities.

Tundra Songs weaves these environmental samples into a propulsive texture that also incorporates vocal sounds from Tanya Tagaq, who has developed the ability to sing call-and-response Inuit throat song games on her own, and from the quartet itself, which employs circular bowing techniques that evoke throat singing. The work’s five movements move through the region’s cycle of seasons, focusing in turn on ice, water sounds, the Greenlandic creation story of Sassuma Arnaa, the howls of dogs, and the airborne sounds of ravens and insects.

Stream the full album on Q2, or learn more and purchase Tundra Songs from iTunes and Amazon.

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