A Pan-Northern Performance

It may not have the national audience of a CBC-TV True North concert.

And it may not cover as much geography as the cultural events at the upcoming Arctic Winter Games.

But a concert at the Yukon Arts Centre (YAC) this week is still a major undertaking that will showcase traditional and contemporary performances from all three of Canada’s northern territories.

And the audience members will include many of the people most directly responsible for making such events possible.

The concert, called Night of the Living North, is part of the YAC’s theatre season, but it got its start when Yukon was invited to host the annual conference of the Canadian Public Arts Funders (CPAF).

They are the people responsible for administering provincial and territorial arts funding programs. Yukon’s Laurel Parry is the conference host.

“We wanted to showcase the North, and Laurel managed to get the government of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories involved, so they’ve helped by funding artists from their territories,” explained YAC artistic director Eric Epstein, the show’s producer.

“Obviously it’s not comprehensive, but it’s definitely a taste of the contemporary northern arts scene, and really combines both traditional and emerging artists and art forms,” Epstein said by phone from Toronto.

“For the Yukon, we’ve gone from quite traditional, with the Rising Sun Singers, to the opposite end of the spectrum, with Breakdancing Yukon and the hip hop dancers from Extremely Moving Youth Society”

Epstein expects “a really nice kind of collaboration” between the young Yukon performers and Northwest Territories rapper Godson, who performed in Whitehorse during the Canada Winter Games.

“So that will cover kind of the urban North scene.”

The Yukon contribution will also include the latest work by local musician and filmmaker Daniel Janke, called Working Dog.

There was kind of a preview of it at the last Longest Night. It was sort of his male-voiced singer-songwriter material. And he’s got a number of great people involved with him.

Those other musicians include Lonnie Powell, Dave Haddock, Jordy Walker and Mica Smith.

In addition to Godson, the NWT contingent will also include Jim Green, who has also appeared previously before Yukon audiences.

“He’s a well-established storyteller, and he’s going to be our master of ceremonies for the evening, as well as having a chance to tell a story,” Epstein says.

“He was part of the Northwest Territories-Yukon collaboration that they did as part of the Northwest Territories storytelling tour.”

Epstein says he is excited about the contribution by Nunavut. Despite the prohibitive cost of air travel, that territory is sending no fewer than seven performers to take part in the event.

They include five members of the Kugluktuk Drum Dance Group, as well as two throat-singers, Resolute Bay’s Celina Kalluk, who now lives in Toronto, and Eva Sowdluapik, originally from Pangnirtung, but now a resident of Ottawa.

The Whitehorse event will provide the two throat-singers their first opportunity to perform together.

“It’s really going to be kind of a variety show. It’s going to be a good, packed show, no intermission, just a strong 90 minutes of incredible northern performing artists,” Epstein promises.

Night of the Living North takes place Thursday, November 17, beginning at 8 p.m.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top