• Celebrating Indigenous Artists and Creators

    By COC Staff

    The COC’s performance and administrative headquarters are located in Toronto, Ontario, also known as Tkarón:to, which in Kanien’kéha, means 'the place in the water where the trees are standing.'  

    As a company, we are committed to ongoing co-creation and collaboration with Indigenous artists and communities. This Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we’re pleased to share some of the incredible work created over the 2021/2022 season that features Indigenous artists or represents an Indigenous-led project. 

    "In Winter" by Ian Cusson

    Our December digital release, In Winter, centered on an exciting new commission by composer Ian Cusson, who set text by Métis writer Katherena Vermette, for solo, chorus, and orchestra in a meditative composition entitled “In Winter.”  


    Cusson, who is of Métis and French Canadian descent, was the inaugural COC Composer-in-Residence during the 2019/2020 season. During this period, he developed a new opera, Fantasma, alongside librettist Colleen Murphy. Exploring themes of death, violence, compassion, and the courage to insist on being heard, Fantasma received its world premiere at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre in March 2022. This clip features Ensemble Studio artists Jamie Groote and Midori Marsh. 

    Voices of Mountains

    An artist-led convergence of music, movement, and the natural world, the digital release Voices of Mountains fuses classical and contemporary opera repertoire with dance. The production features another world premiere from composer Ian Cusson, “Fire,” in which he sets words by American poet Joy Harjo to music (learn more about this poem and the art that it inspired it below); performances from mezzo-soprano Rebecca Cuddy, who is Métis, and Marion Newman, who is Kwagiulth and Stó:lo First Nations, English, Irish and Scottish, with pianist Gordon Gerrard; and choreography from Aria Evans set against some of Toronto’s most stunning backdrops. 

    where the water meets the land

    Part of the COC’s commitment to reconciliation as a company includes developing a practice around land acknowledgment that is more reflective of our commitment to moving forward together in the spirit of creativity, respect, and reciprocity. In consultation with the Circle of Artists, Indigenous artists are invited to create a project that activates artists, staff, and audiences around land acknowledgement in a way that requires participation, reflection, and constant renewal. 

    The inaugural Land Acknowledgement Commission was created by Rebecca Cuddy and Julie McIsaac. The completed artwork includes an immersive soundscape featuring piano excerpts from Fire, a COC commission by Ian Cusson with text by poet Joy Harjo. You can read the poem below, watch the filmed version of where the water meets the land above, or learn more on our Land Acknowledgement web page here.


    a woman can’t survive
    by her own breath
    she must know
    the voices of mountains
    she must recognize
    the foreverness of blue sky
    she must flow
    with the elusive
    of night winds
    who will take her
    into herself

    look at me
    i am not a separate woman
    i am a continuance
    of blue sky
    i am the throat
    of the mountains
    a night wind
    who burns
    with every breath
    she takes

    © Joy Harjo. What Moon Drove Me to This? 1980.

    Posted in A Season Like No Other


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