March 5, 2019

Four Canadian women. Four different life experiences. But what they had in common was a struggle and determination to find their voices, despite extremely difficult circumstances.

These women are the inspiration behind Life Reflected, the work commissioned by Alexander Shelley, Music Director of the NAC Orchestra which premiered in 2016.

Three years later this unique production returns to the NAC on the orchestra’s main season and tours to Kington’s Isabel Bader Center for the Performing Arts  in celebration of International Women’s Day 2019. Alongside Life Reflected, Tanya Tagaq and Christine Duncan join forces with the orchestra to perform their work Qiksaaktuq, written with Jean Martin as a lament for murdered and missing Indigenous women.

Led by Donna Feore, Creative Producer & Director, the multi-disciplinary Life Reflected blends music with literature, dance, photography and film. And each of these remarkable women is captured by a different composer — Zosha Di Castri, John Estacio, Nicole Lizée and Jocelyn Morlock.

Bondarsphere was inspired by Roberta Bondar whose perseverance, in a profession dominated by men, led her to become Canada’s first woman – and the world’s first neurologist — in space.

In Alice Munro’s Dear Life — her most autobiographical work to date — she recounts a childhood marked by stark events that she only partly understood at the time. Against the odds, she believed herself a lucky person, she says. Munro would go on to enjoy a stellar international career that included winning the Nobel Prize.

In I Lost My Talk, the acclaimed Mi’kmaw poet Rita Joe describes losing her language in residential school, yet the poem ends with a hand offered in the hope of reconciliation: “Let me find my talk/ So I can teach you about me.”

Fifteen-year-old Amanda Todd was also coming of age in a hostile environment. After being bullied cruelly and relentlessly, she told her story in an online video that helped create more awareness worldwide about the dangers of bullying.

Of the project Alexander Shelley writes:

‘Life Reflected tells powerful stories through the eyes, ears and words of some of Canada’s finest creative artists. It is an immersive, multidisciplinary work without an interval, an unbroken, focused, intense, dramatic and soothing experience from beginning to end.

During the creation of this unique symphonic experience, it has been an honour to bring together four visionary Canadian composers in collaboration with an ensemble of extraordinary Canadian performers and multi-media artists, all under the inspiring leadership of Creative Producer & Director Donna Feore.

Canadian arts and culture continue to captivate audiences worldwide thanks to compelling stories such as those of these four remarkable women, each of whom found voice through sacrifice and challenge. They have been an inspiration to me. And while some of the subject matter is born from painful memories, it is my belief that Life Reflected will prove a redeeming and hopeful experience for us all.’