Premiered 25 October 2015, at the Stó:lō Resource Centre
Stories of the creation of the world and how things came to be occupy a central place in all mythologies. In a number of BC Indigenous mythologies, the world was originally created in an unfinished state, and certain creatures were given special powers by the original divine spirit to change animals, plants, and other natural phenomena into their present forms.
I have always had a great curiosity about other cultures and the music, the rhythms, the tastes, and feels of other languages. Perhaps this comes from having come to Canada as an immigrant.
I have dared to explore these other traditions, but always with a bit of trepidation lest I inadvertently show disrespect or trespass into secret areas that I, as an uninitiated outsider, am not allowed to enter. Every culture should be allowed to have its secret places that need to be respected.
Nevertheless, with the best of intentions, I have in my work both as a composer and, for many years, as a seasonal BC Provincial Parks naturalist/interpreter, delved into the traditions of BC First Nations, and am honoured to be asked to share my musical interpretation of this small narrative episode, “Xá:ls” (The Transformers) from the Stó:lō tradition. I hope my setting resonates, at least in some small way, with the intentions of the true owners of the story. (IR)
Xá:ls and Sche’í:l form a pair of pieces commissioned for and premiered at ‘this land’ a concert in the 2013/2014 season. The texts of both are retellings of the Sepass Poems (BC Indigenous spiritual philosophy and teachings known as ‘the first songs of the land’) by Stó:lō Nation member Naxaxalhts’i (Sonny McHalsie), a cultural advisor and historian. Together with Dr. David Schaepe, the director of the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre, musica intima and composers Henderson and Raminsh worked carefully to collaborate with the Stó:lō nation from the conception to the delivery of these two works. The pieces were premiered at the Stó:lō Resource Centre, on Coqualeetza Grounds in Chilliwack, B.C, before being performed at musica intima’s concerts in Vancouver, on the traditional and unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.