Show in Eskasoni ‘incredibly moving’
On May 3, I was privileged to be part of the audience at the Dan K. Stevens Memorial Arena in Eskasoni. The show was a one-hour performance by the National Arts Centre Orchestra under the direction of Alexander Shelley.
The performance included the John Estacio composition based on Rita Joe’s “I Lost My Talk” and Eskasoni’s Kaolin Johnson performing her song “We Shall Remain” written by Kalolin, her father Tom Johnson and teacher Carter Chiasson. Kaolin sang solo accompanied by the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Words cannot adequately express the power and beauty of this show. It was an incredibly moving extraordinary performance. From start to finish, it was completely captivating. From the opening piece to James Ehnes’ featured violin solo to Estacio’s composition accompanied by a film featuring First Nations modern dance and choreography and Rita Joe’s words ... breathtaking.
The final number – “We shall remain (it wasn’t taken away” – was the perfect conclusion. Kalolin did not falter. Her composure, voice, confidence and words accompanied by beautiful orchestration – it was all simply stunning.
The community of Eskasoni is to be commended for partnering with the National Arts Centre to bring this production home. They more than rose to the occasion in presenting an amazing show, welcoming students and guests and providing the National Arts Centre Orchestra with what I’m sure was a life-changing experience. It takes so many people to bring something like this to fruition.
Congratulations to everyone in Eskasoni who contributed to making this a reality, particularly George Paul and Tom Johnson who worked tirelessly. It is a day not to be forgotten.
Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, summed it up eloquently in his opening remarks: “Chief Leroy Denny has found a way to bring all of our people together in a good way. That is what it is all about, about reconciliation.”
The complete concert can currently be viewed on the National Arts Centre website: https://naccna.ca/en/event/16300
Shauna Walters Sydney