By Jamie Lee McKenzie
Sandra Laronde, Artistic Director of Red Sky Productions has delightfully agreed to curate a Sesquicentennial Signature Music Initiative for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) for Canada’s 150th celebration in 2017. In January 2017, when Canada’s 150th birthday arrives, the season will have programs and works that pay respect to Canada’s musical riches.
“It would be a work that would bring out Canadian musical legacy,” says Laronde.
According to Laronde, the project will explore current and past Canadian composers and Canada’s Indigenous musical legacy, as well as Canadian songwriters, culturally diverse music practice, and film composers. “I definitely want to include orchestral and Indigenous music, and also, I’m very interested in it being an image rich experience,” states Laronde.
She has also stated that she has many ideas for the project, and including some key Indigenous musicians is definitely on the top of her list. The TSO is not only including the Indigenous musical legacy, but also looking at all the different cultures that are in Canada, and putting them on the main stage. It will explore all of Canada’s diverse musical landscape.
Laronde has also curated music projects for Indigenous Arts at The Banff Centre. Diverse As This Land, was a 7-year music project that involved a lot of exceptional Indigenous musicians.
“It really goes back to our roots, I come from a highly musical family, where songs and music were just a part of growing up,” says Laronde, “I have a really good sense of Indigenous music in Canada because I’ve been working a lot with music through Red Sky, all of our big dance productions work with music and it’s always live music on stage.”
Red Sky’s musicians are always a part of the stage performance of their dance productions. “Everything I do has music involved in it,” says Laronde. Red Sky has also won two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Original Score and Best Music.
Laronde is no stranger to Indigenous music and has a good sense about Canada’s Indigenous musical history from her previous works. “I am, perhaps, more associated with dance, but all of the dance productions have original, live music as well. Music has been a big part of my life,” states Laronde.
Laronde is extremely excited that she has been given this amazing opportunity, especially for something as significant as 2017.
“Truly, our art is as diverse as this land. As Canadians, we all need to be more exposed to the tremendous diversity that exists in our country, from our tundra to the mountains to the sea to the prairies to the woodlands. All of these places have their own unique beauty, spirit, and tone. Music already lives in these places. Ultimately, land informs the way that we sing, move, sense, and how we connect,” says Laronde.