OCAD University

Magowan launches new First Nations opera Giiwedin

March 18, 2010

GiiwedinStaff member Catherine Magowan, Records Administrator in OCAD’s Office of the Registrar, and her husband Spy Dénommé-Welch are celebrating the launch of their new opera Giiwedin, a co-production between Native Earth Performing Arts and An Indie(n) Rights Reserve.

Giiwedin is a First Nations story set in northern Ontario that features traditional First Nations, baroque and modern music. The production is written in the Anishnawbe Mowin, French and English languages, and tells the story of a 150-year old Aboriginal woman fighting for her land. The production features performances by Ryan Allen, Gilbert Anderson, Neema Bickersteth, Catharin Carew, Lawrence Cotton, Nicole Joy-Fraser, Jessica Lloyd, James McLennan, and Marion Newman in the role of Noodin-Kwe.

“It is important for artists to find diverse ways to present difficult Canadian histories to new generations so that they are not lost over time,” said Magowan. “By setting Giiwedin as an opera, we hope to raise awareness of the lasting and horrific impact of colonization on indigenous Canadians, make opera relevant to a new generation of music-lovers and theatre-goers, and create meaningful work for Canadian artists and musicians.”

“This tour-de-force combination of powerful lyrics and world-class composition is a testament to the promise of Aboriginal theatre.”—Native Earth Performing Arts website.

Magowan studied modern and baroque bassoon at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music and plays principal bassoon with the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra and Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra. She has worked with over fifty orchestras, chamber groups, theatre companies and music festivals, and has been heard on CBC as both a performer and composer/arranger. She has managed educational programs for the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, helping develop educational concerts and study guides, and was the project lead for the creation of an educational web game based on the Juno-award winning children’s album Baroque Adventure: The Quest for Arundo Donax. Magowan’s husband Spy Dénommé-Welch is a multi-disciplinary artist and scholar who has written and produced work for theatre, short film and opera.

Giiwedin will run from April 8 to 24 at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, and includes pay-what-you-can and student rate performances.


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