iskwē

iskwē

iskwē

LEAD VOCALIST

iskwē | ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ (short for waseskwan iskwew, meaning “blue sky woman”) is, among many other things, an artist – a creator and communicator of music and of movement, of pictures, poetry and prose. And through it all, she’s a teller of stories that have impacted our past and will inform our future.

The Stars is iskwē’s newest release (March 5, 2021). It is the inverse of her third album acākosīk starting with the title which is the English translation of the Cree word acākosīk. Where acākosīk is a blaze of sonic exploration, The Stars is an elegant and intimate sharing of the collection allowing iskwē’s songwriting, voice and spirit to shine. The Stars features entirely new arrangements of the six songs with iskwē accompanied by a trio of piano (Michael Shand), cello (Mariel Gonzalez), and violin (Laura C Bates) recorded live-off-the-floor at Revolution Recording in Toronto and a dramatic orchestral reimagining of “Night Danger (Lovers Mix)” recorded with the FILMharmonic Orchestra (Prague). Where acākosīk demanded our attention, The Stars invites us into an emotional and soulful experience with iskwē.

acākosīk, (November 9, 2019), is a sonic exploration that not only blurs lines between sources and styles, but also between the actual and the ideal, the real and imagined. But by extension, it’s also the star around which immersive worlds of live performance, video, and visual art revolve. acākosīk has received critical praise: the video for “Little Star” garnered a JUNO Award for Music Video of the Year in 2020, the album was nominated for a JUNO Award for Adult Alternative Album of the Year, and “Breaking Down” was nominated for a Prism Prize and the SOCAN Songwriting Prize.

The songs on acākosīk and The Stars are meant to raise awareness of systemic abuses and societal opinions and the way we’ve been perceived and treated, but also to celebrate our culture and help bridge that gap – to help us find empathy and common ground and connect the way we’re supposed to as people, regardless of race or religion or background,” she shares. “A lot of these issues, while they stem from my experiences and those of my people, are really universally human issues.”

iskwē’s album The Fight Within (2017) was JUNO-nominated for Indigenous Music Album of the Year (2018) and garnered her a spot on the Polaris Long List.

iskwē’s message is arguably most impactful when delivered from the stage, where it’s not uncommon for people to leave in entranced contemplation or even in tears. Music merges with dance, multimedia, and more in a completely engulfing and cathartic experience – one meant to bring people together and celebrate that which unites over that which divides.

She has performed hundreds of shows in Canada and internationally, including Canadian highlights at Ottawa’s Parliament Hill and a triumphant performance with Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, in New York City at the Met and SummerStage in Central Park, and beyond for the King and Queen of Sweden, Reeperbahn in Germany, and Border Crossing’s Origins Festival in England. iskwē is an ambassador and program participant for the PRS Keychange initiative.

iskwē is Cree Métis from Treaty One Territory. She was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She is an urban Indigenous two-spirited woman from the Red River Valley, the birthplace of the Métis Nation.

iskwē is pronounced iss-kway
acākosīk is pronounced acha-ko-suk

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Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson

TOM WILSON

LEAD VOCALIST, GUITAR

Tom Wilson is a Canadian music legend, famed storyteller and visual artist. Wilson’s memoir, Beautiful Scars published by Penguin/Random House has become a national bestseller. In his memoir, Wilson reveals the impact of discovering his indigenous heritage. Musically, Wilson is best known for his work with Blackie & The Rodeo Kings and Lee Harvey Osmond, the latter receiving a 2020 Juno Award for the album “Mohawk.

In 1989 Wilson became the founder of the popular rock band Junkhouse.The band quickly grew in popularity and in 1993 signed a recording contract with Sony Music Canada. Lead by Wilson, Junkhouse skyrocketed in the 90’s, producing three albums, Strays, Birthday Boy and Fuzz, before disbanding. The style and success of Junkhouse has been an inspiration to many young Hamilton artists. Wilson recorded his first solo album Planet Love (2001) for Sony Music.

It was also during this time that Wilson starting dedicating more of his time and energy to his second passion, painting, “I needed an outlet besides writing music and there is a great meditative bond I found between me and the canvas”. His art show “Beautiful Scars: Mohawk Warriors, Hunters and Chiefs” premiered at the Art Gallery of Burlington and his work “The Mystic Highway” was commissioned by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for a 30’ x 30’ reproduction legacy piece adorning John Street in Hamilton.The painting pays homage to the rich history of Hamilton musicians and performers from past.

In 1999, as a result of their shared love and admiration for one of Canada’s great musical treasures, the late Willie P. Bennett , Wilson along with Stephen Fearing and Colin Linden formed what would soon become the highly acclaimed roots music supergroup Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.

The Rodeo Kings have produced ten albums and have toured throughout North America and Europe. While Wilson created solo albums, Planet Love and Dog Years (2006) , it was with his collaboration with producer and Cowboys Junkies founder Michael Timmins that he found and settled into a new voice . The result is Wilson’s genre defining, alter personae Lee Harvey Osmond. “Acid folk” was born in an old garage off Clinton Avenue in Toronto. With Timmins production and Wilson’s baritone, LHO has become the soundtrack and the voice for the art of Tom Wilson.

In 2017 Wilson released his highly anticipated memoir through Penguin/ Random House/Doubleday Publishing. In the memoir, Wilson offers a profoundly moving and humorous look at family, his hometown and identity after a chance encounter with a stranger caused him to question everything he had always known about his past.

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Joel Quarrington

Joel Quarrington

Joel Quarrington

DOUBLE-BASS

For over thirty years, Joel Quarrington has served as the Principal Double Bassist of many ensembles including the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony, Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Born in Toronto, Joel began his formal studies of the double bass when he was thirteen. He won the Geneva International Competition and the CBC Talent Competition.
A devoted teacher, Joel is a professor at the Conservatoire de Musique of Montreal and is appointed at the Royal Academy of Music in London as a “Visiting Artist”. Besides being a guest teacher at schools all around the world he holds annual masterclasses in the summers at Quebec’s Orford Arts Centre.

Joel has made several solo recordings, which have won both the prestigious JUNO and Opus Prizes. From the International Society of Bassists, Joel has received a Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Solo Performance and for Outstanding Orchestral Performance. He performs on an Italian bass made in 1666 by the Italian master, Santo Paolo Maggini.

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Eric Cadesky

Eric Cadesky

Eric Cadesky

INSTRUMENT MAKER

Eric Cadesky has been fascinated by musical instruments and taking them apart since he was young. Eventually he learned how to put most of them back together. In doing so discovered his passion for designing and building non-traditional music instruments. For the past 43 years he has been building instruments made of glass for the Glass Orchestra, a quartet who have performed locally and around the globe. He is a composer for film, tv, modern dance and ballet and his music has been nominated for numerous awards, recently receiving Best Music Award for his score for the dance film Bears, Stars and Trees. He believes in giving back to the community through workshops, residencies and mentoring. He is very happy to be working with the wonderful team of the Collingwood Music Festival!
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Marcus Ali

Marcus Ali

Marcus Ali

SAXOPHONE

Marcus Ali was born in Toronto to Trinidadian parents with a love of great music. A versatile musician who is equally at home in a wide range of genres, he has played on more than seventy albums on a variety of woodwinds (saxophones, flutes, clarinets, West African flutes, tin whistles). He has performed, toured and recorded with dozens of artists including Grand Prix de Jazz award winner Nick Ali and Cruzao, Juno nominees Matt Dusk, Jason Wilson, Mr Something Something, and Tomson Highway. He has toured extensively across Canada as well as throughout the US, the UK, the Caribbean and Japan. Marcus has also been the saxophone instructor and jazz combo director at Claude Watson School for the Arts since 2004. He teaches private woodwind lessons and regularly leads workshops and sectionals throughout the GTA.
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Marta Potulska

Marta Potulska

Marta Potulska

VIOLA

Marta Potulska is a laureate of several international competitions, including winning first prizes at the Johannes Brahms Competition in Austria (2007) and at the International Bled Competition and Festival in Slovenia (2011), as well as second prize at the Michał Spisak International Viola Competition in Poland. She is also the recipient of a special award at the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition on the Isle of Man, UK (2006).

Marta Potulska is also an active participant in many international music festivals such as Salzburger Festspiele, Golling Festspiele, Styriarte, Eggenberger Schlosskonzerte, St Gallen Festival, Austria, the Park City Music Festival, in Las Vegas, USA, the International Suzuki Institute in Salt Lake City, USA, Strings Only in Zadar, Osor Music Evenings Festival in Osor, Croatia, the International Music Interpretation Festival (ZAS) in Zakopane, Poland and theBled Festival as well as Arsana Art Festival Ptuj in Slovenia.

Marta Potulska completed her studies in the class of Matthias Maurer (former solo violist at Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam) at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Graz, Austria and was an assistant in her class at the same University in years 2012-2014.

She is currently a member of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Wien International Soloists Ensemble and Varietas Ensemble as well as a member of Ensemble of Burgtheater in Vienna.

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Penderecki String Quartet

Penderecki String Quartet

Penderecki String Quartet

STRING QUARTET

The Penderecki String Quartet, approaching the third decade of an extraordinary career, has become one of the most celebrated chamber ensembles of their generation. These four musicians from Poland, Canada, and the USA bring their varied yet collective experience to create performances that demonstrate their “remarkable range of technical excellence and emotional sweep” (Toronto, Globe and Mail). Their recent schedule has included concerts in New York (Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall), Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Los Angeles (REDCAT at Disney Hall), St. Petersburg, Paris, Prague, Berlin, Rome, Belgrade, Zagreb, Atlanta, as well as appearances at international festivals in Poland, Lithuania, Italy, Venezuela, Brazil, and China. The PSQ champions music of our time, performing a wide range of repertoire from Haydn to Zappa as well as premiering over 100 new works to date. Described by Fanfare Magazine as “an ensemble of formidable power and keen musical sensitivity”, the PSQ’s diverse discography includes the chamber music of Brahms and Shostakovich (Eclectra and Marquis labels) and their recently released Bartok cycle. They enter their 20th year as Quartet-in-Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

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Tomson Highway

Tomson Highway

Tomson Highway

PIANIST

Tomson Highway, award-winning playwright and the author of The Rez Sisters, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, Rose, and Kiss of the Fur Queen, was born in a tent near Maria Lake, Manitoba in 1951. A full-blood Cree, he is a registered member of the Barren Lands First Nation, the village for which is called Brochet. He grew up in the spectacularly beautiful natural landscape that is Canada’s sub-Arctic, an un-peopled region of hundreds of lakes, endless forests of spruce and pine, and great herds of caribou. His parents, with no access to books, TV or radio, would tell their children stories, and Tomson fell in love with the oral tradition of storytelling. When he was six, he was taken from his family and placed in residential school in The Pas. Although he resented being taken away from his parent and family, he did learn music, and had plans to become a concert pianist. He traveled to London to study, and earned his music degree in 1975 and a Bachelor’s of Arts in 1976 from the University of Western Ontario. But instead of becoming a professional concert musician, Highway instead decided to dedicate his life to the service of his people.

Subsequently, for seven years, he immersed himself in the field of Native social work, working on reserves and in urban centres across Ontario and, later on, Canada. He then decided it was time to put all this extraordinary artistic training and this extraordinary Native social work experience together – he started writing music, plays, and, later, novels. After years of working in the Toronto theatre industry, he achieved national and international recognition in 1986 with his sixth play, the multi-award-winning The Rez Sisters.

He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1994. For many years, he ran Canada’s premiere Native Theatre Company, Native Earth Performing Arts, in Toronto, out of which has emerged a generation of professional Native Theatre artists. He now splits his time between homes near Sudbury, Ontario and Gatineau, Québec.

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Patricia Cano

Patricia Cano

Patricia Cano

ACTOR, SINGER-SONGWRITER

Patricia Cano is a Peruvian-Canadian actor and singer-songwriter born and raised in Sudbury, ON. Since 2001, she has travelled the world singing Cree Cabaret alongside Cree playwright/author/composer extraordinaire, Tomson Highway. In 2017, Patricia won the Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in Cree, English and French in Highway’s one-woman musical, The (Post) Mistress.
Her acting credits include memorable years spent as a member of the renowned French theatre company, Le Théâtre du Soleil, and later as a member of the NAC’s English Theatre Company. Her solo music career was launched in 2009 with the release of her first studio album, This is the New World– a collaboration with Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist, Carlos Bernardo. The album won Best Album by a Solo Artist at the 2011 Northern Ontario Music and Film Awards and led to years of cross-Canada touring. In October 2017, Patricia released her much anticipated sophomore album, Madre Amiga Hermana, of which one reviewer wrote, “This is an outstanding release from a supremely talented songwriter and vocalist” (Raul Da Gama, World Music Report, Oct 2017).
In 2019, Patricia won the Northern Ontario Music & Film award for Outstanding Vocal Performance on a Recording for her rendition of Violeta Parra’s “Gracias a la Vida”. In February 2021, Patricia released a recording entitled The Love & Resistance Sessions, a four-song collaboration, crafted with love in the time of COVID, with multi-instrumentalist and composer Louis Simão. Most recently, Patricia voiced the audiobook for Tomson Highway’s Kiss of the Fur Queen for Penguin Random House released in June of 2021.

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Ben Heppner

Ben Heppner

Ben Heppner

TENOR

Ben Heppner, internationally renowned operatic tenor, public advocate for the arts, and radio broadcaster.  For almost 3 decades, Mr. Heppner has been hailed among the most sought-after musical talents in the operatic world.  His command of the heroic repertoire of Wagner, Strauss and Verdi, among others – is second to none.  He is widely appreciated for the depth of his interpretations and for the expressive character that he has brought to the roles that he has played. 

Ben Heppner first came to the attention of the Canadian public as the winner of the CBC Talent Festival, in 1979. He won the Metropolitan Opera auditions in 1988.  Heppner’s career has taken him to the most prestigious opera and concert stages of the world – from Vienna to Paris, Berlin, London, New York and beyond.  He set new standards of performance in some of the most demanding operatic roles including such as Wagner’s Tristan, Verdi’s Otello and the complex and dark leading role of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes. 

Ben Heppner has appeared on numerous recordings and has won three Juno and three Grammy awards. He has also received nine honorary doctorates from prestigious academic institutions throughout Canada.  He is the recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and, in 2008, was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada. Ben has received a life-time achievement award from the Governor General Performing Arts Award.

Ben Heppner retired 8 years ago from the opera and concert stage – and became host of CBC Radio’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and Backstage with Ben Heppner. Recently he left his position on the radio. However, every once in a while, he’ll press the tux and shine his shoes to host or narrate a concert event.

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