Andrew Balfour

 

Home    Composers    Catalogue    Contact   new 2017

 

Prominent Winnipeg composer Andrew Balfour, of Cree descent, has written a body of choral, instrumental and orchestral works, including Take the Indian, Empire Étrange: The Death of Louis Riel, Migiis: A Whiteshell Soundscape, Bawajigaywin, Gregorio’s Nightmare, Wa Wa Tey Wak (Northern Lights), Fantasia on a Poem by Rumi, Missa Brevis and Medieval Inuit. He has been commissioned by the Winnipeg, Regina and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, Ensemble Caprice, the Winnipeg Singers, the Kingston Chamber Choir and Camerata Nova, among others.  His works have been performed and broadcasted locally, nationally, and internationally.


Andrew is the Artistic Director of Winnipeg’s Camerata Nova known for their inter-genre and interdisciplinary collaborations. He is passionate about music education and outreach, particularly in schools located in low-income areas of Winnipeg and in northern communities.

Ambe   by Andrew Balfour 
SSATB a cappella    $2.35    CP 1571 
  (see the score while you listen)  duration - 2:30

Choirs will love the rhythmic drive and energy of this meaningful composition.

The Ojibway text means “Come in, two-legged beings. Come in all people. There is good life here.”


This piece is based on an original song in Ojibway that was gifted by traditional drummer and singer Cory Campbell to Andrew Balfour and the University of Manitoba Concert Choir. Cory describes the song as “a call to the people to the ceremonial way of life or to the red road or, quite frankly, to whatever we have going on, because everything happens with spirit and in spirit.”

Andrew has created an original composition inspired by Cory’s song which uses the same text and echoes the steady rhythm of the drum, unifying the piece. The melodies of Andrew’s piece are all original but hints of Cory’s song remain. For Andrew, the steady beat throughout represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth and the lyrical first soprano melody that emerges from this rhythmic texture at measure seven conveys the powerful totem of the eagle which represents the teaching of love, wisdom, and strength.

The accompanying recording of Cory singing his original song is provided for conductors to hear the pronunciation of the text and to share with choristers the inspiration behind the composition. It is not meant to be reproduced by choirs or other singers without Cory’s permission unless it is being used in a ceremonial manner.

Many dialects and local writing systems for Ojibway exist. The pronunciation for the text is based on the dialect spoken on Sagkeeng First Nation in Cory’s home province of Manitoba. Specifically, the pronunciation of the word Anishinaabeg [a’nis:iʌnɑ:bek~g] or phonetically,  a-nis-ee-uh-nah-bek/g, reflects one of the teachings that have come to Cory involving the etymology of the word in representing not only the Ojibway people, but people of all nations, or two-legged beings.


Representation of Text in Standard Ojibway Double Vowel Writing System:

Ambe, ambe Anishinaabeg

biindigeg Anishinaabeg

Mino-bimaadiziwin omaa

Ambe


IPA


[ʌmbe ʌmbe a’nis:iʌnɑ:bek]


[bindɪgek a’nis:iʌnɑ:bek]


[mɪnɔ pɪ’mɑ:tɪzɪwɪn omɑ:]


[ʌmbe]

 

k, p, t are light and unaspirated; somewhere between voiced and unvoiced


Idiomatic translation:

Come in two-legged beings

come in all people

The way of a good life is here

Come in!


*Mino-bimaadiziwin is an Ojibway philosophy--the way of a good life—as explained by the traditional teachings of the Anishinaabe


This commission was made possible through a Creative Works Grant from the University of Manitoba. Andrew, Cory, and Catherine met throughout the compositional process to discuss the cultural context of the piece, the form of the original song, the meaning of the text, and the needs of the choir, and to learn from one another. Cory was offered ceremonial tobacco for his gift of the song. Thank you also to Patricia Ningewance and Diane Morrisseau for help with pronunciation, translation, and representation of the language. This composition stands as an example of respectful and meaningful dialogue between Indigenous artists and culture bearers, and composers, conductors, and choirs.