Cris Derksen

& composer

“Derksen creates undeniably modern music that mixes folk, classical, dance, and aboriginal structures and tunes with electronic beats [...]”

— MusicWorks

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About Cris Derksen

Juno nominated Cris Derksen, originally from Northern Alberta, Canada, is an internationally respected Indigenous cellist and composer. Derksen braids the traditional and contemporary, weaving her classical background and her Indigenous ancestry together with new school electronics to create genre-defying music. 

As a composer she has her foot in many worlds working in choral, symphonic, film, theatre and dance, and is regularly commissioned by major Canadian orchestras and new music ensembles. As a performer Derksen performs nationally and internationally. Recent destinations include Hong Kong, Australia, Mongolia, Europe, Mexico and a whole lot of Canada: the place Derksen refers to as home. 

Derksen was nominated at the 2021 Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards for her work on Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. A new album of her works will be released in 2022.

Nominée aux prix Juno, Cris Derksen, originaire du nord de l’Alberta, est une violoncelliste et compositrice autochtone reconnue internationalement. Derksen allie le traditionnel au contemporain, intégrant sa formation classique à ses origines autochtones avec des éléments électroniques de la nouvelle école, créant ainsi une musique qui défie les genres. 

En tant que compositrice, elle explore plusieurs univers, mélangeant choeur, orchestre symphonique, film, théâtre et danse dans ses nouvelles oeuvres qui sont régulièrement commandées par de grands orchestres et ensembles de musique nouvelle canadiens. En tant qu’interprète, Derksen s’est produit sur la scène nationale et internationale. Ses destinations récentes incluent Hong Kong, l’Australie, la Mongolie, l’Europe, le Mexique et le Canada: l’endroit que Derksen réfère comme son domicile. 

Derksen a été nominé aux Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards 2021 pour son travail à la Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. Un nouvel album de ses oeuvres parraitra en 2022.

Programmes and projects


Cris Derksen Quartet

The Cris Derksen Quartet is renowned for its riveting performances. The Internationally acclaimed ensemble includes the talents of Juno-nominated Cree cellist Cris Derksen, acclaimed Anishinaabe Hoop Dancer Nimkii Osawamick, Tuscarora/ Gaelic Singer Rebecca Benson, and award-winning drummer Jesse Baird who ties the group together with his signature pop culture beats and inventive improvisation.

Cris Derksen Solo Show


In cellist and composer Cris Derksen's solo show, classical, Indigenous and urban elements combine: you may get the propulsive pounding of powwow music, the head-nodding rhythms of a hip hop track, the metronome thumps of a techno mix, or all three in the same song. Her instruments are loop pedals, a drum machine and, of course, the cello: its melodies are plaintive but catchy, growing in number as the song progresses. These hooks repeat like echoes, part of a thick mixture yet distinct within it.



Orchestral Powwow is a 45 minute show for full Orchestra with 6 Powwow singers and Drummers, 1 hoop dancer, and cellist Cris Derksen. It consists of 8 or 9 short pieces.


Selected Works




Nice and Clean

Chamber Music


Napi and the Rocks



Maada'ookii Songlines






5 Bucks Per Head

Chamber Music


White Mans Cattle

Chamber Music


Orchestral Powwow



The Triumph of the Euro-Christ




“Cris Derksen’s built soundscapes could improve literally anything, and in Ikumagialiit the music takes on an outsize importance as it’s a key part of the performance’s communication so we appreciate Derksen extra for helping us pace our feelings.” 

—  S. Bear Bergman,
December 2019



“[...] Derksen’s creation is more than just a new choral work. It is meant to be a physical as well as audible expression of people coming together to freely give and receive something that speaks directly to community.” 

—  John Terauds,
June 2019


“Cris Derksen’s Orchestral Powwow CD is so unusual, so satisfying, and at times so unexpectedly thrilling.” 

—  Alexander Varty,

June 2017