Cris Derksen

cellist
& composer

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

— MusicWorks

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Biography

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, with a new commission from the Calgary Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra premiering in 2020. 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.

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Programmes and projects

Performance

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 PROJECT

 

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.

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Orchestral Compositions

ORCHESTRAL POWWOW PROJECT

 

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.

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Napi and the Rocks

Commissioned by Calgary Philharmonic, a 25 minute Blackfoot Story with 1 Narrator for Full Orchestra. Premiered in April 2020

Rebellion

Commissioned by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. 7 Minute piece with guitar and Symphony. Created in 2019

Chamber Music Compositions

5 Bucks Per Head

 

Woodwind Quintet, Commissioned by Woodwind International 2018

White Mans Cattle

String Quartet, Commissioned by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. 2018

Choral Compositions

Maada'ookii Songline

20 minute Large Scale Choral Composition for 8 choirs and 4 soloists commissioned by Luminato Festival 2019

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The Triumph of the Euro-Christ

8 minute Piece for SSAATTBB, Commissioned by the Art Gallery Of Ontario

Reviews

MOONEY ON THEATRE

“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

THE STAR

 

“[...] 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

STRAIGHT

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

—  Alexander Varty,

June 2017

Videos

Audio

News