Born in 1966, Odawa composer Barbara Croall (Manitoulin Island, Kineu Dodem) is active internationally, with works performed in several European countries, Britain, the United States, and Canada over the past several years. Apart from playing, performing and composing on traditional Native flutes and singing in traditional ceremonies, Barbara is also trained classically. She is a graduate of the Musikhochschule in Munich, Germany and also holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Composition from the University of Toronto, where she was the recipient of the Glenn Gould Award in Composition (1989). From 1989 to 2000 Barbara was a Resident Composer with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra where her work was performed under Finnish conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Her music has been premiered and featured at many international festivals, including: Murten Festival (Switzerland), Festival d'Avignon (France), Avantgarde Festival neuer Musik (Munich, Germany), Aboriginal Music Days 2000 (Toronto, Canada), Made in Canada New Music Festival (Massey Hall, Toronto), Motoperpetuo - International Arts Festival for Sculpture, Poetry & Music (Pescocostanzo, Italy). The ERGO project was founded by Croall in 1999 to promote performance of diverse contemporary compositions, particularly in exchange with composers from outside Canada. She is frequently a Distinguished Composer visitor at universities such as Montclair State University (New Jersey, USA) in 2002.
Her composition Caribou Song, an 18-minute composition for orchestra, narrator and dancers, grew out of a reading of Tomson Highway's children's book Caribou Song. In its first performance in 2002, the orchestra members were the caribou, using their instruments and feet to bring the caribou to life. Abby Cote wrote: "Imagine the sound of 10,000 caribou stampeding around you while you watch people perform a mythical dance. The music and the dance sequence blended so well that you were transported to the tundra where you shared in the joyous laughter of two children as they danced to call the caribou"(http://www.ammsa.com/birchbark/topnews-Mar-2002.html).
Most recently Barbara was composer-in-residence at the St. Norbert Arts Centre in Manitoba where her site-specific outdoor multi-media theatre work based on the Seven Sacred Grandfather Teachings - The Meeting Point of the Seven (2002) - was performed. This work "approaches history and time as a many layered transparency, whereby the past, present and future intersect and interact with one another" (http:/info.wlu.ca/~wwwpa/campus_update/2004/mar/cu_03_17d_04.shtml [last accessed 5 May 2005]). She was commissioned to compose the anthem for the 2002 Indigenous Games. In 2003 Barbara was shortlisted for the 2003 K.M. Hunter Award in the Arts. Broadcast and recording credits include: CBC Radio Two (In Performance and Two New Hours), Bayerishe Rundfunk - Bayern 3 (Germany), Deutsche Radio Swiss (DRS-II), Radio France, Italian National Television, APTN (Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network). In 2004 she was Composer-in-residence for the Niagara International Chamber Music Festival.
About Stories From Coyote (2000) for native storyteller and orchestra:
"The stories were both interesting and fun, and the music fascinating as the musicians resorted to using their instruments in unique ways to achieve sounds of the forest conceived by the composer". - Kamloops This Week (Kamloops, B.C.)
"... the audience was treated to the world premiere of the music commissioned by the orchestra as a millenium project. .... Filled with bird calls, sounds of the wind rustling through the trees and ice crackling under foot, the modern sounds use rattles, drums and various parts of the more conventional instruments". - The Daily News (Kamloops, B.C.)
About Noodin (1999) for two flutes:
"Two flutes push each other toward a typhoon - rustling, roaring, whistling, thundering and shivering. The sound dies after an orgiastic dance: what remains is a play of the wind, a whisper". - Suddeutsche Zeitung (Germany)
"Croall's 'Noodin', for two flutes, was a standout on Friday. Its title apparently comes from the Ojibwe/Odawa language and means 'there is a wind'. Brilliantly written and brilliantly performed...the piece captured - without taming - the elemental force of wind, spirit and nature ... a huge range of dynamics, colours and emotions - using percussive 'spitting', flutter-tonguing, 'shrieks' and, at the end, ethereal sounds reminiscent of electro-acoustics or crystalline eagle cries...Croall's piece was gripping from beginning to end". - The National Post (Canada)
Piano Trio, CD, recorded Steven Neugarten, Yuko Nishino, Rebecca Gilliver for non-commercial limited distribution
In an interview with Paul Steenhuisen in 2002, Croall stated:
I went to my first pow-wow when I was 5, and since that age I've spent many summers of my life on Manitoulin Island. It is another home for me, where I
am around my relations, where I really come from. I identify with the land, going back many centuries. The ceremonies and social gatherings were also very important. â€¦Even though I've had some degree of Western training, which I respect and have found enriching, I come from a very strongly intuitive way of thinking and creating. I don't think methodically about what I'm doing, I realize after the piece is done. â€¦For Aboriginal people, when you create something, it first comes from the heart, from your feelings and emotions. I'm not saying that artists from other cultures don't think that way, but many already have theoretical systems that create a see-sawing tension between intuition and theory. Songs that I learned and sang were not written down, it was all oral tradition â€“ same with prayers and stories â€“ it's all though listening. Writing things down came later, when there was a need to document these things, and the documentation was done by first contact Europeans.
(http://www.thewholenote.com/wholenote_oct_02/composer.html [last accessed 5 May 2005]).
ERGO Projects, Artistic Director Barbara Croall (475 Ontario St. South Milton, ON L9T 2N2; phone 416/410-1948; e-mail: ergoprimus.ca)
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