Strange musical frequencies

Kerey Harper to debut new work with Manitoba Chamber Orchestra


Advertise with us

North Kildonan

The ambient, electronic music of a River East Collegiate alumnus will receive a world premiere on March 22, as part of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s Equinox: Chamber Night at the WAG program.

Kerey Harper — a musician and composer from St. Theresa Point First Nation — moved to Winnipeg in 2012 to attend River East Collegiate. After graduating in 2016, Harper lives in his home community today, composing music for Nagamo Publishing, a joint project between APTN and Bedtracks, a Toronto-based music house, with whom he signed a publishing deal in 2020.

Since his days at River East, Harper has been an electronic musician at heart. Most recently, he has been working with modular electronic music systems. In the past, he said that Hologram’s Infinite Jets sampler and Chased Bliss Audio’s MOOD loop pedals, along with Teenage Engineering’s OP1 synth, were the go-to gear he used when composing. But the Qu-Bit Data Bender and the Mutable Instruments Beads modules have influenced his compositions of late, including the two movements of Blue Fractals, which will be performed by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra on March 22 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, along with a new arrangement of an older composition, Circadian Sleepers, which has received airplay on CBC and in the film Canada in a Day.

The first movement of Blue Fractals, Harper explained, is very ambient, slow and pensive, while the second movement picks up steam, incorporating more strings and wind instruments. Composing for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Harper added, was a challenge, but a welcome one.

“I don’t know all the terminology, the accents and all that,” he said.

“I only know basic theory, I’m not good at reading sheet music, either. I had to really focus on it. It was a fun challenge.”

To write for the orchestra, Harper leaned heavily on synthesized libraries of strings, flutes, and woodwinds sounds.

“That helped, but I’m excited to hear it played by the orchestra,” he said.

“They’re not robots, they’re people. They have to take breaths and you have to write for that. And with an orchestra, there’s a visual aspect, too. All the strings, they’re all bowing at the same time. So you have to account for that.”

Although recently, Harper’s focus has been on his commissions for the MCO, last summer he took part in a two-month online program for scoring films.

“It’s another tool in my toolbox,” Harper said.

“I’m keeping my options open. I’m looking forward to making new compositions, trying new experiments with these modular systems.”

Equinox: Chamber Night at the WAG will also feature works from Kris Wachniak, Corie-Rose Soumah, Chris Byman, and Nahre Sol. A matinee performance was sold out, but tickets were still available at press time for the 7:30 p.m. performance.

For tickets and more information, see

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at Call him at 204-697-7112

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us