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This article was published 7/3/2016 (2311 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Although Katherena Vermette’s poetry is partly inspired by hair metal power ballads, it managed to motivate a choral ensemble known for a cappella Renaissance music.
Camerata Nova presents nortendluvsongs at the Ukrainian Labour Temple (591 Pritchard Ave.) on Sat., March 12 at 8 p.m. and Sun., March 13 at 3 p.m.
The collaborative concert – conducted by the choral ensemble’s music director Mel Braun – will feature music and storytelling from the diverse cultures that make up the North End.
The concert’s inspiration and namesake is North End Love Songs, Vermette’s debut book of poetry that won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2013.
In the book, the Métis writer describes the scenes, streets and people of the North End in the early ‘90s, with references to the popular music of the time.
"I was very much inspired by the idea of song," Vermette said. "They are poems but they felt very musical to me and a lot of the musical references in the book are around glam rock and early ‘90s heavy metal."
Vermette said her teenage love for bands like Guns N’ Roses, Tesla and Cinderella was perfect descriptor for the time and place the poems are set in.
"I love the ballads. I really like Mötley Crüe and Skid Row, before the fiasco," said Vermette referring to when Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach wore a very offensive T-shirt on MTV.
"That one album (1989’s Skid Row) was on repeat all the time. I really loved the ballads, I Remember You and 18 and Life and that Crüe one, Home Sweet Home."
Vince Neil and Sebastian Bach aren’t exactly choir material, but like how Vermette was inspired by music; the musical minds at Camerata Nova were inspired by her.
Camerata Nova artistic director Andrew Balfour said Braun introduced him to North End Love Songs and shortly after the idea of a North End culture concert experience was born.
nortendluvsongs will feature appearances by Indian City’s Vince Fontaine, the Sistema Winnipeg student orchestra, Danny Koulack and his klezmer project, excerpts from Danny Schur’s musical Strike! and a pre-show performance by the Winnipeg Mandolin Orchestra.
Vermette will also be part of the performance. Balfour has taken her trio of poems Selkirk Avenue from North End Love Songs and adapted it for the choir.
"Katherena will actually recite the first poem from that trio and we will be holding chords under her. Then we’ll go into the choral version of the second verse," Balfour said.
"I’ve also included a lot of sounds electronically, traffic sounds. It’s very unique."
Vermette said it’s a fitting poem for the show, as it’s the introductory poem in her book and the street is a bit of an introduction to the North End.
"Selkirk Avenue is often that first street that you come by the edge of the neighbourhood," Vermette said. "In the poem I was exploring different kinds of birds and different kinds of perspectives of the street, from the points of view of different girls walking on the street or standing on the street or driving by.
"I was really playing on that idea of being fearful of what you see but also looking closer at what you see and realizing these are all people here."
Tickets for nortendluvsongs are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, $15 for those under age 30 and $5 for eyeGo to the Arts participants and are available at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Ave.), online at www.cameratanova.com or by phone at 204-918-4547.
Community journalist — The Times
Jared Story was the community journalist for The Times until 2017.