Cris Derksen

Tanja Tiziana

JUNO-nominated Cris Derksen is an Internationally respected Indigenous cellist and composer. In a world where almost everything — people, music, cultures — are labelled and slotted into simple categories, Cris Derksen represents a challenge.

Originally from Northern Alberta, she comes from a line of chiefs from NorthTall Cree Reserve on her father’s side and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s. 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, Derksen has a foot in many worlds. Her, 2020 compositions include: Napi and the Rocksa symphonic story commissioned by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; Same Wave, an 8-part choral piece, commissioned by Camerata Nova Choir; The Triumph of the Euro-Christ, an 8 part choral piece commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario. In 2019, compositions include: Maada’ookii Songlines, a mass choral piece for 250 singers commissioned by Luminato Festival;. Rebellion, a short symphonic piece commissioned by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra; Iron Peggy,a theatre piece commissioned by the Vancouver Children’s Festival; and a new performance art piece commissioned by the National Art Gallery of Canada, Ikumagiialit. In 2018, works and recognitions include the DORA Award for Best Sound Design, Theatre; Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools;, TIFF premiere Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes),short animation film by Amanda Strong; the Ka:hawai Dance Company production BloodTides;, Kamloopa, a theatre production; the 2018 Banff Centre for the Arts String Quartet Residency White Mans Cattle aAnd the Wood Quintet International 5 bucks per head. 

As a performer, Derksen appears as a soloist nationally and internationally with some of Canada’s finest artists, including; Tanya Tagaq, Buffy Sainte Marie, Naomi Klein, and Leanne Simpson, to name a few. Recent destinations include Hong Kong, Australia, Mongolia, Sweden, and many parts of Canada, the place Derksen refers to as home.