Born on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, half of whose population is indigenous, Barbara Assiginaak developed a passion for music at an early age. At the time, she was already fascinated by the pipigwan, the traditional flute of the Odawa First Nation. Her musical education has taken her to the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, the prestigious Centre Acanthes training academy for young composers in France and the University of Toronto. Her teachers have included Dr. Samuel Dolin, Helmut Lachenmann and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
She has been active internationally since 1995. Among other accomplishments, she was composer-in-residence at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1998 to 2000. An educator and committed environmentalist, she has played an active role in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Barbara Assiginaak often draws inspiration from traditional Native American music as well as from nature—from its rhythms and soundscapes of murmuring water, wind and birdsong.
“I imagined this short work as a journey through a dream-memory experience of time, beginning with a canoe entering the calm waters in the midst of thick fog just under the light of Nokomis (Grandmother Moon). Soon, with the coming dawn, the mists rise and the waters dance under the light of Giizis (Grandfather Sun) and enliven those many creatures that dwell within and around. As the waters of this great river change their flow, their speed and sometimes the direction of their current, the traveller is reminded that all humans—the last to arrive after all other beings—are not there to dominate and control the spirit and life of nibi (water).” – Barbara Assiginaak
© Claudio Ricignuolo
Translation by Craig Schweickert