Pilgrimage to Bach:
A Reclamation of Spirit
Sound the Alarm: Music/Theatre is collaborating with Early Music Vancouver (EMV) and their Artist in Residence, Cree-Metis baritone Jonathon Adams to create a dialogue around reclamation of spirit through two of Bach's most glorious cantatas: BWV 82 - “Ich habe genug” (It is Enough) and BWV 56 - "Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen" (I will carry the burden).
Alarm: Mental Health
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Recorded Live: August 5, 2021
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Each donation will help STA deliver more quality programming such as this, that helps bring conversation and helps sound an alarm around mental health.
Our multi-media live staging and re-imagined context of BWV 82 explores the tension between the physical body and the caged spirit within and will help ‘sound an alarm’ on the fragility of mental health. Alan Corbishley will direct this cantata in collaboration with video artist Michael Heid of Sigma Environments.
BWV 56 will continue the cinematic nature of BWV 82, but will be realized through an original film as led by Reneltta Arluk, an Indigenous actor of Dene, Inuvialuit and Cree descent and co-director of the 2020 film THE MESSIAH COMPLEX. This film will explore an artistic reclamation to the land and water - that through intentional connection, only then can our minds and bodies reclaim cultural alignment and healing.
Creator/Stage Directors Notes
by Alan Corbishley
Through Canada’s current awakening to its destructive and oppressive past due to our colonial infrastructures and toxic power structures, this artistic program aims to challenge historically white, christian, heteronormative narratives as it relates to personal and cultural identity. As per Jonathon’s self proclaimed Indigenous and Two-Spirited ‘take-over’ of colonial and christian baroque music, as a gay man myself, I too struggle with the complex relationship christianity and its social ideology has forced onto the LGBTQ2S communities, resulting in a pressure to ‘other’ ourselves into conformity. It is this damaging life-long social gaslighting that generates a deep struggle in healthy identity. Through this program, we are ‘sounding an alarm’ on mental health and the need to reclaim healthy identities from within contained and limiting ideologies.
As a musical symbol for christian and colonial infrastructures, we have chosen two of Bach’s most glorious sacred cantatas to theatrically explore. The first is his famous BWV 82 “Ich habe genug” (It is Enough). This 25 minute monodrama for baritone is dramatically centred around the spirit’s yearning to escape the physical self through death. “Ah! if only the Lord would free me from my body’s enslavement; Ah! If indeed my liberation were soon, With joy I would say to you, O World, It is enough.” Our live, multi-media approach explores this idea of physical being, layered against a digital realization of the internal self and its multitudes. Due to toxic internal narratives, added to our oppressive societal ‘scripts’, this tension of being often amounts to an array of mental health issues and an inevitable yearning for release. In this presentation, we don’t aim to speak directly to suicide, but rather the process of emancipation from a fragmented identity, into a healthier alignment of being.
Our second cantata, BWV 56 "Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen" (I will carry the burden), is scheduled to be made into a film in the Spring of 2022, and tonight's concert recording will function as its musical foundation. Director Reneltta Arluk, an Indigenous actor of Dene, Inuvialuit and Cree descent, will lead Jonathon through this cinematic experience with a pointed Indigenous lens - focused on the resurgence of cultural expression and an artistic reclaiming of land. “My pilgrimage in the world is like a sea voyage: trouble, suffering, and anguish are the waves that cover me… Finally my yoke must fall away from me. Then will I fight with the Lord's strength, then I will have an eagle's power, then I will journey from this earth and run without becoming fatigued”. As these lyrics evoke, the film will reframe this forced Christian narrative to speak directly to the Indigenous community as told through a cultural journey on their land and their waters. Through intentional and relentless action and connection, only then can Indigenous communities and their members reclaim cultural alignment and healing.
It is our goal to present these two fully theatricalized cantatas within a single concert experience.
Thank you for supporting that artistic journey.
Cantata 82 &
Director for upcoming
film production of
Video Artist from Sigma
STA would like to thank
the following for their support.
Canada Council for the Arts
Explore and Create Grant
BC Arts Council
Project Grant: Music