Juno nominated Cris Derksen is an internationally respected Indigenous cellist and composer. In a world where almost everything — people, music, cultures — get 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 composer Derksen has a foot in many worlds. Her 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. 2018 highlights include a DORA Award for Best Sound Design for Theatre 2018 for Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools; TIFF Premier Biidaaban (the dawn comes), a short animation film by Amanda Strong; Ka:hawai Dance Company production of BloodTides; Kamloopa Theatre production; 2018 Banff Centre for the Arts String Quartet Residency commission White Mans Cattle; and Wood Quintet International commission 5 bucks per head.
As a performer Derksen performs nationally and internationally solo and with some of Canada’s finest, including Tanya Tagaq, Buffy Sainte Marie, Naomi Klein, and Leanne Simpson, to name a few. Recent destinations include Hong Kong, Australia, Mongolia, Sweden, and a whole lot of Canada, the place Derksen refers to as home.