University of Calgary
UofC Navigation

Elmer Iseler Singers take MMus student’s composition on tour

Carmen Braden travels with group in the Northwest Territories

Conductor Lydia Adams introducing Carmen Braden

The Elmer Iseler Singers is one of Canada’s leading professional chamber choirs. Last month, the 20-voice choir toured the Northwest Territories, performing Lake Skin composed by Carmen Braden, who is from Yellowknife and is pursuing her MMus in Composition at the School of Creative and Performing Arts.

“I approached the Elmer Iseler Singers through the Mentorship Program of the Northern Arts & Cultural Centre, which I am a part of.  I asked if I could write a piece for them and if they would sing it while they were on their tour in the Northwest Territories”, says Braden.

The choir accepted and performed the piece in Yellowknife and in the smaller communities of Hay River, Fort Smith and Fort Simpson.

“Lake Skin is inspired by the soundscape of the subarctic and Yellowknife,” says Braden. “I spent a lot of my time looking and listening to ice. I took these sounds and combined them with a short poem that I wrote and then created this piece.”

“Carmen is a brilliant composer”, says Lydia Adams, conductor of the Elmer Iseler Singers. “Her piece explores the texture and sound of ice through choral and other vocal means and in the process, brings our imagination, memories and inner knowledge to a moment of discovery."

Braden received the unique opportunity to travel along with the singers. “Throughout the tour, I got to know the performers and their opinion on the piece,” says Braden. “They allowed me to continuously polish the composition and eventually, I had something that I was really happy with.”

The choir invited her to join them to sing in their final concert. “It was unbelievable,” says Braden. “My sight-reading experience at the University of Calgary was invaluable. Here I was, thrown into a professional performance where I had to sight-read and communicate a quality of musicianship without a lot of rehearsal time.”

Lake Skin will be performed again in Toronto this May, for the 35th anniversary concert of the Elmer Iseler Singers.

Listen to an excerpt of Lake Skin, performed by the Elmer Iseler Singers