Juno nominated cellist Cris Derksen will be playing LUNA Nocturnal Art and Wonder on Sept. 29. (Black Press file photo)

Juno nominated cellist Cris Derksen will be playing LUNA Nocturnal Art and Wonder on Sept. 29. (Black Press file photo)

Juno nominated artist performing at LUNA in Revelstoke Sept. 29

Cris Derksen is an Indigenous cellist and was nominated for her album Orchestral Powwow

At age 10 Cris Derksen came home from the Edmonton Public String Program with a piece of paper asking “does your son or daughter want to play violin, violet, cello or bass?”.

Derksen wanted to play the double bass, but it wouldn’t fit in her mother’s car, so she picked the next biggest choice, a cello.

“I’m so grateful because the cello has such a range, and such reach, I feel very lucky that I accidentally ended up with it,” Derksen said.

Derksen will be performing at LUNA Nocturnal Art and Wonder on Sept. 29 in Revelstoke. The Juno nominated artist described herself as an Indigenous cellist and composer.

“I am always coming from this intersection of contemporary and traditional and what its like to be a classically trained Indigenous human,” she said.

She will be performing with drummer Michel Bruyere and hoop dancer Alex Wells.

Derksen grew up in Northern Alberta. Her father’s family is Cree and her mother’s Mennonite.

“I was always aware of my two sides of the family that are vastly vastly different,” Derksen said.

She began learning to play piano at the same time that she was learning to read music. Music is part of my language, she said.

Derksen studied classical music in university.

“I went to get my training and I went to get training to be a good performer and an excellent player so I could play my own music,” she said.

She has been performing and composing full time for the last fifteen years.

For her most recent and Juno nominated album, Orchestral Powwow, Derksen recorded live Indigenous drum groups and composed classical music around the beat.

Working with drum groups to create a symphonic sound is definitely one of the best things I’ve done, Derksen said.

Her career has taken her around the globe. Last year she played in Mongolia, and after performing at LUNA she will be heading to the Ozarks in Arkansas to create music for an Indigenous art opening at the Crystal Bridges Museum.

Since university Derksen has known she wanted to make music her full time career, however the music industry makes it tough.

“Being an artist and being in the music industry it is easy to doubt your own direction and follow trends and I feel like that is a constant thing within my own music, is it being true to myself?” she said. “Am I speaking through my heart?”

Derksen also dealt with body image self doubt that came from the music industry.

“It’s like shutting out that white noise,” she said.

But in the end Derksen said she is grateful to be making music and performing as her full time gig.



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