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ROOTSandBLUES: Artist captivates with musical retelling of Robert W. Service poem

Award winning cellist and composer Christine Hanson to play Main Stage on Sunday
Cellist, composer and performing artist Christine Hanson will be playing the ROOTSandBLUES Main Stage at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21, and will take part in a “Pushing The Boundaries” workshop at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at the Barn Stage. (Contributed)

By James Murray


Against a backdrop of Ted Harrison’s timeless artwork depicting the Yukon and Canadian Arctic, and the words of Robert W. Service’s memorable poem The Cremation of Sam McGee, cellist, composer and performing artist Christine Hanson’s music rises, tumbles and turns and dances across the stage – not at all unlike the aurora borealis.

Hanson will bring her work to the Main Stage at the 30th Annual Salmon Arm ROOTSandBLUES Festival and in an afternoon workshop.

The multi award-winning, Edmonton-based cellist and composer, Hanson has studied, performed and recorded music for some 30 years. In addition to her classical training on cello, she has studied contemporary musical theory, composition, music technology and jazz at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, as well as electronic music production at the SAE Institute in Glasgow, Scotland.

“The Sam McGee piece was originally commissioned in 2007 by the Celtic Connections Music Festival in Glasgow, where I was living at the time. I knew I wanted it to be a multi-media piece. I stewed over it for a whole year. In the end – well, I think it says who I am, where I come from and where I’ve landed as an artist. I’m excited about presenting it to the audience at ROOTSandBLUES.”

Hanson will be accompanied on stage by Billi Zizi on electric guitar and vocals, Eric Doucette, keyboard, Nick La Riviere, trombone, Ivonne Hernandez, violin, Jamie Philp, acoustic and electric guitars, Mario Allende, drums, Clinton Carew, narrator and local musician Jake McIntyre-Paul on bass.

Read more: ‘Celebrate compassion’: New York’s Willie Nile to rock Salmon Arm’s Song Sparrow Hall

Read more: Summerland connection to Sam McGee recognized

“The art work, the poem and the music work on so many levels. On one level it is about friendship and promises made, on another level it is about the human condition, life’s struggles, rebirth and death,” said Hanson. “It is about life during simpler times and about time shrouded in a misty past. It is also about simple joys and feeling good … for me, I guess, it’s mostly about connecting to the audience.”

In 2006, Hanson won CBC’s Galaxie Award for Best New Artist at Junofest. She has also toured with the Amati Tango Trio in the Arctic, performed Hadestown with playwright/composer Anais Mitchell and folk artist Ani DiFranco, as well as accompanied Jann Arden at Edmonton’s Winspear Centre. Hanson also performed on Scottish singer-songwriter Rab Noakes’ 2018 album, Welcome to Anniversaryville, produced by the BBC’s John Cavanagh. In 2020, Hanson was nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award in the Instrumental Artist of the Year category.

Music captured Hanson’s heart, mind and imagination at an early age. She began playing cello at age four.

Let her capture your heart, mind and imagination at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21 at the Main Stage. Hanson will also take part in a “Pushing The Boundaries” workshop at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at the Barn Stage.
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