Jeremy Dutcher Hillside, Guelph ON, July 14

Jeremy Dutcher Hillside, Guelph ON, July 14
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
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There are worse places to put a grand piano, but an open-air stage is surely near the bottom of the list, especially once you factor in bleed-through from other stages. But opera singer Jeremy Dutcher's powerful voice and charisma quickly cut through the din, recreating the rich neo-classical compositions of his stellar debut, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, with little more than his booming tenor, piano and recordings of his ancestors.
 
Performing the traditional songs of his people, the Wolastoqiyik, as mostly learned from 110-year-old archived recordings, Dutcher incorporated the original recordings into his new compositions, often duetting with his ancestor, or playing the original before showing his version. Each track came with commentary from Dutcher, whose talents as singer, composer and performer were matched with his skill as an educator. Learning about the history of the Wolastoq people, the present concerns of today's Indigenous communities and the archival project that Dutcher utilized to craft these songs, he built a bridge between past and present to move toward a better future.
 
Dutcher is also a natural performer, and his talents shone in spades. Leading the crowd to sing the root notes of a cappella number, "Koselwintuwakon," Dutcher then began looping his voice into a one-person chorus, at which point the audience dropped out, transfixed. It was a powerful moment from a powerful set.
  

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