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Residency: March 1 - 31,1 2006

Presentation dates

Co-sponsored by Trinity Square Video

Toronto... During the month of March, Canadian artist Will Kwan was in Toronto developing his new project for Fado, entitled "Anthem". This project will culminate in live performances of modified versions of "O Canada", to be sung at a local venue where the anthem would traditionally be played. Kwan explains his project:

"Anthem" is a video-based performance work about the history and subject matter of national anthems, produced by Will Kwan as part of Fado Performance Inc.'s ongoing IDea series .

"Official patriotic songs, especially those prior to the emergence of the modern nation-based world order, were often epic compositions. Some early anthems went on for ten to fifteen verses, providing details about the origins of a population, their geopolitical struggles, and their cultural values. The simplified, modern Canadian anthem is a minimalist affair by comparison, comprised of one verse and a repeated chorus. This project attempts to “expand” the existing Canadian anthem to re-introduce the epic as a formal structure, as a way to account for the “epic” intercultural narratives of the urban Canadian population.


photo: Marcella Rafaniello

"The performance involves five professional vocalists whose native tongue is neither English nor French, the official languages of the Canadian national song. I am working with these singers to translate “O Canada” into their respective languages (Portuguese, Argentinian Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, and Romanis) and to create one additional verse for the anthem. The content of this second verse includes lyrical references taken from the folk and poetic traditions of each performer, and composed as one segment of a longer five-part arrangement.

"In order to present these anthem variations in the appropriate public realm, the performance has been conceived to fit into the Toronto City Council’s protocol for the playing of the Canadian anthem at opening of their council sessions. Over the course of five council assemblies, a different individual vocalist will perform their translated “O Canada” immediately following the playing of the pre-recorded anthem in English and French. With each performance, the individual vocalist will be singing one section of a larger narrative pattern that will unfold over the course of the five performances.

"Each of the five performances will be filmed and edited into a video piece that weaves the ten new verses (five translations and five new compositions) into a non-linear sequence, to produce an extended composition which intertwines the multiple vocalists, languages, and cultural references. The live performances are meant to emphasize the individual voice, while the resulting video document will express a sense of the collective."

About the artist

Fado Performance Inc. is pleased to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and the Department of Canadian Heritage for their support of this project.



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