2017 JUNO Nominee – Best Classical Composition

Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s
GOING HOME STAR: Truth and Reconciliation
Music by Christos Hatzis

Featuring the music of Tanya Tagaq, Steve Wood (Mistikwaskihk Napesis) and the Northern Cree Singers
Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Tadeusz Biernacki
Spoken text by Joseph Boyden, additional voice over by Tanya Tagaq and Steve Wood.

« …one of the most powerful and moving works composed by a Canadian composer… »
– David Dalle, CKCU FM

« …don’t miss this unique artistic realization of an important and disturbing part of Canada’s history. »
Paul E. Robinson, Musical Toronto

« . . . The music for Going Home Star may be the best ballet composition ever created in Canada. . . With the collaboration of the magnificent Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq and the exciting pow-wow rituals of the Northern Cree Singers, Hatzis’s score embraces the story like hand to glove. » —THE GLOBE AND MAIL

« . . .The intersection of styles of music and movement was aggressively inter-cultural, as though people of different backgrounds were meeting face to face, while trying to reconcile their differences: those very same differences that are the basis of the TRC itself. » – Barcza Blog

« Christos Hatzis’s tour-de-force score . . . is a game-changer. » —WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

« …richly textured, eclectic cinematic score. » – Andrew Timar, the WholeNote

Choreographed by Mark Godden, on a story by Joseph Boyden, this ground-breaking ballet score by Christos Hatzis combines the talents of internationally renowned Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, the haunting Cree songs of Steve Wood and the powerful, high octane pow-wow energy of the Northern Cree Singers with stellar performances by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Tadeusz Biernacki. Based on the subject of the infamous Indian Residential Schools, GOING HOME STAR is a remarkable work, described by CBC Television as « the most important dance mounted by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in its illustrious 75 year history. »
In this double CD, Hatzis’s ultra-eclectic music enables a unique conversation between native artists, a symphony orchestra and a digital audio component. This drawing together of traditionally segregated forces also enables several genres of music, from traditional ballet, swing era jazz, disco dance music, dub-step and scratch dj mixes to cosmic soundscapes and thematically based orchestral development to help reimagine a unique 21st Century music that transcends genre classifications and ideological taboos and aims for the kind of reconciliation and cultural awakening that is the deeper goal of this multifaceted dance project.

CD 1 / Act 1

1. – 5. Scene 1: In the Hair Salon, Train Station and Night Club (23:15)
1. 5:56
2. 4:23
3. 4:29
4. 2:15
5. 6:12

6. Scene 2: Coercion (5:41)

7. – 9. Scenes 3 – 5 Living by the Bell / In the Residential School (12:32)
7. 2:45
8. 3:54
9. 5:53

10. Scene 6: Charlie’s Escape / Star Children (9:18)

Total: 50:53

CD 2 / Act 2

1. Scene 1: Clergymen’s Dance (7:32)

2. Scene 2: « I got to build my fire up » (10: 31)

3. – 4. Scene 3: « They could not have possibly survived » (9:14)
3. 6:45
4. 2:30

5. Scene 4: Morning Song (11:46)

Total: 39:10


« It is a terrific score, and the playing by the Winnipeg Symphony is excellent. » – American Record Guide

« Wow! Phenomenal! This is a masterpiece! . . . I find it breathtaking, an extraordinarily powerful, moving, and beautiful work. . . I am very happy that a subject matter of such profound importance and relevance to Canadians has received such a stellar musical and artistic treatment. » – David Dalle, CKCU-FM, Ottawa

« Music brings a unique perspective to the cultural dialogue that explores the legacy of European colonialism and its long-lasting impact on the indigenous people of the Americas. An excellent addition to this dialogue comes in a release from Centrediscs, which features a ballet by Toronto composer Christos Hatzis, based on a story by Joseph Boyden about the history of Canada’s infamous residential schools. It’s an ambitious and elaborate work, which transcends genres and cultural boundaries, merging the talents of Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, Cree songwriter Steve Wood and the Northern Cree Singers with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Tadeusz Biernacki. In combining the musical styles of various eras – including ballet, swing, disco, and dub step – Hatzis has created something novel yet familiar, which communicates a pan-cultural message of reconciliation and healing, but also speaks directly to Canada’s troubled past. A powerful and important work. » – Chris Morgan, Scene Magazine

« . . . His more complex compositions mix sounds as deep and rich as warm earth, acoustic instruments, and a unique sense of how effects such as sampling can make even the wispiest passing note indelible. The music here employs all these techniques; performers include individual and group singers and a symphony orchestra meshing to convey the emotional depths of this tragic situation, yet—as befits ballet music—there is never a feeling of mass, rather of nimble and powerful movement and constant metamorphosis. From its first minute much of this music is anxious, even frightening . . . the first five tracks here, the whole of Scene 1, are among the most unified—gripping and at times terrifying—music I know . . . while I held the info booklet in my hand I never read a word of it until this astounding 23 minutes had passed; I’m not sure I even blinked. The theme is an important and a tragic one, and I’m sure the dancers add their own visual power, but the music more than holds its own as a free-standing creation . . . There are moments that clearly evoke the terrors the children must have felt at the schools: as the nuns brutally indoctrinate a young girl the percussion itself seems to shiver with fear; the music at times evokes a sere landscape, one burnt bare by cold and abuse. . . While the story here is a very specific and a terrible one, this ballet is not a historical documentary, not a haranguing or a finger-wagging scold, or a simple morality play. Rather, it is a deeply affective evocation of the humanity of its characters struggling to heal and go forward; a universal. » – W. C. Bamburger, Amazon.com

« The richly textured, eclectic cinematic score by veteran Toronto composer Christos Hatzis furnished for the ballet Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet was premiered in October 2014 to considerable audience and critical acclaim. This impressive work is a superimposition of at least three culturally defined layers. Hatzis directly quotes and echoes sections of iconic 20th-century European ballets Rite of Spring, Swan Lake and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. In addition Christian liturgical chorales, medieval chant and dance music by Jean-Baptiste Lully are all skillfully reworked in Hatzis’ characteristic tonal-centric style. To this he adds elements in multiple vernacular music genres, as well as acoustic and electronic soundscapes, diffused from the studio-produced digital audio track. Another significant layer of this 2-CD musical journey is the contribution of North American indigenous voices. They are essential texts in this narrative centred on the suffering imposed on children in Canada’s infamous Indian residential schools – with musical detours into the early contact between Europeans and First Nation peoples – ending with the possibility of personal and intercultural redemption and reconciliation. Based on a story by Joseph Boyden, the ballet score is given a human voice by the extraordinary Polaris Prize-winning Inuk singer Tanya Tagaq, in the last scene’s Morning Song eloquently performed by the Cree singer Steve Wood and through the pow-wow energy of the Northern Cree Singers infusing a visceral power into several scenes. Is Going Home Star « the most important dance mounted by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in its illustrious 75 year history, » as described by one CBC TV commentator? Hatzis’ cumulatively moving, highly eclectic score compels me to see Mark Godden’s choreography and to find out how this important national story plays out on stage. I invite my fellow Canadians to join me on this journey during the RWB’s upcoming 2016 national tour. » – Andrew Timar, the WholeNote

« The complex collaboration of Metis author Joseph Boyden, Inuk singer Tanya Tagaq and the Northern Cree Singers with Greek-Canadian composer Christos Hatzis and choreographer Mark Godden marks a distinct moment in intercultural arts creation (Hatzis addresses the anxiety he felt and the solutions he sought in creating a work based on Indigenous histories and characters in the CD liner notes). . . the creative and impactful integration of Indigenous music, such as Tanya Tagaq’s throat singing, Northern Cree Singers’ powwow songs and Steve Wood’s Cree « Morning Song » at key moments, alongside recorded and live orchestral music, allows listeners to consider the dialogue and musical sharing that is enacted in this work. . . Going Home Star is a powerful ballet that, in live performance, is aesthetically pleasing in its uncomplicated yet symbolic sets, beautiful choreography, dramatic story and complex, yet accessible music. . . One of the most compelling juxtapositions of various musics is in scene 2 of act 2, « I got to build my fire up. » Identified as the beginning of reconciliation in the ballet, symphonic music is juxtaposed with Tagaq’s vocalizations, Woods’ and Tagaq’s oration of Boyden’s text, the music of Jean-Baptiste Lully, and the Cree « Treaty Song » sung by Wood. A musical and textual representation of imagined first encounters between Indigenous peoples and Louis XIV’s colonizers, the spoken text recounts the reliance of early settlers on local Indigenous knowledges necessary for survival. The energetic symphonic writing creates a sense of urgency juxtaposed with the throat singing of Tagaq, the lyrical and gentle « Treaty Song, » electroacoustic music, and various nature sounds, leading to Tagaq’s disturbing testimony about the abuses suffered and witnessed by children in residential school, as reflected in the persistent utterings of « I watched. » In this way, the audience is likewise called upon to witness and understand the dark history of colonial encounters and residential schools, in order to move towards reconciliation. . . This work was created in the spirit of reconciliation, a notion that celebrates the revitalization and renewal of healthy and respectful relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada; and in many ways, Going Home Star serves « to decolonize the audience, » as Beverley Diamond has put it, thus creating a space for dialogue and understanding. . . Although [the CD] does not include the visual dimensions of the ballet, the recording testifies to the negotiation of artistic perspectives and world views. It allows listeners to hear the music and consider the creative and respectful intercultural dialogue that was necessary in this work’s development, while pondering what reconciliation looks and sounds like today. » – Anna Hoefnagels, CAML Review