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Folk on the Rocks brings circumpolar groups together

Andrea Markey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (June 10/05) - This year's 25th anniversary Folk on the Rocks has the biggest budget and the largest performance line-up ever.

It also features a circumpolar collaboration project, bringing together acts from Nunavut, Denmark, Russia and Nunavik.

Taloyoak throatsingers Sarah Takolik and Bessie Uquqtuq performed at Folk on the Rocks for the first time last year. They will be back again this year, collaborating with other circumpolar groups.

"This is a rare chance to bring together traditional and folk musicians from around the circumpolar world," said festival artistic director Lee Selleck.

The idea was hatched at last year's festival, when Nunavut throatsingers Sarah Takolik and Bessi Uquqtuq suggested they should have played with an African band from Burkina Faso, he said.

"We started seriously looking at it in December, searching out bands and arranging schedules," he said. "We knew from the beginning we wanted Tuvan throatsingers, so we started there."

The Folk on the Rocks selection committee decided on four groups for the special project: Takolik and Uquqtuq from Taloyoak; Chirgilchin, throatsingers from Tuva a a small Russian province in Western Mongolia; Instinkt, a Danish group that mixes drums, flute and violin; and Taima, a Nunavik group that just won a Juno for Aboriginal Album of the Year.

The collaborative project will give the four groups three days to work together before the festival to develop their sounds, Selleck said.

"We have told them what we envision, but it is really up the them," he said.

The finished product will end up on the main stage.

Northern sounds

The sounds will be distinctly Northern, all of them having developed in an Arctic environment, Selleck said.

"Many people may not have heard of these groups, but by the time the festival is over, people will definitely know who they are."

Last year was Takolik and Uquqtuq's first time at the festival.

Learning together

The collaborative project they will be a part of this year will be a new experience, since they have never before worked with other groups. Taloyoak drummer Iola Takolik will also perform with the throatsingers at this year's festival.

"The collaboration interests me because it is very important that we contribute to our culture as a team," Takolik said.

She doesn't know exactly what will come out of the collaboration, but it is the process that is exciting, she said. She is anticipating they will learn a lot from each other.

And as vice-principal of Nesilik school in Taloyoak, she plans to take what she learns back to her students and colleagues, she said.