When the curtain rose on Resounding, the concert to mark Dalhousie Arts Centre’s grand re-opening in late May 2022, Jeremy Dutcher (BA’12) was there to help celebrate.

- July 6, 2022

(Nick Pearce photo)
(Nick Pearce photo)

Jeremy Dutcher is a classically trained operatic tenor and composer who blends his Wolastoq First Nation roots into the music he creates. He returned to Dalhousie to co-headline the celebration marking the completion of the Arts Centre’s expansion.

“I always love coming back and performing at the Cohn. It reminds me of my days as a student at Dal,” Dutcher says. “Every time I stand on that stage it allows me to reflect on the growth since those days.”

His combined degree in music and social anthropology helped Dutcher find his voice—literally and figuratively. He learned to sing with precision, power and control while coming into his own as an Indigenous artist who blends distinct musical aesthetics that shape-shift between classical, traditional and pop to form something entirely new.

During a stint working for the Canadian Museum of History after he graduated, Dutcher discovered voice recordings singing forgotten songs and telling stories that had been taken from the Wolastoqiyik generations ago. Back at his piano, feeling out melodies and phrases, he engaged in what he calls “dialogue with the voices of his ancestors.” These “collaborative” compositions created bold and unique pieces that he brings to life through affective performances.

“I’m doing this work because there’s only about 100 Wolastoqey speakers left,” says Dutcher, who grew up a member of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. “It’s crucial for us to make sure that we’re using our language and passing it on to the next generation. If you lose the language, you’re not just losing words; you’re losing an entire way of seeing and experiencing the world from a distinctly Indigenous perspective.”

Resounding not only announced the successful conclusion of a $40 million fundraising campaign, but also the enhancement and expansion of a world class performing arts facility in Halifax.

The campaign enabled improvements in the form of new teaching, rehearsal and performance spaces. Now, Dal students will have more cross-disciplinary learning opportunities and will benefit from state-of-the-art rehearsal and performance spaces. Audiences returning to the Arts Centre will enjoy new features like an exterior garden, improved air quality and sound proofing, and they’ll be able to attend additional performances in the building’s new Joseph Strug Concert Hall.

Dutcher says improving the Dal Arts Centre and having top-of-the-line places for young people to perform in the Atlantic region is important. “I’m really excited to be part of the celebration.”

This story appeared in the DAL Magazine Spring 2022 issue. Flip through the rest of the Spring 2022 issue using the links below.


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