Julie Lumsden is a proud member of the Manitoba Metis Federation, with Scottish and German settler ancestry. She was born on and grew up on Treaty One Territory, which is the land of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Dakota Nations and is the traditional territory, past and present, of the Metis Nation. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice Performance from the University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music.
Here, she discusses adapting to the COVID-era and the message she hopes this Messiah/Complex production will share with audiences across Canada.
“My portion of Messiah is He Shall Feed His Flock—so comforting and lilting, a light at the end of the tunnel. It reminds us all that people have lived through tough times before, and they’ve come out stronger. They’ve emerged, as mountains. These mountains and this land have been here longer than I have, and seen more than I have— sometimes we can lose hope in these lockdowns. The mountains don’t lose hope.”
“I’m the first professional working-artist in my family, and it’s been quite an honour to work in the arts professionally. I know that any success has to do with my family’s support: driving to voice lessons, encouraging me to study at school, attending my performances. My parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents—they gave me this privilege.”
“I got the email about participating in Messiah / Complex from Joel (Ivany) when I was on the way from my home-base in Winnipeg to Edmonton, to visit with my partner. Immediately, from the description of this project, I knew this was something I had to be a part of. I felt some trepidation about returning to classical, though. Even though I did train during my undergrad degree in classical music, since graduating, I’ve worked in musical theatre. But I immediately felt welcomed into this space of classical music. I also felt like I could pour my life experience and humanity into this piece— and I had not experienced that before with classical.”
“You don’t see vast representation a lot in classical music, it being a euro-centric artform. So, to take something like Messiah, and open it up to a larger audience, through representation, is such a huge part of this. On our film-shoot day, I made sure I had my mukluks and my Metis sash on. I was proud to be filmed wearing them with pride. I hope this production has an impact—seeing artists like these sing this type of work. I hope it illuminates the possibilities of representation and the breadth of storytelling in Canada.
“On the day of filming it was me, Daniel (the videographer) and Reneltta. We started out at 7am to get a sunrise shot at Bow Falls, near Banff. The dynamic was immediately natural, easy, and comfortable. I almost didn’t feel like I was performing. I could just be myself in that moment. We spent the day driving to different incredible locations—including Lake Louise and Sulphur Mountain. At Lake Louise, we walked out onto the frozen lake, and then, just as we were about to leave, the sun rose out over the mountains and shone down on us, and I swear the temperature went up ten degrees. We ended the day at Sulphur Mountain, high above overlooking Banff.”
“The Messiah is such a tradition for families in the wintertime, the holidays. For some audiences, it’s the only symphonic piece they will experience all year. It’s a marker of holiday time, of family time and of love. So, to offer it to Canada, in a new way, and to see these wonderful artists lifting this piece to new heights— it’s exciting, and it’s what is needed right now, in this moment.”
Thank you to Julie Lumsden for contributing her artistic voice and being a part of this project.