Cris Derksen Bio 2016
2016 Instrumental Album Juno Nominee Cris Derksen is an Indigenous cellist/composer known for building layers of sound into captivating performances. Originally from Northern Alberta, there is a line of chiefs from North Tall Cree reserve on her father's side and a line and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s side. Her music braids the traditional and contemporary in multiple dimensions, weaving her traditional classical training and her Aboriginal ancestry with new school electronics, creating genre defying music.
The Orchestral Powwow Project, is Cris's 3rd Studio Album released in 2015. It was conceived by Derksen and Robert Todd of the Tribal Spirit Powwow label, the project responds to a perceived need to truly incorporate Indigenous artists in art that claims Indigenous credit. After an exploration with Robert of ideas around what defines Orchestral Powwow, Cris spent a year composing and transcribing using Tribal Spirit’s library of powwow albums. The dynamic live performances comprise of; Cris on cello, 6-members of The Chippewa Travelers powwow group, Jennifer Kriesberg on vocals, Nimkii Osawamick Hoop Dancing, Jessie Baird on Timpani and an 8-piece symphonic ensemble.
Derksen's 2010 debut album “The Cusp” was nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award, and won the 2011 Canadian Aboriginal Music Award for Instrumental Album of the Year. She was honored with funding from First Tracks, to make POW WOW WOW, an APTN Music Video, released in early 2012. Cris released her sophomore solo album in May 2013 “The Collapse”. In this she delves further into electronic cello pieces while staying true to her cinematic flair. The Collapse is an album motivated by personal relationships and the environmental concerns that Canadians face as the dependency of energy changes the face of Canada and the world. The 13 track album features Derksen’s own compositions with Joy on Drums and guest artist Kinnie Starr.
Cris composes for Dance, Theater, Film, TV and documentaries. Composer credits include 8th Fire, a 4-part television mini-series for CBC TV; ReQuickening, NEOindegina, and TransMigration for Kaha:wi Dance, 2012, 2014, 2016, People of a Feather a feature film - Joel Heath and the Community of Sanikiluaq - 2011.
Performing with some of Canada’s elite musicians Cris has performed and Collaborated with Buffy Sainte Marie, Tanya Tagaq, Kanye West, Naomi Klein and A Tribe Called Red to name a few.
Touring nationally and internationally Cris has traveled the globe with performances including: APAP (NYC), APAM (Brisbane), Women in (e)motion (Germany), Future En Seine (France), WOMEX (Spain), SXSW (Texas), Riddu Riddu (Norway), Respect Festival, Colors of Ostrava (Czech Republic), Barroquisimo (Mexico), MADE festival, Live at Heart (Sweden). Nationally, Derksen has performed at most major festivals including; Vancouver Island Music Fest, Regina Folk Festival, Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards, Luminato Festival, Frostbite Festival, Salmon Arm Roots and Blues, Harrison Music Festival, Rifflandia, Prismatic Festival, Dawson City Music Festival, Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Calgary Folk Music Festival, Vancouver Folk Music Festival, JunoFest, the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and the 2010 Cultural Olympiad.
Cris obtained a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance at the University of British Columbia and shared the title of Principal Cellist with the UBC Symphony Orchestra. In 2009 she was recognized by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network as one of its rising stars and The Georgia Straight’s “Who to Watch”. She was also Curator in Residence at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.