Cris Derksen’s Orchestral Powwow with Chippewa Travellers and members of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra

Saturday 11 September 4pm // The Backyard at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre + Virtual Livestream

Cellist and composer Cris Derksen is deeply interested in the intersections of the contemporary and the traditional not only in music, but also in visual arts, fashion, writing, and theatre. As a daughter of Canada, part Cree and part Mennonite, her musical engagement leads her towards the exploration of the human condition in a contemporary light by pushing old traditions in new directions. The Orchestral Powwow Project does just that: using classical tools with Powwow groups to express the intersections between the old and the new, bringing together Derksen’s mixed heritage as well as her classical cello training. Orchestral Powwow brings Indigenous music to the European model of orchestral writing, as Indigenous artists lead the way with drums and heart beats to create something entirely new.

CRIS DERKSEN photo by Tanja Tiziana

Juno nominated Cris Derksen, originally from Northern Alberta, Canada, is an internationally respected Indigenous cellist and composer. Derksen braids the traditional and contemporary, weaving her classical background and her Indigenous ancestry together with new school electronics to create genre-defying music. 

As a composer she has her foot in many worlds working in choral, symphonic, film, theatre and dance, and is regularly commissioned by major Canadian orchestras and new music ensembles. As a performer Derksen performs nationally and internationally. Recent destinations include Hong Kong, Australia, Mongolia, Europe, Mexico and a whole lot of Canada: the place Derksen refers to as home. 

Derksen was nominated at the 2021 Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards for her work on Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. A new album of her works will be released in 2022.


Chippewa Travellers are an award winning Aniishinaabeg family drum group originally from Chippewas of Nawash, Cape Croker rez (Neyaashingaming), Ontario but now reside in the Southern/Central area of Ontario. The group has 15+ members and started singing as Chippewa Travellers in 1998 and before that were known as the Nawash Jrs, in the early 1990’s. Several singers were also members of the Otonabee singers back in the early 1980’s.

Chippewa Travellers are primarily a Northern original style drum group that also enjoys singing contemporary and southern styles when it is appropriate. Chippewa Travellers have grown up singing within the Powwow (Helushka) society, with several teachers who have been instrumental in guiding the group in proper drum & powwow etiquette. The Group is part of Cris Derksen’s Orchestral Powwow Project, with performances at major festivals and theatres across Canada including, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Yellowknife, Regina, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Halifax. Chippewa Travellers have won Best Powwow Traditional Album at the Indigenous Music Awards 2019, two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards as well as the 2010 online Drum Contest; Powwow Idol. Chippewa Travellers have been nominated for Best Traditional Drum Group and Best Album Cover in the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards, 2010 & 2012.


A cultural treasure for seven decades, the Niagara Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is a professional orchestra of over 50 musicians providing classical and contemporary orchestral music to more than 12,000 residents of the Niagara region annually.

September 11 @ 16:00
4:00 pm — 5:00 pm

Members of the Niagara Symphony, Chippewa Travellers, Cris Derksen

Watch Live – Saturday