Cree is the Key

Photo: Tanja Kanazir / Drugo more (Flickr gallery)

As part of a European tour including ten shows in seven countries in twenty-one days, an evening of the songs of multi-award-winning writer, composer and musician Tomson Highway, Songs in the Key of Cree, plays at the large hall of Filodrammatica on Tuesday, 2 May 2017. Performance will start at 20:00h.
Tickets are available for purchase at Dallas Music Shop (Splitska 2a, Rijeka), at the price of 50 kuna (adults) and 30 kuna (students). Tickets will also be available at the entrance, one hour before the show.

After the concert there will be an artist talk with Tomson Highway, lead by Željka Horvat Čeč.


Songs in the Key of Cree is a compilation of songs written over the past thirty years by Cree-Canadian playwright, songwriter and pianist Tomson Highway. The twelve songs in the show are taken from five of his musicals – Rose, The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito, The (Post) Mistress, The Sage, the Dancer, and the Fool and his latest new musical as yet to be titled.

„English is so hierarchical. In Cree, we don’t have animate-inanimate comparisons between things. Animals have souls that are equal to ours. Rocks have souls, trees have souls. Trees are ‘who,’ not ‘what.’“

– Tomson Highway 


What makes the songs unique is their Cree lyrics. Cree is the most spoken Native language in Canada today, and many of Canada’s most well-known place names are of Cree origin including Winnipeg, Manitoba, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Chicoutimi, Quebec and Ottawa. Cree is a very rhythmic language that lends itself very naturally to music and music-making, and the style of the music is “cabaret.” Think Cole Porter and Kurt Weill…with Cree lyrics. Which is not to say that many songs will be sung in English as well. And some in French. (Mr. Highway is tri-lingual in Cree, his mother tongue, and French and English.)

The songs will be sung by extraordinary Peruvian-Canadian cabaret singer, Patricia Cano, accompanied by jazz saxophonist Marcus Ali, and by Tomson Highway himself on the piano.

Songs in the Key of Cree

Photo: Tanja Kanazir / Drugo more (Flickr gallery)

Writer, composer and musician Tomson Highway was born in a snow bank on the Manitoba/Nunavut border to a family of nomadic caribou hunters. Višestruko nagrađivani skladatelj, romanopisac, dramski pisac i pijanist Tomson Highway rođen je na granici Manitobe i Nunavuta u obitelji nomadskih lovaca karibua. Highway enjoys an international career, and his critically acclaimed works include the plays The Rez Sisters, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, Rose, Ernestine Shuswap Gets her Trout and the best-selling novel Kiss of the Fur Queen.

Tomson Highway’s many awards include the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Play and Best Production (three wins, five nominations), the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama (two nominations), the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award (two wins), winning the Toronto Arts Award (for outstanding contributions made over the years to the City of Toronto cultural industries), the Wang Harbourfront International Festival of Authors Award, the Silver Ticket Award (from the Dora Mavor Moore Awards, for outstanding contributions made over the years to the Toronto theatre industry), the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (2001), and the Order of Canada (1994).

Vocalist Patricia Cano was born in Sudbury, Ontario, where she grew up in a Peruvian household. Upon graduating from the University of Toronto in Theatre and Spanish Literature, Patricia spent five years working in Paris with the world-renowned theatre company Le Théâtre du Soleil, during which time she travelled to Seoul to study traditional South Korean folk singing and drumming. Patricia has also spent time in Rio de Janeiro listening, playing, singing and feeling her way through the exceptional Carioca music scene. In 2009, Patricia launched her debut album This is the New World.

Marcus Ali is a Toronto-based saxophonist and a graduate of York University’s jazz program. A versatile musician who is equally at home in a wide range of genres, he has played on over sixty albums on a variety of woodwinds (saxophones, flutes, clarinets, West African flutes, tin whistles). He has performed, toured, and recorded with dozens of bands. He can currently be heard with the Ali Bros, Grüvoria, DRUMHAND, Soldiers of Song-a tribute to the Dumbells and multi-Juno nominated Jason Wilson.

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