Yellowknifers won’t need to wait until Folk on the Rocks to enjoy local music with the return of the Longshadow Music Festival next week.

Longshadow is the brainchild of Yellowknife musician and composer Carmen Braden and a production of her company, Black Ice Sound. The event runs over four days and features a fusion of traditional, classical and modern music.

“Everything that’s happening at Longshadow has a context, a history, a tradition of music that it comes from, but what we’re doing is performing music within that context, and then exploring and seeing where the possibilities are for new music and experimenting,” says Braden.

The festival kicks off Thursday, June 23, with a cello and violin duo at the Sundog Trading Post. The following evening, the Elks Lodge will host a kitchen party with two-time Canadian grand master fiddler Daniel Gervais and Fort Simpson fiddler Wesley Hardisty. Saturday evening will include a performance by a string quartet at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre with works both classical and modern, featuring violinist Andrea Bettger. Finally, Yellowknifers of all ages are invited to a free, family-friendly outdoor concert at Somba K’e Plaza on Sunday afternoon.

The festival took place for the first time in 2019, but was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“(It’s) a little strange trying to pull off something of this magnitude after having not a lot going on,” says Braden. “But I’m excited and the players are excited — and now I’m really ready to get the audience excited.”

For this year’s event, Braden teamed up with Robert Uchida, the concertmaster for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, who is serving as the artistic director for the festival.

“For me, a real hallmark of the North is these kinds of partnerships that we can build,” says Braden. “So that we’re not kind of navel-gazing at ourselves, and we’re not always just importing and then parachuting in these performers that go away. (Uchida is) wanting to kind of build these relationships up.”

Gervais says his Saturday evening kitchen party with Hardisty will beg the question “What is the difference between a fiddle and a violin?”

“That’s what we’re going to be exploring in the performance,” he says.

He wants to evoke a kitchen party “(from) the olden days, with the chairs off to the side and people playing cards and dancing, and you’ve got the fiddle right by the wood stove and stuff like that,” he said.

Complete details on lineups, show times and tickets are available at www.longshadowmusic.com.

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