Andrew Balfour is an innovative Cree composer, conductor, singer, and sound designer whose works include choral, instrumental, and orchestral music. As a result of the Sixties Scoop, Andrew was raised in a non-Indigenous family and grew up singing in church choir and playing trumpet. Today, he is a highly sought-after composer known for fusing Classical music traditions with Indigenous texts and themes to highlight the unsettling sociopolitical pressures and commentary that have surrounded Indigenous peoples for many years.
Andrew has been commissioned by the Winnipeg, Regina and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, Tafelmusik, the Kingston Chamber Choir, and many others. In 2017, he was awarded a Gold Medal by the Senate of Canada for his contribution to Canada’s Indigenous and music communities. Some of his most notable works include:
- Take the Indian, which features snippets of testimony from hearings conducted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada as a vocal reflection on Canada’s extensive history concerning missing Indigenous children;
- Empire Étrange: The Death of Louis Riel, Bawajigaywin (Vision Quest);
- Mishaboozʼs Realm, an Indigenous opera commissioned by LʼAtelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal and Highlands Opera Workshop, which was recently premiered in Montreal and Haliburton;
- and Pyotr’s Dream, an instrumental work commissioned and premiered by Tafelmusik in 2019.
Andrew also has a long-standing passion for music education and outreach, particularly on northern reserves and inner city Winnipeg schools.
In this Interview
Access to Opportunities, Accessibility, Adoption, Allyship, Arts Funding, Black Music, Black Lives Matter, Colonialism, Community, COVID-19, Cultural Appropriation, Discrimination in Classical Music, Economic Disparity, Eurocentrism, Geographic Disparity, Historical Context, Identity, Imposter Syndrome, Indigenous Identity, Isolation, Multiculturalism, Music Pedagogy, Performance Practices, Police Violence, Safe Spaces, Self-Advocacy, Systemic Discrimination, Terminology in Diversity, Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, White Passing
This interview includes discussion of Residential Schools, and mentions of addiction.
On December 10, 2020, Andrew Balfour participated in an interview with Hillary Chu (member of the Faculty of Music Anti-Racism Alliance).
View interview in full screen.