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Press Releases

Red Sky Performance & TSO Collaborate on Digital Performance for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 15, 2021


Toronto Symphony Orchestra Musicians and Indigenous Music Creators Co-create Music for Mistatim

Toronto, ON—September 14, 2021: Red Sky Performance and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) have collaborated on a digital reimagining of Red Sky’s award-winning stage production for young people, Mistatim, in association with Crow’s Theatre. Indigenous music creators and TSO musicians worked in partnership to create new musical additions to the play’s score. The video will be available for viewing for schools and classrooms and the general public, beginning on September 30, 2021, Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

An unforgettable story of reconciliation, Mistatim, a performance for young audiences, tells the story of a wild horse named Mistatim who encounters Calvin on his ranch and Speck on her reservation. Under a prairie sky, a simple wooden fence is all that separates them but in many ways, they are worlds apart—that is, until Mistatim turns their worlds upside down and the truest of friendships is forged. When the production had its stage première, it was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production. 

See a preview of Mistatim here.

Mistatim is about a fast-paced horse who will gallop into the hearts of children. This is a story of reconciliation for young people that asks its audience, ‘Why tame and punish when we can learn to listen and seek to understand,’” says Sandra Laronde, Executive and Artistic Director of Red Sky Performance. “Its release on September 30 (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation) is an opportunity to set the stage for children to dream about the kind of world they want to live in, and an opportunity for us to shift our perspectives in light of historical inequities, and equip young people with the vocabulary to continue these critical conversations about reconciliation and diversity.”

The collaboration between the Red Sky and the TSO began in the winter of 2021 with a call for Indigenous music creators to join TSO musicians in exploring and learning together, to create the new music. In April, four Indigenous music creators joined with a chamber group of seven TSO musicians, with Zoom music sessions held throughout April and May, 2021. 

The Indigenous music creators collaborated with TSO Composer Advisor, Gary Kulesha, to translate their instrumental, electronic, or digital sound worlds into music to be played on acoustic instruments.

“So much about how I tell stories is through how I feel about where we live. I try to invoke that feeling in my pieces,” says Stan Louttit, a Cree member of the Moose Cree First Nation at Moose Factory, Ontario. “My people live on an island, so our environment—the sunset, the water, the land—plays a huge part in how I express myself. It was really exciting to hear my music being interpreted and performed by orchestral musicians. I’m grateful for the experience because it has sparked my imagination to widen the possibilities of what I do creatively, and shown me new roads to explore with my music.”

Kulesha also worked closely with the TSO musicians to help stretch the boundaries of the sounds, tones and potential of their classical instruments, collaborating on a writing process that was new to them all. 

“Finding the common ground between the desired sound and what was physically possible on my instrument was fascinating and a reminder that, no matter how unfamiliar, music and sound can be universally shared experiences,” says Darren Hicks, TSO Associate Principal Bassoon. “It was a novel and enriching creative space for me to work with Indigenous creators and to be part of the Mistatim story, a space that I hope continues to be explored and expanded.”

“The TSO has been immeasurably enriched by our collaboration with Red Sky. Musicians are trained to listen to each other, but it is the musical interaction behind the notes that we have valued so much in this collaboration,” said Daniel Batholomew-Poyser, TSO Barrett Principal Education Conductor and Community Ambassador. “We are acutely aware of how resonant this story, and by extension the music, will be to young people across the country, and are committed to continuing the listening, learning, and engagement with Indigenous groups and schools across Canada to enhance students’, and our, comprehension of history.”

Mistatim is available for viewing September 30–October 18, 2021.


General Public:


To purchase access for multiple classrooms or schools: SchoolConcerts@TSO.CA

To purchase access for a single classroom:




Bryden Gwiss; Lancelot Knight; Stan Louttit; Mali Obomsawin, Music Creators

Sandra Laronde, Concept & Director

Rick Sacks, Principal Composer and Sound Designer

Erin Shields, Playwright

Eric Abramovitz (Associate Principal Clarinet); Chas Elliott (Double Bass); Darren Hicks (Associate Principal Bassoon); Joseph Kelly (Assistant Timpani & Percussion); Wendy Rose (Associate Principal Second Violin); Gordon Wolfe (Principal Trombone): TSO Musicians

Gary Kulesha TSO Composer Advisor and Mistatim Conductor

Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, TSO Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador


About Red Sky Performance:

Red Sky Performance is a leading company of contemporary Indigenous performance in Canada and worldwide. Led by Artistic Director Sandra Laronde of the Teme-Augama-Anishinaabe (People of the Deep Water), Red Sky’s mission is to create inspiring experiences of contemporary Indigenous arts and culture that transforms society. Their world stage line-up includes two Cultural Olympiads (Beijing and Vancouver); Venice Biennale, Jacob's Pillow, USA; World Expo Shanghai, among others. At the same time, Red Sky remains committed on a grassroots level in urban, rural, and reserve communities across Canada. Touring since 2003, Red Sky has delivered over 2,975 performances across Canada and around the world.


About the Toronto Symphony Orchestra:

One of Canada’s most respected arts organizations, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has played a vital role in the city’s dynamic cultural life for 99 years. Music Director Gustavo Gimeno brings an expansive artistic vision, intellectual curiosity, and sense of adventure to programming the 92-musician Orchestra. The TSO is committed to serving local and national communities through vibrant performances, extensive educational activities, and impactful community relationships. It has a notable recording and broadcast history and has been celebrated internationally during its many tours. The TSO remains synonymous with musical versatility and growth, and artistic distinction.


The TSO acknowledges Mary Beck as the Musicians’ Patron in perpetuity for her generous and longstanding support. 

The TSO Season Presenting Sponsor is BMO Financial Group. 

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario.

Red Sky acknowledges the generous support of the City of Toronto.




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