Toronto // Free // Music  

Maada'ookii Songlines

A massive choral event with 200 singers from 11 diverse choirs, 4 soloists, and an Indigenous ensemble braiding their songs, styles, voices and cultures, set against Toronto's breathtaking waterfront.

Presented by


Supported by

June 23 , 2019

Event runs 8:00pm - 9:45pm

Maada’ookii is an Ojibway word, with several slightly different meanings. It is a genderless word. He/she distributes something; he/she gifts something; he/she shares something with others.

Songlines in cross-Indigenous tradition are songs that help to find the way.

Stand by the water and close your eyes; listen. Is there a drum-like pulse in the sound of the city? A single voice raising its melody to the stars? Or a noisy fury blaring out a cacophony of frustrations and dreams?

Maada’ookii Songlines features 200 voices from 11 diverse choirs, 4 soloists and a fusion Indigenous musical ensemble in a new massive choral experience composed by Luminato veteran, Juno Award-nominated Cris Derksen. As the sun descends and this free outdoor massive choral event begins, the city will be enveloped in sound coming from the land, water and from above. A soundtrack for the city, the performance comes with a powerful history and a promise:

as long as the sun shines
as long as the waters flow downhill
and as long as the grass is green.

Maada’ookii Songlines is a reminder that whatever our backgrounds may be, we all come from the stars.

Lead image features Bryden Kiwenzie; photo by Heather Manitowabi. 



“Derksen’s singular and eclectic music…taps her Indigenous roots and classical training, fusing folk-friendly sounds with electronic looping gear.”
– Ottawa Citizen
“The result [of Derksen’s technique] is an album of atmospheric scores unlike anything else.”


Soloist - Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie
Soloist Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie
Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie

Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie is a Pow-Wow singer/song maker and Men's Traditional Dancer.  He has grown up on the Pow-Wow Trail learning songs, drum teachings and has been dancing Mens Traditional Style for 30 years.  He is Originally from Neyaashiinigaming (Cape Croker) but currently residing in Sudbury, Ontario.  He works at Shkagamik Kwe Health Centre in Sudbury giving drum teachings to the youth about proper drum etiquette and pow wow songs.

Bryden was also nominated for a Juno, Indigenous Album Of The Year 2017, on his debut album release entitled Round Dance & Beats, which fuses traditional Pow Wow songs with modern hip hop production. He has also been nominated for Best Hand Drum Album and Best New Artist at the Indigenous Music Awards held in Winnipeg May 19, 2017.

Photo Credit: Heather Manitowabi

Soloist - Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie
Soloist - Jennifer Kreisberg
Soloist Jennifer Kreisberg
Jennifer Kreisberg

Mother, Singer, Composer, Producer, Teacher, and Activist - Jennifer (Tuscarora, North Carolina) comes from four generations of Seven Singing Sisters through the maternal line. She is known for fierce vocals, soaring range and lilting, breath-taking harmonies.

Jennifer has been singing since she was a child.  When she was seventeen, she joined the critically acclaimed Native women's Trio ULALI. Her voice perfectly wove the high strand of Ulali's renowned harmony with incomparable skill and grace for over twenty years. Together, they created a new sound in Indian Country. Jennifer's sharp wit and stage presence infused Ulali’s shows with strong vocals, humor and camaraderie with the audience.

Jennifer is frequently called upon to guest lecture and conduct vocal workshops at universities, schools, in Native communities and at festivals throughout the United States and Canada. S he has worked in film and television and has toured with renowned musicians throughout the world. 

Soloist - Allana Stuart
Soloist Allana Stuart
Allana Stuart

Toronto musician and independent intellectual Alanna Stuart is one-half of Bonjay, a raw and emotive dancehall-bred, old soul-orchestrated duo. Bonjay’s Polaris Prize-nominated Lush Life LP has established them with praise from Pitchfork, The New York Times and NPR’s World Café.

Stuart is also a proud member of the Queer Songbook Orchestra, a chamber pop ensemble performing orchestral interpretations of pop classics and jazz standards rooted in queer history.

Outside of the studio, Stuart is a Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab Fellow, Music Gallery board member, and an independent researcher exploring the relationship between diversity and innovation in music scenes around the world.

Soloist - Allana Stuart
Soloist - Maryem Tollar
Soloist Maryem Tollar
Maryem Tollar

Maryem Tollar is a renowned Egyptian-Canadian vocalist, known for her world music performances. Her voice has been heard on the theme of CBC’s Little Mosque on the Prairie and A.R. Rahman’s Bollywood hit, Mayya Mayya. Tollar was the featured vocalist in Tafelmusik’s production of multi-media performances of “Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee Houses” currently on tour in US. and the narrator and vocalist in "Safe Haven". She performed Christos Hatzis’ piece “Syn-Phonia – Migration Patterns” with The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Inuit throat singer Tiffany Ayalik; and his multi-media piece “Constantinople” with The Gryphon Trio and Patricia O’Callaghan. She performs with several Toronto musical groups including Al Qahwa (Traditional Arabic Music and Original compositions), Odessa Havana (original Jewish/Cuban music). Her CD "Nazar" with the quartet Turkwaz was nominated for a 2017 Juno award.

Soloist - Maryem Tollar


 - Bruised Years Choir
Bruised Years Choir
Bruised Years Choir

The Bruised Years Choir is part of Workman Arts, a multidisciplinary arts organization that supports artists living with mental health and addiction issues through creation, presentation and peer-to-peer arts education. The choir was launched in 2015 as a six-week course and has since grown to become a season-long initiative with 25+ engaged Members. The Choir is led by Dora Award-winning music/theatre artist Jim LeFrancois (Director, Piano) and musician Rob Joy (Guitar) and has a vast repertoire of innovative, re-arranged popular songs, many of which explore themes of madness and hope. The Bruised Years Choir has performed at events and venues such as the Invictus Games, the Patrick Conner Awards, CAMH’s Phase Three Ground-Breaking Ceremony, Rendezvous with Madness Festival, Luminato Festival, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto City Council Chambers and Bell's Let's Talk Day.

 - Canadian Arabic Orchestra Choir
Canadian Arabic Orchestra Choir
Canadian Arabic Orchestra Choir

The Canadian Arabic Orchestra is a professional charity organization dedicated to connecting audiences with classical Arabic music while celebrating the freedom and diversity of Canada’s cultural landscape. The Orchestra’s choir is comprised of a group of singers who hail from various countries across the Middle East. Their passion for Arabic music brought them together and each of them possesses a unique flavor and style that enriches each and every performance. We are proud that the Canadian Arabic Orchestra has brought together such a talented group of soloists, since it is through their individuality that we have created a beautiful mosaic true to the very nature of communities across Canada.  

 - Canadian Arabic Orchestra Choir
 - Common Thread
Common Thread
Common Thread

Common Thread: Community Chorus of Toronto is a non-audition chorus which promotes a sense of community by performing joyful and empowering music. All voices are welcome! We believe that everyone can sing and that together we can make beautiful music. We sing music that celebrates the dignity of all people and their struggles to create a better world. We sing for recreation, for reverence, for learning and laughter, for struggle, for hope and for understanding. One of our goals is to encourage people to sing in their everyday lives. To that end we often invite our audience to sing along. We aim to “Put a song on people’s lips, and not just in their ears!

 - Darbazi

Darbazi is a Toronto-based vocal ensemble devoted to the performance of traditional music from the republic of Georgia, a country at the crossroads of Europe and Asia with a centuries-old tradition of polyphonic singing. Darbazi’s repertoire ranges from sacred chants to lullabies to exuberant work songs and epic table songs, all drawn from Georgia’s uniquely rich musical heritage.

 - Darbazi
 - Raise Her Voice
Raise Her Voice
Raise Her Voice

Founded in 1994, the Oakville Choir for Children and Youth is made up of seven different choirs under the leadership of Dr. Sarah Morrison, Artistic Director and Dr. Charlene Pauls, Associate Music Director. Holding fast to our mission as a welcoming, professional and innovative community, we are a comprehensive music education program for over 250 auditioned choristers. 

Raise Her Voice (RHV) is Oakville’s premier choir for girls of all ages. We work to create a space where young female leaders feel confident raising their voices in song and in the world. With four different choral programs, every girl who wants to sing is provided with the opportunity to find her own voice. We use singing as a vehicle through which to consider a wide range of social justice issues that impact our lives. We can change the world through singing and we choose to do so as open, fierce, joyful, and empowered young women. 

 - Raise Her Voice
 - Vesnivka

Over five decades of choral singing, Vesnivka has commissioned numerous works, both original and new arrangements by Canadian and Ukrainian composers. Its choral legacy is preserved in a variety of recordings and in the newly launched Vesnivka Choral Music e-Library, created in celebration of Vesnivka’s 50th anniversary, for future generations to enjoy.

Vesnivka fosters choral development, and provides an opportunity for individuals to enjoy a challenging and rewarding musical experience through a community-based choir. Vesnivka strives to broaden its musical horizons by participating in musical festivals and events, and by collaborating with other choirs and ensembles. We also promote young emerging soloists and musicians by providing them with an opportunity, as guest performers in our concerts, to showcase their talents.

 - Vesnivka
 - Yip’s Children’s Choir
Yip’s Children’s Choir
Yip’s Children’s Choir

Established in 1990, Yip's Children's Choir (Canada) consists of Choir, Musical Theatre and the Overseas Concert Group - Chorus Canadiana. The Choir is dedicated to the promotion of formal music and fine arts education for children and youth. Repertoire includes classical (Renaissance to Contemporary) music, religious works, art music, folk music, musical theatre, Broadway musicals, and operettas.

Since the choir inception, it has toured within Canada to Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver. Internationally, the choir has toured to Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Hawaii and in 2006, the choir was invited by Disney World and Universal Studio of Orlando Florida to perform folk music.  Chorus Canadiana completed a successful tour to Salzburg, Vienna and Prague as part of the Rhapsody! International Music Festival in 2014 and to San Francisco as part of the Golden Gate International Choral Festival in 2015.

Music Director Mr. Ron Ka Ming Cheung graduated from University of Toronto with a Masters degree in Choral Conducting and with a Bachelor of Music in Education from McMaster University . Mr. Cheung has founded two choirs, one of which, Voices, has won numerous awards in local, provincial and international competitions.  Mr. Cheung has also conducted the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir and has been affiliated with Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Counterpoint Orchestra, the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra and the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra.  

 - Yip’s Children’s Choir

Creative Team

Cris Derksen

Tim Albery, Michael Mori

David Fallis

Triga Creative (Alexandra Lord, Shannon Lea Doyle and Michelle Tracey) 

Andrew Pye

Duncan MacMillan

Tony Crea

Coro San Marco
Oakville Choir - Raise Her Voice
Faith Chorale
Bruised Years Choir
Canadian Arabic Orchestra Choir
YIP's Children's Choir
City Choir
Common Thread Chorus
The Element Choir

Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie
Jennifer Kreisberg
Alanna Stuart
Maryem Hassan Tollar

Jesse Baird (drums)
Shaun Brodie (trumpet)
Darren Creech (piano)
cris derksen (cello)

Cheri Maracle
Michelle St. John
Patty Shaughnessy
Rebecca Benson
Rosary Spence
Rose Stella
Krysta Williams