Watershed: The Music of Earth’s Waters

A Symphonic exploration of Earth's Waters.

Sunday, April 14, 2019 - 3:00pm

Pre-concert chat at 2:15 with Michael Newnham

As Earth Day approaches, Orchestra Toronto presents a meditation on Earth’s waters.

  • In Christine Donkin's Canoe Legends, we partner with Unity, a quartet of singers, to bring to life stories of Canada's waterways.
  • With Liadov's The Enchanted Lake and Smetana's Vltava (The Moldau), we visit an ideal lake and a travel an iconic river. 
  • We present a multi-media journey down the the waterways of Duke Ellington's River Suite, with visual effects curated by Tyler Krusp

Read the programme notes.


Michael Newnham – Conductor
Unity Vocal Ensemble*

On the Program

Christine Donkin – Canoe Legends*
Bedřich Smetana – Vitava (The Moldau)
Anatoly Lyadov – The Enchanted Lake
Duke Ellington (arr. R. Collier) – The River Suite, visual effects by Tyler Kruspe


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George Weston Recital Hall
Toronto Centre for the Arts
5040 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M2N 6R8


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Christine Donkin composes award-winning, critically acclaimed music that appeals to a broad range of listeners and performers. Described as “stunning” (ConcertoNet.com), "highly imaginative" (American Record Guide), and having “enormous impact” (The Washington Post), her work is promoted by several publishers and is performed all over the North American continent and beyond.

Christine composes music for musicians of all kinds. High calibre concerts at such venues as Carnegie Hall and the Moscow Conservatory are interspersed among frequent performances featuring young soloists, community orchestras, and church choirs. The Toronto Symphony, Symphony New Brunswick, Symphony Nova Scotia, Thirteen Strings, Elektra Women’s Choir, DaCapo Chamber Choir, and the Canadian Guitar Quartet are just a few of the ensembles that have performed her music in Canada.

Christine is frequently called upon to work with music students and teachers as a guest speaker, clinician, and adjudicator. Over one hundred of her pedagogical compositions, arrangements, and figured bass realizations appear in The Royal Conservatory of Music graded repertoire and studies books.


Unity is a four woman Indigenous singing group formed in Peterborough in 2005 by Barb Rivett, Joeann Argue, Brenda Maracle-O’Toole and Heather Shpuniarsky. They perform a mix of original contemporary music and traditional Indigenous songs using only percussion instruments and adding haunting harmonies to their work. Each of the members brings their musical talents to the creation of the group’s original works in collaborative creative development.

Since its inception, Unity has performed at a wide variety of venues for groups such as the City of Peterborough, Hydro One, the Rotary Club, and the Elementary Teachers Federation. They were artists-in-residence at Mount Allison University in 2007 and 2008. Unity regularly goes into public schools to provide music and storytelling workshops as part of Indigenous cultural awareness. Each year they perform Honour songs at Trent University’s convocations and, as a mark of affection and respect, have become known as the Trent University house band.

Unity has composed a number of original works, including music for live Indigenous contemporary dance performances. In 2017, Unity worked in collaboration with symphony composer Christine Donkin to create a new work for the Peterborough Symphony in celebration of their 50th anniversary season and a work with the PSO’s string quartet as part of Peterborough’s Canada 150 celebrations. Each composition was based on original songs by Unity.