New exhibition celebrates musical exchange

New exhibition celebrates musical exchange

A new exhibition celebrating the musical and cultural connections between Scotland and the Eeyou people of Eeyou Istchee, in the James Bay region of northern Quebec, has opened at the University of Aberdeen.

NIMITAAU Let's Dance - Fiddle Dancing Through Scots and Eeyou Cultures, will run in the Sir Duncan Rice Library until the end of September allowing visitors to explore the important role music has played in Eeyou Istchee and its neighbouring communities over the centuries.

Music, particularly drumming and singing, has been a part of Eeyou culture for the thousands of years in which they have inhabited the land. Fiddle music and fiddle-dancing were adopted into social life and expression as the people of Eeyou Istchee came into contact with British fur traders from the early 1700s. The Eeyouch fashioned their own form of fiddle music and dance from the traditions of their past and new influences from across the sea.

Following on from the successful return of the North Atlantic Fiddle Festival to Aberdeen in July 2018, the exhibition connects visitors to individual stories from Eeyou and Scots performers, taking them on an interactive audio-visual journey into the world of Eeyou fiddle-dance performance.

Dr Frances Wilkins, lecturer in ethnomusicology at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, created the exhibition in collaboration with the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultual Institute in Quebec, having spent several years building relationships with communities around Canada’s James Bay region.

She said: “We wanted the exhibition to reflect our cultural exchange and the important relationship which has developed between the University and the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute.

“They have been instrumental in the planning and creation of the exhibition helping to co-write the information panels which are all translated into English, Cree and Gaelic.

“It is important that there is a strong Cree voice in the exhibition rather than this being a one-sided view of the tradition, presented by an outsider.

“Later in the year the exhibition will tour in Quebec and we also hope to take it to a number of communities in Scotland.”

Entry to the exhibition is free of charge and it runs until September 30. For more details visit https://www.abdn.ac.uk/special-collections/events/13434/

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