Internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq returned to the University of Washington in early February. Although her feature performance was cancelled due to inclement weather, she held a book reading for her novel, Split Tooth, which was longlisted for Canada’s Scotiabank Giller Prize. Recordings of Tagaq performing are available on the event page, and the performance may be rescheduled.
Devon Léger, an ethnomusicology graduate who created the Canadian Traditional Music Collection housed at the UW, wrote an excellent profile of Tagaq for the UW Meany Center for the Performing Arts:
“Tanya Tagaq is not a traditional artist. Nor is she an experimentalist. She is a trailblazer. An artist committed to forging a new path each time she creates. She carries her past and her perspective with her on these trails, but she pushes herself to consistently break new ground. Her music bridges between worlds, from pre-Christian Inuit culture to cutting-edge creative avant-gardes, but it’s also meant to be a bridge between people. The largely improvisational nature of her music and creation ties her viscerally to each audience, and creates a feedback loop between singer and listener, a turning of sound and spirit that increases in power with each revolution. Her performances are electrifying, drawing out unexpected passions in herself and the audience, creating new sounds, new rhythms, and pushing her physical body to the limit. This is music as a force of change. Music tied to the elements. Music that moves between worlds.”
Devon Léger is a music writer and publicist in Seattle with a deep interest in Canadian music traditions. He studies Acadian fiddling, received an MA in ethnomusicology from the UW, and was invited to Nunavik to perform at the Aqpik Jam Festival in 2011.