As music and arts organizations emerge from a COVID-19 induced hibernation, one group won’t be back… at least not as they were known in the “before” times. 

Camerata Nova is now Dead of Winter. 

“We wanted to make sure that we still honoured our past but, at the same time, reflect where we’re going to go in the future,” says artistic director and composer-in-residence Andrew Balfour.

Founded 25 years ago, Winnipeg’s “vocal group without fear” got its start performing Renaissance and Baroque works. As the organization has matured, so too has their programming; still passionate about early music, there was now an added focus on Indigenous-infused vocal works and contemporary compositions. 

Over the past year and a half, the forced break from performances and programming provided many conductors and organizations an opportunity to reflect on the work that they were doing, says Balfour. “We spent a lot of time… talking about ‘how do we make choral music more inclusive?’ ‘How do we make it a diverse and safe platform for people?’” 

A name change from the Latin, Eurocentric “Camerata Nova” to “Dead of Winter” is one such way to confront their new artistic identity. 

For Balfour, a composer of Cree descent, the name challenges the negative association with the cold months of winter. “From an Indigenous perspective, of course, winter was always a time of rebirth, renewal, storytellings,” he says. “That’s kind of what happens in Winnipeg and I think that’s why Winnipeg is a cultural capital because we don’t shut down and hibernate in winter. In fact, I think that’s where the real creative time comes for Winnipeg and Manitobans.”

Learn more about rebrand and hear about the inaugural Dead of Winter season in the full conversation below with Andrew Balfour below!