for solo flute and soprano

Performed by Brenda Fedoruk, flute
Robyn Driedger-Klassen, soprano
Composed by Jeffrey Ryan
Lyrics from the poem Loons by David Fraser
Director: Sean Patrick Shaul


Audio recorded on June 6, 2021, at Barnett Hall, University of British Columbia School of Music which is located on the unceded traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) First Nation. Filmed on July 12, 2021, at Pitt Lake, Pitt Meadows which is located on the unceded traditional territory of q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie) First Nation.


Statement from Jeffrey Ryan, composer:
A traditional story from the Tsimshian First Nation (an Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast) tells how the loon gave sight to an old, blind man, who in thanks gave the loon his necklace. Poet David Fraser’s sonnet Loons tells a new story, one that speaks to our modern-day disconnection from nature and the environment. We have lost sight of our way. The loons have stopped answering. But perhaps the next generation will forge a new and better relationship with the land. In a mere fourteen lines, Fraser evokes a dispirited present, a joyful past, and a hopeful future. In this setting for flute and soprano, the two instruments are two sides of the same voice: wordless and not, melding into one, separating, echoing each other.


Loons by David Fraser
The loons no longer answer when I cry.
My voice is grown too old and harsh and low
to reach the purer, clearer tones they know
as kindred music, worthy of reply.
But how they used to know me! Clear and high
My youthful voice poured out its tremolo,
And then their haunting, rich arpeggio –
That stab of lonely wildness – etched the sky!
Father loon, true judge of spirits true,
but who once condescended to bestow
your sleek, fierce spirit on an old, blind eye,
I take your silent verdict as my due,
and seek no consolation but to know
that you’ll still answer when my children cry.

poem ©1988 David Fraser. Used by permission.

The poem ‘Loons’ is from the collection Bush Poems which can be obtained free, in pdf format, by emailing the author at dfraser@mail.ubc.ca.