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Cris Dersken - Cello - Graffiti


"Derksen creates undeniably modern music that mixes folk, classical, dance, and aboriginal structures and tunes with electronic beats [...]"

- MusicWorks

"[...] Derksen’s creation is more than just a new choral work. It is meant to be a physical as well as audible expression of people coming together to freely give and receive something that speaks directly to community."

- John Terauds, June 2019

Juno nominated Cris Derksen is an Internationally respected Indigenous Cellist and Composer. Originally from Treaty 8 Northern Alberta she comes from a line of chiefs from NorthTall Cree Reserve on her father’s side and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s. Derksen braids the traditional and contemporary, weaving her classical background and her Indigenous ancestry together with new school electronics to create genre-defying music. Derksen’s composition strength lies in her diversity for all artistic fields including: Dance, Theatre, Film, Television, Animation, Fashion, Podcasts, Symphonic, Chamber, Choral, and Installations.


Derksen’s performance career started in 2006 with performing with Tanya Tagaq. Using multi-effect guitar pedals on her cello Derksen’s desire to make the cello relatable she created a space for Indigenous music, contemporary music and classical music to exists. Their 1st Album ‘the cusp’ is still on rotation on national radio and is licensed by tv and film often. Derksen been a fixture in the Canadian Folk Fest Circuit, performing with her quartet and with several different Indie rock bands since 2007. In 2016 She released Orchestral Powwow- where she created Symphonic works around powwow music- that project has been performed with symphonies and arts festivals across Canada, leading Cris back to classical music.


She performs as soloist-composer for most Symphonies and Chamber Orchestra’s across Canada and has been commissioned by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Thunder Bay Symphony and Orchestre Metropolitan- Yannick Nézet-Séguin. In 2022 Derksen was the composer for the Canadian Pavilion for the World Expo in Dubai. Her work on the Podcast Stolen: Surviving St. Michael's by Connie Walker and Gimlet media won both a Pulitzer and Peabody. Upcoming 2024 engagements include Carnegie Hall, A collaboration with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.


Derksen founded the Indigenous Classical Gathering at the Banff Center for the Arts, They are the Artistic Advisor for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and is the Chair for the Equity committee for Orchestra Canada. All in hopes of opening doors for other BIPOC Composers and performers- Asking the question: how do we make classical music look and sound more like Canada?


Derksen performs nationally and internationally as a soloist and in collaboration with some of Canada’s finest. Recent concert destinations include Norway, Chile, Hong Kong, Australia, Mongolia, Europe and a whole lot of Canada: the place Derksen refers to as home.


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