batoche the composer

William Pura:
"I first read the book, Batoche on the recommendation of a friend who thought the poems held the promise of being very effective in a musical setting. The publisher, Coteau Books of Regina, Saskatchewan generously allowed me to set the poetry to music. From the beginning I began to work on sorting out which ones would work together as a logical, yet musical sequence, covering the general flow of events, but also providing opportunities to investigate the thoughts and emotions of the various figures of the story.

     For me the poetry is a meditation on the events of the period, but these events are treated in a particular way, avoiding the grand sweep of "history" but instead, getting up close to the personal feelings of the characters and thus creating the universal from more intimate insights into these feelings and their resulting actions.

     As important as these aspects are to the poetry, behind all the events is the larger issue of the Land. My interest in the harsh landscape of the northern plains has formed the backdrop for much of my previous work. This musical drama has given me a special opportunity to explore both musical textures and the use of language in relation to Nature.

     Finally, it is the land and who controlled it that spawned much of the crisis that led to battles that culminated in Batoche, and in my opinion it is why the events of 1885 still resonate with us today. There is much unfinished business with the land in Canada. The reality behind the seeming blank canvas of that huge space is just now becoming clearer to the both the politicians as well as the general population. We will continue to have confrontations over land - perhaps not at the level of the 19th century, but, I am sure that feelings about its ownership and its use still run high, and where there are serious disagreements, the human drama in relation to the space we all live in will surface again."

The composer can be contacted by e-mail at or visit his website at

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