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Headshot of Cris Derksen © Tanja Tiziana
Cellist, composer

Cris Derksen

Last updated: January 31, 2023

Juno-nominated Cris Derksen is an Internationally respected Indigenous Cellist and Composer. In a world where almost everything—people, music, cultures—gets labelled and slotted into simple categories, Cris Derksen represents a challenge. Originally from 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 Indigenous ancestry with new school electronics to create genre-defying music.

As composer Derksen has a foot in many worlds, 2019 compositions include Maada’ookii Songlines – a Mass Choral piece for 250 singers Commissioned by Luminato Festival. Rebellion—a short symphony commissioned by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. Iron Peggy – a Theatre piece commissioned by the Vancouver Children’s Festival. A new performance art piece commissioned by the National Art Gallery of Canada, Ikumagiialit. Her 2018 works include the DORA Award for Best Sound Design for Theatre 2018; Kiinalik: these sharp tools, TIFF Premier Biidaaban (the dawn comes) Short Animation Film by Amanda Strong, Ka:hawai Dance Company production of BloodTides, Kamloopa Theatre production, 2018 Banff Centre for the Arts String Quartet Residency White Mans Cattle and Wood Quintet International 5 bucks per head.

As a performer, Derksen performs nationally and internationally solo and with some of Canada’s finest, including Tanya Tagaq, Buffy Sainte Marie, Naomi Klein, and Leanne Simpson, to name a few. Recent destinations include Hong Kong, Australia, Mongolia, Sweden, and a whole lot of Canada—the place Derksen refers to as home.

Upcoming events

Projects & initiatives

  • Matriach 3 © Taylor Long April 13-15

    Matriarchs Uprising

    Join us for a series of performance events, post-show conversations, and exchanges with Indigenous women who are nurturing the art of contemporary Indigenous dance, music and storytelling.

  • Dtl-gift-of-the-mistastim-dancer-2 video series

    Dancing the Land

    Indigenous Theatre invited artists from coast to coast to coast to create brief digital works using the land as their source of inspiration. 

NAC media featuring Cris Derksen