Carmen Braden is a Yellowknife composer. She has been anticipating the NAC Orchestra's Northern Canada Tour for many reasons - to meet Norwegian guest conductor Arild Remmereit, to meet violin virtuoso James Ehnes, and... to have Canadian composer Alexina Louie (composer of Take the Dog Sled, which has won crowds over throughout the tour for its fun and its precise depiction of the tundra through atmospheric percussion sounds and raven croaks and bug buzzes).
Carmen's own composition was sent on ahead to Alexina Louie, as Carmen is taking part in Alexina's composition workshop - a master class for writers of classical composition. In the hour before her workshop, Carmen's excitement and vulnerability were both palpable. There's a certain space - it's a creative waiting room, really - that you enter when you hand your creation over to someone for their feedback.... the waiting for their response. A day goes by. You're raw with having made concessions with yourself, having made creative decisions about what to include and what not to include.
Carmen has waited over a week to hear what Alexina thinks of her composition. When that second set of ears hears it, Carmen says, you start to re-think the spots you maybe don't like, but kept. Then, if they point to that same spot (the spot you might call the "weak spot" in the work, or the moment you had of self-doubt about the piece), it makes you think, 'yeah, you're right. (And I knew it.)'