It’s a classic Alberta Scene moment. Plamondon’s plucky persona bears a distinctly Albertan stamp, but when she caresses an Edith Piaf ballad she reminds us that music has no place; it belongs to all of us. For a moment we forget the band lives in a time zone two hours distant, until invited ingénue Renelle Fagnan has a lapse in geography and wonders aloud if we call ourselves “Ottawans.” There’s a noticeable lull in the evening’s festive momentum. Hull may be just across the river, but it’s a world away from Ottawa to those who live with the politics of language in this part of the country.
And it is our part of the country now, having moved to Ottawa after two happy decades on the banks of the North Saskatchewan in Edmonton. The visit to the Ottawa
“Je suis loin de chez mois (I’m far from home),” says chanteuse Josée Lajoie, looking out on a sea of fellow francophones. “The big spaces, the blue sky, they live in you if you’re a girl from the prairies.” For Quebeckers out for an evening with their franco-Albertan brethren, Lajoie evokes the wistfulness of a letter from a long-departed family member,
Those spaces and skies are certainly among the treasures of Alberta not lost to our fellow Ottawans. “It’s God’s country,” a stranger announces to us in a supermarket checkout line, speaking of a place where rolling pasture meets jagged mountain. That compelling combination of landscapes is the visual motif to accompany a gala celebration of music a few hours later at the National Arts Centre. Sweeping aerials of snow-capped peaks and galloping horses provide the backdrop as Tommy Banks and the National Arts Centre Orchestra perform a lively program of western compositions. The CBC’s Colin MacLean frames the evening with tall tales of outlaws and showdowns at high noon before