Voicing the Wilderness: Chant as an Expression of Canadian Culture in R. MurraySchafer's And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon


  • Ellen Waterman Trent University


A discussion of R. Murray Schafer's environmental music theatre is, inevitably, a discussion of culture. The outspoken composer, writer and educator is deeply engaged in the perennial Canadian question: what constitutes an authentic Canadian art? Yet Schafer has sometimes been accused of cultural misappropriation, of helping himself too freely from the great stewing pot of world myths and musics, and in particular of an imperialistic attitude towards First Nations culture. To dismiss Schafer in this way is to ignore the importance of his explorations in culture, community and art; for in borrowing from world cultures, Schafer acknowledges the multiplicity of cultures within his homeland even as he attempts to give voice to a necessarily hybrid yet indigenous art, rooted in the Canadian wilderness. Schafer's collaborative music drama Patria the Epilogue: And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon epitomizes this artistic synthesis which is best seen through the work's use of chant as an expression of a community founded in an environmental context.