Voyageur Storytelling: Repertoire: Permanent

Voyageur Storytelling

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Concerts More or Less

Permanently Established

in the Repertoire

Explanatory Note

When we speak of our "repertoire" we mean two things. First, and obviously, we mean the "stories" we tell, which include prose stories of all kinds, poems, songs, and anything else we think will amuse and-or intrigue our audiences. Second, we mean the "concerts" that we create, which are shaped bundles of stories designed to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts. This section of our web site describes (or will when complete) our entire repertoire, both stories and concerts. It is arranged by year (see linked list at the bottom of the page), beginning with the most recent.

Revised March 20, 2015

Special and Travelling Concerts

We will present our Sabbath Celebration concert (the current version of our traditional Sabbath concert) for groups by special arrangement at any time of the year.

Paddle Song blends material from concerts of previous years such as Wet and Wildness (2002-2003), Water Flows (2004), Flowing Moz-Art (2006), Chordelle (2008), and Canadian Riverscape (2010).

Fire Flies and Ground Water take us back to the old Elements concerts of 2002-2005, but more briefly, capitalizing on the close relationships between Fire and Air, on the one hand, and Earth and Water, on the other. But storytelling is really not about hands at all, any more than are singing and reciting poetry. Sometimes it's a bit difficult to know what to do with your hands while you are doing these things (unless you are Aviva Chernick of the band Jaffa Road), because they really are quite superfluous. Storytelling is about words and rhythm and life and beauty and connection, sometimes with music, sometimes without. So too are our concerts.

A note about our children's repertoire: We are primarily storytellers to adults, but have both, and especially Leslie, told to children on many occasions, and still do. Since the circumstances, length of sets, venues, and ages of the children vary widely, we do not maintain formal concerts. We arrange repertoire each time to suit the specifics. Our children's repertoire covers all the usual categories, and also includes a large number of old campfire and folk songs, the legacy of Paul's early experiences.

Sabbath Celebration

This concert is by far our most enduring, and shows no signs of wearing out. We reshape from time to time, and occasionally replace parts, as we have this year, but always in the same spirit.

Sabbath Celebration

Invocation: Sabbath Blessings and Songs

Storytelling Concert

Shalom Aleichem — Israel Goldfarb & Gil Aldema

Elijah the Guest — Hasidic tale

Nigun Talmudei Besht — Ben Steinberg

Bull's Eye — traditional tale

Tshiribiri — Yiddish nigun

The Dying Rabbi — story of unknown origin

Dona, Dona, Dona — Aaron Zeitlin & Shalom Secunda


Cuando el Rey Nimrod — traditional Ladino song

Coat Tale — traditional story

The Age-Old Question — Yiddish song

Three Poems — A.M. Klein

. Heirloom

. The Lone Bather

. Prayer

Eli, Eli — Hannah Senesh & David Zahavi

Cover Image: "Angel Leading Elijah" by Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Paddle Song

Paddle Song

Canadian Boat Song — a traditional song adapted by Thomas Moore

How To Talk Bear — on canoe trips you may encounter wildlife, with sometimes surprising results

The River of Life — not all good river songs came from the voyageurs

The Song My Paddle Sings — heard first hand and written down by E. Pauline Johnston Tekahionwake

Low Tide on Grand Pré — ah, those memories of courting in a canoe! — music by Franz Schubert helps

Charlotte Small: Woman of the Paddle Song — the wonderful tale of David Thompson's wife and survival mentor

Ti-Bleu and the Chasse-galerie — when the wily trickster-voyageur meets the devil, who will prove the wilier?

V'là l'Bon Vent — traditional song


Voyageur Song — the True Story of the voyageurs, with accompanying songs illuminating their Way of Life

The River Song of Maria Simpson — a classic tale of love and tragedy on the Great Canadian Canoe Route

A Voyageur's Guide to Talking Canoes — it is not known whether voyageurs talked to their canoes; some poets know that canoes may talk back

Midsummer Voyageur — a love story, up to a point

The Voyageur — by Philip Child

Chickadee Perdriole — a new, nonetheless rousing take on an old song

Cover Image: Chasse-galerie (1929) by Franz Johnston, a member of the original Group of Seven.

Fire Flies

Fire Flies


To Hold by a Tale, poem by A.J.M. Smith, slightly modified for our purposes

Storytelling Concert

Preparation — poem by P.K. Page

Bear Goes to Bat — What can a self-respecting bear do, when evolutionary limitations get beyond bearing?

The Operatic Grizzly Bear — music by Arthur Sullivan (the "Sir" came later); the lyrics have complex parentage.

Goodbye and Good Luck — a moving story of love in Yiddish theatre by Grace Paley

anyone lived in a pretty how town — a love story by e.e. cummings

The Abduction from the Cooking Pot, or Three Little Pigs: the Opera — Mozart wrote the music, which we appropriate for a controversial take on a traditional tale


How Fire Came — A mythological education all in itself

Artists' Wives — a peek into the interesting domestic life of the P.P. Rubens family, by Morris Bishop

Mammoth Undertaking — further domestic ruminations with the assistance of Sir Arthur Sullivan

Tumble Down — our salute to the memory of the famous mountaineer George Mallory

nobody loses all the time — a consoling family story by e.e. cummings.

Manzini: Escape Artist — Gwendolyn MacEwan

To the Avant-Guardian Angel — an arrière pensée by F.R. Scott

The Firefly's Advice to the Artist — we recruit Mozart again to assist with this instructive interlude

Home on the Bruce — our candidate for Bruce Peninsula's Official Song

Image: "The Abduction of Psyche" (by Cupid) by William-Adophe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

Ground Water

Ground Water


Your Country — by Gatien Lapointe, translated by John Glassco

Storytelling Concert

Lakeshore — an opening meditation on water and land by F. R. Scott

Muskoka Memoir — an Ontario mini-epic of hard land, based on writings and stories by Matilda Wood Stone, Al Purdy, and others

When I First Came to This Land — a favourite song by Oscar Brand.

Mixed Bathing — a personal story, based on a similar experience by Terry Thomas.

The Ballad of Angus Ogilvie, Pioneer of Puslinch — a most instructive tale

The Wonder Fish — the best fish story ever, quite true, told with Beethoven's help.


Enoch Lightning and the Alvar — another mini-epic of hard land.

Great Aunt Rebecca — a pioneer tribute by poet Elizabeth Brewster

Fawn Attack — strange things can happen in the woods, and need Mozart's music to do them justice.

The Road Not Taken — a subtle memoir by Robert Frost.

Quiet — a meditative moment by Marjorie Pickthall

Lucky the Labrador — sage advice for any outdoor occasion

Mukwohnaeyaasheeng — Bear's place, almost an island.

Home on the Bruce — our candidate for Bruce Peninsula's Official Song

Image: Jean Routier, from "Maria Chapdelaine" (1921)

Voyageur Storytelling 2015

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