Professor goes from stage to ‘battlefield’

On Friday, Kim Lundberg will play piano in a concert in London. On Saturday, he will play a war chief at Fort George National Historic site. Admittedly, it’s not a typical weekend.

“I go from esoteric, weird jazz to shooting a musket and running around a field,” said the Don Wright Faculty of Music composition professor. “It’s very cathartic.”

At this weekend’s War of 1812 event, five tall ships, 22 landing boats and more than 300 historical re-enactors (among whom Lundberg counts himself) will bring the battles to life when the Americans tried to drive the British out of their central division headquarters on the Niagara River.

Life as a performer/composer working on a piano concerto, symphony and string quartet with soprano seems far removed from camping in a tent, making sure muskets are safe and directing men on a battlefield. For Lundberg, it all started with outdoor trips with his father in Elliot Lake. And then 12 years ago, he was introduced to the world of re-enactors.

Lundberg had been doing crafts, such as quillwork, tanning and making bows and arrows. His wife, a Suzuki method music teacher, introduced him to a parent who invited him to an Antler River canoe brigade event. “When I met people in the re-enactment community, I realized why I had been doing all these crafts,” he said.

The re-enactment group has participated in several films, including Washington the Warrior for PBS; Battle of Oriskany for the History Channel; a video history of Ontario counties with the Ontario Visual Heritage Project; as well as smaller films for independent companies.

“We portray people as close as possible and tell the stories to honor the ancestors,” he said. “Through demonstrations, re-enactments and lectures we pass on what knowledge we can.”

The group’s constitution is modeled on the Mohawk great law of peace.

“The purpose of our group, the Upper Canada Woodland Allies, is to tell the history from an oral history and native perspective,” he said. “We spend most of our time talking to people and explaining what happened and why they did what they did.”

For War of 1812 events, Lundberg’s group travels to Fort Erie and Gananoque in August, Backus Mill in September and Queenston Heights in October.

“It’s my time away from music,” he said. “I only wish I’d known about it 30 years ago.”