Dan Mangan sings about inequality at inauguration of Mayor Gregor Robertson and City officials
Local musician and two-time Juno award winner Dan Mangan stepped up to the microphone with a smile, saying he wanted to "applaud the kind of government that would invite a quasi-protest singer to come sing during their inauguration."
The assembled audience of Vancouverites and dignitaries gathered at the inauguration ceremony at Creekside Cultural Centre clapped loudly in response, as Mangan belted out "XVI", a song his website describes as "an ode to Louis and Marie Antoinette" gazing down upon Occupy Wall Street campers from on high.
Mangan told the Vancouver Observer that he chose the song because he had wanted to play "a political song at a political inaugaration."
"When Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette were in Versailles and people were rioting in the streets because they were starving, they had no idea what was going on because there was such a disconnect between the privileged and the unprivileged," he said.
"I see that resonating through the wealthy and impoverished in our modern society. It's not that anybody is maliciously trying to screw over everybody. It's just about compassion and about people listening to each other to try and actually get to the root of what causes poverty."
When asked whether he would like the song's close attention to inequality to set a tone for the new administration, Mangan smiled again.
"Gregor said it [during his speech]. The oath is particularly important when it comes to the most vulnerable in society."
Mangan was only one of the feature performers in an event that showcased the cultural diversity of Vancouver. The Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Band played Christmas standards as the crowd gathered before the proceedings.
The Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Band, playing in front of posters by Bracken Hanuse Corlett, entitled "Giants Among Us" and commissioned for the City of Vancouver's Year of Reconciliation.
Bagpipes accompanied Mayor Robertson, city council members and representatives from the Coast Salish First Nations as they proceeded to the stage at the beginning of the event. The audience was also treated to a Chinese Lion Dance late in the ceremony, complete with crashing cymbal and drum accompaniment. Mayor Robertson became involved in the Lion Dance himself at one point, laughing as the colourful creature approached him.
Other local artists were present at the ceremony as well, notable among them the singer/songwriter Wanting Qu, who is a tourism ambassador for the City of Vancouver. Born in China, Wanting came to Canada at the age of 16 as a business student and has since made a home in Vancouver as a successful recording artist. According to Wanting, Vancouver has helped her build confidence as an artist and her songs tell stories about the city. Wanting cited a song about kissing on Granville street as one of the Vancouver stories retold in her music.
"Vancouver has made me more expressive, loving and content," she commented, before noting that what she appreciated about Mayor Robertson and the new City administration was that they think about what's going to benefit the next generation.
Wanting Qu (left) poses for photos with Mayor Gregor Robertson after the ceremony.
"I love that this city sees the future," Wanting said. "It's my home. I'd raise my family here."
After the inauguration ceremony was over, Mangan said he knew culture was an important part of the new city administration, and felt it was an important part of city building. He said he was currently pushing to have a new Vancouver Independent Music Centre built to support up-and-coming artists, and that he was looking forward to working with the City to get the project off the ground.
Mangan said he was aware of the criticisms against the City's government, but that he believed they were on the right track.
"There's no foolproof institution, there's cracks in every government and there's always things that they can do better," Mangan said. "But I do honestly believe — having gotten to know some of the councillors and the Mayor — that their heart is absolutely in the right place and they want what's best for the city."