This lovely composition provides a nice contrast to the up-tempo energetic "Ambe" (CP 1571). Inspired by travels in Baffin Island in 2009 and a collaboration with Iqaluit folksinger and songwriter Madeleine Allakariallak, Qilak was composed as part of a concert project for Winnipeg-based "Camerata Nova" entitled "Medieval Inuit: Stories of the North". The theme of the concert explored the early contact between Scandinavian explorers and the Inuit 1000 years ago. Balfour tells us, “Qilak is about the northern sky which is so breathtaking up in the Arctic. I loved the open space, the Inuit’s relationship with the land, and the musical sound of Inuktitut.”
The aesthetic of the piece reflects the expanse of sky and the shimmering reflection of sun on snow. Balfour’s composition hints at influences of Inuit throat singing and hauntingly echoes the vocables of traditional Ayaya songs of Southern Baffin Island.