Sunday, December 21, 2008



Merry Christmas friends! All the best for this holiday season and beyond.

Look for a continuation of the Undergraduate Programs in Canada posts starting January 5, 2009.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Undergraduate Programs for Voice in Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University

If great public relations and gloss were the only indicator of a great music program, Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty to Music would hold the prize. Their website is a testament to well publicized school events and student accomplishments. For example, their current home page has 5 headlines (press releases) and of them, three of them outline what the voice program and its students are up to.

Laurier has always had a great reputation for performance. Its steady output of students of quality students hit the roof with the current success of alumni soprano Jane Archibald who is a fixture at the Vienna State Opera. Other alumni include Daniel Lichti (now on faculty), Theodore Baerg (on faculty at University of Western Ontario), soprano Kathleen Brett, Steven Horst, and tenor Keith Boldt. Recently under the guide of Canadian mezzo Kimberly Barber, Laurier is now showing itself as a place to learn not just the skills to be a singer but by example, how to promote oneself to the world.

One cannot have a successful voice program without a great vocal coach and Laurier has that with Leslie De'Ath. He is the go-to expert on Diction by serving as an Associate Editor for Language and Diction for the Journal of Singing published by NATS.

All teachers are involved with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) having recently hosted the Ontario General Meeting and Competition. Of the 23 Lauirer singers who competed, half finished in the top three of their respective classes...and out of 4 different voice studios. I would say they are doing something right!

Here is a quick link guide to the nuts and bolts of their program:

1. Faculty List
2. Bachelor of Music in Performance : a four year program with classes in diction, voice lessons and performance opportunities including studio classes and master classes.
3. Opera Diploma Program: a one year post-grad program focusing on continued voice training and stage craft in addition to increasing repertoire knowledge.
4. Intensive Studies in Voice Workshop: optional 9 week spring semester workshop run by the voice department and open to any undergraduate student who wishes to apply (that means from any other school of music!)
5. Audition Requirements: in addition to preparing 2 songs at a minimum of RCM Grade 8 level, those auditioning will write a theory entrance and do a piano proficiency exam.
6. And finally...money: looks like there are at least 9 named scholarships for entering and current music students including a $2000 Victor Martens and David Falk Scholarship in Voice Performance entrance scholarship named for two of the longest standing voice teachers at Laurier. You can do a more detailed search on their database here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Canadian Opera Singer Adrianne Pieczonka named to the Order of Canada

This just in...Canadian Opera Singer extrodinaire Adrianne Pieczonka was named an office of the Order of Canada this week. I blogged Adrianne in September - check out the video clip and info here. Congratulations Adrianne!

Her she is singing the Song to the Moon:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Undergraduate Programs for Voice in Canada: Queens University

'Tis the season for university applications to be finalized and submitted. Over the next few months, students will continue to polish their audition repertoire in preparation for undergraduate program audition season! Lets take a look at the various programs in Canada...




I thought we could start with smaller schools first and of course, I have to feature my own place of employment!

The Queens University School of Music has recently launched a new website. Their opening message tells it all:


Our programs have earned a reputation for being both comprehensive and flexible, allowing students to explore many of their interests. You may pursue courses in one or a combination of the following areas: theory/composition, music education, musicology/ethnomusicology, music technology and performance. It is also possible to combine music and education degrees in the very successful concurrent education program.


Queens provides a boutique music experience - you can tailor your program to suit your interests and needs and at the same time be part of the long-standing traditional undergraduate campus experience.

The voice faculty includes area coordinator and long time faculty member Carol-Lynn Reifel, soprano Dianne Baird, soprano Ewelina Kwasniewska, baritone Bruce Kelly, baritone Gregory Brookes, and myself.
In addition to studying voice as a voice major, once can take lessons for credit regardless of their program of study. I have a number of non-music and non-voice majors in my studio and find their commitment to their study to be excellent! Non-majors as well as majors must fulfill the bi-weekly studio class requirement as well as the year end jury.
Additionally there is the performance option for all majors. Once must be recommended for performance at their jury and then compete with all music students to be selected. If selected, you have the opportunity to do a recital at the end of the year in lieu of a jury and graduate with a performance degree.
Other courses that are offered include second year Lyric Diction (soon to be mandatory) and Lyric Theatre Workshop through the Conservatory program.

Queens has a thriving student run Opera Club that produces at least one show per year. Entry is by audition with the whole program run by students for students. This year they are producing Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.

Academically Queens only accepts students with a minimum high school average of 80%. Additionally once must do a successful audition for entry plus show keyboard and theory proficiency. The Concurrent Education Program is very difficult to get into with only an average of 10 spots per year (all instruments).

More information can be found on their website here or you can email me with direct voice questions at em47 (at) queensu (dot) ca.

Next program: Wilfred Laurier University
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