Friday, February 27, 2009

Canada's SJP it-girl: Patricia O'Callahan

Always one to keep you guessing, Patrica O'Callahan has carved an interesting, unique and very urban career out of being an opera singer.

A graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Music and a student of Mary Morrision, Patricia has done some of the most unexpected things - like launch a cabaret career, record 4 solo discs, and 4 more collaborative discs, and have her own CBC/Rhombus special Youkali Hotel on Bravo.

Recently named a Resident Artist with the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, you can catch Patricia in the act in BC this month at a variety of venues including the Pender Island and the Quadra Island Community Centres, Art Spring on Salt Spring Island and with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra in a concert titled Life is a Cabaret.

Very cool, very IT -- our very own Canadian SJP!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Opera remixed!

Check out this cool remix of soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian and Delerium. What do you think? Cool or sell-out?

Canadian Singers - Adrienne Pieczonka

Here is a recording of Adrienne Pieczonka singing the aria Es gibt ein Reich from Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. Listen to the creamy line and her ease in accessing her middle and lower registers.

In full despair from being left by her love Theseus, Ariadne describes the land of death to which she will go to escape her pains. She welcomes death, thinking that in the land of death she will find everything that she has been denied in life.

You can hear Adrienne in the Canadian Opera Company's production of Beethoven's Fidelio until February 24, 2009.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Canadian Singers - Teresa Stratas

Canadian opera singer Teresa Stratas is an icon! Here she is with Placido Domingo in Franco Zeffirelli's pivotal movie of La Traviata.

More information on Stratas:

Encyclopedia of Music in Canada
Canada's Walk of Fame
Buy DVD's at

Canadian Singers - Fun listening for Reading Week!

I found this on YouTube and couldn't resist! Here is a post by baritonogaupo:

One of the hardest moments of Figaro's entrance aria from the Barber of Seville, what many consider to be the hardest baritone aria...perfect material for a cage match. Here we have 14 baritones attempting the infamous high A. This optional cadenza is left out by many baritones, including many great Figaros (Thomas Allen, for instance. Others hit the cadenza but omit the highest note (i.e. Robert Merrill). But here is a compilation of baritones with the guts and the balls to sing it all!In chronological order:

1. Riccardo Stracciari (1875-1955)
2. Lawrence Tibbett (1896-1956)
3. Leonard Warren (1911-1960)
4. Gino Bechi (1913-1993)
5. Tito Gobbi (1913-1984)
6. Rolando Panerai (b. 1924)
7. Nicolae Herlea (b. 1927)
8. Hermann Prey (1929-1998)
9. Sherrill Milnes (b. 1935)
10. Leo Nucci (b. 1942)
11. Thomas Hampson (b. 1955)
12. Dmitri Hvorostovsky (b. 1962)
13. Russell Braun (b. 1965)
14. Aaron St. Clair Nicholson
And last but not least:
15. Mario del Monaco (1915-1982) --this one is just for fun. No votes for him will count. (more) (less)

Vancouver International Song Institute 2009

Engage the heart, challenge the intellect, and spark the imagination.

The Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI) invites you to explore our 2009 season of intensive Art Song programs for students, teachers, and professional Singers and Collaborative Pianists.

Please see our website for details of our in-depth approaches to interpretation studies and performance practice.

Our 2009 Session introduces a unique one-week Collaborative Pianists Retreat and a two-week course for Singers and Pianists in the Theatre of Art Song.

Creative Writing, Composition, and Musicology students are also invited to attend. Teachers and Performers of Art Song are invited to attend all sessions as discussants.

Please see our Pedagogy section for further details.

June 7th to June 21st
University of British Columbia
School of MusicVancouver, BC

I'm not the only one crunching on this program! Check out the Collaborative Piano site as well!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Here Comes the Creative Class Economy

Last week the Martin Prosperity Institute of the Rotman School of Business (UofT) released their report Ontario in the Creative Age to the provincial government on how to take our province to the next economic level. Co-authored by Roger Martin and Richard Florida (think bestseller books Rise of the Creative Class Economy and Who's your City?) the report outlines the challenges of a "routinized" economy (read blue collar) when what we should be doing is engaging the whole person in a "creative" way.

The trends highlighted in the report include the transformation in how people work in our economy. We are moving to an economy that values people’s creativity, especially analytical and social intelligence skills. These skills demand reasoning in uncertain environments to make good decisions and capabilities to understand other people and to work in team settings. According to Florida, "Routine-oriented occupations that draw primarily on physical skills or abilities to follow a set formula can be done more cheaply in emerging economies and will have trouble surviving in advanced economies."

Later in the press release they outline some of the challenges:

... Ontario faces some challenges in strengthening its capabilities for
competing in the creative age. Ontario has a good share of workers in
creativity-oriented occupations, but they are not as highly rewarded as in
leading U.S. states. While the province has an excellent mix of clustered
industries, they do not compete adequately on the basis of creativity. The
Province is highly tolerant and diverse, but is not able to translate this
openness to the level of prosperity that ought to follow. It has a strong
mega-region, but does not connect the province well enough for the creative age. What does this have to do with singing?


According to Florida, the Creative Class is:

...40 million strong, making up 30 percent of the U.S. workforce, with 50 percent of wages earned and controlling nearly 70 percent of discretionary spending in the US. That is over $500 billion in purchasing power annually! This consumer group, consisting of scientists, engineers, managers, innovators, and people in research and development, as well as artists, writers, and musicians are the most educated and demanding consumers in the marketplace.

The four main recommendations encourage Ontario to harness their full creative potential, aspire to be the world’s most talented jurisdiction, establish new social safety nets, and build province-wide geographic advantage.

How is music part of that?

  1. Educating ourselves to higher degrees - think past the undergraduate programs in Music and look at the graduate level of education. Not many of our universities offer Doctoral programs in music because we don't hire people with DMAs. Compare our music programs to similar sized universities in the US and we fall way below the bar with education. We need to catch up and quickly!

  2. Educating those around us on what we do and why - education outreach, community talks, more studio recitals, creating relationships with businesses and media outlets, and bringing music back into the public school system.

  3. Work in our community to establish programs and concert series to support culture - based on the idea that people want to live in a cultured centre, we need to continue to support local musicians, painters, writers etc to do their thing. We also need to find ways to exhibit our art in ways that are self - sustainable.

  4. Move outside our community to work on a collective basis - organizations like NATS, ORMTA and National and Provincial Music Festival Associations are all great organizations to get involved with but we need to balance our organizations to do an equal amount of outreach as we do supporting our members.

How are you creating a "creative" environment in your studio or school? How can we engage the whole person as a singer and musician? What programs can we encourage and inspire in ourselves and our students? How can we take the study of music and music making past the "66% of music majors who apply to med school are admitted" marketing and make it MEAN something to our cultural IQ? If the book This is your brain on Music is the ramp UP, then the creative economy is the RAMP from which we need to leap.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Blowing my own horn

After all the time spent we spend in a practice room PRACTICING and for me, the time spent TEACHING, it is still a thrill to have an opportunity to practice what a I preach.

As you can read from an article in today's Belleville Intelligencer, I'll be joining my friends at the Quinte Symphony and tenor Robert Martin in a celebration of Gilbert and Sullivan arias and duets. It promises to be an afternoon of a lot of high notes and hilarity...come join us if you are in the Quinte area!

What: A Tribute to Gilbert and Sullivan
Where: Bridge Street United Church, Belleville, ON
(how to get there with Google Maps)
When: Sunday, February 8, 2009 @ 2:30 pm
Tickets: $30 adults; $5 youth; available at the door

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Our voice is being heard....

Collaborative Piano blogger Chris Foley posted a review of some of the best music education blogging this year called "February 2009 Music Education Blog Carnival". I'm thrilled to say that my blog article "Keyboard Skills for Singers" is one of 25 featured posts.

If you haven't check out the Collaborative Piano blog, you must...TODAY!

Thanks Chris for your great information, inspiration and for being oh so very Canadian, eh!

From the voice of....