Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Very Model of a US President

I just couldn't resist...What happens when the President is accused of not living up to the country's expectations?  He breaks into song!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vancouver Song Institute 2011 Programs

"One of the most inspiring experiences of my life. VISI integrates the creative music-making process with literary, theatrical, philosophical, and even scientific approaches - an ideal program for intellectually curious and passionate singers and pianists. The generosity and expertise of the world-renowned faculty, the friendly and supportive atmosphere, and the musical community of beautiful Vancouver all encouraged my artistic endeavour."

We are pleased to announce our VISI 2011 programs for singers, pianists, scholars, composers, and writers. VISI is dedicated to the exploration of new horizons in Art Song. Alongside intensive masterclasses and coachings with internationally renowned faculty artists, participants can explore classes in dramatic recitation, staging, song musicology, cultural history, and related workshops. Our diverse programs blend rigourous artistic tradition with innovative approaches to creative collaboration and a range of dynamic performance opportunities.

In addition to our annual Theatre of Art Song/Collaborative Piano Studies June 4-25 3-week program for singers and pianists, we are offering several new courses in 2011:

SONGFIRE Theatre Apprentice program June 4-25 - a full production of newly-created works for Art Song Theatre, the form developed at UBC/VISI with Artistic Director Rena Sharon, UBC Theatre Professor Tom Scholte, and Professors of Opera Gayle Shay (Vanderbilt) and David Walsh (University of Minnesota).

French Mélodie Immersion June 15-25 - a 10-day course of intensive studies in the repertoire, its style, its language, and its history, led by Mme. Rosemarie Landry and M. François Le Roux (Centre de la Mélodie Française) with Bruno Laplante, Francis Perron, and Dr. Sima Godfrey (UBC French Literature).

Song Scholarship and Performance June 4-18 - a two week collaborative course for performers and scholars who are interested in deep research of song interpretation, guided by some of the experts in the Art Song realm. Musicologist/Collaborative Pianist Dr. Benjamin Binder (Program Director) is joined by distinguished colleagues Dr. Deborah Stein directing Theory studies and Dr. Cameron Stowe directing Performance studies, with numerous renowned faculty guests.

Art Song Lab Dates TBA - a collaborative workshop for composers, poets, and performers in the interpretation and performance of their new works.

Arts of Conscience June 13-18 - a 6-day course for young artists interested in serving their community and the world through art.

Collaboration Weekend Symposium June 10-12 A gathering for professionals and students interested in discussion of the Collaborative processes for singer/pianist duos, with special guest Margo Garrett, Professor of Collaborative Piano at Juilliard and a host of other artists.

Courses for Song-Lovers VISI's daily array of lectures and masterclasses are all open for general audience. In addition, we have workshops in diverse song traditions, andVISICHOR, our Choral workshops directed by Kevin Zakresky, Assistant Conductor of Vancouver's celebrated Chor Leoni.


Participants can choose the program that fits their career or learning path while enjoying the interdisciplinary events that weave all the strands together.

Professional colleagues are welcome to attend all VISI sessions at drop-in daily rates, and to participate in our forum discussions about Art Song Pedagogy and Performance Practices.

"An experience I will not forget, an education I will always remember - profound - in the truest and deepest sense."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

E-Gre Competition: Voice 2011

This just in from the uniquely Canadian Voice Competition - The Eckhardt-Grammate:

This is just a reminder that the deadline for application for the 2011
Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition in Voice is approaching.  All
applications and supporting materials must be submitted by November 15,
2010.  The competition will be held April 29 - May 1, 2011.

For the first time this year, ALL repertoire written after 1950 is eligible
and does not need approval from Artistic Director Megumi Masaki.

More information on the Eckhardt-Gramatte Competition, along with
application forms, can be found at

Friday, November 12, 2010

Musical Theatre Degree Program in Canada?

A parent of one of my students sent this article by Richard Ouzounian of The Toronto Star to me....since we all have so many students wanting to pursue the Music Theatre genre and with the RCM and Conservatory Canada providing examinations in this repertoire, it would seem like the natural progression would be to offer a university degree in the subject - something the Americans have been doing for years (think Oklahoma where the likes of Kristen Chenoweth and Kelly O'Hara got their training).

A new musical theatre company will be launched in Toronto in 2011, founded by 20 of the brightest lights in the country and modelled along the lines of Soulpepper Theatre, the Star has learned.
Adam Brazier, Louise Pitre and Dan Chameroy are just some of the members of the group, although a wide assortment of other stellar names are supposed to be involved, including Canadian Tony Award winners and nominees who’ve appeared on London and New York stages.
This would be the first artist-run company in North America, if not the world, run on a large scale and devoted exclusively to the art of musical theatre.
...There will be a strong educational element, with the new collective working closely with one of the GTA’s major universities toward providing a musical theatre degree program.
Read the whole article on The Star website and let me know if you have heard any details yet!

UPDATE January 11, 2011: A year ago CBC announced that "Theatre 20, an artist-run collective that includes stars such as Louise Pitre (Mamma Mia!), Colm Wilkinson (Les Misérables) and Ma-Anne Dionisio (Miss Saigon), aims to increase opportunities for Canadian talent close to home so artists don't have to always head to the U.S. to continue working."  They are launching their Inaugural Season on January 23, 2012!  Check out their website for more information at

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vocal Gymnastics in the Form of a Bumblebee

Because I couldn't help it.....

COSI in Italy: Summer 2010

The Centre for Opera Studies in Italy (COSI) has developed an undergraduate-friendly program for 2011.

COSI 2011 is undergrad-friendly!

So few of the Canadian opera programs are making room for undergraduates, despite the young singers' ready willingness to participate! There is a need for recommendable places for my own students (though we remain grateful for the ones that are recommendable!). We have therefore adapted COSI to serve both the advanced, career-ready singers, and the undergraduate singers who are building their skills, learning roles, getting their stage legs, and developing a sense and stylistic abilities.

We have really fortified COSI's capacity and curriculum for undergraduate singers this summer.

Excellent coaching, lessons, loads of solo performing opportunities in our courtyard and piazza concerts (at least 8 of those!), Italian lessons, master classes, and chorus work in Don Giovanni, L'Elisir d'Amore, and Petite Messe Solennelle. That's not even to mention the exposure they get to experienced young artists, the COSI Voice Competition for Young Singers, and our superb international faculty. This is a powerhouse program!

Auditions are in Toronto on December 4 &5 and Queen's undergrads may alternatively submit an informal DVD.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Where to find your next Bach Cantata

I have been meaning to share this information since I blogged about the IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library!  This is the go-to place on-line for everything Bach including pdf downloads of scores.

The Bach Cantatas Website (BCW) is a comprehensive site covering all aspects of J.S. Bach's cantatas and his other vocal works. The BCW contains discussions and detailed discographies of each cantata and other vocal works, performers and general topics. The BCW also contains texts and translations, scores, music examples, articles and interviews, and over 7,400 short biographies of performers of Bach's vocal works and players of his keyboard and lute works, as well as of poets & composers associated with Bach. There are also other relevant resources such as the Lutheran church year, database of chorale texts & melodies and their authors, detailed discographies of many Bach's instrumental works (solo keyboard, lute, Art of Fugue, Musical Offering, etc.) and piano transcriptions and their performers, reviews and discussions of Bach’s instrumental works, books and movies on Bach, terms and abbreviations, schedule of concerts of Bach's vocal works, Bach Festivals & Cantata Series, guide to Bach tour, Bach in arts and memorabilia, thousands of links to other relevant resources. The BCW is an international collective project, being compiled from various postings about the subject, most of which have been sent to the Bach Mailing Lists.

Make sure you check it out!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Measha here, Measha there, Measha EVERYWHERE!

With pop-star-like marketing and a voice like velvet, Measha Brueggergosman is surely owning the Canadian opera market these days!  Last night she opened the International Vocal Recital series at Roy Thompson Hall.  This weekend, she appears as part of the Queens Performing Arts Series.  So...for those of you who missed the drive to TO, get your tickets and hear her Sunday, November 7 in the intimate Syddenham United Church at 8pm performing works from her newest CD Nights & Dreams.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

French Resources for Singers

During the past few years as a teacher of singing at the university level, I have found that singing in French has been one of the most difficult mountains to climb for young singers.  Whether it is the complexity of harmony of some of the repertoire, the visual cluster of vowels to make one sound (think "aux", "eaux", etc), the frustration in dropping the [n] or [m] in a nasal sound or a general struggle to connect vowel sounds, French can be a nightmare to a young singer! It would seem that even in Canada where French is our other national language, we don't seem to have it in our ear.

Well, look no further for a wonderful source in the French Vocal Diction website created by French-American mezzo soprano Claudine Carlson.  You can download 145 different french texts that are recited in a slow, easy to imitate manner.  

I hope that with this site and other resources (like the Hal Leonard's The Vocal Library that include a CD of text and accompaniment tracks) singers will be better able to manage the challenges of the French language!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Spotlight on Repertoire: Allerseelen

In honour of All Souls Day, here is the great Kiri Te Kanawa and Sir George Solti performing Allerseelen by Richard Strauss with poetry by Hermann von Gilm zu Rosenegg.

Place on the table the fragrant mignonettes,
Bring inside the last red asters, and let us speak again of love,
as once we did in May.

Give me your hand, so that I can press it secretly;
and if someone sees us, it's all the same to me.
Just give me your sweet gaze,
as once you did in May.
Flowers adorn today each grave, sending off their fragrances;
one day in the year are the dead free.
Come close to my heart, so that I can have you again,
as once I did in May.

From the voice of....