Monday, July 23, 2012

Upcoming Opera Performance: Lakme

Opera by Request will be presenting Delibes opera LAKME this August...check it out!

Delibes' Lakme, Friday, August 10, 2012, 7:30 pm, College St. United Church, 452 College St.  All tickets $20.  Phone 416 455-2365 for reservations and information.

Lakme.......Allison Arends
Gerald.......Christopher Mayell
Mallika.......Catherine Carew
Nilakantha..Michael York
Frederic.....Matt Cassils
Miss Benson...Leigh-Anne Martin
Ellen.........Julie Ludwig
Rose.........Danielle MacMillan

Pre-performance chat hosted by Iain Scott

Friday, June 29, 2012

New Canadian opera...Fit for a Barn!

I just returned from a fabulous preview of Canadian composer John Burge's first opera entitled "The Auction" being premier this weekend at the WESTBEN Arts Festival Theatre in Campbellford, ON.

Based on a children's story of the same title by Jan Andrews, the libretto for the score was written by Eugene Benson.  A fabulous singing cast included familiar Canadian singers mezzo Kimberly Barber, baritones Bruce Kelly and Matthew Zadow, tenor Keith Klassen and Westben founder and soprano Donna Bennett.

The story takes place over a single day as the widowed Granddad (Bruce Kelly) deals with the prospect of auctioning his possessions and his farm the next day.  His grandson Todd (well sung by 11 year old local soprano Olivia Rapos) is upset that his granddad is selling the farm and they sing about how much they love farming, how his granddad met his beloved grandmother (Kimberly Barber) and about their hopes and fears.  Past scenarios are played out through flashbacks behind and around a burlap scrim cleverly staged by director Allison Grant.  Dealing with the grief of loss and the passage of time,  Burge creates some stunning moments of musical drama, particularly the flashback scene of Grandmother's funeral where the 6 piece orchestra tightly led by Philip Headlam transition from the lilting rhythms of the folksy score to an intense, sustained almost organ-like dirge. This touching moment, so very personal for anyone who has lived in a farming community, was truly the highlight of the 2 hour opera.  The opera ends, just as it began, with the powerful and commanding voice of The Auctioneer (Keith Klassen) inviting everyone to gather around and get a deal..his final sale is the tractor, the centre of the set and the centre of all 20th Century farms.

The magic of a sunny summer afternoon as it was today, my own memories of growing up in a farming community and spending many Saturdays at auction sales and John Burge's very singable score left me looking forward to the next time this opera is produced.  As reviewer John Terauds crowed yesterday in his popular blog, Musical Toronto, The Auction truly "fits into its Westben Festival setting like a rooster on a fencepost"!

PS - for singers looking for new and interesting arias, there are many excerpt-able solos from this opera including the fabulous, tongue-twisting opening Auctioneer scene for solo tenor; a lovely aria for a light soprano where the boy Todd sings to a scarecrow accompanied by solo guitar; a poignant aria for Grandmother (sung by the fabulous Kimberly Barber) where she teaches Todd how to make a scarecrow;  the hilarious scene by Granddad's friend Mike Fedak (sung by tenor Tim Stiff) where he sings about why he didn't marry and of course, the funniest solo is for Granddad's daughter Alberta (sung by soprano Donna Bennett) where she sings about her dreams to become an opera singer but ends up a farmer's wife!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Music Convocation Flash Mob

The Honourable David R. Peterson, the outgoing Chancellor of the University of Toronto resided over his final Convocation last week.  He was taken by surprise when the students graduating from the Faculty of Music surprised him with a flash mob tribute to the tune "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and moved him to tears....the power of music never fails to bring awe and wonder to out lives!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Fresh New Singer-Voice in the Blog World

I recently stumbled across a great new blog called The Graduate written by a recent Bachelor of Music grad from Toronto.  She is motivational and inspiring and I encourage you to check her out!

PS - I stole this image from her most recent so perfectly depicts the complexity of our choices and lives as musicians!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NEW Agreement between Brandon University & Mount Royal University

There are new options for students from Mount Royal University in Calgary to gain a degree from Brandon University should they wish to continue their studies!  Here is the announcement made just a few weeks ago:

May 11, 2012
BRANDON, MB — A new option is now available at Brandon University for young musicians with a Performance Diploma from Mount Royal University. Thanks to an articulation agreement between the two Western Canadian institutions, students wishing to continue their studies after obtaining a 63-credit hour diploma from Mount Royal University will have the opportunity to audition for entrance directly into the third year of either a Brandon University Bachelor of Music degree (Honours) or (Performance Major) program.

“I am very pleased that we have negotiated an agreement that will facilitate Mount Royal University music students who wish to continue with Music degree opportunities at Brandon University. When universities partner for the benefit of students, both institutions benefit,” said Dr. Deborah Poff, Brandon University’s President and Vice-Chancellor.

“The School of Music is greatly honored to have forged this alliance with Mount Royal University’s Music Diploma Program,” said Dr. Michael Kim, the Dean of the School of Music at Brandon University. “This collaborative venture will be of great and mutual benefit to both our music programs, and we look forward to welcoming the very talented young musicians from this program in the near future.”

This new agreement between Brandon University’s School of Music and Mount Royal University’s Faculty of Communications Studies was preceded by similar transfer agreements between the Calgary-based University and other Albertan universities. This arrangement will be advantageous for Brandon University, Mount Royal University and the students involved.

“With the signing of this articulation agreement, Mount Royal University will be able to provide its Music Diploma students with a remarkable opportunity to complete a four-year degree at Brandon University in a most prestigious Music School,” said Mount Royal University’s President Docherty.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Highlands Opera Studio - new program for the community!

Soprano Colleen Skull sent me this exciting information about the upcoming season for the Highlands Opera Studio Community School:

Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Haliburton Highlands in central Ontario, Canada, Highlands
Opera Studio provides advanced operatic experience to talented young professionals. Provide yourself with the necessary skills to embark on a career in opera!

Featuring sessions with nationally recognized performer and voice instructor, Colleen Skull
• Special opportunity for participants to work with experts in vocal performance
• Featuring private lessons and masterclasses focusing on technical and stylistic aspects of voice performance of all genres
• Opportunities for participants to perform and benefit from unlimited access to masterclasses, performances and rehearsals of the Highlands Opera Studio.
• The advanced studies provided at the HOS Community School will provide the skills necessary for participants to earn a place in the chorus and perform in a opera production as part of the Highland's Opera Studio.

For more information please visit our website or email:

Our vision is to enrich the music and fine arts programs in the community, build on existing music programs, and to provide opportunities that expand the development of music skills and talent in prospective students.

Our two main objectives are as follows:

1. To offer special opportunities for participants to work with experts in vocal performance in the form of private voice lessons to teach voice skills including technical and stylistic aspects of voice performance of all genres, provide opportunities for participants to perform, and to inspire participants through access to performances and rehearsals of advanced performers in the Highland's Opera Studio.

2. To provide advanced vocal and language training for the purpose of establishing an accomplished regional opera chorus. The advanced studies provided at the Highland's Opera Studio Community School will serve to cultivate the skills necessary for participants to earn a place in the Highland's Opera Studio Opera Chorus and perform in professional opera production as part of the Highland's Opera Studio.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Alcina is ESSENTIAL Opera!

I am tardy in getting up information on Opera Essential's information that they sent to me last week on their upcoming production of Handel's Alcina (tomorrow, in fact!)

Not an opera I am overly familiar with Alcina (despite it being essential) however I have heard my fair share of the coloratura aria "Tornami a vagheggiar" sung by the sorceress Morgana and of course the knight Ruggiero's "Verdi prati, selve amene" at various undergrad recitals!

Here is their press release:

Essential Opera mounts long-absent favourite, Alcina

TORONTO, Ontario - May 16, 2012- Thriving new Toronto opera company, Essential Opera, wraps up its second season this May with the elegant and evocative Alcina by Handel. The Toronto performance will take place on one night only: May 25, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. Tickets are available in advance at and at the door.

"In just one year, we've gone from a couple of singers with an idea for one show, to selling out and performing with a chamber orchestra," said Erin Bardua and Maureen Batt, Co-Artistic Directors and Co-Founders, Essential Opera. "Our cast for Alcina is made up of passionate singers, many of whom are favourites of Toronto audiences."

Essential Opera keeps all its high-quality productions accessible to a wider audience by providing an on-screen English translation and offering affordable ticket prices. A focus on storytelling and character relationships brings the “concert” formula to life.

Essential Opera was founded in Toronto in the fall of 2010 by sopranos Erin Bardua and Maureen Batt. Debuting in February 2011 with one of the most essential operas, Le nozze di Figaro, their goal is to provide audiences and singers with the chance to experience opera at its most essential.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Great Fischer-Dieskau has Died

I just received a notice from Toronto blogger and writer John Terauds that the great baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has died at the age of 86.  His influence on the art of the song recital can not be understated - he was the greatest interpreter of the art form of the 20th Century and set the standard by which all have been judged.

Here is a young Fischer-Dieskau with Gerald Moore singing Schubert's An Die Musik:

For more on his career, check out the Wikipedia entry here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Un Air De Famille - Be the next Von Trapp Family!

This notice came into my inbox last night...I"m sure this will be the next big thing! :-)


We are currently seeking singing families (3 members or more) who will thrill the Radio-Canada audience next fall.

Every week, Un air de famille, hosted by Patrice L’Écuyer, will spotlight three families who will each present a singing act. The families will have to amaze their coach and the studio audience, as well as offer happiness… and emotion to the viewers. Families who distinguish themselves will go on to the grand finale where the favourite one from across Canada will be crowned.
Your coaches: Johanne Blouin, Jean-François Breau and Bruno Pelletier
Director and artistic director: René Simard


Fill out the online form at

Fill out the paper form and send your photos and demo to the following address:

Bubbles Télévision
Inscription Un air de famille
5455, avenue de Gaspé, suite 806
Montréal (QC)  H2T 3B3

Present yourselves to one of the designated venues to tape your demo.
(See the poster for more information.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Opera on the Avalon: Last minute roles to fill

Opera on the Avalon in St. John's Newfoundland has experienced some singer emergencies leaving the following roles vacant:

Female Roles in Suor Angelica
Mistress of the Novices

Male Roles in Gianni Schicchi 
Marco and the Notary

For more information, contact Katherine Tuck, Festival Coordinator at (709) 722-8124 or ASAP!

UPDATE MAY 10:  Just received a message that that roles of Marco and the notary have been filled :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three Operas, Two Companies, One Amazing Trend!

It would seem that despite the efforts of Toronto's mayor to continue to cut funding to the arts, Opera in many forms in alive and well!  I have blogged about a number of new, small companies and here are two more!

Opera Five believes that opera is an art form that has unlimited potential, that has inspired artists for centuries, an art form we love and most importantly one that can move any audience, period.
When opera was developed it was meant to combine all art forms and we intend to push that to the limit by combining opera with any and every distinct art form such as dance, photography, visual art, performance art, creative writing, and even culinary arts by showcasing new talent in each medium.

Check out their upcoming double production of La voix humaine & Bluebeard's Castle
Arts and Lettters Club
May 15, 16 & 18
Click here for ticket information

Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) is a hip newcomer to the scene who says they are a band of rogue arts makers.  We're a director, a pianist, a few opera singers, actors, dancers, writers, some arts professionals and a couple of visual artists...oh, and a photographer.  We perform, we make stuff, and we drink beer.  A lot of beer.

Their upcoming production of The Turn of the Screw (my favourite, creepy opera ever!) promises to have some serious young artist star power!

Check them out on May 24, 25, 26 & 27 2012 @ 7:30 PM
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse
90 St. George St. TO 
For tickets, go here and scroll to the bottom of the page. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top Ten Things To Do For Successful Procrastination

Now that the academic year is over at the University of Toronto and those of us who are contract teachers are finished with our teaching, we have time to dive into all of the things one has not put 100% effort into...including my least favourite thing to do -  practicing. 

Yes, practicing.

Let me qualify that statement.  I hate the "thinking about", "getting ready to", "learning my music" portion of  practicing.  Which is how I have become one of the most efficient procrastinators*.

So on this rainy day, here is my top ten list of things to do for successful procrastination:

10. Write a blog post;
9.   Do laundry and miscellaneous housework like clean the knife drawer;
8.  Sort your jewelry making sure that all your earrings have backings;
7.  Email all the contacts on your list to update them on your professional life (ok, this is a legitimate and smart business thing to do!)
6.  Talk to your mother;
5.  Talk to your mother-in-law;
4.  Drink more coffee;
3.  Run on the treadmill that you haven't used all winter;
2.  Rearrange the pictures of your kids around the house;

And the number one thing to help you be a successful procrastinator....shine your husband's shoes. Yes, you  know you have scraped the to-do barrel clean when you have shoe polish under your fingernails.

Good luck to all of you out there trying to get your work done....and remember young singers - DON'T do as I DO but as I SAY!

PS - I love this article about procrastination with Netflix as an example!

*for the record, this is a joke only.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Getting out to the Kingston, ON

Laura Whalen
David Pomeroy
Who says you have to hit the big city..or a movie theater to hear opera?  The Kingston Symphony will present Puccini's La Boheme in concert on Sunday, April 29 with some outstanding Canadian singers....The afternoon performance stars soprano Laura Whalen as Mimi and tenor David Pomeroy as Rodolfo and will be hosted by Canadian opera expert Iain Scott.

Soprano Laura Whalen is often noted for her command, precision, and elegance in operatic, orchestral and recital appearances throughout North America. Last season, she performed Mimi in Puccini's La Bohème with the Edmonton Opera, Bach's B minor Mass with the Vancouver Symphony, and Cecelia in the world premiere of Bramwell Tovey's The Inventor with the Calgary Opera. Whalen was honored to inaugurate Toronto's Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in the fall of 2006, appearing in The Ring as Rhinemaiden (Das Rheingold and Gotterdammerung) and Der Waldvogel (Siegfried), conducted by the late Richard Bradshaw.

Tenor David Pomeroy, who will play Rodolfo, is blessed with a rich voice and thrilling top notes. He has caught the attention of artistic directors internationally. The Newfoundland native recently made his Metropolitan Opera stage debut in the title role of Les Contes d'Hoffmann under the baton of James Levine. He had previously sung the role of Faust at the Metropolitan Opera in the Parks with the same company. Other credits include La Traviata in Vancouver, Macbeth in Edmonton, and Carmen in Ireland, Stuttgart, Victoria, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Kansas City. He also sang Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly in St. Louis, Kansas City, Fort Worth, Connecticut, Detroit, Quebec, and Toronto.

The cast will also include Charlotte Corwin as Musetta, Bruce Kelly as Marcello, David Pike as Schaunard, and Giles Tomkins as Colline.

Tickets range in price from $45 to $75. You can purchase tickets at the Grand Theatre Box Office, 218 Princess Street, by phone at 613-530-2050 or online at .

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NATS Ontario Hosts Soprano Wendy Nielsen and CCOC Conductor Ann Cooper Gay

NATS Ontario Meeting and Professional Training

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Edward Johnson Building @ the Faculty of Music
University of Toronto

9:30 -10:30 (NATS Members Only) Meeting & Elections
10:30-12:00 Ann Cooper Gay & the Canadian Children’s Opera Company
12:00-12:30 RCM Voice Syllabus “Resonance” Overview
12:30 -2:00 Lunch Break; Music Vendors including Plangere & Red Leaf
2:00 – 4:00 Wendy Nielsen Masterclass

NATS Members: Free
Non Members & Students: $10

 Ann Cooper Gay“To Blend Or Not To Blend – That Is The Question”
Discussion and Demonstration
Ann Cooper Gay, Artistic Director of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company will discuss the needs of the young singer.
Singers from the CCOC will perform excerpts from their upcoming opera Laura’s Cow with librettist Michael Patrick Albano and Composer Errol Gay on hand to answer questions.


Wendy Nielsen“Training the Young Opera Singer”
Discussion and Masterclass
Soprano Wendy Nielsen has sung in many of the major opera houses across North America including the Metropolitan Opera.
Recognized as a mentor for young Canadian opera singers, she recently accepted a joint teaching position at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jeunesse Musicales announces Maureen Forrester Tour

This came into my in-box last week from four different sources in both our national languages...I guess I should post it NOW!

The Maureen Forrester Tour
Great Canadian Lyrical Voices Emerge

Montréal, March 29rd, 2012- Jeunesses Musicales of Canada (JMC) is proud to announce thecreation of a recital tour to honour the great Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester (1930-2010).
For the entire duration of her career, the singer was recognized for her artistic excellence and her qualities as a recitalist, as well as her undeniable support to the succession and development of Canadian contemporary music. This new JMC initiative will highlight an exceptional Canadian lyrical artist ready to embark upon an international career.

The tradition of excellence among Canadian lyrical singers has spanned from the 20th century to the present day. JMC has supported the careers of such renowned Canadian lyrical artists as bass Joseph Rouleau (1951-52), baritone Louis Quilico (1958-1959), and soprano Cécile Vallée (1967-68) who went on to grace the greatest stages in the world. This tradition of excellence continues today through the many lyrical singers who have passed through the JMC network, including sopranos Marianne Fiset, Nathalie Paulin and Karina Gauvin, contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, and baritones Russell Braun and Jean-François Lapointe, not to mention mezzosopranos Julie Boulianne and Julie Nesrallah and tenor Marc Hervieux. It is in this spirit of recognition of Canadian vocal talent that the Maureen Forrester Tour will take place every three years.

National auditions will take place on the 1st of May in Montréal and on the 14th of May in Toronto. Early-career Canadian artists that have acquired solid musical training are invited to participate starting immediately, by presenting a recital project that highlights the great lyric repertoire and Canadian music.

Maureen Forrester’s accomplishments and international influence are remarkable. Her passage through Jeunesses Musicales of Canada in 1953-54, at the dawn of her career, foretold of an extraordinary artist. She went on to work alongside some of the most illustrious conductors in the world, including Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, and James Levine, lighting up stages on all five continents. Maureen Forrester remained faithful to her roots at JMC, serving as national president from 1972 to 1975. She is the perfect ambassador to infuse an aura of excellence into the Tour and to bring recognition to today’s great Canadian lyrical voices.

For more details about the “Maureen Forrester Tour” and to learn about the enrolment [sic] process,

Friday, March 30, 2012

Opera V Mana: Training Program in Montreal

I received this notice in my inbox this week from Montreal company Opera V Mana.  I had never heard of them but see that my University of Toronto colleagues Lorna MacDonald and Daniel Taylor are doing master classes this summer! 

Opera V Mana's mandate is an old story: provide a more training for singers....but they are upping the acting quota AND they have a cool name (V=Voice and MANA = supernatural force).  Check out their posting below:

AUDITIONS NOTICE(french below)

Due to a student strike in Québec, Opera VMana auditions in Montreal have been postponed to April 11th 2012 (April 12th if needed). You have until April 6th to send your application form and until April 12th to send your free Audio or Video recording application if you cannot attend the live auditions.

OPERA VMANA-Summer Program

The summer program offers a unique training on essential skills for opera singers that are not always taught in universities programs.

-    Acting (theatre, monologue, improvisation, stage combat and staged opera scenes)
-    Body awareness (dance, yoga, Feldenkreis, Alexander Technique)
-    Voice (coaching, french and Italian diction, masterclasses)
-    Career management (lectures on promotional material with a publicist, audition techniques, The Singer and the Conductor, The Business of Singing)

We will offer masterclasses with reknowned Canadian singers such as Daniel Taylor, Mark Pedrotti, Lorna MacDonald, Lyne Fortin (among others). We also offer optional voice lesson packages with our affiliated teachers, Lyne Fortin and Julie Daoust.

For further information and to apply to the program, please visit

Maude Brunet et Nadine Guertin
Founders and directors, Opéra VMana

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Job Posting: Queen's University

I just received word that Queen's University Department of Music in Kingston, ON has posted a position for Applied Voice teacher to start Fall 2012.  Queen's was a great place for me to cut my teeth as a teacher. I had some fantastic students, met many lovely colleagues and had the opportunity to expand my teaching into the community through their Conservatory of Music. It was also a great way to connect with the Kingston Symphony and the Kingston Chamber Choir!

Check out all the details here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Debut Atlantic: Call for proposals

I am a bit late posting this however....just in case you can pull your stuff together in time OR you want to think about next year:

Debut Atlantic is requesting Artist Submissions for the 2013/14 touring season.

Founded in 1979, Debut Atlantic is one of this country's most dynamic and prestigious classical music touring organizations. In fact, the Debut Atlantic tour has evolved into a much coveted opportunity for Canada's emerging classical musicians.

The list of alumni includes some of Canada’s most recognizable artists and includes pianists Jon Kimura Parker, Jan Lisiecki, and Angela Hewitt, cellist Denise Djokic, Canada's finest baroque orchestra, Tafelmusik, and world-renowned singers Ben Heppner, Richard Margison, Wendy Nielsen and Measha Brueggergosman.

For more details and to download the application form please visit the Debut Atlantic website:

All entries must be postmarked no later than Friday, March 30th, 2012.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What to do in...Kingston this weekend!

The Kingston Symphony is always good for a great performance....if you are looking for something to do this weekend in Kingston, check out their performance of Haydn's Creation...soprano Laura Albino is a stunning young singer! 

From their press release:

The Creation is a very gratifying piece of music to perform. Haydn was late in his career, and at the height of his power. He applied every bit of skill and imagination possible to create this big sound, big forces work. Its three parts carry us from initial chaos into the creation of primal light, water, plant life, sea creatures, birds, animals and finally humans, culminating in celebration of all that God has created. Interestingly, it is the first work that was performed by the Kingston Symphony and Kingston Choral Society 58 years ago.

The Creation
Sunday, March 25, 2012
2:30 p.m. | Kingston Gospel Temple

The afternoon performance will feature the Kingston Symphony and Kingston Choral Society joined by soloists Laura Albino, James McLean, and Matthew Zadow.    

Laura Albino has quickly emerged as one of Canada's finest young lyric sopranos. She was a member of the prestigious Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio from 2008 to 2010, and  has also received her Master's Degree in Operatic Studies at the University of Toronto. Ms Albino has appeared frequently with the Aldeburgh Connection, and in 2007 debuted with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Bach's St. John Passion.

Tenor James McLean is one of Canada's most distinguished vocal artists, known for his compelling interpretation of the works of Bach, Mozart and Britten. Now based in his hometown of Toronto, Mr. McLean recently joined Ottawa's Opera Lyra as Pang in Turandot, followed by his debut with L'Opera de Rouens as Steva in Janacek's Jenufa.

Since moving to Brussels, baritone Matthew Zadow is enjoying a flourishing international career in recital, oratorio, and opera with recent debuts in Holland, Ireland, and Belgium, interspersed with frequent Canadian performances. A Queen's University graduate, his recent stage roles include Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Dancairo (Carmen), Baron Douphol (La Traviata), as well as Jack Worthing (The Importance of Being Earnest) for Stratford Summer Music.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ottawa Choral Society Announces 2012 Winners of the New Discoveries Auditions

Soprano Jacqueline Woodley, mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, tenor Isaiah Bell, and baritone Geoffrey Sirett take home Grand Prize Honours

The Ottawa Choral Society’s (OCS) New Discoveries Auditions for Young Artists were held recently in Toronto and Montreal and attracted a roster of 61 gifted young artists on the threshold of exciting careers who competed for OCS Emerging Artists Awards of $1000 and professional engagements with the Ottawa Choral Society and the choirs of this year’s Jury members. Winners are also featured in a gala Winners Showcase Recital, sponsored by the OCS’s Marian Pickering Memorial Fund, in solo repertoire before invited guests and prominent arts presenters in the National Capital Region.

The biennial auditions are an initiative developed in the early 1990’s by the Choral Society to support emerging artists and introduce exciting new talents to Ottawa audiences. Candidates, 30 or under and Canadian citizens or landed immigrants, typically hold music degrees and are interns or graduates of opera training programmes and advanced students who are being coached by Canada’s most eminent voice teachers.

Jacqueline Woodley, soprano
Twenty-seven year old Canadian soprano Jacqueline Woodley’s luminous performance of Debussy’s Apparition was mesmerizing and her emotionally compelling interpretation of “Zerfleisse, mein herze” from Bach’s St. John Passion showed her to be an artist who completely inhabits her text.
A member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble, Jacqueline recently shared a stage with Metropolitan Opera stars Susan Graham and Russell Braun in Iphigénie en Tauride. As a concert artist, Ms. Woodley‘s repertoire includes Bach’s St. John Passion, Handel’s Messiah, Fauré’s Requiem, Mozart’s Vesperae confessore di solennes, Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio and Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem. She has appeared on the summer festival circuit and is becoming recognized as a fine interpreter of contemporary music.

Rihab Chaieb, mezzo-soprano
To open her programme, 25-year-old Tunisian-born mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb performed Debussy’s “Le tombeau des Niädes” with exquisite expressiveness and tonal beauty. She followed this with Juno's imperative aria “Hence, Iris hence away” from Semele, which showcased her dramatic talent, and lovely, agile coloratura.
Currently a member of the Ensemble Studio at the Canadian Opera Company, she has sung Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Second Secretary to Mao in Nixon in China, the Third Lady in the Ensemble Studio performance of The Magic Flute, and the French Mother in Death in Venice.

Also at home in oratorio and art song, Ms. Chaieb's concert repertoire includes Handel’s Messiah, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat, and Brahms’ Neue Liebeslieder. Upcoming engagements include La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi and Juno/Ino in the COC Ensemble’s Semele this spring as well as the title role in La tragédie de Carmen at the Highlands Opera Studio this summer.
Isaiah Bell, tenor
Sporting a paddy green shirt and a natty bow tie, Isaiah Bell signaled that he is a young artist who is not afraid to make a statement. And that he did, with a commanding opening statement that blossomed into an intimate sound painting from Violet Archer’s gorgeous ‘Miniatures from the Chinese’. His aria from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion showed a depth of passion that is remarkable in one just twenty-six years old.
In critical notices, Isaiah has been identified as an exceptional young Canadian tenor “set to emerge on the world market”, with a talent for characterizations that are “…chilling in their fervency and clarity” (Opera Magazine).
This year, Isaiah returns to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for L’enfance du Christ with Kent Nagano and makes debuts with l’Orchestre Métropolitain under Yannick Nézet-Séguin; Saskatoon Opera; Julian Wachner at Trinity Wall Street New York; Jeunesses Musicales Canada; and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under Ivars Taurens.
Geoffrey Sirett, baritone
Twenty-seven years old, this fine young baritone, who bears an impressive stage dignity, opened with “Why do the nations” from Handel’s Messiah singing with a resonance and complex, coloured sound that was thrilling. His “Mache dich” from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, was well chosen to reveal a nobility of expression. The jury loved this voice and asked Geoffrey to sing all three of his selections - the last, from Derek Holman’s The Centered Passion in which he floated a gorgeous pianissimo high in his register.
A recipient of many honours, Geoffrey has performed numerous leading roles on the opera stage and will return this summer to the Aspen Opera Theater Center to sing the role of Nick Carraway in John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby.
A three-time regional finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Geoffrey was awarded second place and the ‘Best Performance of a Canadian Work Award’ in the Montreal Symphony’s Standard Life Competition in 2011. He has partnered in recital with world-renowned accompanist Martin Katz. His debut album, Vagabond, featuring English and Canadian art song, was released in December 2011.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Put on a Happy Happy Face - in St. John's

I had the pleasure of serving as the Junior Voice Adjudicator at the Kiwanis Music Festival of St. John's in Newfoundland last month where I heard 240 different performances by singers under the age of 14 years old!  As I mentioned in a guest post for Sparks and Wiry Cries, most of the performances were folk songs and in particular, Newfoundland folk songs... so I was pretty maxed out on that genre by the middles of my 10 day stay.  BUT at 9 AM on this particular Sunday morning the "Glitter Girls" showed up at the church I had been ensconced in and put on a happy face!

Here is a portion on the performance I heard that day by 8 year old twins Mary and Ella Antle and Lisa Bourne.  All three girls study with local voice teacher Ronalda Hutton-MacDonald who was also the choreographer!

*Regular Policy for the Music Festival does not allow recording of any performances however, this song was composed by Lisa's grandfather Eugene Castella and the family asked permission to record it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chosing an American School for your Music Education?

There is always talk about heading south of the boarder for our musical education.  The thought of having the likes of Julliard or Curtis or Eastman or Indiana on our resume is very enticing.  I went that way for grad school and have no regrets!  That being said, there are many considerations.

Of course cost is a big factor but what about the teacher, the school experience, the coaches, the opportunities to sing opera...and the list goes on!  And what about the level that is at the school RIGHT NOW?!  There is a new way to hear and see what is happening at all these places and more!

The Kennedy Center has created the Conservatory Project that presents free concerts to the public featuring students from the top conservatories and universities in the country.  You can check them out at The Conservatory Project. 

Check back for further discussion on choosing an American education vs. a Canadian education but in the meantime, happy exploring!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

NATS Intern Program Participants Announced

I am thrilled to have been chosen as a 2012 NATS Intern!  The program will be held over 10 days this June 2012 at Colorado State University

 With 41 applicants vying for only a few coveted positions, the selection committee was challenged in selecting members of  the 2012 NATS Intern Program as they narrowed an excellent field of applicants to twelve interns comprising the class of 2012. The 2012 class includes teachers who primarily teach in university settings as well as those whose focus is the independent studio. Interns will work with master teachers George Shirley, Donald Simonson, Julia Faulkner, and Lisa Popeil and vocal literature coordinator, Cynthia Vaughn, at the Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colorado hosted by program alumnus Tiffany Blake June 12-22, 2012. Past President Scott McCoy is the NATS Intern Program Coordinator.
What a fantastic opportunity - I am really excited to be the only Canadian representative - what other Canadians have participated?  I would love to work to get the program to Canada!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Music as Medicine: Why we might do what we do!

Music as prescription:  Professor Lee Bartel of University of Toronto explains "Music as Medicine".  UofT will launch a Music and Health Research Centre next year which will be the first of its kind in Canada.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Don't Cry Out Loud: Guest Post for Sparks & Wirey Cries

I was thrilled to be approached recently by Canadian soprano Martha Guth to contribute to the fabulous website Sparks & Wiry Cries that celebrates the art of the song recital!  Martha and her collaborative partner in song and S&WC Erika Switzer have this to say about their site:

We here at Sparks & Wiry Cries are very proud of our contribution to song. There is always a lot of speculation among veteran and younger song performers about the ‘dying art of the recital’. We would like to end that discussion right here and right now. One of the main reasons for this site is because we want you all to know of everything that is taking place throughout North America and beyond, in our beloved genre every day. This is a place where all song lovers can come together and share, realizing that indeed, their art is flourishing.

Head on over to their blog to read my article "Don't Cry Out Loud: Sing It!" where I discuss some of my methods in choosing repertoire for my students based on more than their technical singing needs!

PS - if you have a song recital coming up in your community, drop S&WC a line so they can list it in their directory!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques Call for Auditions


Montreal April 13th and 14th
Toronto April 15th and 16th
Vancouver April 17th

Registration Deadline March 21st 2012

The Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques is an international programme for young Canadian opera singers between the ages of 18 and 35, created by Théâtre Lyrichorégra 20 in 1994, to help tehm to begin an international professional career in Europe.  Every spring, a national audition is held in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver to select the laureates of the programme. In the fall, a benefit gala concert presents these Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques and other laureates from international singing competitions to a Montréal audience. During these two events, international committees of several leaders from the opera field of Europe and North America select the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques who will benefit from the programme.

Engagements in a production or in a troupe of an opera house in Europe
Prizes and support bursaries
Jeune Espoir Lyrique Canadien Prize – Canadian Lyric Prize
Québec Lyric Prize – LOJIQ - Jeunes Talents Lyriques Québécois Prize
German Lyric Prize – Bayern Lyric Prize – Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques Prize
Francis Poulenc Prize – and much more
Tours of auditions in European opera houses
Concerts in Europe and Asia
Training sessions in Europe
Participation to international singing competitions in Europe

From the voice of....