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!

From the voice of....