Our first recipients for 2019 are sharing the opportunities they were able to experience, thanks to the Art Song Foundation of Canada and the generosity of our donors. Updates throughout the year to follow.
Thanks to the generous support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, Scott Downing and I travelled to Heidelberg, Germany, to compete in the Das Lied International Song Competition as one of 30 selected duos. The 2019 panel for this week-long competition consisted of Thomas Quasthoff, Juliane Banse, Malcolm Martineau, John Gilhooly, Charlotte Lehmann, Helga Machreich, Thorsten Schmidt, and Richard Stokes.
Each duo’s repertoire list for the Das Lied live rounds consists of 30 songs in total, with five song selections by each of the six mandatory composers. For the 2019 edition, the mandatory composers were Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf, Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Charles Ives, and Wilhelm Killmayer.
Preparing this repertoire was a huge undertaking for both of us. More than half of our repertoire list was completely new and we had no previous working experience with repertoire by Ives and Killmayer. Our program texts included German, French, English, Spanish, Italian, and Greek poetry. We found the Ives and Killmayer particularly challenging (and rewarding) to prepare, given the virtuosic nature of these composers’ writing for both piano and voice, as well as the intricacies of the texts themselves.
A critical part of this competition is the juror feedback sessions offered to all of the duos. Scott and I were provided with some excellent constructive criticism and advice that I’m sure will prove helpful as we continue to develop our artistry and body of repertoire.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, attending Das Lied allowed us the opportunity to observe and learn from other young artists from around the world. The calibre of duos was extraordinary, with most of the artists already established in their professional careers. Observing the semi-finalists and finalists provided us with a new benchmark of excellence to strive for in our own work moving forward.
I’m certain that our time in Heidelberg will have a long-lasting impact on our growth and development as performing artists. I truly appreciate the support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada in helping make this fantastic opportunity possible.
Participating in the 2019 Das Lied International competition with soprano Carolyn Beaudoin was an unforgettable experience. Thanks to the Art Song Foundation of Canada, we were able to travel to Heidelberg, Germany, perform for a highly esteemed jury, and receive feedback from Thomas Quasthoff, Helga Machreich, Richard Stokes, and Juliane Banse. This was tremendously helpful to us as a duo and as musicians who are pursuing careers in art song.
During the competition, we had the privilege of listening to 29 other outstanding duos from all over the world. I was left in awe after each performance and also motivated to bring the same simplicity into my playing so that I can keep unveiling to the audience the deeper meaning of the poetry in this amazing music.
The required composers for the competition were Ravel, Debussy, Killmayer, Ives, Brahms, and Wolf. Each duo had to select five songs by each composer totalling 30 songs per duo. Selecting and preparing this repertoire was a massive undertaking, and it challenged us to find links and common themes between composers and songs. It was also enriching to perform and hear songs by Wilhelm Killmayer, who was the mandatory composer for the competition. I had never been exposed to this composer; so it was great to hear his music and learn more about his style.
Thanks to the Art Song Foundation of Canada, Carolyn and I were able to pursue this highly sought-after opportunity and expose ourselves as artists amongst a tremendous pool of talent. It was an honour to have been selected among these other applicants who already have years of professional experience and well-established careers in art song. Their performances set the bar very high and I feel confident that I can continue on a path towards similar artistic achievements. This opportunity has inspired me to keep learning and growing as an artist of art song so that I can continue to bring this music to life in Canada and across the world.