In 2016 we awarded grants to 16 talented young singers and collaborative pianists to further their artistic development through the study of art song. Meet our 2016 recipients below and read about the opportunities they were able to experience thanks to the Art Song Foundation of Canada and the generosity of our donors.

Veronika Anissimova, mezzo-soprano - Vancouver International Song Institute

anissimova_veronika_headshotI have just returned from the Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI) with fresh inspiration and cannot thank the Art Song Foundation of Canada enough for making this experience so much more affordable for me than it would otherwise have been!

I had a great time in Vancouver and learned a tremendous amount from the faculty at VISI; Tyler Duncan, Erika Switzer, and Graham Johnson were especially inspiring to work with. All of the staff were supportive and truly interested in pushing and challenging us, and by the end of the week, I felt that both my confidence as a performer and my familiarity with Schubert’s musical style had improved more than I could have expected.

The many hours of master classes with Graham Johnson were a luxury, and it was certainly thrilling to make music in the presence of a pianist and scholar of such pedigree. I would heartily encourage any young singer to apply to VISI in the future. It has been an unforgettable adventure! Thanks again.

 

Veronika Anissimova and pianist Hye Jung Shin

Veronika Anissimova and pianist Hye Jung Shin

Veronika Anissimova and pianist Hye Jung Shin performing for Graham Johnson

Veronika Anissimova and pianist Hye Jung Shin performing for Graham Johnson

 

 

Olivier Bergeron, baritone - Domaine Forget

olivier-bergeronThanks to the support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I was able to attend the voice program of Domaine Forget this summer, where I had the great pleasure of working with a world-class faculty that included Wolfgang Holzmair, a renowned performer and pedagogue of art song.

My colleagues and I had the privilege of witnessing Mr. Holzmair’s craft during a concert on the first day of the two-week program and it allowed us to understand the involvement required to succeed in communicating emotions through art song. We then had the opportunity to work with him and watch him work with others during daily master classes.

I am extremely grateful to the Art Song of Foundation of Canada for assisting me in having these wonderful experiences and hope it will continue to support young musicians like myself who are passionate about art song for many years to come.

 

 

Olivier Bergeron working with Wolfgang Holzmair

Olivier Bergeron working with Wolfgang Holzmair

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Castello, piano - Franz-Schubert-Institut

mary-castelloThis summer, I had the privilege of travelling to Baden bei Wien, Austria, to participate in the Franz-Schubert-Institut master course called Poetry and Performance of the German Lied. I really enjoyed my five-and-a-half weeks in Baden; it was an experience of growth for me, both musically and personally.

The course began with two days of group-building exercises and an opening concert with poetry recited by Gabriele Jacoby, alternating with solo piano music played by Manon Fischer-Dieskau. This concert introduced us to the foundational concept that we would explore and discover throughout the entire course: Lieder consists of two main elements — poetry and solo piano music.

As a group of 36 participants (18 pianists and 18 singers), we performed around 370 Lieder over the course of five weeks in master classes given by the very best Lieder interpreters and performers in Europe. We were paired together in singer/pianist duos ahead of time, and each duo learned a set of repertoire for the five weeks. I really appreciated the opportunity to play with the same singer for the entire course, as this meant we could really focus on getting to know each other and immersing ourselves in our poems. I discovered many things about what it means to effectively build a meaningful and life-giving collaborative relationship, and I enjoyed the process.

I learned so much through my opportunities to work with and perform for each of the master teachers, but I learned at least as much through watching my colleagues work. Each teacher has his or her own unique way of leading a master class. It was inspiring to see how many different ways there are to talk about things and to experience how infectious their excitement was for Lieder and for poetry.

Each morning, we began with a poetry seminar given by Dr. Deen Larsen. These seminars provided an opportunity to explore more deeply the history and ideas of Romantic poetry and more specific details about poets, before working on our music in coachings and master classes later in the day. Our coachings were largely focused on the pronunciation and dramatic, meaningful recitation of our German poetry; however, we also had opportunities to work on musical and interpretive ideas, technique, and creative ideas for how to work better as a collaborative pair. As a pianist who has always been interested in Lieder from the perspective of the music, I really grew into a deeper appreciation of the poetry this summer, and I have gained ideas for how to approach my Lieder study and performance.

Not only did we spend our days in coaching and master classes, we also spent time hiking in the Vienna Woods, taking a boat trip on the Danube, touring some old Abbeys, and eating together as a group. We played several concerts in beautiful venues, including the Heiligenkreuz Abbey. The careful planning of the course extended to the execution of these daytrips.

Of course, this whole experience took place in the beautiful town of Baden bei Wien, and our immersion in Austrian culture was an integral part of what made this summer special. The Franz-Schubert-Institut is a program like none other I have experienced. The atmosphere was supportive, creative, and inspiring. Our work and performance and learning were about the music and the poetry, created by composers and poets, and we were fortunate to get to spend our days studying and sharing this art form. I formed some new friendships and experienced many beautiful poems and songs that I will never forget.

I am grateful for the support that the Art Song Foundation of Canada provides to emerging professionals like me to study at important programs such as the Franz-Schubert-Institut. My experiences this summer were inspiring, and I will not soon forget the profound impact it has had on me as a musician and as a person.

 

 

Mary Castello, piano and Olivia Doig, soprano performing at Heiligenkreuz Abbey

Mary Castello, piano and Olivia Doig, soprano performing at Heiligenkreuz Abbey

Mary Castello with Elly Ameling and Olivia Doig

Mary Castello with Elly Ameling and Olivia Doig

Franz Schubert Institut class at Heiligenkreuz Abbey

Franz Schubert Institut class at Heiligenkreuz Abbey

Franz Schubert Institut Class 2016

Franz Schubert Institut Class 2016

 

Ariane Cossette, soprano - Domaine Forget

cossette_ariane_headshotI want to thank you for the help you gave me regarding my participation in Domaine Forget’s 2016 Voice and Accompaniment program.

I had an amazing experience and I am deeply grateful for your support. I got to work on Duparc’s Extase and Chanson Triste with a collaborative student-pianist, as well as on some Schubert lieder and operatic arias. It was the first time that this pianist and I had worked together, but Domaine Forget gave us the opportunity and we have decided to continue our collaboration in the future.

I also had the opportunity to work in master class with Wolfgang Holzmair and Christine Brewer, and to have private lessons with Aline Kutan and Lena Hellstrom-Farnlof. They were incredibly generous and I learned a lot from each of them.

These two weeks gave me the time to think about my future plans and get to know myself better. I am glad to be returning to next year’s program since Domaine Forget offered me a bursary to cover more than half of the tuition. Thank you so much again for your support.

Ariane Cossette Domaine Forget Class (01) 2016

Ariane Cossette Domaine Forget Class (01) 2016

Ariane Cossette Domaine Forget Class (02) 2016

Ariane Cossette Domaine Forget Class (02) 2016

Arianne Cossette and Lena Hellstrom-Farnlof Domaine Forget 2016

Arianne Cossette and Lena Hellstrom-Farnlof Domaine Forget 2016

Geneviève Dompierre-Smith, soprano - Domaine Forget

dompierre-smith_genevieve _headshotThanks to the Art Song Foundation of Canada’s generous contribution, I was able to complete a wonderful course at Domaine Forget.

We were a small group of 17 singers and four very talented, young pianists. I was able to really focus my attention on vocal ease and stylistic details. I had 45-minute coachings daily, alternating between my teacher Aline Kutan, Richard Turp, and Lena Hellstrom Farnlof, all while collaborating hand-in-hand with Benton Schmidt, the pianist assigned to me.

When arriving at the Domaine, I was notified that I would be taking part in a public master class with Wolfgang Holzmair. The experiences on stage and with Mr. Holzmair were truly ones I will never forget. Not only was he able to reach every singer in a different way, but his attention and generosity to each and every one of us was really something else!

I focused my attention on quality of interpretation and text of a new Menotti song cycle with my teachers and coaches at the Domaine. I then had the pleasure of meeting Christine Brewer. She not only carried me to deep insight when it came to asking the right questions in the interpretation of the Menotti, she knew him personally very well and had been asked to sing that very cycle! What a great coincidence — no better way to dive deep into something.

I also had the opportunity to perform in the final recital. This allowed me to get a very professional recording that I have used in two auditions in the last month. I have been selected to audition for both the Wolf Trap young artist program and Les Jeunesses Musicales.

I thank you again for your contribution to young singers and for making it possible for us to develop!

Aline Kutan,, Olivier Bergeron, and Genevieve Dompierre Smith

Aline Kutan, Olivier Bergeron, and Genevieve Dompierre Smith

Genervieve Dompierre Smith, Olivier Bergeron, and Lena Hellstrom Farnolf

Genevieve Dompierre Smith, Olivier Bergeron, and Lena Hellstrom Farnolf

Genevieve Dompierre Smith at Domaine Forget (class)

Genevieve Dompierre Smith at Domaine Forget (class)

Sarah Forestieri, soprano - Franz-Schubert-Institut

forestieri_sarah_headshot

370 Lieder, 171 hours of master classes, performing for nine incredible master teachers, working with eight fabulous coaches, and spending five weeks in beautiful Baden Bei Wien, Austria: these are the statistics of my summer at the Franz-Schubert-Institut of 2016.

Anyone even remotely involved in the world of classical music knows that those are some pretty impressive and intense statistics — a challenging course for even the most diligent and dedicated of musicians. However, those showy numbers cannot even begin to explain how this master course can change a musician from the inside out. How? By taking every singer to the source of German art song. What is the source you might ask? No, it’s not the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, or http://www.ipasource.com (as valuable resources as they are). The source of German Lieder goes so much further that that. It’s the Vienna Woods that Beethoven and many of his contemporaries walked through for hours on end, being inspired by the music of the babbling brooks. It’s going back to the poets and their upbringings that, for example, enabled Goethe to write about the manifestation of the divine in nature, or the spiritual beliefs that allowed Mörike to transport his readers to a world of fantasy. Most important, it’s about taking in all the facts, all the history, all the ideas of the poet, and finally being able to use these to enhance what the composer has written. As singers of Lieder, our job is to do all this in just three to five minutes of song. Such a short amount of time to take an audience on a journey that will hopefully move them in some way. That’s what I spent the five weeks at the Franz-Schubert-Institut learning how to do.

The Franz-Schubert-Institut is the creation of Dr. Deen Larsen, an absolute expert in the interpretation of German Lieder and poetry. For five weeks, all the participants in the program would meet with Dr. Larsen daily at 9:00 a.m. for poetry sessions in which we would get down to the nitty-gritty of every poet we were studying at the institute: Goethe, Mayrhofer, Mörike, Claudius, Rückert, Klopstock, Hölty, Schlegel, Schulze, Seidl, and Stolberg, to name a few. Some days we would focus on their life, upbringing, and spiritual beliefs; other days we would take an entire class to break down a particularly important poem or cycle. What I loved about these classes was that it gave us singers a chance to intensely study an aspect of Lieder that is without doubt of great importance to the art form, but unfortunately does not get enough attention over the course of a four-year bachelor degree. In such a degree, which strives to give an overview of so many different types of art song and opera in various languages, it is impossible to go into incredible detail of every type of vocal music ever written. This is why I strongly believe that five weeks of intensive Lieder study is absolutely necessary for the singer who wants not only to rock every aria in his or her audition package, but also to give an honest and authentic recital they can be proud of. The years we are in school are the years for us to always keep our minds open, becoming as knowledgeable as we can in as many different types of vocal music as possible. Hopefully it is the skills we learn during our post-secondary education that will allow us one day to become honest musicians who can remain true to the music, while having a career and making a living as an artist.

I have to be completely honest: it was not always easy to remain completely engaged with the music when working with some of the greatest “celebrities” of German Lieder. The master teachers for this year’s course included Robert Holl (Dutch bass), Wolfram Rieger (German pianist), Julius Drake (British pianist), Birgid Steinberger (German soprano), Roger Vignoles (British pianist), Andreas Schmidt (German bass-baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Austrian pianist), Elly Ameling (Dutch soprano), and Olaf Bär (German baritone). Each of the 18 duos at the Institute had the chance to perform several pieces for each of the master teachers. This was one of my first experiences performing for world-renowned musicians and, like many young singers, within seconds of being called to the stage, I felt my nerves take away the breath support I had worked so hard to make consistent. But nerves are a funny thing. Sure, they make it more difficult to perform, but they also let you know how much you care about the performance you are about to give — or at least that’s how I like to think about them. And boy, did I care about these performances! But another thing about performing is that, if you are a good musician and you’ve put in the hard work to know every marking, translation, and tempo change in a piece, then you will offer a quality performance. One of the things these five weeks taught me is that if you put in the hours and have practised hard enough, your body won’t fail you. No, I’m not saying every performance was worthy of Carnegie Hall, but as one of the younger musicians at the program, I can honestly say that I feel proud of every moment I was onstage, and I will take with me something from every single recital and every single master teacher.

I cannot finish this article without acknowledging one of the finest features of this young artist program: the art of performing as a duo. In university, young singers are often working a variety of student pianists or, where I study, with professional pianists. I think in a school setting, this is an excellent way to develop professional skills and make sure that young singers know from the very beginning what they are responsible for in preparing for a performance. However, once you leave academia and begin curating your own performances, singers and pianists need to find musicians they trust and respect to work with as a duo — two professionals coming together to share ideas and feed off each other. I didn’t know Seoyon MacDonald before we were paired together, but I am forever grateful to Dr. Larsen for pairing us. Seoyon and I hit it off from the beginning. How incredibly lucky was I to have been paired with someone who not only cared so deeply about every aspect of every piece we performed, but made sure I was okay when I was going through a rough vocal week and brought me a fruit smoothie to keep my immune system up when things were getting rather tough in the final stretch. We learned from each other, we discussed differences in musical opinions, and most important, we made beautiful music together for five incredible weeks. I know Seoyon will be a go-to duo partner for years to come. We are already looking into possible future performances together. I’m so grateful to have met her and look forward to the music we are going to make in the future.

Before I sign off, some thanks are in order . . .

  • To Dr. Larsen and his incredible vision for a program that is not just about performance, or the music, but about the authenticity of the art form as a whole.
  • To the incredible coaches we worked with every day of the week from all ends of the world. It has been such an honour being able to learn from you all.
  • A huge special thanks to the Art Song Foundation of Canada, for without their bursary, my trip to Austria would not have been possible.
  • Finally, to all my new colleagues whom I had the pleasure of listening to for five weeks: I wish you all the best in all your future endeavours and hope to see you soon in the small world of classical music.

That’s all for now. Auf Wiedersehen, Baden!

Sarah Forestieri and Seoyon MacDonald in Master with Julius Drake, pianist

Sarah Forestieri and Seoyon MacDonald in Master with Julius Drake, pianist

Sarah Forestieri and Seoyon MacDonald performing in the Stift Heiligenkreuz

Sarah Forestieri and Seoyon MacDonald performing in the Stift Heiligenkreuz

Sarah Forestieri and Seoyon MacDonald before the final Gala Concert at the Centrum for Interkulturelle Begegnung

Sarah Forestieri and Seoyon MacDonald before the final Gala Concert at the Centrum for Interkulturelle Begegnung

Caroline Gélinas, mezzo-soprano - Domaine Forget

View More: http://brentcalisphotography.pass.us/2015atelierlyriqueartistschoicePar la présente, j’aimerais vous remercier du fond du coeur de m’avoir octroyé une bourse afin que je puisse participer au stage de Chant du Domaine Forget. Ce furent deux semaines inoubliables de travail intense avec les grands maîtres Wolfgang Holzmair, Lena Hellström Fernlöf, Christine Brewer, Aline Kuntan, et Olivier Godin.

Les classes de maîtres et leçons avec monsieur Holzmair ont été particulièrement inspirantes et formatrices au niveau du style musical du Lied et de la prononciation allemande. Nous avons travaillé en profondeur le cycle Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart. L’une des leçons principales que je retiens de son enseignement est l’écoute active de chaque note, de chaque son, une écoute des plus attentive envers chaque détail. Cela apporte une définition très claire de chaque phrase et ligne vocale en plus d’assurer le contrôle de la musicalité. Les leçons axées sur la technique vocale avec mesdames Lena et Aline ont été très efficaces et je ressors grandi de cette belle expérience.

De plus, ces deux semaines de stage m’auront permis de parfaire mes plans de carrières et de saisir davantage les enjeux exigés du milieu des arts de la scène lyrique grâce aux ateliers de Richard Turp.

Wolgang Holzmair Master Class at Domain Forget (she is in blue scarf)

Wolgang Holzmair Master Class at Domain Forget (Caroline is in the centre with the blue scarf)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asal Iranmehr, piano - AIMS Lieder Studio

iranmehr_asal_headshotThis report is regarding my experience with AIMS Summer Music Program 2016. This is a six-week program offering Lieder Studio and Opera Studio for singers and pianists.

The first week of the program was more like an orientation week during which participants did their placement auditions for the faculty and adjusted to the new time zone.

The significance of the auditions was for the opera singers, who were chosen for diverse performances showcasing AIMS in different venues over the six weeks. The highlight of the first week for pianists was having a workshop with Gary Matthewman. Unfortunately, classes did not start until the second week of the program and, personally, I did not receive any kind of assignments from my teachers to take advantage of the free time in the first week or to prepare for my upcoming lessons. The only class running during the first week was a 45-minute daily German class for all levels. (All AIMS participants could take German classes five days a week).

Starting from the second week of the program as a part-time collaborative pianist in the Lieder Studio, I benefitted from individual piano lessons twice per week with Charlene Harb and participated in James Douglass’s studio to prepare for two Liederabend concerts on August 6 and 8, which were a big success. The other beneficial classes were about the poetry of the German Lieder, piano-accompanying class, speaking Lieder lyrics, and two coaching sessions per week.

There were many performance opportunities for singers in this program, such as performing with AIMS orchestra every week or singing in the other pre-planned concerts such as the Italian Concert, Spanish Concert, Operetta Concert, etc. Apart from the concerts, singers could also sign up for many master classes and private coaching sessions with Gabriel Lechner, Linda Watson, Patricia Craig, and Barbara Bonney.

The Meistersinger Competition was another great opportunity for singers at AIMS. Each year the AIMS summer ends with this vocal competition. The winner receives $500 and hotel accommodation to give a recital at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Washington, which will be held this year on October 29.

Overall, this was a good learning opportunity and I enjoyed my lessons with my piano teachers. I think this is a program more beneficial for singers and not as fulfilling for pianists. Considering the very high costs of tuition, application, and audition fees, I am not sure if I would apply for AIMS a second time.

Nonetheless, once again I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Art Song Foundation of Canada for granting me with a generous bursary, which made it easier to be part of AIMS.

asal-iranmehr-01-1 asal-iranmehr-02-1

Rosane Lajoie, collaborative piano - Domaine Forget & Académie Francis Poulenc

rosane-lajoieThis past summer has been one of discoveries, challenges, and personal achievements for both of us, thanks to the support the Art Song Foundation of Canada gave us. We feel extremely grateful for receiving a bursary that allowed us to accomplish two wonderful projects: one in our homeland and one abroad in France.

It was under the beautiful sun of July that we spent two weeks at the Académie Internationale de Musique et de Danse du Domaine Forget, where we worked with two inspiring masters:

Wolfgang Holzmair (Austria) and Christine Brewer (USA). We also had the chance to study under the guidance of many singing teachers (Lena Helström-Färnlöf, Aline Kutan, and Richard Turp) and pianists (Olivier Godin and Anne-Marie Bernard).

During the first week, we performed excerpts from Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben twice in masterclass for Mr Holzmair. It was a tremendous pleasure to explore the subtleties of the poetic texts and truly grasp a part of the German soul. During the second week, we worked on various repertoire by Elgar, Debussy, and Poulenc with Christine Brewer, who challenged us in a very memorable and heart-warming way to improve our cohesion as a duo and to increase the precision of our artistic intentions.

Not only did our session at Domaine Forget bring us a vast amount of knowledge, it also served as an essential stepping stone for the Académie Francis Poulenc. In order to participate in this intensive ten-day program, we had to master twelve French mélodies by Gounod, Debussy, Poulenc, and Dutilleux. The academy’s goal was to immerse us in many aspects of French music by giving us classes in interpretation (François Le Roux), diction (Anne-Marie Lardeau), poetic analysis (Claudine Bensaïd), vocal technique (Michèle Ledroit), and collaborative piano (Jeff Cohen, Christian Ivaldi, and Nicolas Krüger). Moreover, we had the pleasure of working every morning with Alexander Technique teachers (Laurence Schifrine and Christine Sammer), who gave us a new perspective on our body consciousness as we communicate with the audience.

During those ten days, we performed three times in master class. In the course of those lessons, we were given precious interpretation notes about Henri Dutilleux’s mélodies by teachers who had had the opportunity to work with the composer himself before his death in 2013. At the very end of this session, we were lucky enough to visit Francis Poulenc’s house in Noizay and to perform a concert in this village afterwards.

All these uplifting experiences significantly helped us to grow not only as a musical duo, but also as individuals. We look forward to offering all we have lived and discovered in our upcoming concerts in Montréal and Québec city. We can never thank you enough for your trust and your support.

 

Rosane Lajoie and Stephanie McKay-Turgeon with Wolfgang Holzmair at Domaine Forget

Rosane Lajoie and Stephanie McKay-Turgeon with Wolfgang Holzmair at Domaine Forget

Soprano Stephanie McKay-Turgeon and pianist Rosane Lajoie

Soprano Stephanie McKay-Turgeon and pianist Rosane Lajoie

Turgeon Lajoie 01 Turgeon Lajoie 02
Rosane Lajoie and Stephanie McKay-Turgeon with Christine Brewer at Domaine Forget

Rosane Lajoie and Stephanie McKay-Turgeon with Christine Brewer at Domaine Forget

Stephanie McKay-Turgeon, soprano, and Rosane Lajoie, piano, in performance at . . .

Stephanie McKay-Turgeon, soprano, and Rosane Lajoie, piano, in performance at . . .

 

Amy (Seulky) Lee, collaborative piano - Vancouver International Song Institute

lee_seulky (amy)_headshotThank you and Art Song Foundation of Canada for your generous support that made it possible for me to attend Vancouver International Song Institute. It was truly an inspiring week full of joy and learning, and I will never forget this valuable experience. I believe this experience has helped me grow and shaped me into a better musician. I hope to give back what I have received to the community one day. Thank you again.

 

 

 

 

Victoria Marshall, mezzo-soprano - Vancouver International Song Institute

victoria-marshallThank you very much for awarding me a bursary to support my attendance at the Vancouver

International Song Institute this summer. I spent one week on UBC campus in beautiful British Columbia, immersed in the music of Schubert and Schumann, and completely exhilarated by the master classes and lectures of the incomparable Graham Johnson.

Our daily schedule was full but manageable. Mornings began with a coaching with one of the many fabulous VISI coaches, including Erika Switzer, Laura Loewen, Tyler Duncan, and Martha Guth, followed by diction classes and individual practice time before lunch. Afternoons were filled with Mr. Johnson’s lectures and master classes. I sang for him three times over the course of the week, and the sensation of support and expansion he created was for me an entirely new experience. He made it impossible for me to sing any less beautifully and demanded from me the next level of colour and specificity.

Master classes were full of provocative philosophies about composition and performance, and coloured with anecdotes from Schubert’s life and Graham’s own career. In one of my favourite moments of the week, Graham said, “Control over your audience is control over yourself. Schwarzkopf said if she moved the hem of her garment, someone would cough. We control the magic.” Mr. Johnson immersed us all in a week of magic and exploration.

After my extended period focused on opera in school, this summer was a wonderful re-introduction to the vast and delightful world of song repertoire, starting with VISI. In the words of Graham Johnson, “The money is in opera, but it becomes a matter of determination not to give up song repertoire.” I am convinced now more than ever of the importance of art song as a means to foster in young singers the expressive demand seldom placed on them by other vocal forms. I have been inspired to start work on a number of song cycles to be performed this coming year.

Thank you again for your generous bursary and your support of my artistic development.

Mezzo Victoria Marshall and collaborative pianist John Gilmour of Philadelphia after The Art Of Latin Song concert at VISI on Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mezzo Victoria Marshall and collaborative pianist John Gilmour of Philadelphia after The Art Of Latin Song concert at VISI on Saturday, June 25, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whitney Mather, soprano - Songfest

View More: http://whitneywanders.pass.us/whitneypromoI am so very happy to have the opportunity to thank you for the incredible gift of support that you gave me to attend Songfest in Los Angeles in June. It is a really incredible program with a wealth of people presenting it and believing in it absolutely, and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to attend this year.

Songfest is a huge undertaking. It brings together roughly 100 singers, pianists, coaches, and mentors for four weeks and creates a haven in which one can explore and learn about art song and its importance to our field. I truly believe that one cannot sing opera without a firm knowledge of song and character development in song and, conversely, I feel that opera can greatly influence the way one approaches song. I saw so much of this in Los Angeles.

Not only did I have the opportunity to coach and sing in master classes on my own work, but I had the sincere pleasure of attending several recitals given by alumni of the program, by guest teachers, and by the incredible faculty. It is so thrilling to learn by watching those who teach do what they ask of you. It shows in a very real way that what they ask for has the power to reach into the heart of an audience and invite them along on a journey. I heard many recitals, but the one that stood out for me was given by tenor Anthony Dean Griffey and Margo Garrett. I was moved beyond words at Mr. Griffey’s incredibly truthful performance of Vaughan William’s On Wenlock Edge and was blown away that he would select such simply joyful songs for his encores: A Simple Song by Bernstein and an arrangement of This Little Light of Mine. This for me was the exact purpose of song. It is to get to people on a level that they understand and to share an experience that is so beautifully human. I guarantee that our hearts in that hall beat as one and that those were the words that all of us so eagerly would say in that moment.

I was very fortunate to be able to sing in master classes for Roger Vignoles, Margo Garrett, Alan Smith, Martin Katz, John Musto, and Libby Larsen. To be able to sing for people who have first-hand knowledge of composers and to sing music written by those composers is such an enlightening experience. The openness of mind and interpretation held by all and the demand of absolute vulnerability from all singers created some truly remarkable results and taught all participants a great deal about truth in text. I learned over and over again that if one takes the time to really know the text and the character, so many other ‘problems’ seem to disappear. When one speaks truthfully and honestly from the heart of the text, beautiful singing is bound to be the result. One then has the ability to touch others.

I am so appreciative of my time at Songfest this year and have returned to my music at home with a renewed vigour and inspiration, and look forward to continuing my journey in song this July as a fellow at the Toronto Summer Music Festival.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart that you have chosen to support art-song education for Canadians and that you have chosen to make it possible for singers to grow as artists and as individuals through this education. It meant so much to me that I could not worry about the finances of my trip and could just focus on the music and the reason that I was there. I thank you for your work and ask you to continue it, as I can see that programs like Songfest will really raise a new breed of singer — one that has currency and influence in our world today.

 

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather

 

Stéphanie McKay-Turgeon, soprano - Domaine Forget & Académie Francis Poulenc

 

stephanie-mckay-turgeonThis past summer has been one of discoveries, challenges, and personal achievements for both of us, thanks to the support the Art Song Foundation of Canada gave us. We feel extremely grateful for receiving a bursary that allowed us to accomplish two wonderful projects: one in our homeland and one abroad in France.

It was under the beautiful sun of July that we spent two weeks at the Académie Internationale de Musique et de Danse du Domaine Forget, where we worked with two inspiring masters:

Wolfgang Holzmair (Austria) and Christine Brewer (USA). We also had the chance to study under the guidance of many singing teachers (Lena Helström-Färnlöf, Aline Kutan, and Richard Turp) and pianists (Olivier Godin and Anne-Marie Bernard).

During the first week, we performed excerpts from Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben twice in masterclass for Mr Holzmair. It was a tremendous pleasure to explore the subtleties of the poetic texts and truly grasp a part of the German soul. During the second week, we worked on various repertoire by Elgar, Debussy, and Poulenc with Christine Brewer, who challenged us in a very memorable and heart-warming way to improve our cohesion as a duo and to increase the precision of our artistic intentions.

Not only did our session at Domaine Forget bring us a vast amount of knowledge, it also served as an essential stepping stone for the Académie Francis Poulenc. In order to participate in this intensive ten-day program, we had to master twelve French mélodies by Gounod, Debussy, Poulenc, and Dutilleux. The academy’s goal was to immerse us in many aspects of French music by giving us classes in interpretation (François Le Roux), diction (Anne-Marie Lardeau), poetic analysis (Claudine Bensaïd), vocal technique (Michèle Ledroit), and collaborative piano (Jeff Cohen, Christian Ivaldi, and Nicolas Krüger). Moreover, we had the pleasure of working every morning with Alexander Technique teachers (Laurence Schifrine and Christine Sammer), who gave us a new perspective on our body consciousness as we communicate with the audience.

During those ten days, we performed three times in master class. In the course of those lessons, we were given precious interpretation notes about Henri Dutilleux’s mélodies by teachers who had had the opportunity to work with the composer himself before his death in 2013. At the very end of this session, we were lucky enough to visit Francis Poulenc’s house in Noizay and to perform a concert in this village afterwards.

All these uplifting experiences significantly helped us to grow not only as a musical duo, but also as individuals. We look forward to offering all we have lived and discovered in our upcoming concerts in Montréal and Québec city. We can never thank you enough for your trust and your support.

Rosane Lajoie and Stephanie McKay-Turgeon with Wolfgang Holzmair at Domaine Forget

Rosane Lajoie and Stephanie McKay-Turgeon with Wolfgang Holzmair at Domaine Forget

Soprano Stephanie McKay-Turgeon and pianist Rosane Lajoie

Soprano Stephanie McKay-Turgeon and pianist Rosane Lajoie

Turgeon Lajoie 01 Turgeon Lajoie 02
Rosane Lajoie and Stephanie McKay-Turgeon with Christine Brewer at Domaine Forget

Rosane Lajoie and Stephanie McKay-Turgeon with Christine Brewer at Domaine Forget

Stephanie McKay-Turgeon, soprano, and Rosane Lajoie, piano, in performance at . . .

Stephanie McKay-Turgeon, soprano, and Rosane Lajoie, piano, in performance at . . .

 

Jack Olszewski, collaborative piano - Franz-Schubert Institut

jack-olszewskiI would like to thank the Art Song Foundation of Canada for their generous bursary towards my tuition and fees at the Franz-Schubert-Institut this past summer. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for this funding, as it truly made it possible for me to attend this workshop and festival.

I am currently completing an Artist Diploma in Collaborative Piano at McGill University and it is my hope to continue pursuing a career in this field after graduating. Being able to participate in the Franz-Schubert-Institut was a tremendous step for me in my education and learning, and the experience and memories made there will forever be invaluable to me.

The summer course spanned five weeks, from July 2nd to August 8th, 2016, in Baden bei Wien, Austria. The focus was entirely on German Lied from the perspective of both the poetry and the musical performance. All the participating singers and pianists were placed into one-on-one partnerships that lasted the entirety of the program; in total, there were 18 pairs. I was partnered with a wonderful soprano from the United States, Kate Johnson. During the five weeks, our days consisted of a fairly regular schedule that would deviate only occasionally on weekends. We began every morning at nine o’clock with a one-hour Poetry Class led by the director, Dr. Deen Larsen. Everyone would then be required to attend master classes for approximately five hours a day, split into two periods. As the schedule worked out, each duo performed about once every two days. Following the master classes, we then had private coachings with a variety of teachers.

During the five weeks, Kate and I worked on a total of 20 songs. Each week was dedicated to two different master teachers, as well as to different composers and poets. The first week, taught by Robert Holl and Wolfram Rieger, focussed on Franz Schubert with poetry by Goethe and Mayrhofer. The second week, taught by Julius Drake and Birgid Steinberger, focused on Hugo Wolf especially Mörike and the Spanisches Liederbuch. The third week, taught by Roger Vignoles and Andreas Schmidt, focused on Mahler and Strauss. In the fourth week, Helmut Deutsch and Robert Holl taught Schubert once again, this time focusing on a variety of other poets not covered in the first week. Finally, Elly Ameling and Olaf Bar arrived in the fifth week to work on repertoire by Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann. In addition to these master teachers, I had the opportunity to work with a variety of coaches and teachers in private coachings: these included Wolfgang Dosch, Cynthia Hoffmann, Gabriele Jacoby, Michael McMahon, Waltraud Osterreicher, Reinhold Schaffrath, Benno Schollum, and Armin Zanner.

All of the master classes and coachings were complemented with performance opportunities at beautiful venues. These included the Heiligenkreuz Abbey, St. Stephan’s Parish Church (where all participants sang in a full church service), the Haus der Kunst, and the ZiB synagogue. Additionally, we had several excursions, such as walks through the woods and outside the city of Baden bei Wien.

My time at the Franz-Schubert-Institut was an amazing period of learning, discovery, and new experiences. The amount of knowledge and wisdom that I gained from all of the teachers will forever stay with me, and the in-depth analysis of both the poetry and music helped me gain new perspectives on how to approach not only German Lied, but all the music that I work on and perform.

Thank you again to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for the bursary that made all of my experiences this summer possible. I will forever be grateful.

Vineyards outside Baden bei Wien, Austria

Vineyards outside Baden bei Wien, Austria

Jack Olszewski, piano, and Kate Johnson, soprano, at the Haus der Kunst master class with Julius Drake

Jack Olszewski, piano, and Kate Johnson, soprano, at the Haus der Kunst master class with Julius Drake

Jack Olszewski, piano, and Kate Johnson, soprano, at the Heiligenkreuz Abbey 02 (2)

Jack Olszewski, piano, and Kate Johnson, soprano, at the Heiligenkreuz Abbey

Jack Olszewski, piano, and Kate Johnson, soprano, at the Heiligenkreuz Abbey 01

Jack Olszewski, piano, and Kate Johnson, soprano, at the Heiligenkreuz Abbey

Jack Olszewski, piano, and Kate Johnson, soprano, at the Haus der Kunst

Jack Olszewski, piano, and Kate Johnson, soprano, at the Haus der Kunst

John-Michael Scapin, tenor - Vancouver International Song Insitute

scapin_john-michael_headshotVISI was a truly wonderful experience. What an opportunity to study art song in beautiful Vancouver! As I was a participant in the two-week institute, my experience was divided into two distinct sections. For the first week, we focused exclusively on Latin song, including the Italian, French, and Spanish repertoires. Our day was structured around a morning master class with Isabel Bayrakdarian, followed by coachings throughout the afternoon.

The time I spent with the VISI faculty was exemplary; I really felt that I got ample time to work with the entire faculty on diction, phrasing, collaboration, and vocal technique. In addition to my time with Ms. Bayrakdarian, I was also very fortunate to be one of four students chosen to sing for Graham Johnson in a master class dedicated to French mélodie. For this, I sang Poulenc’s Chanson d’Orkenise. We worked on character and the terraced dynamics used so frequently in Poulenc’s writing. Mr. Johnson was warm and funny, and an encouraging presence on stage. The first week concluded with a recital presenting our favourite selections from the week.

In the second week, we turned our attention exclusively to the Spanish repertoire. Ms. Bayrakdarian and pianist Serouj Kradjian were so helpful in bringing this repertoire to life as they have not only lived in Spain, but have recorded a great deal of this repertoire. Again, our days were structured around the morning master classes and afternoon coachings. Week 2 concluded with a joint recital by the students, Ms. Bayrakdarian, and Mr. Kradjian. Hearing them perform in the second half was such a gift — and how wonderful it must be to be married to your collaborative pianist!!!

Perhaps my favourite moment of the Institute was working with Rena Sharon on Poulenc’s Sanglots. She is a very special teacher who inspired me to continue to dig deeper in my emotional and musical life.

Thank you again to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for your generous support.

John-MIchael Scapin and Isabel Bayrakdarian at VISI

John-MIchael Scapin and Isabel Bayrakdarian at VISI

Elias Theocharidis, tenor - Songfest

theocharidis_elijah (elias)_headshotSongFest was my first big summer program and to say that I enjoyed it is an understatement. During the entire month of June 2016, I was one of 21 Studio Artists (and over 100 singers in all) to participate in the only North American summer voice program dedicated exclusively to art song. Held at the Colburn School of Music in downtown Los Angeles, this month for me was one of the toughest and most inspiring times of my artistic journey so far. Having just finished my first year of university and being so young, I am overjoyed to have experienced this program. It was simply an amazing thing to be part of.

While learning from and collaborating with over 30 teachers and coaches from institutions such as Juilliard (Margo Garrett, Sanford Sylvan), Mannes School of Music (Amy Burton), New England Conservatory (Karen Holvik), San Francisco Conservatory (Suzanne Mentzer), University of Michigan (Martin Katz), Glenn Gould School (Jennifer Tung), and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (William McGraw), I also got the chance to work with and witness some of America’s well-known and celebrated composers working on their own pieces. On top of all this, I discovered so many new song cycles, songs, and arias that I hope to learn one day myself!

The biggest struggle for me in my time at SongFest was getting used to and understanding the work ethic of the U.S. It was the first thing I noticed when I started. I found that we Canadians are quite polite in our own work ethic, in the idea of “tough love”. The Songfest teachers were tough and pushed us to our limits with little or no emotional boundaries whatsoever. As one professor explained to me: it is in service to the music; it’s nothing personal. They are just looking for the best possible way to honour the music to its greatest potential. We are all great artists; we just have to find the happy medium where the personal and emotional part and the structural part come into play together. We are taught to be free in the music, but in our own freedom we must find a place where we can just do everything that the composer/poet wrote on the page and nothing more. If we do not do so, what’s the use of printing the score on a piece of paper? We might as well save the trees.

It did take me the whole month to grasp this concept of working. But with the support of the amazing artists around me, I wasn’t left in the dark and forced to figure it out alone. I was one of the few students who were either Canadian or came from a Canadian university, but in our very short month together, my colleagues helped me to achieve my goals and figure out how to work in this environment. I think it was very beneficial for me to live and work in this intense, but very supportive atmosphere and to see how these ‘teaching artists’ of such stature and professionalism work.

Because of my time at SongFest, I have only increased inspiration to work harder and educate myself more to do what I am so passionate about. SongFest was an amazing program, and I have truly grown as a stronger artist as a result of everything I learned over the month-long program.

Thank you to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for helping me get to Los Angeles for a month of hard work, laughter, tears, singing, and learning.

 

At LA Opera -- La Bohème with soprano Nino Machaidze as Mimi.jpg

At LA Opera — La Bohème with soprano Nino Machaidze as Mimi

SongFest 2016 Studio Artists with Soprano Karen Holvik & Coaches Javier Arrebola & Jennifer Tung -- Photo Credit Jeanine Hill Photography

SongFest 2016 Studio Artists with Soprano Karen Holvik & Coaches Javier Arrebola & Jennifer Tung — Photo Credit Jeanine Hill Photography

songfest-2016-studio-artists-orange-group-after-song-as-a-one-act-play-with-director-edwin-cahill-pianist-jennifer-tung

SongFest 2016 Studio Artists Orange Group after Song as a One-Act Play with director Edwin Cahill & pianist Jennifer Tung

elias-theocharidis-tenor-sharing-a-laugh-with-soprano-karen-holvik-in-master-class-photo-credit-jeanine-hill-photography

Elias Theocharidis, tenor, sharing a laugh with soprano Karen Holvik in master class — Photo Credit Jeanine Hill Photography

Elias Theocharidis, tenor, performing in the Studio Artist master class with coach Martin Katz -- Photo Credit Jeanine Hill Photography

Elias Theocharidis, tenor, performing in the Studio Artist master class with coach Martin Katz — Photo Credit Jeanine Hill Photography

 Elias Theocharidis, tenor, performing in master class with soprano Karen Holvik -- Photo Credit Jeanine Hill Photography


Elias Theocharidis, tenor, performing in master class with soprano Karen Holvik — Photo Credit Jeanine Hill Photography

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