skip to Main Content

The Foundation is very pleased to have been able to support several singers during 2021.

Jillian Tam, Mezzo-Soprano – Verbier Festival Atelier Lyrique, Verbier, Switzerland

Jillian Tam, mezzo-soprano

With generous support from the Art Song Foundation, I had the pleasure of participating as the youngest singer accepted into the Atelier Lyrique at the Verbier Festival in Verbier, Switzerland. This year, twelve singers were accepted for either or both of the Atelier’s opera and song programs. We were free to choose our own repertoire and encouraged to bring a variety of songs in different languages and styles, with a specific focus on French mélodie.

This was the most enriching experience I have ever taken part in and it has contributed towards both my development as a musician and my own personal growth. My time at the festival was filled with incredible opportunities to learn and perform, including several masterclasses, a series of song recitals at the festival’s Église, and in contrast, a laid-back jazz tribute concert to celebrate the legacy of Cole Porter, which took place at the chic and classy bar Taratata in the middle of town, led by professional actor James Garnon.

Jillian Tam, mezzo-soprano, with baritone Stéphane Degout

I received daily coachings with James Baillieu, head of Atelier Lyrique’s song program as well as a Professor at the Royal Academy of Music and a coach for the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House in London England. I worked as well with Caroline Dowdle, head of Atelier Lyrique’s opera program, who also works with the singers in the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House and is a member of faculty at the Royal College of Music, and Ken Noda, former Musical Assistant to former Music Director James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera and Musical Advisor to the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. I participated frequently in public masterclasses in the Festival’s Cinema with the incredible Véronique Gens and Stéphane Degout, during which we explored Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis through a playful and artistically charged lens.

Being several years younger than my fellow colleagues, many of whom are emerging professionals in the classical music industry, I was fortunate to have been able to learn so much from them and gain extensive knowledge of life in the professional world. I received guidance from them on the steps I can take at this point in my studies to develop further as an artist and to create more opportunities for myself beyond what is available in school. The calibre of the musicians in attendance at the festival, both as students and as guest artists, is world-class and I was extremely honoured to perform alongside them.

Music at its highest level pervades this tiny, picturesque village in summertime. On any given day, I would hear several masterclasses, an outdoor performance by a string quartet at tea time, and a symphony, ballet, and opera all in one evening. It was truly incredible to witness so much excitement around this art form and to be surrounded by like-minded people who shared the same desire to express great passion.

Mezzo-soprano Jillian Tam with pianist and director of the song programme, James Baillieu

My time at the Verbier Festival was truly the most incredible of my life. I often reminisce about post-concert raclette dinners, breathtaking sunrise hikes in the Swiss Alps, and the moments of pure connection I felt among my fellow musicians, who became my dearest friends. We like to think of ourselves within the Verbier Festival community as a family, and I am so fortunate to have met this special group of people during my time here — people who continue to inspire me and the work I would like to do as an artist.

Thank you to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for making this opportunity possible for me. Please accept my sincerest gratitude for the Foundation’s support of young musicians. Art song is such a gift to me and I hope to continue learning from it for the rest of my life.

Jean-Philippe McClish, Bass-Baritone – Verbier Festival Atelier Lyrique, Verbier, Switzerland

Jean-Philippe McClish, bass-baritone

This summer, I had the chance to participate in the prestigious Verbier Festival Academy, a program where I have been able to bring my art to some summits. I am talking here not only of the beauty of the Alps, but also of the level of my singing.

Bass-baritone Jean-Philippe McClish with baritone Thomas Hampson

At the academy, I had the opportunity to work with some artists I was dreaming of working with — or even just meeting: teachers and artists such as Barbara Frittoli, Thomas Hampson, Véronique Gens, Stéphane Degout, James Baillieu, and more. I still can’t believe how much I learned this summer.

The musical level was so high and every day we could attend concerts performed at world-class levels as well as have two or three lessons a day!

It was not only about the music, but also about the majesty of the place in the middle of the Alps. Every day, going out of my apartment, I could see the eternal snow on the top of the mountains, hear the cowbells ringing, breathe such fresh air.

Bass-baritone Jean-Philippe McClish with pianist and programme director James Baillieu (L), and baritone Stéphane Degout (R)

All this helped me as well in my artistry, as they are sensations and pictures now stamped in my memory forever, images that I will be now able to transmit through my art.

All this growth and experience wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the Art Song Foundation of Canada. Yes, we need to do an audition to get accepted, to work hard and everything, but sometimes we also need support. I found this support from the Foundation. Because of their help, I was able to buy a plane ticket and some train tickets, and participate in this program in Switzerland.

So I would like to say a big thank you to all of those who support the Art Song Foundation of Canada. You make it possible for young singers like me to grow and dream.

Lillian Brooks, Mezzo-Soprano – Stratford Summer Music Academy, Stratford, Ontario

Lillian Brooks, mezzo-soprano

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for supporting my participation in the Stratford Summer Vocal Academy this past August 2021. With your generous assistance, I was able to take part in a study program that has reinvigorated my commitment to the presentation of art song, the expression of poetry, and the development of deep and meaningful relationships with fellow musicians.

During the art-song program with Stratford Summer Vocal Academy, we had the opportunity to prepare a full program of art-song repertoire with a focus on French mélodie, and workshop our pieces with industry professionals. We worked closely with Vocal Academy co-founders Emily Hamper and Phillip Addis, and with Nathalie Paulin, our resident guest artist and teacher. We also had the chance to speak candidly with Steven Philcox and Lawrence Williford, co-founders of the Canadian Art Song Project.

We had daily music lessons with Nathalie and Emily, focusing on musicianship and expression of text with musical insight. We were also given daily text-focused sessions with Phillip, during which we spoke through the poetry of our pieces and brainstormed what we could interpret from the meanings. I personally felt that having a chance to delve so deeply into all aspects of art song and recital preparation over the course of the week-long program was invaluable as a young professional in this industry.

One thing I found extremely fascinating was the discussion with Steven and Lawrence about their work with CASP. They talked with us in depth about what is important when programming a recital, the process of having new works commissioned, and how to get audiences (and musicians) excited about Canadian compositions and artists. It was this aspect of the course that I think motivated me the most; it inspired me to think about more ways I can engage in this art form besides performance.

I’ve always been curious about the process of creating new works, but never felt that it was an accessible path for me as a performer. However, I now feel that we have an obligation as performers to champion new works and to actually create the music we want to be performing. I believe that audiences can feel the tangible commitment of an artist to the works being performed, and that commitment can be enhanced exponentially if the artist has an opportunity to engage in the production of the work from its earliest stages of genesis. Especially during a time when opportunities for live performances are extremely limited, I think it is important for us to find ways to continue the development of our craft, and I believe that one way we can do that is by giving voice to meaningful stories and experiences through the creation of music.

Lillian Brooks, mezzo-soprano, with ASFC President, Catherine Robbin

I feel very grateful that organisations like the Art Song Foundation of Canada are committed to enhancing the education and development of musicians in our country. It is with your generous support that we are able to pursue knowledge on our own terms and to satisfy our need for specialized training.

I sincerely hope as well that future musicians can benefit as much as I have from participating in art-song programs around the world. With the generous assistance of the ASFC, I believe we can continue to be advocates and leaders within the industry to keep art-song performance alive and prospering. Let us always find ways to fuel the flame of artistic expression.

Lauren Estey, Soprano – Stratford Summer Music Academy, Stratford, Ontario

Lauren Estey, soprano

I am sincerely grateful to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for providing the bursary that made it possible for me to take part in the inaugural art-song intensive at the Stratford Summer Vocal Academy. This program nurtured my performance techniques and musicianship while challenging my recital programming skills.

The COVID-19 prevention measures implemented by the Stratford Summer Music Festival enabled us to work together safely. Rapid tests were self-administered every second morning and we had plenty of space to sing in safely.

Co-artistic directors Emily Hamper and Phillip Addis created a positive, supportive environment for singers, while simultaneously challenging each artist to remain curious and committed to the artistic process of art-song performance. Through the Vocal Academy, I engaged in individual and group poetry coaching, vocal coaching, masterclasses, live in-person concerts, and recording sessions.

The course was well paced, offering ample coaching time before performances. Emily and Phillip imparted great wisdom on musical detail and tempi, highlighting the importance of artistic collaboration between pianist and singer. They provided deep insight for the singer’s journey with poetry and text in art-song settings, guiding singers through spoken recitation, personal reflection, and musical context. Their dedication to the singer’s process was intelligent, sincere, refreshing, and fun.

Nathalie Paulin was consistently generous with her expertise on French mélodie, German Lied, and beyond! Her ability to discuss vocal technique, musical nuance, and the spirit of the poetry in such a direct and elegant manner brought forth immediate changes in my singing. I found this to be particularly true in our work together on Debussy’s Ariettes Oubliées. I know that this work will forever shape my approach to Debussy’s repertoire and to French mélodie as a genre.

Steven Philcox and Lawrence Wiliford facilitated a wonderful in-person presentation and discussion that covered their work with the Canadian Art Song Project, new programming techniques, and the importance of art song in the current state of the classical music world. Their suggestions made a significant impact on my understanding of how creative and daring one can be when programming art-song recitals. Steven and Lawrence provided a list of Canadian composers to consider for future projects, recommending specific composers to each singer. They offered keen insight into research methods for new repertoire, as well as the weaving together of selected repertoire (be it standard, contemporary, or both) into a meaningful programme.

Soprano Lauren Estey with Mario Pejanovic, pianist

All the Vocal Academy facilitators offered profound advice, imparted their performance expertise, and instilled a sense of great hope for the future of art song in a time of uncertainty for young singers. I will always cherish my time in Stratford and will certainly be applying the knowledge and experience gained to my upcoming recital work! I highly recommend this program to all emerging singers!

Thank you for making my studies in Stratford possible!

Christina Thanisch-Smith, Soprano – Stratford Summer Music Academy, Stratford, Ontario

Christina Thanisch-Smith, soprano

Thanks to generous support from the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I was able to devote a portion of my summer to art song by participating in Stratford Summer Music’s inaugural Art Song Program, led by Emily Hamper and Phillip Addis in Stratford, Ontario. The program consisted of daily lessons, coachings, text and poetry analysis, masterclasses, and two in-person performances of song repertoire from self-curated programs. My program included works by Handel, Debussy, Amy Beach, Berg, Kaprálová, Obradors, and Delibes.

Along with Emily and Phillip, soprano Nathalie Paulin taught and gave masterclasses throughout the program, sharing her insight and expertise on French mélodie and other song repertoire. With her, I worked on Debussy’s Ariettes Oubliées, a set of six pieces set to the poetry of Paul Verlaine.

Mid-way through the program, Steven Philcox and Lawrence Wilford, co-founders of the Canadian Art Song Project, hosted a panel discussion on programming recitals and how to include more Canadian art song in our recitals. It was an insightful and inspiring conversation, leaving all participants eager to explore the plethora of Canadian vocal/chamber works available, and how to go about commissioning new pieces.

The program culminated with two in-person performances. Thanks to Ontario’s and Stratford Summer Music’s COVID-19 protocols, including rapid testing every 48 hours, we were able to perform for incredibly appreciative audiences. The first performance was a group recital featuring works by Schubert, Debussy, Korngold, Mahler, David McIntyre, and Fauré. The second performance was of the nautical sort: an outdoor concert on Stratford Summer Music’s floating barge, which sailed along the Avon River, filling the downtown area with our music.

My participation in this program would not have been possible without the generosity of the Art Song Federation of Canada. Thank you for aiding the up-and-coming generation of Canadian musicians and providing opportunities essential for furthering our artistic developments!

Christina Thanisch-Smith, soprano, in performance with pianist and program director, Emily Hamper

Benjamin Wallace, Baritone – Stratford Summer Music Academy, Stratford, Ontario

Benjamin Wallace, baritone

It was a privilege to spend a week at the Stratford Summer Music Vocal Academy exploring the art-song genre with incredible faculty and fellow students. I’m going into my final year at Wilfrid Laurier University, which means that a graduation recital is on the horizon. This program gave me the chance to explore new repertoire, learn about programming a recital, and receive feedback that will directly affect the direction of my studies in a positive way. While making music in university can sometimes feel constricted since a final grade is on the line, this program encouraged me to feel free to experiment and stretch my understanding without consequence.

Each of the three main teachers helped me to grow as a singer and understand the genre in a completely new way, informed by their own unique perspectives. Nathalie Paulin is a brilliant pedagogue and mélodie specialist; she communicates complex ideas effortlessly and is somehow able to make each suggestion or caution feel more like a compliment. Her approach to singing is both healthy and natural, and she helps each singer to find beauty and meaning in every phrase.

Program director Emily Hamper, with baritone Benjamin Wallace

Emily Hamper has an encyclopedic knowledge of the repertoire and never fails to present students with new interpretations and ideas that make the music come alive; as a pianist, she makes the singer feel safe and invites them into an artistic partnership. Phillip Addis does just the same, inviting students to puzzle over the poetry with him and leaving us with a deeper interpretive understanding, all while enriching our technical abilities.

The Vocal Academy also gave us two performance opportunities: a finale concert featuring all six students and outdoor concerts in pairs on the Music Barge. After so many months during which concerts and recitals were scarce, this program was an important reminder of why we do what we do. I left Stratford feeling inspired and encouraged to continue to nurture my relationship with art song.

Ariane Cossette, Soprano – Orford Summer Academy, Orford, Québec

Ariane Cossette, soprano

I was fortunate to receive support from Art Song Foundation of Canada to attend a week at Orford Music Academy online, which luckily for me turned into a three-week course. While the lessons were still online this year, I learned a lot from Christian Immler, Benjamin Butterfield, and Nathalie Paulin. They all shared with me such passion for music, poetry, and life through their teaching. It was truly inspiring and it has been the highlight of my year so far.

I was very lucky to work with the amazing Nataliia Babanova as an art-song duo partner. We worked on Richard Strauss’s cycle Mädchenblumen and Franz Schubert’s Die junge Nonne. I really enjoyed the way these teachers helped us to refine our ways of using the poem and the score imagined by these composers, as well as the language itself, to create a unique interpretation of these beautiful Lieder.

I am profoundly grateful to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for their devotion to young artists interested in this specific and wonderful art form that I am so passionate about.

Back To Top
×Close search