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The Foundation helped a record number of participants attend programs in 2022 in Europe and North America. Click on the tabs below to read about the young artists’ experiences.

Olivier Bergeron, Baritone – Verbier Festival Atelier Lyrique, Switzerland

Olivier Bergeron, Baritone

Thanks to the generous support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I was able to attend the Verbier Festival Academy in Switzerland this past summer, after two years of delay because of the pandemic. My expectations were very high for this incredibly prestigious program and I am thrilled to say that they were surpassed.

I had the privilege of working in masterclasses with distinguished artists such as Thomas Hampson, Anne Sofie von Otter, Thomas Quasthoff, and James Garnon. I also had the pleasure of working on song and operatic repertoire daily with great pedagogues such as James Baillieu, Caroline Dowdle, Ken Noda, and Jonathan Ware.

Participants with Anne Sofie von Otter, centre

While in Verbier, I focused most of my energy on Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin, which I was scheduled to perform for the first time a few weeks after returning to Canada. I was able to work on it intensively for three weeks and perform excerpts of it in concert. I was also given the opportunity to perform Poulenc’s Le Bal masqué in the Verbier Festival’s UNLTD series alongside musicians from the Academy and members of the Appassionato orchestra.

Olivier Bergeron in concert with pianist James Baillieu

My experience in Verbier has allowed me to improve my technical skills and develop my craft immensely. It also enabled me to forge strong relationships with fellow young artists, as well as with accomplished musicians and artistic administrators who have taught me a great deal about music and life. I am incredibly grateful to have been able to attend the Verbier Festival Academy this summer.

Jérémie Morency, Piano – Francis Poulenc Academy, Tours, France

Jérémie Morency, Pianist

This summer, I had the great opportunity of participating in the Académie Francis Poulenc in France as pianist for mezzo-soprano Odile Portuguais and tenor Thomas Viñals. We worked with world-renowned professors François Leroux and Ingrid Perruche for the singers, and Jeff Cohen and Christian Ivaldi for the pianists, as well as Thomas Le Colleter as a poetry teacher. We had a wonderful time together at the academy, and we learned a lot of things about French mélodie, especially Victor Hugo’s poems set to music (the main theme of the academy this year) and Francis Poulenc’s music.

Each morning, we had a public masterclass with all the teachers; in the afternoon, we had private duo lessons. Since I had two duets, this format was really intense for me. It allowed me to improve my ability to adapt in order to be ready and at my best for each lesson. We also had the opportunity to perform in two concerts: one at the Chapelle Saint-Lieber in Tours after the first week, and another at Noizay’s church in the Poulenc village for the conclusion of the academy. In the afternoon before the second concert at Noizay, we took the opportunity to visit Poulenc’s house and more particularly his music room. I even had the chance to play on his own piano.

I hold very good memories of this academy, and I will keep contact with the teachers and the other students from all around the world.

I sincerely want to thank the Art Song Foundation of Canada for supporting me with a bursary this year.

Thomas Viñals, Tenor – Francis Poulenc Academy, Tours, France

Thomas Viñals, Tenor

This past August, I had the wonderful opportunity, thanks to the Foundation’s support, to take part in the Académie Francis Poulenc in Tours, France. Dedicated to the art of mélodie française, this summer program for pianist/singer duos featured leading experts who taught me much about the repertoire. Each day was filled with morning masterclasses and afternoon lessons, and there were two occasions on which the students performed in concert. We also had the chance, just before the second concert, to visit Francis Poulenc’s house in Noizay, where his music room has been preserved.

The director of the program, renowned French baritone François Le Roux, brought together a team, which included — along with himself — pianists Jeff Cohen and Christian Ivaldi, soprano Ingrid Perruche, and literary expert Thomas Le Colleter. It was very satisfying to hear all their different perspectives and opinions through our lessons and masterclasses.

Thomas Viñals in a session with pianist Jérémie Morency

M. Le Roux, who has dedicated his life to the French repertoire, is not only a treasure-trove of knowledge, but also an expert in style. I learned much about the nuance and context behind the repertoire I was singing. Messrs. Cohen and Ivaldi — although primarily there for the pianists — helped refine the music I was studying. Finally, Mme. Perruche provided me with gentle reminders of breathing and singing technique, whereas M. Le Colleter helped me dive into the French poetry and provided ample insight into the meaning of the poetic texts.

I wish to thank the Art Song Foundation of Canada for their support and hope they will carry on their great work supporting young artists interested in art song for many years.

Odile Portugais, Mezzo-Soprano – Francis Poulenc Academy, Tours, France

Odile Portugais, Mezzo-Soprano

I had an amazing time at the Académie Francis Poulenc this summer. Not only did I learn a lot about the art of French mélodie, but I also met wonderful colleagues and teachers. The city of Tours was absolutely gorgeous, and we even had the chance to visit Poulenc’s house in Noizay at the end of the Academy!

Odile Portugais at the Conservatoire Francis-Poulenc in Tours

We had masterclasses everyday, as well as two public concerts in the city. I worked on a dozen French mélodies with my pianist, Jérémie Morency, during the stay. French-repertoire specialist François Leroux (who invited me to the Academy with full tuition) was very helpful with the style and diction. I also worked with two renowned vocal coaches, Jeff Cohen and Christian Ivaldi, as well as poetry teacher Thomas LeColleter, who taught us a lot about Victor Hugo, the theme of this year’s program.

The participants and teachers of the 2022 Poulenc Academy

I came back to Montreal with my head full of wonderful memories. This was my first European experience as a singer and I can definitely say it was a turning point for me as an artist. I am extremely grateful for the Art Song Foundation’s support and I can’t wait to go back in Europe!

Danielle Girard, Soprano – Source Song Festival, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Danielle Girard, Soprano

This past summer, with the generous financial support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I had the privilege of attending Source Song Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Art song is my vocal passion, and I had spent the last year at school working exclusively on this genre; so a program just for art song was right up my alley. This was my first summer attending any sort of summer program and it was very exciting for me to be accepted to Source and to travel to the U.S. for this vibrant program.

Source Song Festival offers the unique format of producing two simultaneous programs: one for emerging composers and one for singer-piano duos. These two programs intersect in a neat way: the emerging composers compose brand-new art songs using poetry by the festivals poet-in-residence, Mary Moore Easter, and then the singer-piano duos coach and premiere these brand-new works! It was a huge thrill to perform in this concert of premieres and to hear all these new songs. There were songs that made me tear up and songs that made me laugh.

Mary Moore Easter is a compelling poet and I know that I will never forget “The Woman Who Ate Nails for Breakfast”! My pianist partner, Yihao Zhou, and I were privileged to perform “Spaces of Love” composed by Andrew Haile Austin. Andrew had been in communication with us earlier in the summer and listened to some recordings of mine and, when I received the score, I was blown away by how precisely he wrote for my voice, with such attention to clarity of text.

Source had a packed schedule with a wide variety of art-song-related activities. There were public masterclasses with artists such as Warren Jones, David Portillo, and Arlene Shrut, as well as private coachings with Ruth Palmer, Stephen Swanson, Margo Garrett, and Arlene Shrut. What I loved most about these coachings was not just the exact ideas we were working on in that moment, but also that each coach gave me something concrete to think about and actively work towards in the future. Another coaching was held with a local Minnesota composer, focussing on one of his recent works. There was also a final recital where Yihao and I performed three songs by Poulenc.

Danielle Girard in a class with Warren Jones

One entire day was devoted to poetry. Mary Moore Easter gave a talk about her life; not only is she an incredible and accomplished woman herself, she is the daughter of composer Undine Smith Moore, the well-known American composer and professor of music. There was also a panel of poets who spoke about their poetry and the experience of having their poems set to music. Another talk, “What is Art Song?”, was led by American composer Libby Larsen and mezzo-soprano and Source artistic director Clara Osowski.

There were also professional concerts to inspire us, held in the visually gorgeous and acoustically wonderful Westminster Hall. The first night featured local professional singers performing the music of Minnesota composers. Since I’m from Canada, all these composers were brand-new to me, and I enjoyed it immensely. David Portillo and Warren Jones gave an incredible recital towards the end of the week, featuring German and Spanish songs. That was a big highlight for me. Another concert featured local professional singers performing repertoire submitted by the participating emerging composers.

I could not write about my experience at Source without highlighting my wonderful piano partner, Yihao Zhou. We were paired together by Source and had not met in person before the festival, but became fast friends and used as much of our spare time as we could to rehearse our repertoire together. In the mere six days, we rehearsed over a dozen Schubert songs, all of Strauss’ Mädchenblumen, all of Poulenc’s Fiançailles pour rire, Stravinsky’s Pastorale, and our contemporary works. It was very motivating and inspiring to be paired with such a high-level and artistic musician. His work ethic and sense of humour made rehearsals an absolute joy.

Thank you to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for the incredible work you do and for supporting my participation in Source Song Festival. I left Source inspired and motivated to continue working on art song and my personal artistry.

Katherine Mayba, Soprano – Ukrainian Art Song Summer Institute, Toronto, Ontario

Katherine Mayba, Soprano

With generous support from the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study at the 2022 Ukrainian Art Song Project Summer Institute. The program took place in Toronto, Ontario, from August 24 to 28, at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music.

The Summer Institute, run by the Ukrainian Art Song Project (UASP), featured a program of intensive study of Ukrainian art songs culminating with a showcase concert. The program included daily master classes, one-on-one vocal coaching, language coaching, training with collaborative pianists, poetry seminars, performance rehearsals, and a showcase concert, Artists in Performance, at the RCM’s Temerty Theatre.

Participants of the Ukrainian Art Song program

Faculty members included tenor Benjamin Butterfield (co-director and vocal coach), Dr. Melanie Turgeon (co-director), mezzo-soprano Andrea Ludwig (vocal coach), Steven Philcox (collaborative pianist), Dr. Leanne Regehr (collaborative pianist), and Dr. Maxim Tarnawsky (guest lecturer). I worked closely with all faculty members, who provided excellent instruction and guidance on the new repertoire.  As well, I collaborated alongside seven other emerging international artists as we learned and performed together over the course of the week. Each of the eight singers in the program performed two art songs, as well as taking part in a duet and an ensemble work.

The Ukrainian art songs featured in this year’s Summer Institute included a wide range of composers, poets, and musical styles: notably romantic, impressionist, atonal, and contemporary. The art songs I performed included “By Dnipro’s Banks Along the Sands” (composed by Dmitri Klebanov, poetry by Taras Shevchenko), “Contra Spem Spero!” (composed by Yakiv Stepovy, poetry by Lesia Ukrainka), a duet “In the North, on the Cliff” (composed by Mykola Lysenko, poetry by Heinrich Heine), and an ensemble “At Night on the Burial Mound” (composed by Kyrylo Stetsenko, poetry by Boris Hrinchenko).  The commonality in the music and poetry studied was the inherent sense of longing, hope, courage, and determination, reflective of a nation’s history and people.

The goal of the UASP is to compile and promote Ukrainian art songs that have been lost due to political repression. With the current war in Ukraine, the importance of promoting Ukrainian music, language, and culture as unique and independent is now more evident than ever.  The UASP Summer Institute provides training and educational resources to artists who are then able to integrate these works into concerts and recitals, making Ukrainian art songs accessible and part of standard repertoire. The UASP Summer Institute uncovers lost works, promotes underrepresented composers and language, and demonstrates that Ukrainian culture is rich, distinctive, and resilient.

The exceptional training at the Summer Institute is matched only by the generosity of the artists and the artistic team. The quality of instruction, the wealth of knowledge shared, and the care and support the faculty offer to each artist during the artist’s journey of art song exploration are unparalleled. The program fostered a strong sense of collegiality and a common goal to promote Ukrainian art songs.

The UASP Summer Institute was an incredibly rewarding and invaluable experience. I am very grateful for the generous support given by the Art Song Foundation of Canada, which provided me with the opportunity to attend the UASP Summer Institute, pursue my love of art song, and continue to promote these outstanding pieces of music.

Taryn Plater, Mezzo-Soprano – Ukrainian Art Song Summer Institute, Toronto, Ontario

Taryn Plater, Mezzo-Soprano

I recently attended the 2022 Ukrainian Art Song Summer Institute (UASSI), held August 24 to 28 in Toronto. I have been heavily invested in Ukrainian art song since discovering the Ukrainian Art Song Project’s incredible online resources back in 2020. So to finally have the opportunity to attend their Summer Institute was very important to me.

Taryn Plater and Katherine Mayba

As a Ukrainian-Canadian, and given the current war in Ukraine, I felt a particular draw towards the program this year. I think we all knew how important our commitment to this under-appreciated repertoire was. Among the eight participants, some spoke fluent Ukrainian, some had experience only with singing the language, and others had absolutely no experience with Ukrainian language or diction. It was heartening to see so many artists of diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate and uplift this musical culture.

Working with the faculty and learning from my peers, I gained confidence in Ukrainian diction. Up until this point, I have relied on my general linguistic training and understanding of other Slavic languages’ diction. Now, my grasp of Ukrainian diction has been refined and legitimised. Having a formal understanding of the diction rules for Ukrainian will be incredibly helpful as I continue to program Ukrainian music both in my own concerts and in concerts that I produce.

We attended lectures on Ukrainian culture, history, and poetry, as well as one very special lecture given by Ksenia Stetsenko, the great-granddaughter of composer Kyrylo Stetsenko. The immediacy and detail of this background information have already begun to inform my artistic interpretation of this music and deepen my performances.

I plan to continue sharing Ukrainian art song, bolstered by the musical and linguistic training that UASSI gave me. For the coming months, I have planned a solo recital of Ukrainian art song and opera, and a digital recital featuring Ukrainian art song. Further down the line, I will be looking for funding to perform a series of duet recitals with a soprano I met through UASSI this year. I look forward to introducing singers, pianists, and audiences to Ukrainian art song, and I thank the Art Song Foundation of Canada for supporting my training.

Yanina Kosivanova, Soprano – Ukrainian Art Song Summer Institute, Toronto, Ontario

Yanina Kosivanova, Soprano

In August 2022, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to study at the Ukrainian Art Song Summer Institute, with generous support from the Art Song Foundation of Canada. The UASP Summer Institute is a week-long intensive program focused on the dramatic interpretation of Ukrainian art songs. The program included daily lessons with award-winning mezzo-soprano Andrea Ludwig and world-renowned tenor and co-director of UASSI Benjamin Butterfield, as well as coachings with collaborative pianists Steven Philcox and Leanne Regehr, and co-director and diction specialist Melanie Turgeon. Masterclasses were held in the afternoons. The program concluded with a staged concert.

This year, we were also fortunate to have Maxim Tarnawsky, a Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures in the University of Toronto, join us every afternoon as a guest lecturer to give a talk to students about the poems and poets who were featured in the Summer Institute, examining their context, poetic style, and significance.

We were privileged to welcome Ksenia Stetsenko, a great-granddaughter of Kyrylo Stetsenko, a famous Ukrainian composer whose art songs were featured in this year’s Summer Institute, to talk with us about her great-grandfather.

The program consisted of eight singers; we each performed two art songs, a duet, and an ensemble work. The two art songs I performed were “A Dream” by Vasyl Barvinsky set to a poem by Heinrich Heine and “A Bright Little Moon” by Yakiv Stepovyi set to a poem by Lesia Ukrainka. My duet was “The Wide Valley” by Mykola Lysenko set to a poem written by Taras Shevchenko in exile in 1848 at Kos-Aral, Kazakhstan, in a reminiscence of happier days back in Ukraine. Strikingly, the poem’s plot is a premonition of the fate of historian and author Mykola Kostomarov, who was a friend of Shevchenko. Like Shevchenko, Kostomarov was arrested in March 1847, just a few days before his wedding to Alina Krahelska. It was only 30 years later that Mykola and Alina, by then a widow with grown children, finally fulfilled the dream of their youth and married.

As the ensemble work, all singers were involved in Stetsenko’s “At Night on the Burial Mound”. This song pays homage to those who have fought for Ukraine in years past, and it is so applicable today as well. It is a prayer for freedom.

At the very end of our concert, we also performed “A Prayer for Ukraine” by Mykola Lysenko and everyone, including all the audience, was involved.

Participants of the Ukrainian Art Song program

The program fostered a strong sense of collegiality and a common goal to promote Ukrainian art songs. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of this wonderful and very special program. It was a very rewarding and invaluable experience. And with everything going on in Ukraine right now, it is extremely important for us as artists to show our support and promote Ukrainian art songs.

I am very proud to be a representative of the Ukrainian community here in Canada and I am very grateful for the generous support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, which provided me with the opportunity to attend the UASP Summer Institute and be part of something very special and important!

Charlotte Vigneault, Soprano – Académie du Domaine Forget, Charlevoix, Quebec

Charlotte Vigneault, Soprano

With the financial help of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I was able to attend the Académie du Domaine Forget this summer. It was a wonderful learning experience, and it will have repercussions on my journey as a singer and on my career.

Charlotte Vigneault with tenor Marc-Antoine Brûlé

The course was focused on French repertoire: mélodie and French opera arias. We had masterclasses and coachings with Alain Gauthier (stage director), Karina Gauvin (soprano), Jean-Marie Zeitouni (conductor), Jean-François Lapointe (Director at the Opéra de Québec and baritone), and Ariane Girard (contralto). We were also accompanied and coached by pianists Jean-François Mailloux, Anne-Marie Bernard, and Louise Pelletier.

Throughout the program, I worked on and performed a large part of Marie in La Fille du Régiment as a role-study experience. I also had the chance to meet and work with professionals and to expand my network a lot. I am very grateful to the Art Song Foundation for their incredible support.

The Academy participants and faculty

Hakim Boudaa, Piano – Liedkunst im Schloss, Nordfriesland, Germany

Hakim Boudaa, Pianist

Thank you very much for the Art Song Foundation of Canada’s support.

Hakim Boudaa with bass-baritone Ulf Bästlein (L), soprano Ivana Ristic (C), and the German Minister of Culture

At Liedkunst im Schloss vor Husum, I had enriching masterclasses every day with pianist Charles Spencer. Not only has he a deep knowledge and understanding of the repertoire, the poetry, and the style, he also offered precious advice on sound production for the stage. I also played masterclasses every day for singer Prof. Ulf Bästlein. His precision in teaching vocal technique is remarkable, and I now understand why singers from everywhere around the world come to study with him. He definitely gave me a better understanding of the singer’s instrument.

I arrived there with two prepared duos: baritone Felix Heuser and soprano Ivana Ristic. I worked mainly on Mahler and Grieg with Felix and on Grieg and Sibelius with Ivana. I was also paired with a singer over there: baritone Masuhiro Ohira, with whom I worked on Schubert, Schumann, and Strauss.

I also had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Roberta Alexander, the special guest for this year. She had wonderful stories and advice about the professional life.

Finally, I had the great honour of winning the Nordfriesischen Liedpreis with Ivana Ristic for our interpretation of Grieg’s Zur Rosenzeit and Sibelius’s War es ein Traum? at the closing concert. I also received the Theodor-Storm-Klavierpreis (first piano prize).

Participants of the Liedkunst program

I had a wonderful time in the beautiful city of Husum. The fish was delicious, the people were welcoming, the castle/museum was a delight for masterclasses and practising, and the teaching masters were inspiring. Thank you again, Art Song Foundation of Canada, for your support!

Lauren Estey, Soprano – Stratford Vocal Academy, Stratford, Ontario

Lauren Estey, Soprano

Thank you very much for your support through the Art Song Foundation of Canada. Through your generosity, I was able to study at the Stratford Vocal Academy’s Art Song Program. These studies granted me the time, resources, and mentorship to hone my music performance and language skills.

During my time at the Art Song Academy, I devoted my studies to the beloved mélodies of Gabriel Fauré, as well as two song cycles: Ian Cusson’s Le Récital des anges, and Michael Tippet’s The Heart’s Assurance. These selections facilitated great attention to the mastery of French diction, as well as the chance to experiment with a hybrid of British received and mid-Atlantic English diction. Ian Cusson’s and Michael Tippet’s song cycles were a great challenge to execute as a collaborative duo! My life partner and collaborative pianist, Ivan Jovanovic, and I had a wonderful time discovering this music. We were thrilled to have the guidance of Phillip Addis and Emily Hamper for their collaborative expertise, passion for performance excellence, poetic insight, and artistic support.

The program also provided private coaching and masterclasses with soprano Nathalie Paulin and tenor John Tessier. Both professors were enthusiastic, generous, and supportive, and offered great attention to detail and finesse.

Lauren Estey in an outdoor performance with pianist Ivan Jovanovic

We also had the opportunity to participate in a round table about our recital concepts with the artistic directors of the Canadian Art Song Project and to discuss the creation of meaningful and engaging recitals, from musical performance to programme design. Steven Philcox and Lawrence Wiliford provided wonderful resources (recordings, recital documents, and example programmes) to further inspire the participants.

I could not recommend this experience enough and am very thankful to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for making these studies possible! This program helped me to shape and fully realize a very important upcoming recital in a most enjoyable, healthy, and artistically encouraging atmosphere.

Gavin Yeomans, Piano – Stratford Vocal Academy, Stratford, Ontario

Gavin Yeomans, Pianist

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Art Song Foundation of Canada for the grant provided to me, which enabled me to attend Stratford Summer Music’s Vocal Academy as a collaborative pianist during their Art Song week. I learned a tremendous amount while participating in this program. Some of the areas in particular were:

-Constructing a program that is enticing for audiences:
•The advice given during a round-table discussion led by the Vocal Academy founders helped my vocal partner and me create a more interesting structure for our program. It encouraged us to think more deeply about the songs we selected and how we can relate them to one another.

-Working extensively one-on-one with a vocalist:
•Before taking part in this vocal academy, I had never had an opportunity to work on a program of this scale with a single vocalist. The length of this program provided us with ample opportunity to achieve a high level of performance in the pieces we presented.

-The relationship between poetry and music in art song:
•This experience broadened our understanding of the connection between the poetic lyrics of the songs and the music accompanying them, and how to emphasize these connections in the presentation of a work.

Gavin Yeomans and soprano Andrea Willis in an outdoor recital

In addition to working with Artistic Directors Emily Hamper and Phillip Addis, we had the opportunity to work with professional singers Nathalie Paulin and John Tessier. During lessons and masterclasses with these world-class performers, we were able to ask them questions about their careers and seek advice for our own.

During the Vocal Academy, we had three opportunities to perform for audiences. Two were outdoors on a barge by the Avon River. The finale was a matinee concert in the Avondale performance space used by Stratford Summer Music. This variety of settings provided a good range of experience about how to perform effectively in different environments. I have attached two photographs from our performances: one from the barge and one from the Avondale. Both photos feature my duo partner, Andrea Willis, and me.

Again, I want to thank you for assisting me in this opportunity. I know that this experience will really help me as I continue to pursue my goal of a career in collaborative music.

Wesley Harrison, Tenor – Barachois Summer Music Academy, New Brunswick

Wesley Harrison, Tenor

This summer I had the great opportunity of attending the Barachois Summer Music Academy to work on my craft with teachers, as well as to take part in performances in Eastern Canada. As a recent graduate starting a career in music, I found the experience to be quite fulfilling and beneficial to my growth. The insights each professor offered were very useful, and each professor’s teaching complemented the other quite nicely.

The faculty were able to address my needs quite efficiently and offer many tools that I know I will be using in my singing for many years. I also greatly appreciated the guests they brought in to speak with us about different aspects of a career in music. As this is quite a big transition in my life at the moment, I found it to be very useful in helping me come up with a plan and an idea of how I might nurture my career in music and create a future for myself as an artist.

Wesley Harrison with pianist Elisabeta Cojocaru

This program also served as a wonderful opportunity to make connections with different young singers and musicians in my field. I know I will still be in contact with many of them in the coming years. The performance opportunities were also greatly appreciated as we were able to refine a set of songs that we could then perform in a variety of venues and cities. This gave me many chances to integrate what I learned in the program into my performance, as well as a glimpse into what it is like to give recitals in several venues over a short period.

Overall, I feel that I have benefited greatly from attending this program and I am very grateful for the financial aid provided by the Art Song Foundation of Canada, which made it possible for me to be there. I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone who is beginning the transition from student to a young artist.

Gabrielle Côté-Picard, Soprano – Barachois Summer Music Academy, New Brunswick

Gabrielle Côté-Picard, Soprano

Gabrielle Côté-Picard in recital with pianist Elisabeta Cojocaru

This program was truly amazing and definitely built up my confidence as a professional singer. Our program consisted of daily lessons with coaches Laura Loewen and Julien Leblanc, as well as voice teachers Nathalie Paulin and Monica Whicher from the University of Toronto. I felt validated in my abilities while learning to tweak my technique (breath control, mouth position, and diction work). I learned a lot about the value of delivering a text in one’s mother tongue from the poetry classes and I enjoyed the masterclass as well as the various opportunities to showcase what I had learned in the daily lessons. Being assigned one student pianist allowed us to create a bond quickly, to learn quickly how to use the skills from our masters, and to trust our abilities when there is a time crunch in a professional setting.

Elisabeta Cojocaru, Piano – Barachois Summer Music Academy, New Brunswick

Elisabeta Cojocaru, Pianist

As an aspiring collaborative pianist, I found the Barachois Summer Music Vocal Arts Academy to be an immeasurably enriching program providing a wonderful musical community fostered by a welcoming and nurturing faculty. Having completed my master’s degree during the pandemic, my greatest longing was for the sense of community and camaraderie that forms through collaborative music and performance.

Elisabeta Cojocaru in recital with tenor Wesley Harrison

Located in Moncton, New Brunswick, the intensive ten-day program for young singers and collaborative pianists aims to bridge the gap between academic study and professional careers through the study of art song. There is a clear focus on helping emerging artists identify their professional goals and realize the many ways of using their artistry within the performing arts. This environment provided the amazing opportunity to nurture relationships with other artists with whom I’ve now developed lifelong musical friendships.

I was offered many opportunities to work with various esteemed faculty members. I received daily coachings and masterclasses with sopranos Nathalie Paulin & Monica Whicher, as well as pianists Laura Loewen & Julien LeBlanc. With their mentorship, as well as daily poetry and diction classes, I’ve been able to learn valuable skills that have helped solidify my understanding of the role and importance of a collaborative pianist.

The part of the program that struck me most was the focus on exploring unique and little-known repertoire. The ability to share and perform these works in various venues across the Maritimes allowed me to challenge my artistic creativity and flexibility in a performance setting.

I want to sincerely thank the Art Song Foundation of Canada for their generous contribution to my development and growth as a young artist. Barachois plays an integral role in fostering the musical culture of Canada, and the need for programs such as these has become increasingly vital due to the pandemic. This program promotes community engagement through music and, to me, this musical generosity truly defines what it means to be a musician in a post-pandemic world.

Kristen English, Soprano – Barachois Summer Music Academy, New Brunswick

Kristen English, Soprano

My experience at l’Été musicale de Barachois / the Barachois Summer Music Academy from July 29 to August 7, 2022, was a transformative one. In just ten days, I prepared and performed from memory five songs that I had learned just a month before. Leading up to our three-day tour, I was privileged to attend voice lessons with incredible teachers, Nathalie Paulin and Monica Whicher, as well as coachings from the brilliant Laura Loewen and Julien Leblanc. Additionally, I had the opportunity to attend invaluable workshops on diction, poetry, and career development at l’Université de Moncton, as well as a splendid masterclass with Nathalie Paulin at L’Église historique de Barachois, for which I sang one of my absolute favourite songs, “Apparition” by Claude Debussy from his set of four songs, Quatre chansons de jeunesse. One of the best features of this program is its emphasis on chamber ensemble work. I was fortunate to be able to spend many hours learning and practising with my colleague, pianist Elisabeta Cojocaru, who performed with me in each concert.

I have a deep passion for studying and performing art song, and French song in particular is my favourite type of music to explore. I chose to attend the program in Barachois because it gave me the opportunity to dive deep into five songs by composers outside the typical classical canon, four of whom I was not familiar with before the program.

Kristen English performing with pianist Elisabeta Cojocaru

Before the program began, I was offered a lovely selection of possible songs to choose from, which allowed me to take the time to explore some composers who were new to me. Having recently begun working on some of Lili Boulanger’s music, I was delighted to be able to perform another one of her pieces from her set of thirteen songs, Clairières dans le ciel. I quickly became enamoured with the deeply passionate songs of Mel Bonis and the lively folk-like quality of Lionel Daunais’ music. In contrast, I felt challenged by the music of Jacques Hétu and inspired to attempt one of the harmonically complex songs from his set of five songs for voice and orchestra, Les clartés de la nuit.

I love planning recitals and putting together sets of songs; so I was grateful to have the opportunity to build a set of songs that I found to be contrasting, challenging, beautiful, and fun. I was also fortunate to sing Émile Paladilhe’s lovely duet “Au bord de l’eau” with one of my accomplished colleagues.

The program was certainly not lacking in intensity, and I felt challenged to apply new technical and interpretative knowledge as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our final product was a concert program in which each of the six members of the emerging-artist cohort sang five songs. The three-day concert tour — which included recitals in Barachois, New Brunswick, St. John, NB, and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island — was certainly tiring following seven days of intense work including a full dress rehearsal, but the result was immensely rewarding and rich with both personal and artistic growth.

I gave the following program notes at each show (half presented in French for the performance in Barachois):

“Sauvez-moi de l’amour” by prolific late Romantic French composer Mel Bonis is from a set of three songs called Trois mélodies pour tenor. The poetic text by French poet Maurice Bouchor describes a desire to be released from the clutches of a complicated, overwhelming, and all-encompassing romantic relationship.

“Deux ancolies” is from a set of thirteen songs called Clairières dans le ciel by French composer Lili Boulanger. The text, by French poet Francis Jammes, though on the surface about two doves, tells of the deep connection that can be formed between two people when they share their vulnerabilities with one another.

“Soir d’hiver” is the fifth in a set of five songs called Les clartés de la nuit by Canadian composer Jacques Hétu. This song evokes an atmosphere of isolation and deep despair. Our heroine is watching the snow fall as she reflects on the pain and desolation of her life.

“Le diable dans la nuit” is by Québécois composer and baritone Lionel Daunais. This rollicking story comes form Québécois folklore and serves as a warning to ill-mannered lovers that the devil is always watching.

I am immensely grateful to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for their support. The generosity of this important organisation helped to make my attendance at this program possible.

Jenine Evans, Piano – Barachois Summer Music Academy, New Brunswick

Jenine Evans, Piano

With the support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I had the privilege of participating in the Barachois Summer Music Academy, based at the University of Moncton campus in New Brunswick, from July 29 to August 7, 2022. In the Emerging Artist Program, there were two pianists including myself and six singers. I was responsible for working with three of the singers to learn half a concert program of French and English Art Song by Canadian composers and lesser-known composers.

Throughout the program, I faced and overcame many challenges that helped shape me into a better musician. One of the challenges was that the repertoire was all new to me. That meant that, in order to learn it in a relatively short time before the program started, I became much more efficient at planning and executing my practice. Another challenge I faced with this repertoire is that there were no recordings available for some of the pieces. As a result, my singer and I worked even more closely with the score and text to form our own interpretations. The third challenge I encountered was working with singers with different voice types, and so I learned to listen, adapt, and balance in a more refined way.

Jenine Evans with soprano Danielle Girard

During most days of the Barachois Summer Music Academy’s Emerging Artist Program, I played in six coachings a day, led by pianists Julien LeBlanc and Laura Loewen and sopranos Nathalie Paulin and Monica Whicher. These teachers provided expert advice in a nurturing and supportive environment. In addition to coachings, I had the opportunity to attend talks on diction, poetry, and navigating the professional music world.

After several busy days of collaborating and learning, the Emerging Artist group set out to perform on three consecutive days in three different towns: Barachois, St. John, and Charlottetown. During this mini-tour, I developed my ability to adjust to a new setting and instrument, to improve each performance of the same repertoire, and to maintain my performance endurance.

Amongst all the hard work at the Barachois Summer Music Academy, there were also many opportunities to relax and enjoy the East Coast, with outings to the beach and dinners with the other members of the program.

I am so grateful for the connections and friends I made, as well as the knowledge and experience I acquired at the Barachois Summer Music Academy. It has truly prepared me to pursue my Master’s degree in collaborative piano and to dip into the professional life of an accompanist.

Thank you to the Art Song Foundation of Canada and its donors for helping make this incredible experience possible!

Robyn Perry, Soprano – Barachois Summer Music Academy, New Brunswick

Robin Perry, Soprano

With the support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I was able to spend ten days in Barachois, New Brunswick, as an Emerging Artist at the Academy of the Été Musical de Barachois. This program, which was taught by pianists Julien LeBlanc and Laura Loewen, as well as singers Nathalie Paulin and Monica Whicher, combined private lessons with masterclasses and a recital tour in the Maritime provinces.

This program was of particular interest to me because it focused primarily on the works of underrepresented composers, such as female and BIPOC composers, Canadian works, and duets. This allowed me to study and perform new and interesting works, including Calixa Lavallée’s Andalouse, Isabelle Aboulker’s La Princesse au petit pois, and Richard Thompson’s Love’s Apotheosis from his song cycle The Shadow of Dawn, with pianist Jenine Evans.

The first six days of the program were spent rehearsing and benefitting from daily coachings and voice lessons. The faculty were kind and enthusiastic, and really attentive to each student’s specific goals. On top of the musical work, we did workshops with Julien LeBlanc and Laura Loewen in poetry and diction, and conferences and Q&A sessions with mezzo-soprano Christianne Bélanger on living and performing abroad and contralto Rose Naggar-Tremblay on personal branding. We were also invited to perform repertoire of our choice in a masterclass with Nathalie Paulin, and I took the opportunity to perform a piece that I will sing in auditions for the next few years.

Robyn Perry in recital with pianist Jenine Evans

Following these days of studying, we performed back-to-back recitals, first in Barachois, then in St. John, New Brunswick, and finally in Charlottetown, PEI. Performing the repertoire several times presented a unique learning opportunity; we learned more about ourselves and about our repertoire each time we performed in front of a different audience, and we were able to improve different aspects of our performances as we went along. For many of us who hadn’t been able to perform live as frequently as usual during the COVID-19 pandemic, this was a welcome challenge.

During this program, I was able to benefit from the teachings of many great artists and also gain trust in my own artistic instincts. I cannot thank the Art Song Foundation and its donors enough for this gift! Mille mercis au Art Song Foundation of Canada et aux donateurs généreux pour le soutien que vous offrez aux jeunes artistes du pays!

Anika-France Forget, Soprano – Lied Festival Zeist, Holland

Anika-France Forget, Soprano

Approaching the end of a degree and finally obtaining a diploma often brings its share of questions: What should I do next? Should I keep going? As I was completing the last months of a Master of Music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, UK, I was happy to see that Europe offered numerous Young Artist Programs, competitions, and music festivals.

My stage partner, pianist Rosane Lajoie, and I had set our hopes on Zeist’s coveted art-song program and we were overjoyed to learn that we were one of the six duos selected to spend a whole week in the magnificent Slot Zeist’ Moravian Church. There, we would learn from the best in the industry — world-established artists like soprano Elly Ameling, bass-baritone Robert Holl, baritone Roderick Williams, and pianist and Grammy Award-nominee Hans Eijsackers.

Each day consisted of two public masterclasses in which we would perform and enter the imaginative worlds of Schubert, Brahms, and Mendelssohn. Our own chosen repertoire for this program included several demanding Lieder based on a specific theme: Auf Flügeln des Gesanges (On Wings of Song). We were asked to put our focus on performing and polishing every detail marked by the composers. Rosane and I were able to create meaningful connections and offered haunting and breathtaking atmospheres to which audiences could then respond; spectators were encouraged to share their thoughts and to give us profitable feedback.

Every evening, after a long day of work, we were rewarded with a concert featuring many world-class guest artists, including Louise Alder, James Baillieu, Henk Neven, Iain Burnside, and Stéphane Degout. On the last day of the festival, all six duos were invited to showcase our efforts and overall progress in a concluding recital.

Anika France-Forget working with Robert Holl

We were billeted for the week with a charming couple who live just down the road from the festival’s music centre. They made sure we were immersed in Dutch culture, and we were fortunate enough to taste some of the Netherland’s white asparagus at supper time — a delicacy!

Finally, our diligent work throughout the week did not go unnoticed: I am delighted to announce that I will be taking part in an international private program in the fall of 2022. Needless to say, I could not have made these great and significant contacts without the help of the Art Song Foundation of Canada. Your generosity has enabled me to further my musical knowledge and to pursue my passion for the arts at the highest level. Thank you!

Rosane Lajoie, Piano – Lied Festival Zeist, Holland

Rosane Lajoie, Pianist

Thanks to the generous support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I was able to attend the series of masterclasses for Lied duos at the International Lied Festival in the Netherlands. Located in the beautiful town of Zeist, this week-long academy provided a unique experience for my duo partner, soprano Anika-France Forget, and me to learn from world-class artists and teachers: Elly Ameling, Robert Holl, Iain Burnside, Hans Eijsackers, and Roderick Williams.

Anika-France Forget (L)
Elly Ameling
Rosane Lajoie (R)

During the Festival, Anika and I worked in depth on a program of songs by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Caplet, and Ravel. Not only did we perform in two public masterclasses every day, but we also had workshops on diction and acting, attended conferences on Heine and Brahms, were inspired by several concerts during the evenings, and performed in the final recital. At the end of this intense week, we were delighted to realize how our interpretation of many songs had evolved in radically different directions, thanks to the new insights every teacher shared with us. The highlights of our stay were definitely our sessions with Elly Ameling, who was truly supportive and generous with us.

Our stay in the Netherlands also proved to be a heart-warming experience on a personal level. We had the chance to build genuine relationships with our host families, share ideas with our fellow participants, benefit from the beauty and calm of the surroundings, and connect with the members of the public attending the masterclasses, who encouraged us and witnessed our evolution until the final concert.

This very intense and rewarding experience helped us to evolve and grow stronger as a duo, and proved to be the best way to prepare us for our following concerts in London. We both look forward to pursuing our collaboration next year in Canada, and we are grateful to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for allowing us to have this meaningful experience.

Gina Lee, Piano – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Gina Lee, Pianist

Attending SongFest 2022 for its inaugural session at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music was a one-of-a-kind learning experience. It was rigorous and fast-paced, and kept the participants busy with daily masterclasses, coachings, seminars, and performances. As a pianist participant, I am very grateful that this program allowed me to work with two of the most respected artists in the field of art-song performance: Professor Martin Katz and Professor Graham Johnson. Playing for these two artists was nerve-wracking, but learning from their direct feedback, expertise, and love for the songs was inspiring and gave me many ideas and tools to use in my own interpretations. One of my most cherished moments would be listening to Prof. Johnson’s playing of the opening prelude to Schubert’s beloved Im Frühling (D. 882); the beauty of his sound and his inconceivable pacing of the music truly moved me and showed how touching and beautiful Schubert’s music can be, when played with the right tempo and sound quality.  As I reflect on his performance, I still get goosebumps and I will cherish that moment as long as I can for its inspiration.

Gina Lee working with Graham Johnson

Additionally, I had opportunities to work with other faculty members, including the many resident composers. Some highlights included coachings from Jake Heggie and John Musto on their songs for performances. Listening to their personal inspiration and the stories behind the pieces had an immediate and significant influence on my playing, and I am very grateful that I have had the privilege of working with these esteemed composers of art songs.

Lastly, I was most impressed by my colleagues, who all overcame the challenges and busy schedules of SongFest and gave inspiring performances. Due to the nature of the scheduling, students were given only a few days’ notice —at times, a day at most — of a performance, but that reality would have been unbelievable to those in the audience, thanks to the command and high level of artistry shown by the student performers. I learned something from every performance I heard and every participant I met.

I am indebted to this experience of attending SongFest for the deepened appreciation I have for the art-song repertoire and for the inspiration I received from the musicians around me. I am extremely grateful to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for their generous support in allowing me to take part in this year’s SongFest program.

Alex Wang, Piano – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Alex Wan, Pianist

SongFest was an exciting, enriching, and educational experience. It presented me with a wide variety of opportunities in which many new doors were opened for me as a collaborative pianist performing song. Each and everyday was jam-packed with large masterclasses with senior faculty, smaller group classes, and one-on-one coaching sessions.

The knowledge of all the amazing faculty at the program was made available to us through all the classes and coachings we were provided with. I was able to work with some of the very best in the field of accompanying song and being able to listen to them play up close was extremely inspirational. Some highlights included performing in masterclasses with Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, and Kayo Iwama, learning all the new repertoire assigned to me by the partners I worked with, coaching Jake Heggie’s and Libby Larsen’s music with the composers themselves, and finally listening to all the talented performers at the program.

Alex Wang with soprano Anna Wojcik

Away from all the practice and guided classes, there were also many well-curated concerts to attend. They featured not only attendees of the program, but also exciting guest artists. Ample time was also provided to explore the beautiful city of San Francisco. It was truly special to be around song and such profound artistry 24/7.

The sheer concentration of musicians dedicated to art song allowed for experiences that would have been impossible to conceive of outside the program. I walked away with an enormous amount of information and new ideas that I look forward to continuing to digest in the coming months. SongFest ignited in me a new spark of interest and a love for song that will continue to guide me through my musical journey.

Alyssa Bartholomew, Soprano – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Alyssa Bartholomew, Soprano

Thanks to generous support from the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I was able to spend the month of June studying art song as a Young Artist at SongFest at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The program consisted of weekly lessons, coachings, masterclasses, forums, and concerts. Right from the get-go, we jumped into jam-packed days full of wonderful collaboration. Though it was intense at times, the program pushed me to new heights as an artist.

During my time at SongFest, I had the opportunity to study with Lorraine Manz, as well as have weekly coachings and small-group masterclasses with various teachers such as Mark Trawka, Javier Arrebola, Grant Knox, Liza Stepanova, and Jennifer Tung, to name just a few. Every day there were various masterclasses where you were either performing or auditing. The weeks full of Graham Johnson and Martin Katz masterclasses were truly remarkable. With Graham Johnson’s extensive knowledge of Schubert Lieder and Martin Katz’s incredible precision in deciphering text, there are no words to explain how much I learned.

Alyssa Bartholomew at SongFest

Throughout the three weeks, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to perform in masterclasses with Martin Katz, Kayo Iwama, Javier Arrebola, and composer Libby Larsen. Performing “Bucking Bronco” from her famous Cowboy Songs was a standout moment for me. Getting to workshop Libby’s work with her was inspiring to say the least. Each composer in residence had forums, concerts, and masterclasses that showcased their life and works. Hearing stories from composers John Musto, Sheila Silver, Jake Heggie, David Conte, Libby Larsen, and John Harbison was an experience I’ll never forget. A pre-eminent moment was the concert in which Jake Heggie and Fredrica von Stade performed together. Watching those two was truly magical.

Outside the classroom, I got to spend time with all the other wonderful artists who came to SongFest from around the world. Being right in the heart of the city, we always made sure that we found time to explore the beautiful streets of San Francisco. As a group, we had the chance to see Don Giovanni at the San Francisco Opera and it was truly a night to remember.

It was a delight to visit California for the first time, and I would like to extend my thanks once again to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for their support in this incredible adventure. I was able to make many new contacts and experience artistry at the highest level, which will stay with me for the rest of my musical journey.

Alexa Frankian, Soprano – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Alexa Frankian, Soprano

Thanks to the generous support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I was able to attend the enriching SongFest program in San Francisco, CA, for the month of June as a Colburn Fellow and the youngest singer in this year’s prestigious Professional Program. SongFest is both humbling and invigorating — talking directly with composers, meeting your tribe, being invited to learn and perform new music on the fly, making new friends from both sides of the border, expanding my network, and being surrounded by so much artistry and passion.

SongFest brings together a faculty of so many outstanding singers, pianists, and composers: Frederica von Stade, Amy Burton, César Ulloa, Martin Katz, Graham Johnson, Liza Stepanova, John Musto, Libby Larsen, Sheila Silver, Jake Heggie, and more. The transformative experiences I had at SongFest, thanks to all these artists, are simply too many to list. So let me offer just two.

Alexa Frankian with Martin Katz

During my first week at SongFest, I took part in three masterclasses with the fabulous Martin Katz: everything from Donizetti to Mahler to Tchaikovsky. Thanks to Martin, for the rest of my life, I shall remember the proper approach to double consonants!

Then, thanks to the amazing César Ulloa, I had the most fabulous voice lesson and game-changing experience. In just a couple of minutes, he was able to change my singing; he guided me to introduce more colour and create a more powerful sound, and brightened my vowels at the same time! It was one of those experiences that you only ever read about. Let’s just say that, when my mother heard me sing her favourite song after I came back to Toronto, she said, “Whoa! What just happened here? That is so powerful!”

I also had the privilege of performing a number of times during SongFest. During the gala that marked the end of the first week, I had the honour, pleasure, and privilege of performing with, and for, both Jake Heggie and Frederica von Stade. At Jake Heggie’s fabulous concert to end the second week, I sang the powerful and dramatic Marian Anderson’s Mink Coat. We also performed in a mock-audition masterclass for Mark Trawka, Michele Patzakis, and Jennifer Tung, who opened our eyes to powerful and practical tips for a successful audition preparation that helps land the job.

I shall forever be grateful to the Art Song Foundation of Canada, to the fabulous visionary Rosemary Hyler Ritter, SongFest’s Artistic Director, and to the esteemed team of SongFest 2022 teachers, coaches, guides, mentors, and administrators, for making this all possible. I can’t say it enough: you continue to inspire the next generation of singers. Thank you one more time for your generous sponsorship and for believing in me. SongFest truly has been an invigorating program and a big part of my growth as an artist.

Abigail Sinclair, Soprano – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Abigail Sinclair, Soprano

I received a bursary from the Art Song Foundation of Canada to study at SongFest 2022, hosted by the San Francisco Conservatory in California. As a member of the Young Artist program there, I had two weekly lessons with Amy Burton, who is on faculty at both the Juilliard School and the Mannes School of Music. I also had coaching sessions with Jennifer Tung from the Glenn Gould School and Javier Arrebola. My sessions with these three faculty members in particular were exceptionally helpful and made me feel both supported and inspired. I also thoroughly enjoyed my time working with pianist Mark Trawka, Director of Musical Studies at the Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Training Program. Our focussed work on arias was invaluable, and I later had the chance to perform “Tornami a vagheggiar” with him in a special arias concert featuring Jake Heggie and Frederica von Stade.

During my time at SongFest, I had many wonderful opportunities for collaboration and performance. I was very privileged to work with some truly exceptional young collaborative pianists performing works by Schubert, Lili Boulanger, Ravel, and more. My fellow Canadian pianist Hyunmin Lee and I were able to coach a piece by Jake Heggie with the composer himself, as well as receive feedback from an acting coach. Performing works by living composers is something I am deeply passionate about; so having the opportunity to meet and work with Jake Heggie on his music was truly a dream come true!

The highlight of my time at SongFest, though, was premiering the 2022 Sorel Commission by American composer Juhi Bansal. Each year, through the Sorel Organization, SongFest commissions a new work to be premiered as part of the festival. Before the program begins, I had several Zoom sessions with Juhi to discuss her piece: “Love, Loss and Exile” for soprano, piano, and cello. The text for this five-part song cycle was taken from Landays, which are short, anonymous poems passed down orally through generations of women in Afghanistan. They deal largely with themes of war, grief, love, and displacement. Working closely with Juhi on this very special cycle was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life, and we hope to collaborate again in the future!

Abigail Sinclair with pianist Mark Trawka

The bursary from the Art Song Foundation of Canada made all of this possible, and I am so grateful for their generosity. I will carry what I learned at SongFest with me for the rest of my life and career. It is truly a blessing to come from a musical community that is so supportive of young artists like me and strives to make life-changing opportunities like attending SongFest a reality.

SongFest was an exciting, enriching, and educational experience. It presented me with a wide variety of opportunities in which many new doors were opened for me as a collaborative pianist performing song. Each and everyday was jam-packed with large masterclasses with senior faculty, smaller group classes, and one-on-one coaching sessions.

The knowledge of all the amazing faculty at the program was made available to us through all the classes and coachings we were provided with. I was able to work with some of the very best in the field of accompanying song and being able to listen to them play up close was extremely inspirational. Some highlights included performing in masterclasses with Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, and Kayo Iwama, learning all the new repertoire assigned to me by the partners I worked with, coaching Jake Heggie’s and Libby Larsen’s music with the composers themselves, and finally listening to all the talented performers at the program.

Away from all the practice and guided classes, there were also many well-curated concerts to attend. They featured not only attendees of the program, but also exciting guest artists. Ample time was also provided to explore the beautiful city of San Francisco. It was truly special to be around song and such profound artistry 24/7.

The sheer concentration of musicians dedicated to art song allowed for experiences that would have been impossible to conceive of outside the program. I walked away with an enormous amount of information and new ideas that I look forward to continuing to digest in the coming months. SongFest ignited in me a new spark of interest and a love for song that will continue to guide me through my musical journey.

Emily Rocha, Soprano – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Emily Rocha, Soprano

Thanks to the generous support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I was fortunate to attend SongFest in San Francisco, California, as a Colburn Fellow. These three weeks were utterly transformative for my musicianship, confidence, vocal technique, and knowledge of the vast art-song repertoire.

During the first week, I had the pleasure of working with renowned pianist Martin Katz on works by Mahler, Wolf, and Verdi for several masterclasses; he inspired deeper nuance in each piece. The first week concluded with a gala concert featuring Frederica von Stade and Jake Heggie, in which several participants were chosen to perform. I sang Sheila Silver’s “Love is a magic ray” (On Loving) directly following performances by Flicka and Heggie.

During my time at SongFest, I had the valuable opportunity to work with several composers, particularly Sheila Silver. Her works are filled with colour, life, and innovation; so I was particularly motivated to learn and perform two of her pieces: “Love is a magic ray” (On Loving), and “Recuerdo” (Beauty Intolerable). This led to my participation in the West Coast premiere of the complete Beauty Intolerable songbook, prepared with Sheila Silver and Curt Branom. Later, I coached and performed “Goodnight” (Newer Every Day) in a concert celebrating Jake Heggie’s works. Additionally I coached “Prologue: from Lauda” (Milosz Songs) with its composer, John Harbison.

(L–R) Canadians Alyssa Bartholomew, Abigail Sinclair, Emily Rocha, Sarah Richardson, and Alexa Frankian at SongFest in San Francisco

In the second week, we had the honour of working with Graham Johnson in his masterclass series, during which I had opportunities to perform works by Schubert and Poulenc for two masterclasses. A concert celebrating Eastern European music allowed me the opportunity to perform a Polish song for the first time: “The Barely Golden Sun” by Szymanowski. This week culminated in a curated Schubert lecture-recital led by Graham Johnson in which I had the honour of beginning the program with “Gretchen am Spinnrade”, chosen by Mr. Johnson himself. Hearing this legendary man speak about Schubert’s life and works as though they knew one another inspired me to continue a lifelong journey exploring Lieder.

The final week entailed numerous coachings, lessons, and rehearsals, and lots of listening, which I find to be of equal value to personal work. The week ended with a fabulous cabaret concert curated by Amy Burton and John Musto in which I portrayed Mozart in Reynaldo Hahn’s “Être adoré”.

While at SongFest, I had countless valuable opportunities to work with renowned teachers, coaches, singers, pianists, and composers. Not only was this an unbelievable chance to network, but it was also a life-altering musical experience packed into such a short time. I have been inspired beyond words and changed as an artist forever.

Jeffery Liu, Tenor – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Jeffery Liu, Tenor

With my scholarship from the Art Song Foundation, I was able to attend Songfest in San Francisco. The memories I share with countless peers will forever have an influence on my success as an artist and a person. During the month-long program, I enjoyed daily masterclasses. The ones that had the most influence on me were the ones that Martin Katz taught. The level of skill demonstrated by the professional performers was jaw-dropping. The amount of new repertoire I soaked in has greatly influenced my baroque tendencies. Thanks to these masterclasses, I have explored beyond the common repertoire that I had been coasting in and entered the world of contemporary repertoire.

In addition to these masterclasses, I was given private and group lessons with Jennifer Tung and Grant Knox. The lessons I had with them developed my understanding of high notes, the intention with strophic music, and sustainability. There were also musical theatre coachings with Michele Patzakis, Devon Gurthie, and Mark Alderson, which took me on a journey that I had thought was out of my grasp. They taught me about the modernization of rhythm and how the beat of every single note doesn’t have to be exact. These coachings led to two extraordinary concerts that I had a blast taking part in.

Canadians Jeffrey Liu (L), and Gwyneth Rix (R)

Outside of the program, I enriched myself in the beauty of San Francisco. I visited Pier 39, a fabulous pier with many attractions, my colleagues and I visited lots of excellent restaurants, and I went to a total of two operas. The first was a contemporary work called Dreams of a Red Chamber written by Bright Sheng. It was a completely immersive experience and it brought me in touch with my Chinese roots. The second opera was Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which everyone in the SongFest program loved.

Overall, Songfest in San Francisco was an enlightening experience that taught me about myself as well as about my voice. The teachers were excellent and the experience was beneficial to my success as a young artist. I am very grateful for the scholarship given me by the Art Song Foundation.

Daria Tereshchenko, Soprano – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Daria Tereshchenko, Soprano

With the generous support of the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I spent this past July at SongFest in San Francisco. Throughout the three weeks of the program, I was able to learn an incredible amount about the interpretation of art-song repertoire and new approaches to the technical challenges I face.

During these weeks, there were daily masterclasses with faculty such as Martin Katz, Graham Johnson, Kayo Iwama, and Javier Arrebola. I was exposed to new repertoire and to an intense and detailed approach to composers’ music and their styles. As a student in the Studio Artist level (the youngest level of singers in this program), I found it inspiring to hear the Young Artist and Professional Artist singers perform during these masterclasses. These daily masterclasses were very helpful and applicable to my own repertoire. I had the opportunity to sing in two masterclasses: the Russian Song masterclass with Martin Katz and the English Song masterclass with Graham Johnson. Through one-on-one lessons and coachings with a few of the faculty members, I felt a great improvement in both my technique and the repertoire I arrived with.

Daria Tereshchenko in performance at SongFest

Many concerts took place every week. Of these, I sang in four: Pioneers of American Song, East of the Elbe, Celebrating 25 years of Broadway, and the Studio Artist Recital.

In addition to studying the performance and interpretation of art songs, I also learned the behind-the-scenes and compositional process by hearing from living composers. These composers held forums in which they discussed their approaches to setting text to music, their inspirations, and the details of their work, while showcasing their music with performances from students.

I would like to thank the Art Song Foundation of Canada for supporting me on this journey and helping me participate in SongFest.

Sarah Richardson, Soprano – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Sarah Richardson, Soprano

SongFest 2022 was held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, which has state-of- the-art facilities that allow music to be produced in its highest form. I attended the Young Artist Program, intended for students entering graduate studies or their fourth year of undergraduate. In this program, I received two lessons, two coachings, and two masterclasses every week. As well, I had the opportunity to perform in four masterclasses intended for the Professional Program participants.

In those four masterclasses, I gained more information about performing and musicianship than I had during my entire undergrad. I watched how older, more experienced singers presented themselves on stage and how they performed not only with their faces, but also with their voices. In the four big masterclasses, I worked with Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, Libby Larsen, and Kayo Iwama.

Canadians Abigail Sinclair (L) and Sarah Richardson (R)

From all of these amazing artists, I learned more than I can put into words, but the overarching theme that all four touched on was connection. Connection to the text, to the music, to the piano, and to oneself. Though it is imperative that you be vocally proficient and have learned the music correctly, you also must be a vessel for the text, lose yourself, and live within the song.

At SongFest I also performed in two concerts: German Lieder and the Young Artist Showcase.

Sarah Richardson at SongFest in San Francisco

One of the most valuable things I learned at SongFest is what happens after school and how people earn a living in classical music. I did not grow up in an environment surrounded by professional musicians and had close to no idea how the industry works or how people break into it. In talking to older singers who are beginning their career, I gained a better idea of how it is done. Some ways are through competitions, young artist programs, and grants.

Overall, my time at SongFest was invaluable to me, not only as a musician, but also as a person. I gained priceless advice, made great connections, and improved my technique, musicianship, and performance ability. Thank you to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for your support of my journey.

Gwyneth Rix, Soprano – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Gwyneth Rix, Soprano

Thanks to the Art Song Foundation of Canada, I had the opportunity to attend SongFest this summer at the San Francisco Conservatory. SongFest provided an incredible opportunity to focus on art song, an often overlooked, underappreciated, and dying art form within the music world. Throughout the three weeks of the program, I gained a greater appreciation of and expertise in art song. I also had the opportunity to discuss how to preserve it with the faculty and my peers. For this opportunity, I am incredibly grateful.

Not only was SongFest my first time on the West Coast of North America, it was my first college-level summer program. The intensity of the environment was invigorating, and I gained a new level of professionalism from working with the incredibly qualified faculty present. While as one of the younger participants I did not receive as many opportunities within the program as my peers, being surrounded by so many talented and encouraging people inspired me to take advantage of every opportunity I could, be it meeting composers, watching masterclasses with world-renowned teachers and scholars, or making new friends.

One of the most unique aspects of SongFest, and the element that drew me towards it the most, was the amount of compositional talent present in one place. Attending the forums of the composers-in-residence was a highlight of my experience at SongFest. I was able to hear about the vastly different professional and artistic journeys that each composer had gone through to get to where they are today. Some of the works presented at these forums were familiar to me and many were not. Learning the different styles of and approaches to composition that each composer has made me more secure in myself and in my own differences from other singers; just because one approaches a task differently than someone else would does not mean either person is wrong. They are each great in their own ways.

Gwyneth Rix at SongFest in San Francisco

Another wonderful opportunity I had access to was amazing coaching and teaching. I worked with Jennifer Tung and Mark Trawka, both of whom were encouraging and offered unique insights into the pieces I brought in. I took private lessons with Grant Knox, and he immediately detected what I needed to improve technically and gave me the tools to do so. Working with so many different people and getting such an enormous amount of artistic input was overwhelming at first, but I learned to take as much as possible from a variety of sources to improve my artistry in each piece I brought in.

I also learned a great deal from watching the masterclasses offered throughout the day. My favourite classes by far were those given by Martin Katz. He was concise and kind, and his advice was universally applicable. Another great presenter was Graham Johnson. He has an immense amount of knowledge about each individual piece, yet punctuated his classes with bursts of dry humour that both kept the audience engaged and made the classes entertaining as well as instructive.

Altogether, SongFest was an artistically challenging yet rewarding experience. I learned a great deal and improved both technically and artistically throughout my time there. The people I met and the knowledge I gained will enrich my life for years to come.

Anna Wojcik, Soprano – SongFest, San Francisco, California

Anna Wojcik, Soprano

I had a wonderful time at SongFest. I had the opportunity to work with many amazing faculty members, including lessons with Lorraine Manz and Michelle Patzakis, coachings with Javier Arrebola, Mark Trawka, Jennifer Tung, and Liza Stepanova, and masterclasses with Grant Knox, Kayo Iwama, and Lucy Fitz-Gibbon.

Anna Wojcik and pianist Alex Wang

Being able to collaborate with all these artists was enriching and inspiring. They provided me with fresh perspectives on pieces I was already familiar with and interesting ways to approach pieces that were new to me. I also had the opportunity to work with composer-in-residence, Jake Heggie, on his own music, which allowed me to gain insight into his dramatic intentions when composing a certain piece and how I can better express that.

Over the three weeks at SongFest, not only did I grow in my vocal technique, but I also deepened my approach to poetry. Through being in the audience for masterclasses led by the greats, Martin Katz and Graham Johnson, I gained an understanding of cornerstones of the art-song repertoire that will stay with me for a long time. Above all, hearing and performing music every single day at SongFest created an immersive environment that made me want to dive deeper into the music I was studying and inspired me to learn more songs.

Martine Jomphe, Piano – Musique sur Mer, Caraquet, New Brunswick

Martine Jomphe, Pianist

This summer, I had the pleasure of participating in Musique sur mer en Acadie — a small, intimate art-song program in Caraquet, New Brunswick. The program lasted ten days and was attended by six emerging artists: two pianists and four singers. Our days consisted of lengthy masterclasses with the incomparable Susan Manoff, who generously shared her time and expertise through her open, compassionate, and witty personality. As a pianist, collaborator, and coach, Susan provided teachings that were inspiring and critical for my professional and personal musical growth. I know I will bring what I’ve learned to the table during my future endeavours.

Martine Jomphe at the piano in a class led by Susan Manoff

Set in the beautiful Acadian peninsula, Musique sur mer en Acadie held a balance of peace, openness, and focus, which is the perfect recipe for cultivating trusting relationships and facilitating music-making.  The program provided a rare atmosphere not often found during the regular hustle of everyday life.

Through this experience, I have met some incredible musicians, not to mention future colleagues and close friends. The week ended with a concert where we showcased the repertoire we had workshopped. With an admission fee of donations only, the concert made a statement about increasing accessibility in the industry, permitting the community to simply enjoy music for what it is.

I sincerely want to thank the Art Song Foundation of Canada for supporting me and for generously contributing to this unique organization, for it has had an important impact on my career development.

Indra Egan, Piano – Orford Sumer Music Festival, Orford, Quebec

Indra Egan, Pianist

I am sincerely grateful to the Art Song Foundation of Canada for supporting my studies in collaborative piano at the Orford International Music Academy (Orford Musique). Under the mentorship of pianists/coaches Liz Upchurch and Francis Perron, soprano Nathalie Paulin, and bass-baritone Christian Immler, I ventured on an exciting exploration of art song from both pianistic and vocal perspectives, and was fortunate to do so in collaboration with fabulous singers.

Indra Egan with singer Amanda Godin

The daily lessons, coachings, and masterclasses were wonderful growth opportunities not only because we were privileged to learn from highly knowledgeable and inspirational teachers, but also because these settings provided safe spaces in which students were encouraged to take artistic risks. I enjoyed expanding my repertoire as well as delving further into art songs with which I was already familiar and found myself adding new tools to my musical toolbox each day.

It was also an honour and pleasure to perform in four Orford Musique concerts. Like many of my colleagues, I gained a fresh appreciation for the in-person performance experience through this study program and found sharing our art with live audiences truly invigorating. I collaborated on French mélodie, German Lieder, and English art song, including works by Canadian composers Matthew Emery and Lionel Daunais.

Set in the heart of Mont-Orford National Park, the Orford campus feels like its own little corner of the world. It fosters a remarkable sense of camaraderie among its students, faculty, and volunteers, and one can’t help being further inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds the school. It is heartwarming to accompany Goethe texts describing the wonder of nature while your practice room window overlooks a lakeside forest. Orford Musique proved to be an enriching and unique place to stoke the fire that is my passion for art song.

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