With my new website launched last September, I am writing my first newsletter and have so much to share. Last year was a busy and wonderful year. The highlight was the release of my album “I Am in Need of Music”, premiering Canadian musical settings on poems by Elizabeth Bishop by Christos Hatzis, Alasdair MacLean, John Plant and Emily Doolittle. The CD & DVD package was released on September 24th by the label Centrediscs. The DVD “Walking with EB”, produced by Linda Rae Dornan, is an account of our walk retracing Bishop’s Newfoundland trip of 1932. We had four launches: Sackville, NB, co-presented by the Departments of Canadian Studies (Christi Verduyn) and Music (Elizabeth Wells) at Mount Allison University (where I will be artist-in-residence this week. The second was organised by Sandra Barry with the help of The Elizabeth bishop Society of NS, a third happened at Massey College thanks to master John Fraser and the last one was in Ottawa thanks to Monique Léger and Patrick Smith. We had wonderful writers read Bishop in each place: Hernenegilde Chiasson (Sackvile), Alexander McLoed (Halifax), John Fraser & Tom Allen (Toronto) and Daniel Poliquin (Ottawa).
RECENT CONCERT HIGHLIGHTS
Bach & Mahler (4th Symphony) with Yannick Nezet-Seguin and l’Orchestre Métropolitain
It was my first time singing this exquisite Symphony by Mahler, with the Orchestre Metropolitain and the brilliant Yannick Nezet-Seguin! What a thrill. I was standing in the orchestra, next to the French horns and felt part of the band as the surrounding sound buzzed through my body.
The Awakened Rose
Completely new ground for me: a lieder recital with Strauss, Schumann, Schubert and mélodies by Fauré, Hahn and Chabrier. The programme is called after Strauss’s “Die Erwachte Rose”. I had wanted to build a programme about roses for a long time. The Awakening of the rose alludes to the awakening of the conscience, through inspiring texts and music. I was very fortunate to perform this programme with Julius Drake, one of the best accompanist in the world and a musician I have admired for years. We did three concerts in Ontario for the Elora Festival, Westben and the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival. I can’t wait to do it again. We are hoping to record this porgramme at some point.
Early Music Vancouver
I happily returned to Early Music Vancouver to sing in Handel’s “Israel in Egypt” under the direction of my dear friend and colleague Alexander Weimann. You can hear and see excerpts of this concert on Youtube…. It was a very special year in Vancouver because Jose Verstappen, who has been at the head of EMV sjnce I started working there in 1984!, was taking his leave. After the performance, there was a huge reception for Jose, with many tributes being presented in person or on Skype. Benjamin Bagby, Charles Daniels, Marc Destrubé and many other musicians paid tribute. Alex and I had been asked to do something and we did a Cuban song by Victor Victor (lifted from a Celia Cruz video) because we were told that Jose was a Celia Cruz fan. It was such fun. We transposed it about an octave up! If any of you know Celia Cruz’s voice, you’ll know why! I liked it so much, I sang it as an encore in a recital the following month. East Texas Symphony Another debut. The programme included Rossini’s “Una voce poco fa” and though it was very much in my mother’s repertoire, who sang the role of Rosina at the Opera de Quebec in 1941, I had never sung it. I loved it. Rosina is such a wise and playful character. The orchestra was wonderful and the Maestro was Richard Lee from Canada.
What a pleasure to return to Toronto’s unique period orchestra, Tafelmusik, and to share the stage with tenor Charles Daniels. Listening to him sing English song is huge lesson for me every time. In the second half, we performed Carissimi’s Jephte, one of my favorite Oratorios to sing.