Russian Romance

The full Ensemble Studio was on display yesterday for an all Russian lunchtime concert.  First up was Megan Quick with a couple of Rachmaninov songs.  Megan’s timbre is very dark and it seems to be a natural fit for those Russian vowels.  She was followed by Bruno Roy with a couple of Tchaikovsky numbers.  He’s come on a lot in his time in the Studio.  There’s some heft to the voice now and some quite impressive top notes.  Good stuff.

IMG_0196_Cropped

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Truth About Love

Yesterday’s lunchtime recital in the RBA featured Claire de Sévigné and Rachel Andrist with Huw Montague Rendall chipping in with readings.  The theme, naturally enough, was Love.  It was a carefully curated program taking us through Passion, The Bond, Pain, Memory and, finally, The Truth.  Along the way we got Poulenc, Fauré and Debussy; Wolf and Liszt; Schubert and Schumann; even some Strauss and Weill before The Truth was revealed in English language texts set by Hughes, Previn, Copland and Bridge.  Make of that last what you will.

KLP180214-_A7R2478 - cropped

Continue reading

Let me tell you a story

Most opera singers come to the profession through fairly well defined pathways; music degree, post graduate degree or conservatory training, young artists program, and so on.  Occasionally one comes across someone with a very different background.  The English (well Scouse) mezzo Jennifer Johnston read law and practiced at the bar before becoming a professional singer.  Burkhard Fritz studied medicine before committing to singing.  Yesterday Mexican-American tenor Joshua Guerrero, in town to sing the Duke of Mantua, used his lunchtime recital in the RBA to tell us his story in words and music.

KLP180123-_DSC1292

Continue reading

Don’t take that baritone with me!

baritone-hearts-women-s-v-neck-t-shirt

Probably not

To the Four Season’s Centre last night to check out one of the COC’s adult education events.  This time it was about the baritone voice in all its aspects and featured Liz Upchurch at the piano and, mostly, doing the talking with Ensemble Studio members Sam Chan and Bruno Roy plus ES graduate Neil Craighead back in Toronto to sing Ceprano (not soprano) in Rigoletto doing some singing.

Besides the singing, of which more later, I think there were two takeaways from the evening though it was not actually divided up that way.  One, fascinating, dealt with the development of the voice and the sheer number of years it takes for bigger voices to more or less grow up.  Also, how do you develop and stretch the voice while staying vocally healthy.  Neil is 34 and his voice is really just beginning to get where one can see it going, which is likely big to very big.  Sam and Bruno, much younger, are still going through the process of figuring out what Fach (see below) they really are.  This seems to happen to everyone except maybe genuine basses, high sopranos and the really obvious tenors.  It was pretty cool for instance to heat Bruno sing a tenor aria though not, of course, something like Pour mon âme.

Continue reading

Batgirl!

Today’s lunchtime recital in the RBA was really quite exceptional.  Simone McIntosh and Stéphane Mayer offered up a really well chosen program and executed it extremely well.  Grieg’s Sechs Lieder is a lovely and varied setting of six German texts.  Poulenc’s Banalités sets texts by Apollinaire in a way that reflects their essential weirdness.  Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder are as good examples as one can get of how the Second Vienna School, despite its scary reputation, is really all about lush and approachable and the closing set of Frank Bridge songs showed that he was a heck of a lot more than Britten’s composition teacher.

simonestephane2

Continue reading

Three Portraits

Three Portraits (music: Kieren MacMillan, words: Dana Giola) got his premiere performance yesterday in the RBA. The performers were the Haven Trio (Lindsay Kesselman, soprano; Kimberly Cole Luevano, clarinet; Midori Koga, piano).  I have to be honest this just isn’t my kind of piece.  The texts are quite interesting but most of the the setting is in that sort of Neo-Broadway flirts with Minimalism space that so much of the vocal music I get sent from the US lies in.  To be fair, the third song; The Country Wife got  a rather more sophisticated treatment but still very much in the same sound universe.  The performance was very decent though and it was a clever move to use the staircase in the RBA to match the words of the first song.

Haven Trio by Chris Hutcheson

Continue reading

Journeys of the Soul

Yesterday’s free concert in the RBA featured four members of the Ensemble Studio.  Megan Quick and Stéphane Mayer gave us Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen followed by Sam Pickett and Rachel Kerr with Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder.  The first set was interesting in that I was so engrossed by Stéphane’s playing that at times I almost drifted away from the singing.  He really is a bit remarkable.  Few collaborative pianists have that effect.  Megan continues to develop as a singer.  She has a big, dark mezzo that’s actually so operatic I’m not sure it’s heard to best advantage in lieder with piano accompaniment.  Still, she’s developing interpretive skills and her German diction has improved out of all recognition in the past eighteen months.  It’s now very good.  She took the first song, Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit, really slowly but had the control to pull it off and there was some real lyricism in Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz.

2017-11-09-FCS-Ensemble-003

Continue reading