For those of you who ask me, “What did you do on your sabbatical?”, I have chronicled some of the highlights below. I made the most of it; it was a professional development bonanza!
COSI 2012: The Centre for Opera Studies in Italy
COSI was the grand finale to my sabbatical, and a blissful one, too. The professional highlights form a cascade of shared experiences:
Program and community building with COSI’s Executive Director in Italy, Tania Puglielli.
Each of the four performances of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with two exciting casts with Kevin Mallon conducting his Aradia Orchestra, and the gloriously detailed stage direction of Tom Diamond.
All four performances of Puccini’s Suor Angelica with two compelling and meaningful casts conducted by Les Dala (Aradia Orchestra), and the imaginative stage direction of James Marvel.
Three distinctively profound performances of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater at the fountains of Goriana Sicoli, the San Panfilo Cathedral in Sulmona, and for the Catholic Sisters of the L’Aquila Conference.
Courtyard concerts galore in the Annunziata Courtyard in Sulmona, and piazzas in Introdacqua and Pratola Peligna.
The teaching of curious, expectant and tremendously capable singers and collaborative pianists to be at their musical, physical and mental ideal.
The production building with indefatigable and brilliantly solution-oriented faculty and volunteers, taking starring roles from behind the scenes.
Time spent with treasured colleagues from across Canada and Europe.
The considerable privilege of premiering a new song cycle, “Ovid Songs for tenor and piano,” in Ovid’s birthplace – to a Sulmona audience, with the composer Andrew Ager as the collaborative pianist.
The sum of all this was a dedicated training and creative performance bonanza that lived and thrived because of the hard work and joy of wonderful people. I am grateful.
An Art Song Premiere
What a thrill it was to premiere Lloyd Burrit’sImage-Nation!The VISI audiences are well-numbered and very friendly, and there is a curiosity and hunger for song performance, and new works. Lloyd Burritt, Larry Nickel, Imant Raminsh, and Leslie Uyeda brought provocative works to our notice; the singing of Robyn Drieger-Klassen and Lynn McMurtry, Phoebe McRae, Tracy Satterfield, Julie Simson and the collaborative piano artistry of Alison d’Amato, Terry Dawson, Arlene Schrut, Erika Switzer all elevated the week.
Vancouver: The Vancouver International Song Institute.
I’m in Vancouver from June 3-11. The Vancouver International Song Institute is a marvel. Founded by UBC Professor Rena Sharon, VISI has grown to become a formidable and engrossing event that defies one single title. It is a conference, a symposium, an art song festival, and a summer training program for university singers and pianists. I am sure it encompasses more classifications, too.
Along with pianist Terence Dawson and Vancouver Symphony french hornist Ben Kinsman, we will be performing Image-Nation by Vancouver composer Lloyd Burritt, based on texts by poet Robin Blazer. Burritt calls the three songs of Image-Nation a “song cycle,” as they embrace the poet’s remembrances of youth and reflections in old age.
I am looking forward to meeting my performing partners. We’ll meet for the first time on Tuesday and will have a good amount of rehearsal time before the performance on Sunday, June 10. In the meantime, this three-week VISI program is a powerful amalgam of lectures, lessons, performances and workshops that magnetize “the singer and the song” in a much larger and more inclusive context.