Get-to-know TBSI alum, Matt Antal

Our annual Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute is at the halfway point of an intense two weeks of rehearsals, lectures, masterclasses and more. We recently introduced you to TBSI alum and violinist Michelle Odorico. Today, we would like you to meet violist Matt Antal, who is not only a TBSI alum from 2013, 2014 and 2015, but is a current TBSI participant in the first ever Viola d’Amore workshop with Tafelmusik’s Thomas Georgi.

Matt Antal in the 2017 TBSI Viola d’Amore workshop. Photo credit: Lysiane Boulva

Matt first applied to attend TBSI in 2013 on a bit of a whim just before starting his Masters, and it opened up a whole new perspective towards learning for him. Today, both Michelle and Matt are enjoying successful careers as musicians, including performing with Tafelmusik, and we feel privileged to have been able to play a large part in forming those careers. Matt has written about his experiences at TBSI and TWI below.

Matt Antal, viola (far right), performing with Music Director Designate Elisa Citterio and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Handel Water Music, September 2016. Photo credit: Trevor Haldenby
Matt Antal

I first attended TBSI during the summer before starting my masters in modern viola performance. I had always enjoyed early music, but had never had the opportunity to play a period instrument before, so I really did not know what to expect. Upon arriving, I was immediately immersed into a world full of intelligent people who were friendly and enthusiastic about music — something that is all too rare in my experience.

There is no better feeling than playing music with people that love music just as much as you do. Every single day featured several “mind- blowing” moments, when something I believed to be true my whole life would be disproved, in the best possible way. These moments made me realize how much there is to know and sparked my own desire to discover new topics of my own.

I attended TBSI the following two summers and subsequently TWI the two winters after that, and always looked forward to it as my favourite time of the entire year. I enjoyed not only the music but working with such fantastic teachers and fellow students. So I decided to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts in early music at the University of Toronto, studying with members of Tafelmusik while gigging around town playing baroque viola almost exclusively.

Join us as we continue to build “baroque for the future” with a charitable gift towards the Artist Training Fund. Your contribution today ensures that musicians like Matt and Michelle have the opportunity to develop into the musicians they are destined to be: well equipped to share their gifts with appreciative audiences everywhere. If you wish to make a charitable gift, please give here.


Matt Antal’s appearances with Tafelmusik

Handel Water Music, September 2016
The Baroque Diva, March 2017

Upcoming Tafelmusik appearances

Mozart’s Piano with Kristian Bezuidenhout, November 2017
Handel Messiah, December 2017

Get-to-Know TBSI alum Michelle Odorico

The sixteenth year of the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (TBSI) and the sixth year of the Tafelmusik Winter Institute (TWI) are upon us. TBSI and TWI are world-renowned training programs for advanced students, pre-professional, and professional musicians in instrumental and vocal baroque performance practice, led by some of the world’s finest musicians in the field. It is inspiring to look back at a very long list of musicians who have participated in the Institutes over the years. The learning and music-making has enriched the musical lives of students and faculty alike on a level we could barely imagine fifteen years ago.

A baroque dance lesson with TBSI participants led by Opera Atelier’s Co-Artistic Director Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, 2013. Credit: Mariana Dempster

There are so many stories to share about our alumni. We remember Alberto from Costa Rica, who worked so hard to bring several members of his ensemble to TBSI, taking back what they learned to a culture where opportunities to study baroque music are almost non-existent. Our Australian tours have inspired numerous young musicians to journey to Toronto to work with us at both TBSI and TWI in a cultural exchange that is energizing for all of us. Violist Elmarie came from South Africa in order to take what she learned back to her students, with the aim of creating a period ensemble there.

There are also many participants who have gone on to appear on the Tafelmusik stage, both singers and instrumentalists, including violinist Michelle Odorico. We would like to introduce you to Michelle who has recently done just that, and was compelled to take up a career as a period performer because of her experience at TBSI and TWI.

Michelle Odorico, violin

Growing up in Pickering, my aunt and uncle would occasionally take me to see Tafelmusik performances. I loved going to these concerts and I believe they gave me a strong attraction to baroque music growing up.

After completing my Bachelor of Music from the University of Ottawa in 2012, a friend and I attended TBSI, thinking it would be a fun thing to do. Little did I know that it would be an intensive university course, jam-packed into two weeks. I was overwhelmed with the depth and amount of information, but was completely hooked. What stood out was how the faculty fostered a safe, encouraging, and inspiring environment — their enthusiasm and patience eased the transition to learning a new style of playing. I loved meeting people from all over the world, and being surrounded by the unique playing styles of my peers and mentors.

I knew after TBSI that this was what I wanted to do, and thanks to Jeanne Lamon and Charlotte Nediger, I was able to begin a Master’s degree in baroque performance at the University of Toronto that fall. I returned to TBSI the following summer, and attended TWI from 2013–2016.

I believe that every musician should go to TBSI. Having this groundwork in place helps bring the music to life. I try to teach these principles of baroque playing to my own students, and I see how much they enjoy learning about them.

My ultimate goal as a musician is to be able to use the baroque violin as a way to communicate and connect to others. Because of TBSI and TWI, I have been able to do this much more than I ever could have anticipated.

Join us as we continue to build “baroque for the future” with a charitable gift towards the Artist Training Fund. Your contribution today ensures that musicians like Matt and Michelle have the opportunity to develop into the musicians they are destined to be: well equipped to share their gifts with appreciative audiences everywhere. If you wish to make a charitable gift, please give here.


Appearances with Tafelmusik

Purcell Dido & Aeneas, October 2016
Let Us All Sing!, November 2016
Asia Tour, November 2016
Toronto Education Concerts, January 2017
Visions and Voyages, February 2017
Ontario Tour, March 2017
U.S. Tour, Feb/Mar, 2017
Mozart Mass in C Minor, May 2017

Upcoming Tafelmusik appearances
Handel Alexander’s Feast, February 2018
Beethoven Pastoral Symphony, May 2018
Australia Tour, May/June 2018

Michelle Odorico (violin) with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and  Chamber Choir in Let Us All Sing, November 2016. Credit: Trevor Haldenby

Get to Know: Colin Labadie, composer

We’re excited to perform and premiere a brand new composition by Canadian composer Colin Labadie for the 150th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. Entwined was written for Tafelmusik and commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as part of Canada Mosaic. Leading up to the premiere on March 23, 2017 at Koerner Hall, we caught up with Colin and asked him a few questions.

Colin Labadie, composer

What got you into composing?

It’s tough to pin down. I’ve always liked making things, music or otherwise. In high school I would make these little quartet arrangements of songs I was learning on the classical guitar. When I was auditioning for university, they asked what major I was thinking about pursuing. I said composition—I’m still not totally sure why, but it seemed most interesting to me at the time. I guess it was the right call since I haven’t really looked back!

Tell us a bit about one of your “mutant guitars”?

I had been improvising quite a bit, and started building little programs that let me manipulate the sound of the guitar in really new and interesting ways. But to get the sounds I wanted, I needed to play with the program quite a bit, and at a certain point I felt like I was playing my laptop more than my guitar. So I stuck a bunch of extra buttons and gadgets onto the guitar and got them talking to my laptop, basically as a way to have more organic and sophisticated control over the sound. It’s a lot of fun to play, though it sometimes has a mind of its own.

What makes you excited to be writing for Tafelmusik?

The calibre of the players and ensemble as a whole! I had known about Tafelmusik for a long time, mostly by reputation although I had seen them a few times. When I was working on the piece, I went down the rabbit hole and listened to as many recordings as I could to get a better sense of the group (their recent recording of Beethoven’s 9th is a personal favourite), and was continually blown away by their playing. Everyone’s also been friendly and easy to work with, which is a nice bonus.

What was it like writing for period instruments?

It was less painful than I thought it would be! (kidding, mostly). There were a few things I had to take into consideration, particularly how the strings speak a bit differently, but it wasn’t a major adjustment. I’ve actually always felt that my own musical sensibilities are a bit more aligned with early music than the classical/romantic era. So even though I hadn’t really written for period instruments before, I didn’t have to change my approach too much—I found that my ideas translated well onto the instruments.

This will also be performed by the TSO (on modern instruments)—was this a factor in figuring out to write the piece?

Absolutely. On any given piece, I think a lot about the particular ensemble that I’m writing for, but this is the first time that I’ve written something that will be premiered by two different ensembles. I worked hard to come up with material that I think will work both technically and aesthetically on both period and modern instruments. I guess we’ll find out how well I did! I’m actually really excited to hear how the two orchestras interpret the piece differently. (You can hear the TSO perform Entwined on April 22.)

How does your work tackle Canada’s 150th anniversary? What are some of the underlying extra-musical ideas?

I always have mixed feelings when it comes to celebrations like Canada 150. On the one hand there are plenty of things that I love about this country, and we certainly have much to celebrate. But on the other hand there are still a number of systemic issues that we need to take a hard look at. For example, I think the way indigenous people have been treated in this country is deplorable. Canada 150 deserves some credit for making reconciliation one of its four main themes, and I hope we keep sight of that through the year. There are some who still ignore or deny the effect that settler populations have had on indigenous communities. In Entwined, I have these interwoven parts within and between the string and wind parts—I was trying to symbolize how the histories of indigenous people and settlers are diverse yet deeply connected, and consequently how I and other settlers have a role to play in reconciliation.

What’s next for you in the world of contemporary music?

Actually, a break! (sort of). I had a really busy fall/winter, with quite a few commissions and theatre projects, on top of a busy teaching schedule. So I’m excited to take a few weeks off and get caught up on life. After that, I have a choral piece being premiered by the Menno Singers in early May, performances at the Festival des musiques de création in Jonquière, Quebec and Between the Ears in Kitchener, then three commissions for the summer/fall that all involve saxophone. I’m really excited to finally write the third movement to my sax/piano piece Strata, which is something that’s been on the back burner for a couple of years.

Last three songs you listened to

I’ve been really into this German electronic label called raster noton, especially this guy Alva Noto. The last three songs I listened to were all from his 2011 album Univrs.

Most importantly, have you found your favourite BBQ joint?

It’s been Hog Tails in Waterloo for a little while. I don’t know how they make their fried chicken, but it’s bonkers how good it is. For you Toronto folk, I’m a big fan of Barque on Roncy (Roncesvalles).

You can hear Tafelmusik perform Entwined by Colin Labadie in The Baroque Diva at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre from March 23-26, 2017. Tickets are available here.

Get to Know The Bernardinis, Father/Daughter duo

For our upcoming concert in April, Bach: Keeping it in the Family, we invited the father/daughter duo Alfredo and Cecilia Bernardini to co-guest direct this (almost) all-Bach program. Both have performed with Tafelmusik in the past but it’s been a while since our last catch-up.

How did you come to decide to be a musician?

Cecilia Bernardini: As I little girl I fell in love with the violin; the longer I played it the more I became sure I wanted to become a violinist. The musicians’ life of my father and his friends seemed attractive and exciting!

Alfredo Bernardini: I sang in a choir and played the recorder as a child. When I heard my first Bach cantata aged 14 I decided I wanted to become an oboist and play that wonderful music.

What was your first music gig?

CB: It was a Schubert sonatina and a Mozart sonata (I think…) in a beautiful Orangerie somewhere in the Dutch countryside, when I was about twelve.

AB: Playing Handel’s opera Ariodante with Tafelmusik  at the Scala in Milan in April 1982, with Jeanne Lamon leading, Alan Curtis conducting and my teacher Bruce Haynes playing principal oboe!

What is your ‘guilty pleasure’ music to listen to?

CB: Stéphane Grappelli, Jacques Brel, Björk.. Although I don’t feel particularly guilty  about that!

AB: Rossini ouvertures and Latin American rhythmic music.

What are the last three songs/pieces you’ve listened to (on your iPod or phonograph)?

CB: “Royal Consort” of William Lawes by Ensemble Phantasm, Bach violin unaccompanied sonatas by Lucy van Dael and “The Willow song” from Othello (anonymous)

AB: Schumann symphonies, Les voix bulgares, Gesualdo’s madrigals.

What is your favourite thing to do on a day off?

CB: Going for a bike ride in the countryside, visiting my relatives in Amsterdam, or simply enjoying a good book and a glass of wine.

AB: Go to the peak of a mountain and find silence

You often perform together. What is the experience like, to work together as father and daughter?

CB: It’s wonderful; because we know each other so well there is a deep and natural musical understanding between us. The fact that we play two different instruments means that we can look at the same piece from slightly different angles.

AB: It’s an incredible pleasure and fulfillment to combine my two favourite things together: family and music.

In these concerts you are co-directing. How does that work?

CB: I usually leave it to my father to give the big outline and try to help where possible. Obviously I take the lead when it’s strings only. It does help to discuss things in advance so that we don’t end up contradicting each other by accident!

AB: I suppose we try not to interfere with one another too much. For that, it’s important to establish in advance how to share the pieces and the tasks.

Join us for Bach: Keeping it in the Family at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre from April 5–9, 2017. Tickets are available here.

Get to Know Alison Mackay, double bassist

visions-get-to-know-alison

Alison Mackay has played violone and double bass with Tafelmusik since 1979, and is active in the creation of multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural programming for the orchestra including Tales of Two Cities, The Galileo Project and Visions & Voyages: Canada 1663-1763, making its world premiere February 22, 2017.

What was your first music gig?

When I was in high school I played the second and third movements of the Bach D-Minor Harpsichord Concerto (on piano) with the community orchestra conducted by my teacher, Clifford Poole. (Leslie Kinton played the fi rst movement.)

What is an example of something that has inspired you?

I had a lightning-bolt moment attending a midnight tour of the Great Mosque of Cordóba in Spain. We were 20 visitors in the huge, darkened, dramatically-lit building, which now is part mosque, part Catholic cathedral. We walked from place to place guided by a narrator speaking through earphones in Spanish, English, French, or Japanese … The fascinating narration was accompanied on the soundtrack with beautifully performed music, perfectly chosen for each epoch being discussed. There we were, a group of 20 people from around the world with diff erent languages and backgrounds, being educated and transported by a beautiful cultural experience that was completely scholarly but also completely accessible.

What are the last three recordings you’ve listened to?

When I’m planning for a special project I get obsessed with the music and how it will overlap with the narration and images. I’ve been listening to the chaconne, earthquake music, and passepieds from the opera Sémélé over and over — I’m afraid that by now David [husband David Fallis] knows the music as well as I do.

What is your favourite thing to do in Toronto during your free time?

Close to home I love to work in the garden. We have a small garden at the front of the house and a small one in the back. At some point we decided to leave the front to me and the back to David. I love colourful hybrid plants and he favours native species. This way we don’t need to negotiate! On the other hand we can agree on the beauty of the High Park Sakuras — 2,000 flowering cherry trees donated by the government of Japan to thank Toronto for its harbouring of Japanese-Canadian refugees after World War II. There is a “bud and blossom watch” website that tells you when the trees will be in their glory and we like to make a pilgrimage to see them every spring.

What’s your favourite restaurant in Toronto?

I love the Persian cooking and the beautiful atmosphere at Pomegranate Restaurant on College Street. There are so many different flavours in each dish, and the walls are decorated with colourful ceramic tiles and textiles. We have celebrated many special occasions there with family and friends.

Where is your own, personal, oasis in Toronto?

When the weather gets really cold I love to go to the greenhouse at Allan Gardens to soak up the warmth, humidity, and scented, lush greenery and blossoms. It is wonderful for a visit at any time — open every day of the year from 10–5, and it’s free!

You have a night off — what do you do?

We have a group of eight friends who have had dinner together once a month for over 30 years. Finding the evenings for those get-togethers is a challenge since David and I are so rarely free on the same night. Luckily our friends are patient and flexible!

What is your great ambition?

To have my bicycle lock last as long as I ride my bike. I am still using the lock from
my locker at Jarvis Collegiate, and if I ever have to memorize a new combination I will be lost.

Where do you see yourself ten years in the future?

I see myself living close enough to Bloor and Spadina to be able to waddle to the
library, the grocery store, the Hot Docs cinema, and of course Trinity-St. Paul’s for everything that happens there, including Tafelmusik concerts! I look forward to sitting with all the people I have come to know and love in the audience, listening together to all the people I have come to know and love on stage.

lightning-bolt

Lightning Round

Apple or PC?  Apple all the way.

Starbucks or Tim Hortons?   Tim Hortons! I think Tim Hortons has transformed the social fabric of communities in Canada.

Cat or dog?  Cat

City or country life? Ten months in the city, two months in the country.

Hockey or baseball?  Hockey

Batman or Superman?  Superman

TTC or “anything else that gets me to my destination”?  Bicycle!

Favourite season?  Autumn

Favourite instrument?  The cello

Old or new?  Old

Tidy or cluttered desk?  Clutter! Even the floor around my music stand at Tafelmusik rehearsals is always covered in stuff.


See Alison perform in her brand-new multimedia program Visions & Visions, featuring narrator Ryan Cunningham from Native Earth Performing Arts, and choreographer and dancer, Brian Solomon, at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre from February 22-26, 2017. Tickets are available here.

 

Get to Know Cory Knight, tenor

bach-tapestry-coryknight

Tenor Cory Knight first joined the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir in the fall of 2010, shortly after participating in the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute. In 2012 he moved to Switzerland to pursue a Master’s degree in Historical Performance Practice at the prestigious Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. He rejoined the Choir upon returning to Toronto, and balances his career in Canada with engagements in Europe. He was recently featured as the Sailor in Opera Atelier’s production of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas.

How did you come to decide to sing?
I’ve always been interested in music and fortunately I have parents who are very supportive of that. They signed me up for piano and voice lessons and drove me to all kinds of rehearsals when I was a child. My plan was to be a high school music teacher, but after I finished my teaching degree I thought I’d give this singing thing a try. So I auditioned at the Glenn Gould School and was accepted into the vocal program that year. I met some important professional contacts and mentors through that experience and haven’t looked back since.

What was your first music gig?
I played a sailor at my Kindergarten graduation. It was a big deal. But my first professional gig was with Opera Atelier. I was cast as Telemaco in Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Probably my grandfather, who taught me that no job is as difficult as picking tomatoes. [Cory comes from Leamington, the Tomato Capital of Canada.]

What is your ‘guilty pleasure’ music to listen to?
My grandmother recently gave me her old LPs and I’m currently making my way through them. There’s a Patsy Cline album in there that I just can’t get enough of.

What is your favourite thing to do in Toronto during your free time?
I love walking around the city and discovering little places that I’ve never seen before.

What is your favourite restaurant in Toronto?
Smoke’s Poutinerie.

Where is your own personal oasis in Toronto?
I really enjoy my apartment in the Village. The neighbourhood is so vibrant, and I love the mix of people and general energy. But when I’m not at home, I love Kensington Market, Toronto Island, and wandering the paths in Don Valley.

Are you involved with any clubs/charities in your off-time?
I volunteer as a Youth Mentor through Catholic Children’s Aid Society. Basically I get to hang out with a really cool kid who keeps me up to date on the latest Nerf toys and video games. I’ve also spent most of the past 20 summers working at camp.

You have a night off—what do you do?
I get cozy on my couch with some yummy snacks and watch movies.

Where do you see yourself ten years in the future?
In my 40s.

What words of wisdom would you pass to budding musicians?
Practise, practise, practise. Find joy in everything you do. Follow your instincts. Be patient. And when things get tough just remember that you could be picking tomatoes.

Lightning Roundlightning-bolt

Apple or PC? PC
Starbucks or Tim Hortons? I’m faithful to my small town roots on this one: Timmies.
Cat or dog? Dog
City or country life? A healthy amount of both.
Hockey or baseball? Hockey
Batman or Superman? Depends on which nephew I’m hanging out with.
TTC or “anything else that gets me to my destination”? TTC
Favourite season? Summer
Favourite instrument? I played trombone in high school and university. So, trombone. But I’ve always loved the viola.
Old or new? Old
Tidy or cluttered desk? Tidy


Join us for A Bach Tapestry at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre and George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts. Tickets are available here.

Get to know the Messiah soloists

Our Messiah and Sing-Along Messiah concerts will feature an amazing cast of soloists with soprano Amanda Forsythe and mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó making their Tafelmusik debut, and Tafelmusik favourites tenor Colin Balzer, and baritone Tyler Duncan. We sent them a few questions and here is what they had to say:

Amanda Forsythe (soprano), Krisztina Szabó (mezzo-soprano), Colin Balzer (tenor), and Tyler Duncan (baritone)
Amanda Forsythe (soprano), Krisztina Szabó (mezzo-soprano), Colin Balzer (tenor), and Tyler Duncan (baritone)

How did you come to decide to sing?

Amanda Forsythe
Amanda Forsythe

Amanda Forsythe: I’ve enjoyed singing since I was a child, when I sang in choirs and local theatrical productions. I studied voice and piano in high school, and began college as a biology major with a strong interest in music. It turns out I was better at singing than science!

Krisztina Szabó: I started singing as a child, spending six years in the Toronto Children’s Chorus, and loved it, but never considered it a “career choice” when deciding what to major in at university.  So, I entered the University of Western Ontario with aspirations of being a music teacher, as a piano major. But I wanted to keep singing, so I started taking voice lessons on the side with Dr. Darryl Edwards, who now teaches at the University of Toronto. The more I sang, the more I loved it—it felt natural, like the truest expression of who I am. Then I got a couple of roles—in the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, as well as the opera that the university put on, and I caught the performing bug. So, I ditched the Education track and decided to pursue post-graduate programs in Voice Performance … and the rest is history.

Colin Balzer: When I entered grade 11, I had the good fortune to have a choir director who had just returned from finishing his masters in conducting. He was burning with inspiration and ideas, and it was contagious. Up until then I had never sung in a choir but had played various instruments. Under his direction and encouragement, I began to realize that I might have more to say musically as a vocalist than an instrumentalist.

Tyler Duncan: When I was little I would make up songs while playing with Lego. My Nana, who was a big fan of Sibelius, noticed that I made up some lovely songs and was usually in tune. She suggested I join a choir. From then on, there really wasn’t much else in life that I wanted to do.

What was your first music gig?

AF: My first paid job was singing backup vocals to Joey Lawrence on a Romper Room record when I was eight years old. I got $40 for that gig!

KS: My first paid music gig ever was as soloist/section leader for a church choir in London while going to school. But my “big break” was being accepted into the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio programme. My first role at the COC was playing “Clothilde” in Norma. At the time, everyone kept telling me that it was Joan Sutherland’s first role, too … no pressure there!

CB: Oddly enough, my first professional job as a soloist was a Sing-along Messiah with a community choir in Fort Langley, BC.

TD: Playing trombone in a Brass Quintet. We played Christmas carols in Victoria BC. We were TERRIBLE. My first professional singing gig was Monteverdi madrigals for Early Music Vancouver. Colin Balzer was the tenor soloist.  It is wonderful that we are still singing together a couple of decades later.

What is your “guilty pleasure” music to listen to?

AF: I really enjoy listening to Broadway musicals, and my 6-year-old is keeping me current on today’s pop music.

KS: Some of my friends make fun of me, but I listen to pop music—the latest hits—and can sing along with most of the songs on the radio. I listen until the fact that they are mindless and repetitive starts to get to me, at which point I put on CBC Radio.

Colin Balzer
Colin Balzer

CB: Take 6. I finally had the opportunity to hear them live after being a fan for many years. They are as stunning live as they are on their recordings.

TD: Jazz, funk, and (intelligent) rap music.

What are the last three recordings you’ve listened to?

AF: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Handel’s Aci e Galatea, and Alison Krauss singing I’ll Fly Away.

KS: Well, I was preparing for a concert, so I was listening to a Hungarian singer, Magda Kalmár, singing some Lehár operetta. Also, Katalin Karády singing some ‘50s Hungarian lounge music.

CB: Nature Boy, Lucky Luke, and Bad (sung by The Real Group, live from Japan)

TD: The Rainbow Connection, The Bare Necessities, and the theme song from Paw Patrol — I have a toddler …

Krisztina Szabó
Krisztina Szabó

What is your favourite thing to do on a day off?

AF: I’ve got two small boys at home, so there aren’t really any “days off.”  When I’m travelling without them, I enjoy being a tourist in new cities and catching up on reading.

KS: Sleep and Netflix. And sleep. And more Netflix. And then sleep again.

CB: Living in Germany, the opportunity to see a movie without subtitles or overdubbing is sometimes hard to pass up. I also love finding local independent coffee roasters and cafés.

TD: Spend time with my son: he is very cute.

What is the most challenging aspect of singing Messiah for you?  

AF: Technically, “Rejoice greatly” is the only tricky piece for soprano—the rest is just about spinning your most gorgeous sound and connecting with the moving texts. But every conductor likes to allocate the arias differently, and sometimes you get to sing something new—this year I get to take a crack at the arioso “Behold and see,” which is a first for me!

KS: For me, “But who may abide” is the most challenging aria of the night, because of where the coloratura lies. It’s a great aria and I want to do it justice!

CB: The challenge (which I love) is to try and make it fresh every time. Can I go deeper into the text? Does a particular ornament still make sense both musically and rhetorically? My interpretation needs to be a living, breathing, and growing thing, to leave no room for auto pilot or routine.

TD: Trying not to sing along with the choir the whole time! The most wonderful challenging aspect is keeping the music fresh each year, not relying on the way it was sung last season, but finding new things in the music to bring out.

What Messiah part do you especially look forward to?

Tyler Duncan
Tyler Duncan

AF: I love the silence just before the final two “amens,” after you’ve been somewhat hypnotized by the extended “Amen” fugue. It always comes as a shock.

KS: It may sound cliché, but I absolutely love when the “Hallelujah” chorus is sung, particularly when the soloists and audience get to join in the fun. There is nothing quite like a room full of people raising their voices together singing that chorus!

CB: I always love the passion sequence of recitatives and arias. It’s a huge turning point in the piece. This is the Messiah at its most serious, its most accusatory, until that wonderful moment where the music and text shifts to “But thou didst not leave his soul in hell.” From there on out it’s a wonderful and celebratory rising action that continues to gain momentum right up until the end of the piece.

TD: The viola part.


Hear our wonderful guest soloists perform in Messiah at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre, from Dec 14-17, 2016. Tickets are available here. Join in the singing at the 30th anniversary of Sing-Along Messiah at Massey Hall, Dec 18.