LSM Newswire

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

COC Launches Annual Vocal Competition for Ensemble Studio


Toronto, Ontario – For the first time in the history of the Canadian Opera Company, the final auditions for singers seeking to join the Ensemble Studio training program will be made public through the launch of an annual vocal competition. The inaugural COC Ensemble Studio Competition takes place on Nov. 28, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, with the winners garnering offers of highly-prized positions in the 2012/2013 Ensemble Studio.

“The COC is committed to developing the next generation of Canadian opera stars,” COC General Director Alexander Neef notes. “Over its 30-year history, the Ensemble Studio has allowed young Canadian artists to receive internationally competitive training while staying in their home country, which we recognize as crucial to the development of the art form in Canada. With the creation of the Ensemble Studio Competition, the public is invited to be a part of the singers’ professional journeys from the very beginning as it shines a spotlight on emerging artists in a substantial and significantway.”

The Ensemble Studio audition process, open only to Canadian citizens and landed immigrants, takes COC administrators across Canada and into the U.S. for preliminary auditions in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and New York. The new COC Ensemble Studio Competition is the final round of auditions, with approximately 10 – 15 singers performing in front of a public audience and COC judges, including Alexander Neef, General Director; Roberto Mauro, Artistic Administrator; Sandra Gavinchuk, Music Administrator; and Liz Upchurch, Head of the Ensemble Studio. Along with guest panellists, they will deliberate on location and announce the competition winners at the conclusion of the event. Ticket information and other details will be released at a later date.

The COC Ensemble Studio Competition is presented in part by the Estate of Horst Dantz & Don Quick and RBC Foundation.


About the Ensemble Studio

The members of the Ensemble Studio are the COC’s resident artists and are important ambassadors for the company. Since its inception in 1980, over 150 young professional Canadian singers, opera coaches, stage directors and conductors have acquired their first major professional operatic experience through the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio. Former members include Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, John Fanning, Wendy Nielsen, David Pomeroy, Joseph Kaiser, Lauren Segal and Krisztina Szabó.

Members of the Ensemble Studio receive a blend of advanced study and practical experience through an individually-tailored, multi-year program, involving understudying and performing mainstage roles, intensive vocal coaching, language and acting studies, and career skills development, as well as participation in masterclasses with internationally-renowned opera professionals.

The Ensemble Studio is generously supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, ARIAS (The Canadian Student Opera Development Fund), in loving memory of Mr. George R. Bishop from his family & friends, John A. Cook Young Artist Development Fund, in honour of Earlaine Collins, in honour of Ninalee Craig, Estate of Horst Dantz and Don Quick, Michael & Lora Gibbens, Ethel Harris, Audrey S. Hellyer Charitable Foundation, Peter & Hélène Hunt, Patrick & Barbara Keenan, Hal Jackman Fund at the Ontario Arts Foundation, Jo Lander, Ruby Mercer Fund, George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation, Roger D. Moore Ensemble Studio Endowment Fund, RBC Foundation, Katalin Schäfer, in honour of Colleen Sexsmith, Slaight Family, John Stratton Trust, William & Phyllis Waters, and an anonymous donor.

About the Canadian Opera Company

Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the five largest in North America. The COC enjoys a loyal audience support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America. The COC celebrates its 62nd anniversary during the 11/12 season. Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world’s attention. The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. Designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006, and is also the performance venue for The National Ballet of Canada. For more information on the Canadian Opera Company, please visit its award-winning website,


Friday, May 27, 2011

Chinese Artists Society of Toronto Presents Celebration Concert

Presented by Chinese Artists Society of Toronto



East meets west when the Chinese Artists Society of Toronto presents a Celebration Gala concert, Sunday, June 12, 7:30 p.m. at the Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front Street West, Toronto. Tickets, $28-$48 are available from the Roy Thomson Hall box office, or by phone at 416-872-4255. For more concert information, call (416) 733-4644.

Outstanding soloists perform chamber music and join conductor Erhei Liang and the CAST Philomusica Orchestra in music from China, the west and even in between. All of the artists are Chinese-Canadian with one exception. Special guest is Russian-Canadian pianist Michael Berkovsky, a multi-award-winning pianist who made his New York debut at Avery Fisher Hall and has toured as a soloist in Ireland, Costa Rica, Japan, Italy, Israel, Canada and the United States.

Orchestral selections include Chinese Sights and Sounds for orchestra by Bao Yuankai; Music and narration “Smile China”*, narrated by Jason Li; Dragon Boat, with Wenxin Zhao on pipa (Chinese lute); Variations on the Kazakh folk song, Ma Yi La, by Yian-Jiang Hu, and other Chinese art songs, sung by soprano Lin Chen; and Gershwin’s famous Rhapsody in Blue, with Michael Berkovsky on piano.

In addition, harpist Andrew Chan plays La Source by Alphonse Hassleman. Violinist Alec Hou (father of celebrated violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou), joins pianist Sheng Cai to perform the well-known Sonata in A Major by César Franck.

The Celebration Gala is presented with funding from the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.

Conductor Erhei Liang is also a composer, trained at the Shanghai Conservatory and at Louisiana State University, He has composed symphonies, concertos, chamber and electronic music, solo and choral works. His works have been telecast and performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. An immigrant to Toronto in 1991, he is president of the Chinese Artists Society of Toronto, executive director of the Toronto Chinese Piano & String Teachers’ Association, artistic director of the Academy of Chamber Music for Young Musicians, and composer-in-residence of Hong Kong Chamber Chorus, for which he has composed many choral works. The Canadian Music Centre will record his recent multidisciplinary work Songs of Love at its November 1 premiere in Toronto.

* The Smile China Project is a Canadian registered charitable organization, founded by renowned facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Joseph K. Wong. Its primary objective is to provide specialized surgical, medical and health care services to children affected with facial deformities in poor developing areas within the People’s Republic of China. More information is at

Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Festival

Description: TBSF Banner Clolour LORES

May 27, 2011:

For Immediate Release

10th Annual Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute

3rd Annual Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Festival

Toronto (Canada) … Tafelmusik launches the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Festival, May 28 to June 15, which includes a number of free concerts in different venues around Toronto. Running concurrent to the Festival from June 2 to 15 is the 10th Annual Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (TBSI), which sees pre-professional and professional musicians from around the world gathering in Toronto for an advanced training programme led by some of the world's finest musicians in the field of baroque performance. TBSI is generously sponsored by BMO Financial Group.

Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Festival begins May 28 with several free performances at five different Doors Open Toronto venues. The Festival wraps up with four free TBSI concerts on June 3, 8, and 12 and the grand finale on June 15.

Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute is a comprehensive training program that includes orchestra and choir rehearsals, masterclasses, opera scene study for singers, chamber ensembles, private lessons, lectures and workshops, classes in baroque dance, and concerts by both participants and faculty. Each year TBSI is held at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, where Tafelmusik is the baroque orchestra-in-residence. This year Tafelmusik welcomes musicians from across Canada, the US, England, Spain, France and Australia for two weeks of baroque immersion in Toronto.

The Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute is open to auditors who are welcome to attend individual classes, purchase daily passes, or purchase an open pass for the events of the entire institute.

“Over the past decade, TBSI has not only grown in size and reputation, but has also become increasingly international. We have welcomed musicians from across Canada and the United States, as well as from Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia, South Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Central America and South America. We are dedicated to developing the period performers of the future, and TBSI is certainly producing great results: several past participants of the Institute have won positions in the Tafelmusik Orchestra and Chamber Choir and many others can be heard performing with other baroque orchestras, choirs and chamber ensembles,” says TBSI Artistic Coordinator Charlotte Nediger.

The TBSI Faculty includes Music Director Jeanne Lamon, Choir Director Ivars Taurins, and harpsichordist Charlotte Nediger as TBSI Artistic Coordinator, along with members of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir. Faculty members also include singers Ann Monoyios and Peter Harvey, Toronto Consort Artistic Director David Fallis, and Opera Atelier Co-Directors Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg.

Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Festival presents:

Five FREE performances in conjunction with Doors Open Toronto

Four FREE concerts in conjunction with Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute
For details visit

DOORS OPEN: five FREE concerts

Saturday, May 28

Gardiner Museum - 111 Queens Park
10:30-11:00am & 12:00-12:30pm
Geneviève Gilardeau, violin
Christina Mahler, cello
Lucas Harris, lute

Le Meridian King Edward - Crystal Ballroom - 37 King St East
11:30am-12:00pm & 1:00-1:30pm
Aisslinn Nosky, violin
Cristina Zacharias, violin
Felix Deak, cello

Evergreen Brick Works - 550 Bayview Ave North
2:30-3:00pm & 4:00-4:30pm
Patricia Ahern, violin
Christopher Verette, violin
Borys Medicky, harpsichord

Sunday, May 29

Enoch Turner Schoolhouse - 106 Trinity Street
2:30-3:00pm & 4:00-4:30pm
Thomas Georgi, viola d'amore
Lucas Harris, lute

U of T - Regis College - 100 Wellesley Street
2:30-3:00pm & 4:00-4:30pm
John Abberger, oboe
Marco Cera, oboe
Dominic Teresi, bassoon


Delightfully Baroque Friday, June 3 at 8:00 pm
Trinity-St. Paul's Centre
427 Bloor Street West, Toronto
A concert of music performed by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, with soloists Ann Monoyios, soprano and Peter Harvey, baritone. Featuring works by Fasch, Corelli, Telemann, Handel and Rameau.

Musical Interlude Wednesday, June 8 at 12:00 pm
Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto
80 Queen's Park, Toronto
A casual noon-hour concert of baroque chamber music by members of the TBSI faculty with works by Piccinini, Telemann, Bach, Handel and Rameau.

Peter Harvey, baritone
Claire Guimond, flute, John Abberger & Marco Cera, oboes,
Dominic Teresi, bassoon, Geneviève Gilardeau & Chris Verrette, violins,
Christina Mahler, cello, David Sinclair, double bass, Lucas Harris, theorbo,
Olivier Fortin, Borys Medicky & Charlotte Nediger, harpsichord & organ

The TBSI Orchestras and Choirs Sunday, June 12 at 1:00 pm
Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto
80 Queen's Park, Toronto
Directed by Jeanne Lamon and Ivars Taurins and featuring the Institute participants. On the programme are works by Campra, Locke, Fasch and Bach.

The Grand Finale Wednesday, June 15 at 7:30 pm

Free and general admission. Advance tickets required*
Grace Church on-the-Hill
300 Lonsdale Road, Toronto
The combined forces of the TBSI Orchestra, Tafelmusik Orchestra, TBSI Choir and Tafelmusik Chamber Choir in a baroque extravaganza with music by Handel, Rameau and Charpentier.

*Tickets for The Grand Finale are free, but must be obtained in advance. They will be made available to the public on Thursday, June 9 starting at 10 am in person only, at the Tafelmusik Box Office at 427 Bloor Street West. Maximum of two tickets per person.

Programmes and artists subject to change.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Natasha Bood is new Director of Administration of Toronto Summer Music Festival

Director of Administration and Operations

The Board of Directors of the Toronto Summer Music Foundation (TSM) has appointed Natasha Bood to the position ofDirector of Administration and Operations. Formerly the Executive Director of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Bood brings more than eight years of not-for-profit performing arts experience to the position, together with a music degree and a post-graduate diploma in arts administration/cultural management.

“With our start-up years behind us, TSM is delighted that Natasha has joined us for the next chapter. We welcome her savvy, skills, expertise and, indeed, charm in this senior role. She and Artistic Director Douglas McNabney are a formidably able team and we look forward to their leadership as TSM continues to build its reputation for excellence both at the Festival and at our Academy for gifted young Fellows preparing for careers as musicians, ” says Barbara Thompson, Chair of the TSM board.

In her role at the Regina Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Bood was responsible for the administrative staff and musicians, financial management, artistic programming, grant writing, collective agreement negotiations with the musicians union, fundraising, and marketing. During her tenure with the RSO, the orchestra received funding for its first tour in 15 years and sent musicians to Ottawa to perform for His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, at a special performance celebrating the RSO’s 100th anniversary season.

Prior to her post at the Regina Symphony, Ms. Bood was Marketing Manager at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra where she was responsible for achieving single ticket and subscription revenue goals. She devised the business plan for the TSO’s highly successful “Now or Never Sale”, which contributed to substantial increases in ticket sales.

The sixth annual TORONTO SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVAL takes place July 19 to August 13 and celebrates the best of classical music in the city, in the summer. This year’s festival marks the first for recently-appointed Artistic Director Douglas McNabney. With Beethoven and the Romantics as its theme, the 2011 Festival celebrates the iconic Romantic figure whose music and persona inspired generations of artists. The Festival takes place in Koerner Hall and Walter Hall in downtown Toronto. Festival passes and single tickets are on sale at the Royal Conservatory Box Office. For full Festival details,


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Torontonian Anastasia Rizikov, 12, Wins Piano Compettition in Palma de Mallorca



Twelve-year-old Anastasia Rizikov of Toronto has topped pianists more than twice her age, to win first prize in the 18th XVIII Concurso International de Piano Rotary (18th Rotary International Piano Competition) in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

The Scarborough resident was the youngest person ever to enter Category A of the competition, open to professional pianists, teachers, and students of high education, age 28 and under. Competitors who made it through the three rounds were required to play a total of one and a half hours of diverse repertoire over the three rounds, from memory, with no repetition. Category B was open to players up to age 16, and required only 20 minutes of music.

The competition took place in mid-May, attracting about 40 competitors in the two categories – 26 of them in Category A. At the conclusion, May 13, Anastasia received €2,600 (approx. $3,600 Canadian). She will return to Spain (dates TBA) for a solo recital tour and a performance with the Baleares Symphony Orchestra.

Anastasia – already a first-prize winner of numerous competitions – chose to enter the more challenging category because she had both the repertoire and the confidence. She went with her grandmother, Maia Spis, a Master of Music Education graduate who is also her teacher at the Nadia Music Academy in Toronto.

Second prize in Category A went to Spanish pianist Ambrosio Varela Garcia, 26, and third to Anna Prystromska, 22, of Ukraine.

Anastasia comments, “My grandmother and I really didn't come to this competition to win. We were going to compete with mature adult pianists with tons of experience and knowledge. I had just as much chance to win as everybody else. On the first day, we saw 20 contestants leave the competition and only six of us stayed for round II. For Round III, another three contestants had left – so I was sure that third place would be mine. I didn't expect to be first! These three days were exhausting – but ultimately worth it!”

Judges and observers commented on Anastasia’s natural playing, saying she played with heart.

In honor of the Competition, Anastasia wore a specially designed ruffled, red flamenco dress with black vest.


Winning the Rotary Competition is only the latest feather in her cap for Anastasia Rizikov. At age seven, representing Canada, she won the Vladimir Horowitz International Young Pianists Competition in Kiev, Ukraine. She also received a special award for Best Artistic Performance and made her orchestral debut, performing Polunin's Concertino in A minor with theNational Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, conducted by Mykola Diadiura.

Besides first-place wins at the Canadian Music Competition and the Canadian Chopin Competition, in 2010 alone she won first place in the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition for Young People (Cape Vincent, USA), and in the American Protégé 2010 International Piano and Strings Competition, performing in New York’s Carnegie Hall. She had previously performed at Carnegie Hall after winning first place in the 2009 Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition. In 2008, she represented Canada at the Kremlin at the international festival Moscow Meets Friends, organized by the Vladimir Spivakov International Charity Foundation, and was awarded the Festival’s medal and diploma. She has also been included in a feature on prodigies on the Oprah show.

Upcoming performances include two recitals in August in Cape Vincent, as winner of the 2010 competition; a recital and a performance of Schubert’s “Trout' Quintet” with the Novo4Tet in New York City in September; and three Detroit recitals in October.

Among her recent concerto performances in Canada and the U.S. were Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nan Washburn, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Toronto Sinfonietta conducted by Matthew Jaskiewicz, and Kabalevsky’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the International Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Debbaut.

A bio, videos, photos and more information about Anastasia Rizikov are available at


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tapestry announces New Opera Showcase

Tapestry announces a New Opera Showcase to culminate the 2010-2011 season

TORONTO, ON… Wayne Strongman, Managing Artistic Director, is pleased to announce that Tapestry New Opera’s 2010/11 season will culminate on June 14 & 15, 2011 with a New Opera Showcase of works in development at Tapestry, a presentation of some of the short works being developed for Opera to Goand excerpts from several full-length operas:


(Maja Ardal, librettist) / Norbert Palej, composer)

Creative match made in the 2010 LibLab

Waterfall is inspired by Icelandic mythology, a rural tale of forbidden love, with a mystic chorus in the title role (The Waterfall). The haunting first instalment of Waterfall, showcased at Tapestry’s Opera Briefsin September, featured a stunning original performance by mezzo-soprano Kimberly Barber, who will return for the June New Opera Showcase. It is the first opera by this team: Dora award-winning theatre artist Maja Ardal and Toronto-based Polish-Canadian composer Norbert Palej.

M'Dea Undone

(Marjorie Chan, librettist / John Harris, composer)

Creative match made in the 2009 LibLab.

A contemporary creation inspired by the Greek classic, this mainstage work by award-winning playwright and actor Marjorie Chan – Tapestry’s Writer in Residence, and Edinburgh-based English composer John Harris is being developed in partnership with Scottish Opera. Scottish Opera’s Alex Reedjik describes the companies’ similar taste, style and pedagogy which facilitate “a truly creative and symbiotic partnership – all heading toward the building of opera muscles for new / young composers and writers. AND most importantly with public performances at the end of it all which is really the point of opera writing. I think that given we live in hugely modern times, it’s terrific that we can share in this close cultural collaboration with emerging artists from both countries leading to work that is so much more than the sum of the parts.”

“Scenes from an Old Glasgow Pub”

(David Brock, librettist / Gareth Williams, composer)

Creative match made in the 2010 LibLab

A presentation of the developing Sloans Project from Noise Opera, new opera vignettes based on real-life love stories in Glasgow's historic Sloans Bar and Restaurant, to be produced in July for the 2011 Merchant City Festival. Noise Opera calls the Sloans Project “an innovative example of music theatre which fuses the line between audience as spectator and participant.“ Glasgow-based Irish composer Gareth Williams has participated twice in Tapestry’s Composer-Librettist Laboratory (LibLab), describing the Tapestry experience as “the best working environment that I've ever come across - I felt safe and felt that I could make the music I believed in making - and it's very rare to encounter an ethos like that.” He andToronto-based librettist David Brock have chosen to return to Tapestry to workshop Scenes from an Old Glasgow Pub, prior to their world premiere in Scotland as the Sloans Project.


(Michael Lewis MacLennan, librettist / Jeffrey Ryan, composer)

Creative team behind The Laurels, part of Opera to Go 2002 and 2010

The history of Canada is made up of countless immigrant stories. The challenge of leaving home, adapting to a new land and customs, and raising a family under trying circumstances runs through our collective memories. In this new opera for soloists and choir, playwright-screenwriter-producer Michael Lewis MacLennan and Juno-nominated composer Jeffrey Ryan take the basic story from the smallest book in the Old Testament and apply the “moral” to contemporary Canadian society and our immigrant experiences: “For your people shall be my people.”

“We are very excited about these new works in development. The teams represented are some of the finest creators from both sides of ‘the pond’. Working with their experience and maturity, and with our Scottish Opera colleagues, has been exhilarating for the performers as well as the staff, and it is time now to share this progression with our audience. We think you will be ‘wowed’!”
Wayne Strongman, Managing Artistic Director

The 2010-2011 season firmly establishes Tapestry as an international home to new opera for creators, developers and performers, all collaborators in telling stories that need to be told. This season is presented in the intimacy of Tapestry’s home, the Ernest Balmer Studio, in the Distillery Historic District.

$25 Regular / $20 Student & Arts Worker
Box Office
416.537.6066 /


June 14, 2011 at 7:30pm
June 15, 2011 at 6:30pm

The Ernest Balmer Studio at Tapestry
55 Mill St. Bldg. 58. Studio 315. Distillery Historic District, Toronto ON.

Director/Dramaturge: Tom Diamond
Music Director/Dramaturge: Wayne Strongman

Neema Bickersteth, soprano
Xin Wang, soprano
Kimberly Barber, mezzo-soprano
Heather Jewson, mezzo-soprano
Keith Klassen, tenor
Christopher Mayell, tenor
Peter McGillivray, baritone
Curtis Sullivan, baritone


Maja Ardal, librettist
Maja Ardal is a playwright, performer and Artistic Director of Contrary Company. She was the recipient of the 2002 George Luscombe Award for Mentorship in the Theatre. She wrote and performs You Fancy Yourself, (published by Playwrights Canada Press). She received the 2009 Dora Award for outstanding performance. YFY toured in 2009 to the UK. Her most recent play The Cure for Everything will be produced by Theatre Passe Muraille in the fall of 2010. Maja’s first play, Midnight Sun, was produced in Iceland and the U.S. During the 90s. Maja was Artistic Director of Young People’s Theatre (Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People). An Icelandic- Canadian, Maja was schooled in Scotland. She has directed across Canada, notably for The Shaw Festival, The Grand Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects and Great Canadian Theatre Company. For ATP she directed Stones in His Pockets (Betty Mitchell Award nomination for Outstanding Direction). At present she is adapting and developing The Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat. Maja teaches playwriting and physical theatre.

Norbert Palej, composer
Originally from Cracow, Poland, Norbert Palej has been increasingly recognized for his “first-rate and genuinely original work” (American Composers Orchestra), and a musical language that generates “visceral excitement” (The Boston Globe).

Norbert Palej has been Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Toronto since 2008. He also serves as the director of the University of Toronto gamUT chamber orchestra, and as coordinator of the annual New Music Festival. He holds composition degrees from Cornell University (D.M.A.), The Juilliard School (M.M.), and the New England Conservatory (B.M.). He studied conducting at the Academy of Music in Cracow (Poland) and at The Juilliard School in New York. Palej is also an active concert pianist and conductor.

Recent commissions include a percussion concerto for Evelyn Glennie, and a choral work for Soundstreams, featuring the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Polish Chamber Choir, and the Toronto Children's Chorus. His music has been heard in Canada, USA, Poland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Great Britain, and Costa Rica.

He is a recipient of the Toru Takemitsu Award from the Japan Society in Boston, the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, the Robbins Family Prize in Music Composition, the Benjamin Britten Memorial Fellowship, and the Susan and Ford Schumann Fellowship. He participated in the Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute, the American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings, the Academy for New Music and Audio-Art in Tyrol, Austria, the International Workshops for Contemporary Music Krakow/Stuttgart, as well as the Tanglewood, Aspen, Caramoor, and Budapest music festivals.

Marjorie Chan, librettist
Marjorie is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist based in Toronto. A four-time nominee, Marjorie was the recipient of two Toronto Dora Awards, one each for acting (Outstanding Performance) and writing (Outstanding New Opera). In 2005, she was named the K.M. Hunter Theatre Artist, an Ontario-wide award for mid-career artists. Marjorie was previously Associate Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre Company as well as Writer-in-Residence atCahoots, Theatre Direct Canada, and SUNY (Geneseo, New York.)

As a playwright and librettist, Marjorie’s works have been performed in the USA, Hong Kong, and Russia as well as having their premieres in Canada. Marjorie is most well-known for her dramas focusing on Chinese history. Her first play, China Doll explored the seeds of feminism in China, with the metaphor of the bound foot. China Doll was nominated for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Production as well as the Governor General’s Award. China Doll was also performed overseas as a part of Festival Canada Hong Kong. Her second full-length play, a nanking winter focused on the 1937 invasion of Nanjing, delving into contemporary and historical ramifications. It received its American premiere in December 2009. Her most recent full-length play is The Madness of the Square, set during the heady days leading up to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. The play premiered in Toronto in April 2009, and was excerpted for the 20th Anniversary Memorial in Nathan Philips Square.

As a librettist working with composer Abigail Richardson, Marjorie wrote Mother Everest (Opera to Go, Tapestry), about an ambitious mountain climber, as well as Sanctuary Song (Tapestry/Theatre Direct/Luminato), a new opera for families centred around a captive elephant named Sydney. Marjorie and Abigail were awarded a Dora for Outstanding New Opera in 2009 for Sanctuary Song. Marjorie is currently working on M’dea Undone, a new contemporary adaptation of Medea, with Edinburgh-based composer John Harris. Her other operatic collaborations have been with composers Wende Bartley, Stephen Andrew Taylor, and Gareth Williams.

Open to diverse and interesting forms, Marjorie’s writing has also supported dance pieces, sound theatre, radio drama and ‘cell phone’ plays. Invitations to festivals and retreats include: Playwrights’ Colony (Banff Centre),Cahoots Playwriting Retreat (Cahoots/Shaw Festival), CrossCurrents Festival (Factory), Groundswell Festival (Nightwood Theatre), International Festival of Authors (Harbourfront), Dim Sum Festival (fu-Gen Theatre/Harbourfront), Seedling Festival (Theatre Direct Canada), Hysteria Festival (Buddies in Bad Times), RED Festival, and the inaugural Stratford Festival Writers’ Retreat.

Trained at George Brown Theatre School as a performer, Marjorie was awarded the John Bannerman Bursary upon graduation. In her first production outside of school, Marjorie garnered a nomination for the Dora Mavor Prize (Outstanding Performance in a Professional Debut.) She then proceeded to perform across the country from New Brunswick to British Columbia with numerous award-winning companies, including Nightwood Theatre, Cahoots Theatre Company, Theatre Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, Persephone Theatre, Carousel Players, Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, Shakespeare-in-the Rough, Canadian Stage, Factory Theatre, Grand Theatre, Actors’ Repertory Company and da da kamera. As well, Marjorie has an active career in film, television and voice.

In addition to her professional activities, Marjorie is a passionate and outspoken advocate for arts access and education. She serves on the Theatre Ontario Youth Training Theatre Program Committee, the George BrownArtistic Advisory Board, and is a frequent adjudicator for the Sears Drama Festival. Marjorie currently runsCrossing Gibraltar, a theatre-training and performance program for young refugees and newcomers, created in 2006. Taking place in diverse neighbourhoods across Toronto, Crossing Gibraltar’s next program is Crossing Gibraltar, Crossing Generations, an opportunity for newcomer youth and seniors to create a new piece of theatre. Marjorie also teaches playwriting workshops in community and school settings from the elementary to the university level.

Most recently, Marjorie was Artist-in-Residence with Theatre du Pif (Hong Kong) where she directed the Asian premiere of Knives in Hens, and explored text adaptation in a collaborative context. Upcoming: Writer-in-Residence (Tapestry New Opera), and Director - Play Creation Unit (Carlos Bulosan Theatre.)

John Harris, composer
Opera composition includes Death of a Scientist (Scottish Opera 5:15 series). Theatre credits include The Last Witch (Traverse Theatre / Edinburgh International Festival), Monacellio (Tron / Naples International Theatre Festival), Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us, Nasty Brutish and Short, The Dogstone, Julie, Marie Queen of Scots, Gobbo(all National Theatre of Scotland); Lucky Box, The Nest, Knives in Hens, Anna Weiss, Family, Perfect Days, Greta, Sharp Shorts, Kill the Old Torture Their Young (All Traverse Edinburgh), Mother Courage, Jack and the Beanstalk(Dundee Rep), Jerusalem (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Midwinter, Solstice (Royal Shakespeare Company). Film and TV include The Fingertrap (BAFTA Scotland Emerging Talent Award 2009), Saltmark (Blindside), The Emperor,The Green Man of Knowledge (Red Kite). John also writes concert music and directs the Red Note Ensemble. He was for several years assistant organist at St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, and took his Masters degree in composition at the RSAMD in Glasgow.

David Brock, librettist

David is a past member of the Canadian Stage New Play Creation Group, the BASH! artistic development program, and the 2008 and 2010 Tapestry New Opera Composer-Librettist Laboratory. He has won a Theatre BC National Playwriting award, four Vancouver Island One Act Play awards, and the Gordon and Shirley Wagner Award for playwriting. Most recently, he released a chapbook of poetry, Gasmask Summer (Emergency Response Unit), and his play Wet premiered at the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival. He is currently writing a black metal opera and has penned the libretto for an upcoming song cycle with composer Jack Perla, which will debut in San Francisco as part of the Paul Dresher Ensemble’s 2010/2011 season. He has his MFA from the University of Guelph and currently teaches at Humber College

Gareth Williams, composer

Born in Ireland, Gareth Williams moved to Glasgow after studying music at Queen’s University, Belfast. He completed his Masters in Composition in 2000 at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and his Postgraduate Certificate in Education in 2002. In 2008 he completed his PhD in Composition at the RSAMD, studying with Gordon McPherson. His works have been performed by groups such as the Hebrides Ensemble, the Paragon Ensemble, the Ceoil Quartet, Symposia, the Black Hair Ensemble, and the London Sinfonietta. He was the winner of the British Conservatoire Composers Forum 2000, and in 2004 he won the Dinah Wolff prize for composition. His work has been featured in the Edinburgh Festival, the St. Magnus Festival, the York Late Music Festival, and Scottish Opera’s 5:15 Festival. Gareth was a participant in Tapestry’s 2009 LibLab, and his music was featured in last September’s Opera Briefs at the Ernest Balmer Studio, later to be remounted in Russia in March 2010. Gareth was able to attend the LibLab in 2010 with the financial support of Creative Scotland.

Michael Lewis MacLennan, librettist
Born in Vancouver, Michael Lewis MacLennan now divides his time between Toronto, Vancouver and Los Angeles, working as a playwright, screenwriter and TV producer. With six published plays, he is a two-time finalist for Canada's prestigious Governor General's Award and the only playwright to win the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Award twice. His first play Beat The Sunsetgarnered Vancouver's Jessie Richardson Award for outstanding emerging playwright and the Theatrum National Playwriting Competition. Grace won the Theatre BC National Playwriting Competition and has been produced across Canada and internationally. His next two plays The Shooting Stage and Last Romantics both won the Voaden Prize and were Governor General's Award nominees. Other plays include Leaning Over Railings, The Fabulous Life, (commissioned by The Vancouver Playhouse) and Life After God(commissioned by Touchstone Theatre and adapted from the short story by Douglas Coupland (Generation X)). His most recent play The Good Egg premiered in 2009 and was published the same year. Current stage projects include the opera libretto for Ruth.

Jeffrey Ryan, composer
Praised for his "strong and unique voice" (Winnipeg Free Press), "masterful command of instrumental colour" (Georgia Straight), and "superb attention to rhythm" (Audio Ideas Guide), Jeffrey Ryan has emerged as one of Canada's leading composers. His music has been commissioned, performed and broadcast by major orchestras, ensembles and soloists across Canada and internationally, has inspired new works by choreographers Barbara Bourget and Rob Kitsos, and served as the soundtrack to the dance film Fata Morgana.

Twice nominated for Classical Composition of the Year Juno awards (Quantum Mechanicsin 2008 and Pangaea in 2005, the latter recorded by the Thunder Bay Symphony), his growing discography includes recordings by the Bowling Green Philharmonia, the Hannaford Street Silver Band, and the Penderecki String Quartet. 2010 added recordings by musica intima, the Canadian Chamber Choir, and pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, with a release by the Vancouver Symphony upcoming.

Based in Vancouver, Ryan is Composer Advisor for Music Toronto, and was the Vancouver Symphony's Composer Laureate for the 2008/09 season, after serving as the VSO's Composer-in-Residence from 2002 to 2007.

Jeffrey Ryan holds degrees from Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Toronto and The Cleveland Institute of Music.

Wayne Strongman, Managing Artistic Director & Music Director/Dramaturge
One of Canada’s most distinguished music directors, Wayne Strongman is a champion of Canadian writers and composers. As founding Managing Artistic Director of Tapestry New Opera, now in its 31st season of innovative creation for the stage, he has commissioned and premiered over 30 new Canadian operas including the Cantonese-English Iron Road in 2001 (Brownell/Chan), Facing South (Hannah/Smith), The Shadow (Poch-Goldin/Daniel), Sanctuary Song (Chan/Richardson) and Dark Star Requiem(Battson/Staniland) –both for Luminato – and Nigredo Hotel (MacDonald/Gotham) which is the most frequently produced opera in Canadian history. In 2006 he premiered Elijah’s Kite (Chai/Rolfe) in New York City in collaboration with the Manhattan School of Music.

Music Director/Dramaturge of Tapestry’s Composer-Librettist Laboratory, Mr. Strongman has created a truly collaborative environment for an international roster of composers and writers. Of the over 100 creative artists who have been nurtured through this programme, over 40 have successfully brought original operas to stages across Canada and the USA, including at Tapestry. His commitment to a contemporary practice within the operatic art form has made Strongman a mentor to many Canadian singers. In 2007 he established the Tapestry New Work Studio Company as a performing resource for the new work creation process which has become Tapestry’s unique calling. Mr. Strongman has brokered partnerships with several international companies to bring Canadian artists to a wider public, notably English National Opera (London) Scottish Opera (Glasgow), and American Opera Projects (New York).

For fourteen seasons, Mr. Strongman was the celebrated Artistic Director of the Bach Elgar Choir, performing an annual concert series at Hamilton Place in addition to feature events like the unveiling of the Bombardier Global Express Jet (with the Toronto Symphony) and the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II. A noted choral specialist, he has also conducted and commissioned numerous Canadian premieres for the CBC: Harry Somers’ Chura-Churum, Maryan Mozetich’s Death and the Morningstar, Harry Freedman’s Fanfares, and Christos Hatzis’ Kyrie and In memoriam Elmer Iseler.

Mr. Strongman volunteers as the choral conductor for the Regent Park School of Music and has presided over the choir’s remarkable rise to fame, performing for the Governor General’s Arts Awards at the NAC, Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s farewell at the Air Canada Centre and the opening of the Blue Jays Season at the Rogers Centre. They have performed with many outstanding Canadian artists including Jackie Richardson and the Barenaked Ladies. Under his tutelage, the school now boasts its first graduate to pursue university education in operatic studies with full academic scholarship.

Mr. Strongman has led a number of festivals across the province as Artistic Director, including the Quinte Summer Music Festival and the Algoma Fall Festival.

Mr. Strongman has served on both the Ontario Region and National Council of the Canadian Music Centre and was honoured in 2009 as one of 50 CMC Ambassadors for his dedication to the performance of music by Canadian composers. On December 30, 2009 Her Excellency The Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, appointed Mr. Strongman as a Member of the Order of Canada.

Tom Diamond, Director/Dramaturge
Tom Diamond is in his fifth season as Tapestry’s Studio Company Director / Dramaturg. Past Tapestry productions include critically acclaimed premieres of Dark Star Requiem, The Shadow, the Dora Award winning Iron Road, the national tour of Still the Night and four previous versions of Opera to Go. Other career highlights include the world premiere of Timothy Sullivan’s Florence and the Lady With the Lamp for the Elora Festival (Chalmers Award), five productions for Pacific Opera Victoria and ten operas for the Canadian Opera Company. His production of Squonk was an off Broadway hit and transferred to Broadway where it won the American Theatre Wing’s Hewes Award. Last season he staged his first Magic Flute for Opera Lyra Ottawa at the National Arts Centre which marked the operatic conducting debut of Pinchas Zukerman. Recent projects include his third production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare, this time in Sulmona, Italy and a new production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola for Pacific Opera Victoria. Mr Diamond is perhaps most often recognized for his participation in both seasons of the Gemini Award-winning television seriesBathroom Divas.


Tapestry New Opera is an international home for new work creation, development and performance through its unique and highly collaborative work process. Under the leadership of Managing Artistic Director Wayne Strongman, CM, Tapestry engages the hearts and minds of artists and audiences, using opera to tell the stories that need to be told. The Tapestry process begins at the annual Composer-Librettist Laboratory where writers and composers are introduced to collaborative creation. Successful partnerships move on to create 15-minute operas for our regular Opera to Go productions and graduate to full-length works. Our INside Opera Education Programme gives students the chance to discover their own stories and engage in the creation of new opera. Our children’s operas, Elijah’s Kite by Camyar Chai & James Rolfe and Get Stuffed by Alexis Diamond and Richard Payne have already toured to over 30,000 students across Ontario. Tapestry productions which have premiered to critical and popular acclaim include Dark Star Requiem by Jill Battson & Andrew Staniland (with the Gryphon Trio and Elmer Iseler Singers) and the Dora-Award winning Sanctuary Song by Abigail Richardson & Marjorie Chan (with Theatre Direct), both for Luminato, The Shadow by Alex Poch-Goldin & Omar Daniel, Nigredo Hotel by Ann-Marie MacDonald & Nic Gotham, Elsewhereless by Atom Egoyan & Rodney Sharman, Still the Night by Theresa Tova, Facing South by Don Hannah & Linda C. Smith and the Dora Award-winning Iron Road by composer Chan Ka Nin & librettist Mark Brownell.

We have simplified our name to Tapestry New Opera. Please refer to our domain in case of confusion.


Tapestry is in a development season. Tickets are available for all events in the Ernest Balmer Studio. February – June 2011 will feature workshop performances of the new operas in development at Tapestry.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Against The Grain Theatre's Take On La Boheme

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Toronto, Ontario – Against the Grain Theatre, a Toronto-based operatic and theatrical initiative, announces its first opera, La Bohème, featuring Puccini’s timeless tale sung in an all-new English translation.

Director Joel Ivany joins forces with set and costume designer Camellia Koo and lighting designer Jason Hand. All three were recent prize-winners at the 6th European Opera-directing Prize held in London, UK. Laura Albino, recent COC Ensemble graduate, will be singing the role of Mimi. Tenor Adam Luther takes on the role of Rodolfo, with Justin Welsh as Marcello and Lindsay Sutherland Boal as Musetta. Stephen Hegedus makes his Against the Grain debut in the role of Colline alongside newcomers Keith Lam playing Shaunard and Greg Finney singing both Benoit and Alcindoro.

La Bohème will be presented June 2, 3, 4 and 5th, 2011, at The Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Ave. All performances begin at 8:00 p.m., with doors opening to the public at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 at the door and are also available online at

For more information including artists’ biographies, please visit

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Media contact: Jennifer McGillivray

(647) 919-6734