Of Music and Sweet Poetry: The Canadian Art Song Project Wants to Put a New Focus on an Unsung Genre of Our Vocal Arts

By Crory, Neil | Opera Canada, Winter 2014 | Go to article overview

Of Music and Sweet Poetry: The Canadian Art Song Project Wants to Put a New Focus on an Unsung Genre of Our Vocal Arts


Crory, Neil, Opera Canada


ART SONG (n): A song written to be sung in recital, typically with piano accompaniment, and often set to a poem (Oxford Dictionaries)

When the young American tenor Lawrence (Lance) Wiliford came to Canada in 2003 to study for a Masters in Performance (Voice) at the University of Toronto, he was taken aback by the fact that so few singers seemed drawn to or interested in Canadian art song. "In the States," he said, "you worked on American song as much as you did on German or French Chansons". But here in Canada, Wiliford, who has since taken on Canadian citizenship, found the opposite to be true. Singers programmed Canadian songs primarily when mandated to do so. Instead of being driven by an appreciation for the music and the art form, the programming was driven largely by Canadian-content requirements for competitions, entrance auditions, graduating recitals and the like.

In 2007, after the sudden death of Richard Bradshaw, former General Director of the Canadian Opera Company, Wiliford was instrumental in organizing a commission in his memory. The resulting work was a song cycle, The Four Seasons (2008), by Canadian composer Derek Holman. When Wiliford and pianist Liz Upchurch premiered this new cycle, the audience response, he says, "was so positive and so overwhelming that, quite frankly, I was just astounded. People said they had never heard anything contemporary like this before. That is, new songs, songs written in our time, songs that moved them. And I couldn't understand how that could possibly be the case, especially when there are so many fine composers and singers in this country."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Inspired by this experience, he began to talk with colleagues, mentors, friends and musicians to find out more about Canadian song, but what he discovered shocked him even further. "The overwhelming response was either that they didn't have any interest in Canadian song at all or that they knew a little bit about it, but didn't particularly want to know more."

It was at this point that Wiliford started talking seriously with pianist Steven Philcox, who teaches collaborative piano on the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, sharing his feelings about Canadian art song and his ideas about founding an organization to help spark renewed interest in existing repertoire and commission new works. "I was one of the audience members at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre [of the COC's Four Seasons Centre] in the Spring of 2009, when Holman's cycle was premiered," says Philcox. "It had a profound impact on me. So when Lance approached me about joining hint as co-Artistic Director of an organization to promote Canadian art song, it was really a no brainer. To have both sides of the coin represented--a singer and a pianist--made ideal sense."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

And so the Canadian Art Song Project (CASP) came into being. "We started in March of 2012 with a Brian Harman song cycle, Seunng the Earthworm. The work was written for soprano Carla Huhtanen and myself. It was our first commission, and we recorded it last December as our second release on the CentreDiscs label." (CASP'S first release, Ash Roses: Music of Derek Holman, which includes The Four Seasons cycle, was released to critical acclaim on Centre-Discs last year.)

"Our next commissioned work is by Marjan Mozetich, one of Canada's great composers, who will be writing for piano and voice for the very first time," Philcox continues. "This is a major coup for us. I can mention the name 'Marjan Mozetich' to a lot of singers, and they have absolutely no idea who I am talking about. Many other very fine composers out there are in the same predicament."

In part, however, that may be because composers are not immediately comfortable with the idea of art song. "In talking with some," says Philcox, "we occasionally sensed discomfort with the prospect of writing for an instrument--the piano--that they, perhaps, do not play. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Of Music and Sweet Poetry: The Canadian Art Song Project Wants to Put a New Focus on an Unsung Genre of Our Vocal Arts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.