Opera Star Lesia Mackowycz Performs with the Toronto Children’s Chorus

Opera Star Lesia Mackowycz Performs with the Toronto Children’s Chorus

On December 16, Toronto Children’s Chorus (TCC) returns to Roy Thomson Hall for its annual holiday concert. This special 40th anniversary performance entitled, The Fire Within, will feature guests including TCC alumnae and international opera stars Krisztina Szabó and Lesia Mackowycz, dancers from Swan Studio in London, Ontario, friends from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Youth Choir and TCC Alumni Choir. The Chorus and its guests will sing festive favourites plus Vivaldi’s Gloria at one of Toronto’s favourite annual holiday concerts!

The TCC’s Head Choristers had the opportunity to ask guest artist Lesia Mackowycz some questions in anticipation of the upcoming holiday performance.

TCC alumna, opera star Lesia Mackowycz (soprano)

Why did you decide to pursue singing?

Well, like many things in life when I found out I was good at it, I pursued it with passion and dedication, even at the age of eight. And when Mrs. Bartle brought me into the TCC and encouraged and developed my young talent (as only she can) I found a real joy and sense of personal accomplishment that I have to this day.

What is your favourite show or song that you have ever performed? What made it so memorable?

My favourite show is the Operetta Die Fledermaus (J. Strauss). I’ve played the role of Adele throughout the world many times during my career. She’s a great character and a lot of fun to play. There was one time when I was performing the role at an outdoor International Festival in Eutin, Germany, when in the middle of my second aria, a shooting star blazed across the night sky…quite a moment!

What is your favourite TCC memory?

My very first concert was Christmas, 1983. I was so proud. We sang Bach‘s Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten. I still remember every word. I was so proud that I forgot my special job of leading the exit after the “WINK“ from Mrs. Bartle (I was the last one in the first row). I was too busy smiling from ear to ear. She just kept winking until she basically had to wave me down!

 

What did you learn during your time at the TCC that helped contribute to the person and musician you are now?

The TCC formed the foundation for my career in music, both performing and teaching. My years in the choir taught me discipline, professional behavior, language and people skills, as well as developing my technical voice ability. And it also gave me the sense of what it means to be part of a successful team working together for a common goal of excellence. Plus, those years showed me I could be a musician as a lifelong career and passion. And for that, I am forever grateful to everyone involved in the TCC.

You were Krisztina Szabó’s (fellow The Fire Within guest artist) TCC apprentice trainee for a year, how did this partnership influence you as a singer?

Krisztina taught me to read music. I‘m not even sure she knows that she taught me how to read music! I owe her big-time for that. She was amazing. I like to think I took what she did for me to other singers through my own teaching career.

TCC alumna, opera star Lesia Mackowycz (soprano)

What have you gained from performing and working in so many different places around the world?

Well, for one thing: a global perspective on life and our profession. I‘ve learned how to work in many languages. I‘ve gotten to see the world and meet so many interesting people along the way. I‘ve experienced more than I could have possibly imagined.

How does teaching voice as a professor at the University of Osnabrück differ from performing?

Being a professor is very different than performing. It takes even more energy! I need to pay attention to every detail – not just of my own voice but also with the voices of others. Plus, you need to find a way to click with each individual student because each is unique in terms of his or her ability, goals and personality. My job is to help everyone achieve his or her absolute best – in that way, Mrs. Bartle is still with me.

What advice would you give young singers?

If you are going to do it, then do it with everything you’ve got. This is not an easy road to travel, it’s demanding and you have to be committed because you are going to take some bumps and bruises along the way. But the rewards are definitely worth it! They have been for me.

Also, be true to yourself, learn to speak more than one language, listen to all different styles of music, go see other people perform, don ‘t be afraid to fail. And, if you can, check your ego at the door… and have fun, you’re getting to do something special!

Toronto Children’s Chorus 2017 Head Choristers: Aramea, Summer & Julie

Questions and responses have been edited for clarity.

This Q&A is not to be reproduced without permission from Toronto Children’s Chorus.

Opera Star Krisztina Szabó Performs with the Toronto Children’s Chorus

Opera Star Krisztina Szabó Performs with the Toronto Children’s Chorus

On December 16, Toronto Children’s Chorus (TCC) returns to Roy Thomson Hall for its annual holiday concert. This special 40th anniversary performance entitled, The Fire Within, will feature guests including TCC alumnae and international opera stars Krisztina Szabó and Lesia Mackowycz, dancers from Swan Studio in London, Ontario, friends from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Youth Choir and TCC Alumni Choir. The Chorus and its guests will sing festive favourites plus Vivaldi’s Gloria at one of Toronto’s favourite annual holiday concerts!

The TCC’s Head Choristers had the opportunity to ask guest artist Krisztina Szabó some questions in anticipation of the upcoming holiday performance.

TCC alumna, opera star Krisztina Szabó (mezzo-soprano)

Why did you decide to pursue singing?

When I first began my degree at Western University, I was a piano major. My grand plan was to be a high school music teacher. I had always loved singing (6 years in the TCC, I should hope so!), but I had never had any private singing lessons. Dr. Darryl Edwards changed all of that. After auditioning for ensembles in first year, he approached me and said, “Do you take singing lessons?” I said, “No” to which he replied, “Well, you should!” And with that, everything changed. I started taking lessons with him on the side. Two years into my degree, I changed my major to voice and by the end of my degree (still in Music Education!), I had caught the “performing bug”. So, I decided to pursue a post-graduate programme for voice performance to “see what would happen.” And as it turned out, a career as an opera singer happened! But to answer the question “why?” is pretty simple. I love singing, I’ve always loved singing, and doing it was as natural as breathing. What could be greater than having a career doing something you love? I can’t imagine a greater gift!

What is your favourite show or song that you have ever performed? What made it so memorable?

It is so hard to pick favourites, what a hard question! I have many favourites! So, I’ll go with what popped to mind first. In 2015, I sang the role of The Woman in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Schönberg’s opera, Erwartung. It’s a 40-minute opera of just me singing some seriously complicated music. Ewartung tells the story of a woman’s madness. Every show, I was tied into a straightjacket and left alone on stage. I thought to myself, “Am I actually crazy? I’m up here by myself in a straight jacket about to sing the hardest music I’ve ever done!” And then the first notes from the orchestra started and I thought “Too late! Here we go!” and then began 40 of the most incredible minutes – exhilarating, terrifying, satisfying, intense. I loved every minute of it!

TCC Days: Krisztina Szabó singing the part of Angakok during a workshop of Ruth Watson Henderson’s Clear Sky and Thunder, which she composed for the TCC.

What is your favourite TCC memory? 

Again, it is so hard to pick a favourite! I loved the touring – Europe in 1984, Western Canada in 1986 and Hawaii, Australia & New Zealand in 1988. Doing recordings and concerts with the one and only Maureen Forrester. Performing and recording Holst’s The Planets with the TSO. Singing Carmina Burana at Roy Thomson Hall and being enveloped in a wall of sound. But mostly, I remember the people I met in the Chorus, it was the first place where I felt I truly belonged.

What did you learn during your time at the TCC that helped contribute to the person and musician you are now? 

The question should be what DIDN’T I learn… there was so much! Musicianship, work ethic, exposure to vast amounts of repertoire, sight-reading, languages, working on contemporary music with living composers, striving to give your very best at all times, supporting and celebrating your fellow musician, and most importantly, the joy of making music and raising your voice in song with others. All of these things have made me the musician I am today and have really fed my soul in a way that allowed me to entertain the idea of having a career in music.

You mentored fellow The Fire Within guest artist, Lesia Mackowycz, as a senior chorister in the TCC. How did this partnership influence you as a singer? 

It was a VERY long time ago (ahem…about 30 years!) when Lesia was my apprentice, so I honestly can’t remember too much about that specifically. But, I do remember that being her “mentor” was not only fun (she was a great kid, and very on top of things!), but I loved being able to help her and I felt responsible for her and her success in the Chorus.

What advice would you give young singers? 

Work hard, never take anything for granted, and never lose that joy of singing.

How do you usually prepare for a role, such as your debut at Covent Garden in the opera, Lessons in Love and Violence? Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

First and foremost, I learn my music and learn it thoroughly. When working with a living composer like George Benjamin, who is extremely detailed in his writing, it is very important to not only learn your notes, but to also respect every detail he has taken the time to write into his score. And how he has written that music informs your character. Yes, the director will also give you his or her take on it, but always look first to the music.

As for pre-performance rituals, I don’t have anything particular that I do. As a mom to an 11-year-old daughter, I have become pretty low-maintenance as a performer – moms don’t get a lot of time for self-indulgence! I do try to get a good night’s sleep before a show day, and I do try to eat something healthy before the show, enough that I’ll have energy, but not too much so I will be digesting when I sing. And I like to get to the theatre in good time to just settle in, get ready slowly and settle my nerves.

TCC Days: Krisztina Szabó and her chorister friends at National Music Camp. Ms. Szabó is second row, fourth from the left.

What composers are on your wish list to perform, and why? 

I can’t think of any composers on my wish list, but one role I haven’t done that I would love to do is to sing the role of Octavian in Strauss’s opera, Der Rosenkavalier. It’s some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard and that final trio is just exquisite!

Toronto Children’s Chorus 2017 Head Choristers: Aramea, Summer & Julie

Questions and responses have been edited for clarity.

This Q&A is not to be reproduced without permission from Toronto Children’s Chorus.

 

 

Sing Loo! has launched

Sing Loo! has launched

Sing Loo! is the Toronto Children’s Chorus’s 10th annual chorister-driven fundraiser and public concert, presented each year with the generous sponsorship of the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. This campaign represents the largest source of annual operating funds for all choirs in our program – over 300 children and youth between the ages of 6 to 30! 

The Toronto Children’s Chorus, celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this season, has achieved international acclaim through exceptional music education and life-enhancing experiences. Fundraising is essential for the organization’s continued success.

At the end of our campaign we invite our donors to come to a free, public concert at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel on Sunday, December 3 from 1 to 4pm! Choristers look forward to thanking you for your generous contribution and to “sing their pledges”!

Meet our Head Choristers!

Meet our Head Choristers!

Head Choristers are Section Leaders who have shown exceptional leadership qualities and have made an outstanding contribution to the Chorus. They are responsible for representing the TCC publicly, communicating with staff about special plans, attending monthly Chorus Council meetings, focusing the choir before rehearsals and performances, leading in the creation of the yearbook, and organizing social events throughout the year. As you can tell, Head Choristers perform critical roles as ambassadors, role models and leaders!

This year, we are happy to introduce three incredible young leaders as the Head Choristers of our 40th anniversary season!

Aramea

Hi, I’m Aramea Copeman and I’m incredibly excited to be one of the three head choristers for TCC’s 40th anniversary season! Over the last eight years in the choir I have had the best experiences and made the closest friends. Out of these experiences, my favourite was in July 2017, when I stood on the stage in Barcelona representing Canada at the 11th World Choral Symposium. Not only did we sing our best and meet people from around the world, but I also got to enjoy Spain with my best friends. This year, I’m looking forward to the holiday season with the TCC, our annual Sing Loo! fundraiser, Roy Thomson Hall holiday concert, carolling with the Main Choir and singing holiday songs in the community. Outside of choir I love baking, science and Christmas! (I have been listening to Christmas music since September 1st….) My advice to new choristers is to always be open to making friends in the choir, because from my experience, they are for life.

 Summer

Hi, I’m Summer and I’m so excited to be a Head Chorister for the 2017-18 season! This is my 9th year in the choir and it’s honestly been the best 9 years of my life (even if that only leaves 7 years of boring choir-less life). During my time in this organization I have experienced and created so many amazing memories, such as being conducted by Penderecki in Poland, or shaking the hand of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in New York City! How many people can say they’ve done that? I know this season will hold so many extraordinary experiences as good or better than that, especially being the 40th anniversary of the TCC. I’m so honored to be one of your Head Choristers this year, and I can’t wait to experience it alongside you!

 

 

 

Julie

Hello my name is Julie Anne Frynta and it is my greatest pleasure and honour to be a head chorister this year. I am the oldest of six children and my family loves to do sports and travel. This is my sixth year in the choir and I am very excited for the unforgettable opportunities and experiences that we will all have this 40th season. I truly hope that all the choristers of the Toronto Children’s Chorus will have a wonderful year full of life enhancing experiences and memories that will last forever. Singing is a powerful gift and it is a universal language, so whenever and wherever you are in the universe there will be people who love to sing.

Welcome to our 40th Anniversary Season!

Welcome to our 40th Anniversary Season!

The Toronto Children’s Chorus welcomes you to our ruby season – Fire and Ice! Join us as we reflect on the 40 years we have spent together and anticipate the next 40 years to come. 
 
During this special season, we welcome many guests, including international opera stars and TCC alumni, bass-baritone Giles Tomkins, mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabó and soprano Lesia Mackowycz. We are honoured to sing Canada’s national anthem at the Invictus Games Closing Ceremonies and we are excited to perform two concerts with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in November and March.
Make sure to mark your calendars. You won’t want to miss the incredible talent, power and joy the Toronto Children’s Chorus brings to every performance!

Upcoming Performances

*This season, all concerts are single ticket sales only (no subscriptions). Purchase online in advance to skip the box office line. Tickets are also available at the door.

Autumn Radiance

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017 | 3PM

St. Anne’s Anglican Church

Adult: $25 | Senior/Student: $20 | Child: $10

The Toronto Children’s Chorus Training Choirs, Choral Scholars, staff and alumni will welcome autumn with powerful repertoire at the beautiful St. Anne’s Anglican Church. The choir will be joined by TCC staff and friends, Bradley Christensen (baritone) and Ryan Downey (tenor), and TCC Alumnus Giles Tomkins (bass baritone). Do not miss this radiant concert that is sure to warm the audience from the crisp autumn weather.

 

Light the Flame

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2017 | 4PM

Trinity St. Paul’s United Church

Adult: $35 | Student/Senior: $30 | Child: $20

As Canada prepares for another cold winter, the Main Choir and Toronto Youth Choir will counter the chill with electric repertoire. Ticket proceeds from this special concert will support Chamber Choir’s 2018 tour to Newfoundland, including their participation in Choral Canada’s biennial Podium Conference and Festival.

National Anthem at Invictus Games Closing Ceremony

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2017 | 7:30PM

Air Canada Centre

Adult: $35 | Student/Senior: $30 | Child: $20

Chamber Choir is honoured to sing Canada’s national anthem at the closing 
ceremony of the third annual Invictus Games, with Canadian folk and country singer, William Prince. Created by Prince Harry, the Invictus Games began in London, UK, in 2014, in which wounded, injured or sick military personel partake in various sports.

Congratulations, Alumna Emily D’Angelo!

 
Congratulations to TCC alumna Emily D’Angelo who won 1st place in the Cesti Singing Competition in Innsbruck, Austria!
 
More than 170 singers from 39 nations applied for the prestigious singing competition for Baroque opera, organized by the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music. After a high quality final concert with 12 remaining competitors, Canadian mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo came out as the big winner. Second place went to Frenchwoman Eléonore Pancrazi, also a mezzo-soprano. 
 
 
 
 

Art Classes with the Canadian Contemporary School of Art

The Canadian Contemporary School of Art (CCSA) is a new arts school that takes an innovative approach to creative art instruction and provides a warm and welcoming learning environment for students of all ages. Located in Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood, classes at the CCSA take place in a newly renovated bright and open 3750 square foot space. Each class is devoted to both developing the skills necessary for mastering different art forms and allowing each student to experience the joy of learning about their creative selves.
 
CCSA is proudly offering classes that teach painting, sculpting, textile printing, fashion designing, cartooning, animation, puppetry and architecture. 
 
To learn more and register for one of its amazing classes, visit the CCSA at 109 Vanderhoof Ave, or www.ccsa.art 416-740-0078.

The Toronto Children’s Chorus extends sincere gratitude to its season supporters!