Dear friends and colleagues,
Tonight we take a soul-cleansing breath, release what is past, appreciate what remains, and look forward with new wisdom to what comes next. As this interesting year draws to a close, I'm both grateful for all the life-lessons of 2009 and very glad they are past. Most of all, I am very excited about embarking upon a brand new year. The coming weeks and months are burgeoning with so much goodness, both new beginnings and seeds sewn coming to fruition - my only complaint is that there are still only 7 days in a week and 24 hours in each of them, and I do need to sleep and attend to the mundane necessities of life (and laundry) sometimes. Here are just a few highlights:
I have been invited to return to my alma mater as a guest artist, the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music (one of the foremost musical training programs in Canada), to perform a leading role in the first opera to be presented in the new acoustically perfect and exquisitely designed Koerner Hall. I look forward to start rehearsals for Le Cendrillon (Cinderella) by Massenet in the New Year, performances coming up in March 2010 with conductor Uri Mayer and the Royal Conservatory Orchestra.
I’m taking a brief hiatus from these rehearsals in mid-January for a trip to New York City to compete in the Liederkranz Foundation’s vocal competition (Wagner Division). Strange, but true: I have never been to New York (other than briefly crossing the tarmac at La Guardia while changing planes), so I am very excited about this trip and look forward to spending a few days after the competition seeing the sights and visiting with friends and family.
In the meantime, I am also preparing for a very special concert with Quintimacy on January 31st. Quintimacy, a Toronto-based group I co-founded in 2008 with musicologist Eleanor Johnston, composer Chad Martin and pianists Joseph Ferretti and Elaine Lau, has become very dear to me. We are dedicated to rebuilding a close working relationship between performers, composers and personal engagement with the audience through intimate salon-style performance of new, rare and beautiful piano, vocal and chamber works in settings which foster a sense of immediacy and connection. You can hear highlights from Quintimacy’s first season online at Instant Encore.
Titled "Expressionists in the Melting Pot," the first concert of our second season will trace the impact of historical events on music from the early 20th century in Vienna to the strange realities of the new world, after the escape or expulsion of many composers from the Nazi regime, in a program which includes music by Berg, Scriabin, Schoenberg, Korngold, Weill. As always with Quintimacy, our concert includes entertaining informative anecdotes mixed with the music and will be followed by a reception with the artists. After our almost excessively intimate event of last season had our guests rubbing shoulders, with many at our very knees sharing cushions on the floor, we are delighted to announce that we’re moving into the more spacious yet still intimate Gallery 345, a beautiful space of over 2,000 square feet with 12 foot wood ceilings and plaster and brick walls, designed and lit for the display of art.
I’m also preparing for other engagements later in the year, including a tour with my alter-ego, Emily. Canadian composer Jana Skarecky’s one-woman opera about Emily Carr, EMILY, THE WAY YOU ARE, with libretto by renowned Canadian poet Di Brandt, premiered on April 20, 2008. I had the profoundly gratifying experience of giving voice to this boldly visionary and nonconformist Canadian artist and writer, as well as to several key figures in her life - her sisters, a spurned suitor, art critics and the Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris. (This performance, with pianist Joseph Ferretti and members of The Talisker Players chamber ensemble under conductor Gary Kulesha, was presented at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario, through the New Music in New Places program of the Canadian Music Centre, and may be heard online at the CMC archives.)
On top of all this, in response to continual requests by audiences at various concerts for a recording (and I am truly honoured and not a little surprised every time this occurs), I will be entering the studio this year to fulfill my promises and record a CD. To that end, I am preparing a sublime selection of vocal works by contemporary Canadian composers, including oeuvres by Chad Martin and Maria Case, as well as Alex Eddington, and Catherine Magowan and Ian McAndrew (Note to composers who may still be working on or dreaming about their compositions for this project - and you know who you are – start your engines!)
I also have several interesting teaching engagements later in the year in assorted eclectic places, including a personal project about which I am very passionate: developing an inter-disciplinary creativity workshop by applying the performance-related techniques I use with singing students in group master-classes and cross-pollinating from there, using the true inner voice to facilitate free authentic expression for artists in other media, such as painting/sculpture/fibre-arts/writing, and more.
I send you all blessings for this New Year and ever beyond: Don't wait for someone else to elevate you to your potential. Make your own magic in the Universe. Captain your journey. Risk something. Trust your power, and most importantly ... believe!
Wishing you and all your loved ones a wonderful holiday and a life filled with love and laughter, health and happiness, peace and prosperity, and many happy returns!
XO – Ramona