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122 Jane Archibald, soprano, Liz Upchurch, piano

November 14, 2019 | 1.30 pm | Walter Hall, University of Toronto

Canadian soprano Jane Archibald’s artistry generates excitement at every appearance. Ms. Archibald’s dynamic career trajectory has taken her from her home country to San Francisco to the Vienna State Opera and major opera houses on both continents. Featured on multiple recordings, her first solo CD won the JUNO Award for Classical Album of the Year and newly released recordings of Mozart and Messiaen are receiving rave reviews. “Coloratura soprano Jane Archibald was all vocal thunderbolts and lightning flashes” – The Arts Desk

Liz Upchurch, in her 13th season as Music Director of the COC Ensemble, is the doyenne of collaborative pianists and vocal coaches in Canada. Her talk on November 4 as recipient of an Opera Canada “Ruby Award” is posted here.

  • Henry Purcell | If Music be the Food of Love – Sweeter than Roses
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Vorrei spiegarvi, o Dio, K. 418
  • Claude Debussy | Pierrot – Regret – Apparition
  • Franz Schubert | Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (with Dominic Desautels, clarinet)
  • Benjamin Britten | Les Illuminations: 2. Villes – 3. Phrase; Antique – 5. Marine
  • Roger Quilter | Go, Lovely Rose – Love’s Philosophy
  • Robert Burns | Ae Fond Kiss
  • Richard Strauss | Lieder, op. 68: 2. Ich wollt’ ein Sträusslein binden – 3. Säusle liebe Myrthe – 5. Amor
  • ENCORE! Czardas from Die Fledermaus

Download John Mayo’s Program Notes

Read a detailed interview with Jane in a recent issue of Scena Musicale.

All artists, dates, and programs are subject to change without notice.

Pre-concert lecture | Free to ticket-holders

12.15 pm | Tuning Your Mind

Dr. Robin Elliott

Further biographical information about the performers, the composers and their poets; personal appreciations of the songs and arias — were delivered with wit, and even some warbled examples, preparing the capacity audience for a thrilling afternoon.

      

In consideration of those with allergies or sensitivities, please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne, or other scented products at concerts. We share the air: go scent free.

             

Liz Upchurch on starting fresh, miracles, and her journey to Canada

Liz Upchurch, pianist, collaborates with Jane Archibald at Music in the Afternoon on November 14, 2019. At a November 4 gala she received a “Ruby” award from Opera Canada for her outstanding contributions to the Canadian opera community. Here is her speech from that evening, sharing her life story, recently posted for Canadian Opera Company subscribers in Issue 13 of NOTES.

A CANADIAN MIRACLE by Liz Upchurch

It was Schubert lieder that lured me to the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the early ‘90s. It was there, in a summer program at the Banff Centre, that two truly remarkable things happened: I met a man who was to become my musical mentor, Martin Isepp. As he had done for so many artists before and after me, he seemed to hold the magical key to unlocking the secrets not only of art song but opera as well. Thanks to him, I was officially hooked on opera.That summer I also met a young Canadian woman, a brilliant theatre director, who was to become the love of my life. There was only one problem. She was Canadian and I was British. Where could we live? We spent the first few years trying to see each other whenever humanly or financially possible. After a while, it was clear that we wanted and needed to be in the same place. My newfound passion for opera seemed to offer my career extraordinary opportunities, whereas my love as an English person for a Canadian was filled with political obstacles too big to overcome. We tried finding ways to live together in my hometown of London, England. There I was establishing a career as a soloist, chamber musician and répétiteur. Unfortunately, British Immigration had other plans. They decided Jen absolutely had to leave the UK – without the possibility of return. Overnight we went from a world filled with hopes to the horrible realization that we didn’t have a country to live in that would accept us as a couple. What on earth were we going to do? Where would we go? We were given five weeks until Jen had to leave the UK. We were beyond distraught. The phone rang off the hook with wonderful people offering advice or even offers to come and live in their country, places like Holland and even Australia. This prospect was beyond daunting for both of us. We needed a small miracle. We had been sifting through any legal information we could find about our predicament. Then, when looking through the Stonewall legal aid booklet, we discovered a chapter marked “where to live in the world.” There were only four countries on that list and to our absolute amazement, a new country had just been added: Canada. It was 1998 and there were now five countries in the world that would sponsor same-sex couples. This was our miracle. We went running to the Canadian High Commission in London where the sweetest Canadian man named Mr. Rose asked how long Jen had left before needing to leave the UK. We had just over two weeks. He looked at me and promised that I would become a landed immigrant of Canada before Jen had to leave. Our miracle kept growing because he kept his word. My own country had firmly closed its doors, but Canada’s were wide open and welcoming. We could not have been more grateful. 

Liz and Jen

Jen and Liz

STARTING FRESH

Now, where should we live in Canada? It needed to be on the east coast so I could travel more easily to Europe. We asked advice from all the key people I had met in Banff. One of them was the iconic voice teacher and Canadian soprano, Mary Morrison. She said, “Oh my dear, you need to audition for Richard Bradshaw!” And the next thing I know, I was playing an audition for the Canadian Opera Company. Three weeks later, I was hired as a répétiteur at the company to work on Fidelio with Maestro Bradshaw conducting. Over the course of my contract, I kept coming across names like “Bayrakdarian,” “McHardy,” and “Westman” on the daily rehearsal schedule. I wasn’t sure who they were at first – they weren’t in my show and they weren’t understudies – so who were they? Then I realized that these were the COC’s young singers. It wasn’t an ensemble at all; it was a training program for operatic voices that happened to be called the Ensemble Studio. Halfway through my contract, Richard Bradshaw asked me if I wanted to run the Ensemble Studio fulltime. I was honestly taken aback. What on earth could I offer them? We were practically the same age and I felt like I didn’t have nearly enough experience for such an important job. But I just thought, “Well, I’m going to give it a go. It’s an amazing challenge. I will try it for a year.” Twenty years later, here we are. 

Liz Upchurch and her first Ensemble Studio cohort

Liz Upchurch (centre) with her first Ensemble Studio cohort:
(l-r) Andrew Tees (back), Alain Coulombe (front), Michael Colvin, Liz, Krisztina Szabó and Liesel Fedkenheuer

SHIFTING ROLES

In my first year as Head of the Ensemble Studio, I was blessed with some of the most wonderful human beings: artists like Krisztina Szabó, Alain Coulombe, Michael Colvin, and Steven Philcox – can you imagine what that was like? We were more like friends than colleagues. There was an amazing camaraderie between everyone. The training ran quietly alongside the shows.

My role now is almost unrecognizable to what it was. I came into the company as a répétiteur who looked after the Ensemble Studio. I played the shows and coached the Ensemble Studio alongside a handful of other trainers. Then a few years after I started, I began to lose the vision in my right eye, having already lost most of the vision in my left. I was now legally blind. I couldn’t follow a conductor anymore, I had to relearn how to read scores. My job as a répétiteur would not be possible. Unquestionably I would have to change everything I did and the way that I did it.

Moving away from mainstage productions actually worked out for the better. Under the old setup, I could easily miss working with Ensemble Studio singers for weeks if they weren’t cast in the show I was working on. This way, I could take a step back and oversee the nitty gritty of their day-to-day and more readily address their needs. By stepping into more of an oversight role, it became clearer to me what these young singers needed on a more regular basis. Without realizing it, I had become a common factor in their sessions with all the outside trainers – the glue, if you will. We would collaborate and when the outside trainers left, I could help the artists distill the information. This was a key element on how the Ensemble Studio’s training was to evolve. 

Liz at the piano

Playing on the Four Seasons Centre stage

THE ENSEMBLE STUDIO TODAY

I started to prioritize a collaborative approach to the training model a number of years ago, the goal being to help unify the training language used. There are so many different elements to singing, that we need a clear vocabulary to clarify the teaching goal. The body, the voice, the breath, the languages, the music, the drama: these elements all interact when you teach singers. These are often taught separately, but it seemed to make more sense when we worked together in the same room at the same time. As well as learning from each other’s craft, we could also problem-solve in a cohesive way.

I think most singers are quite shocked when they first join the program because they’re so used to having one teacher and then suddenly you have three or four trainers in the room at the same time. To my knowledge, this way of teaching singers as a team is truly unique. Once they start to trust the work, they also see the benefits. So do the trainers. We try to tailor the program to meet the needs of individual singers. In a program that moves at such a rapid pace, that’s incredibly important. We don’t work collaboratively all the time, only when we feel that this would be useful. So, we offer a menu of resources that singers are able to mix-and-match. Ultimately, we want to make sure that when our artists leave us, they have a sense of independence and all the tools and connections they need to succeed wherever they are in the world. And our singers really are all over the world.

If you had told me nearly 30 years ago that I would be living in Canada, running a prestigious operatic training program, and married to a woman, I’m fairly sure that I would have laughed long and hard. I wouldn’t have believed any of it.

In my 21st season at the COC, it amazes me that I have overseen an entire generation of young Canadian singers and pianists. It continues to be one of the most thrilling adventures of my career. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t learn something from these gifted artists and trainers, as well as the high-profile artists that perform on our mainstage. I am enormously proud of the program – our trainers work so hard to make sure that the teaching is at the highest level – and I have evolved as a person, a teacher, and an artist as a result. We have done some groundbreaking work here and (although it is not very Canadian to say this, I will anyway) there is much to be proud of.

19/20 Ensemble Studio

Liz with the 2019/2020 Ensemble Studio

Photo credits (top to bottom): Chris Hutcheson; courtesy of Liz Upchurch; courtesy of Krisztina Szabo; courtesy of Liz Upchurch; Gaetz Photography

2019 11 09

Past Seasons

Concert History cover
Download the complete History of Concerts and Performers  by Hanna & Fred Feuerriegel, an indexed list of concerts, performers, and repertoires of all WMCT seasons, from the first (1898-99) up to and including the most recently completed, with a table of contents and indexes hyperlinked to the listings.
Anna Farini, President
Visit the Historical Photo Gallery
Anna Farini, 1907- 08 President of the WMCT, was an impressive pianist, composer and essayist. Unlike most executive members of the WMCT who were married to influential, monied men, Madame Farini had a husband who was a tightrope walker!

Scholarship and Fellowship Recipients

Women’s Musical Club of Toronto | Centennial Scholarship
Faculty of Music, University of Toronto

  • 2020-2021 – Emily Bosenius, violin
  • 2019-2020 – Hannah Corbett, violin
  • 2018-2019 – Alex Hetherington, mezzo-soprano
  • 2017-2018 – Vivian Chen, piano
  • 2016-2017 – Myriam Blardone, harp and piano
  • 2015-2016 – Emily D’Angelo, mezzo-soprano
  • 2014-2015 – Alessia Disimino, violin
  • 2013-2014 – David Zucchi, saxophone
  • 2012-2013 – Claire Bellemare, soprano
  • 2011-2012 – Sara Schabas, soprano
  • 2010-2011 – Florence Mak, piano
  • 2009-2010 – Jian Zhang, piano
  • 2008-2009 – Mark Dimitroff, clarinet, and Ilana Zarankin, soprano
  • 2007-2008 – Krista Wodelet, bassoon
  • 2006-2007 – Marie Cristine Pelchat-St. Jacques, cello
  • 2005-2006 – Kenin McKay, violin
  • 2004-2005 – Elizabeth Loewen, violin
  • 2003-2004 – David Haskins, French horn
  • 2002-2003 – Annick Santschi, flute
  • 2001-2002 – Rafael Hoekman, cello
  • 2000-2001 – Angela Soo-Jung Park, piano
  • 1999-2000 – Sarah Pratt, violin
  • 1998-1999 – Stephen Tam, flute
  • 1997-1998 – Rachel Mercer, cello

Women’s Musical Club of Toronto and Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Foundation | 110th Anniversary Scholarship
The Glenn Gould School, The Royal Conservatory of Music

  • 2020-2021 – Hee-Soo Yoon, violin
  • 2019-2020 – Vivien Ilion, soprano
  • 2018-2019 – Abigail Bachelor, harp
  • 2017-2018 – Milica Boljevic, soprano
  • 2016-2017 – Milica Boljevic, soprano
  • 2015-2016 – Michaela Kleer, viola
  • 2014-2015 – Tess Crowther, cello
  • 2013-2014 – Whitney Mather, soprano
  • 2012-2013 – Alyssa Ramsay, cello
  • 2011-2012 – Beth Hagerman, soprano
  • 2010-2011 – Ronelle Schaufele, viola
  • 2009-2010 – Leigh-Anne Martin, mezzo-soprano
  • 2008-2009 – Jeanette Comeau, viola

Women’s Musical Club of Toronto and Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Foundation | Graduate Fellowship
Faculty of Music, University of Toronto

  • 2019-2020 – Katherine Moffatt, trumpet
  • 2018-2019 – Katherine Moffatt, trumpet
  • 2017-2018 – Chieh-Ying Lu, oboe
  • 2016-2017 – Alexandra Bourque, conducting
  • 2014-2016 – Braden Young, collaborative piano
  • 2012-2014 – Lisa Tahara, piano
  • 2010-2012 – Melody Chan, piano
  • 2009-2010 – Mark Vuorinen, choral conducting
  • 2008-2009 – Rebecca Norman, bassoon
  • 2007-2008 – Andrea Cerswell, soprano
  • 2006-2007 – Jennifer Smele, piano
  • 2005-2006 – Joel Cormier, percussion
  • 2004-2005 – Laura Reid, violin,

Women’s Musical Club of Toronto and Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Foundation | Summer Music Scholarships and Fellowships

  • 2019 – Fiona Robson, cello, Toronto Summer Music Academy
  • 2018 – Frances Armstrong, piano, Toronto Summer Music Academy
  • 2017 – Madeleine Zarry, violin, National Youth Orchestra of Canada
  • 2017 – Emily Eng, viola, Toronto Summer Music Academy
  • 2016 – Danielle Green, violin, National Youth Orchestra of Canada
  • 2016 – Sophia Anna Szokolay, violin, Toronto Summer Music Academy
  • 2012 – Vladislav Kalinichenko, trombone, National Youth Orchestra of Canada
  • 2011 – Hugo Rinfret-Paquet, double bass, National Youth Orchestra of Canada
  • 2009 – Rachel Desoer, The Banff Centre, Cello Master Class
  • 2008 – Kaili Maimets, The Banff Centre, Flute Master Class
  • 1964 – Maria Pellegrini, soprano, The Banff Centre, Study Grant

Women’s Musical Club of Toronto | Ottilie M. Gunning Memorial Scholarship
The Glenn Gould School, The Royal Conservatory of Music

WMCT Royal Conservatory Scholarship (est. 1975, first awarded 1979)
Re-established as Ottilie M. Gunning Memorial Piano Scholarship in 1992

  • 2011-2012 – Rudin Lengo, piano
  • 2010-2011 – Samuel Deason, piano
  • 2009-2010 – Grace Kim, piano
  • 2008-2009 – Katsiaryna Khatsko, piano
  • 2007-2008 – Baharak Beizaei, piano
  • 2006-2007 – Matthew Bagasao, piano
  • 2005-2006 – Marketa Ornova, piano
  • 2004-2005 – Shoko Inoue, piano
  • 2003-2004 – Sarah Choi, piano, and Matthew Wicks, piano
  • 2002-2003 – Sabrina Lin, piano
  • 1999-2002 – Kimberley Fairbrother, piano (3 years)
  • 1998-1999 – Mari Ogawa, piano
  • 1997-1998 – Maneli Pirzadeh, piano
  • 1996-1997 – Kirsten Olafson, piano
  • 1995-1996 – Gillian Frost, piano
  • 1994-1995 – Yeo-Jung Kim, piano
  • 1993-1994 – Stephen Ham, piano
  • 1992-1993 – Micah Yui, piano
  • 1991-1992 – Susan Archibald, piano
  • 1990-1991 – Susan Archibald, piano
  • 1989-1990 – Francine Plouffe, piano
  • 1988-1989 – Julianne Schoen, piano
  • 1987-1988 – Elise Desjardins, piano
  • 1986-1987 – Mariko Anraku, harp
  • 1985-1986 – David Chokroun, piano
  • 1984-1985 – Mami Kuroda, piano
  • 1983-1984 – Elina Doverman, piano
  • 1982-1983 – Laura Ippolito, piano
  • 1981-1982 – Melana Karpinsky, piano
  • 1980-1981 – Elina Doverman, piano
  • 1979-1980 – Chia-Lin Chou, piano

Women’s Musical Club of Toronto | Entrance Scholarship
Faculty of Music, University of Toronto

Scholarship categories to 1993:
ISH – Irene Simons Hume Award (1966-71)
JGF – Scholarship in memory of Mrs. J.G. Fitzgerald (1957)
MOBA – Mary Osler Boyd Award (WMCTS as renamed in 1955)
WMCTB – WMCT Bursary (est. 1966)
WMCT-JBW – Joan B. Wilch Award in Voice (est. 1985)
WMCT-MOB – MOBA as renamed in 1973 and increased
Re-established as Entrance Scholarship (amalgamating the WMCT Scholarship,1930-1973, and scholarship in memory of Mary Osler Boyd and Joan B. Wilch)

  • 2011-2012 – Dalia Al-Khafajy, flute
  • 2010-2011 – Omar Ho, clarinet
  • 2009-2010 – Christopher Arnold, violin
  • 2008-2009 – Chang Co Co Chen, violin
  • 2007-2008 – William Callaghan, French horn
  • 2006-2007 – Nicolas Mahon, trombone
  • 2005-2006 – Nancy Mann, French horn
  • 2004-2005 – Vania Margani, soprano
  • 2003-2004 – Ashley Foot, tenor
  • 2002-2003 – Tasmin Johnston, oboe
  • 2001-2002 – Emma Tessier, flute
  • 2000-2001 – Elke Mau, double bass
  • 1999-2000 – Yuka Kobayashi, piano
  • 1998-1999 – Praise Lam, violin
  • 1997-1998 – Megan Bulluz, oboe
  • 1996-1997 – Joni Henson, soprano
  • 1995-1996 – Measha Brueggergosman, soprano
  • 1994-1995 – David Braid, piano
  • 1993-1994 – Elissa Lee, violin
  • 1992-1993 – Erika Tanner, soprano (WMCT-MOB)
    • Teri Dunn, soprano (WMCT-JBW)
  • 1991-1992 – Dianne Wells, mezzo-soprano (WMCT-MOB)
    • Cheryl Hickman, soprano (WMCT-JBW)
  • 1990-1991 – Xia Liao, violin (WMCT-MOB)
    • Hope Nightingale, soprano (WMCT-JBW)
  • 1989-1990 – Mary Catherine Duff, mezzo-soprano (WMCT-MOB)
    • Russell Braun, baritone (WMCT-JBW)
  • 1988-1989 – Nicholas Papadakis, violin (WMCT-MOB)
    • Lori Klassen, mezzo-soprano (WMCT-JBW)
  • 1987-1988 – Meredith Hall, soprano (WMCT-MOB)
    • Shelagh Tyreman, mezzo-soprano (WMCT-JBW)
  • 1986-1987 – Jack Bakker, classical guitar (WMCT-MOB)
    • Laura Schatz, soprano (WMCT-JBW)
  • 1985-1986 – Mark David Cavlovic, piano (WMCT-MOB)
    • Mary Hahn, soprano (WMCT-JBW)
  • 1983-1985 – Edmond Agopian, violin (WMCT-MOB) (2 years)
  • 1982-1983 – Jean Ducharme, saxophone (WMCT-MOB)
  • 1981-1982 – Hamish Gordon, oboe (WMCT-MOB)
  • 1980-1981 – Joseph Orlowski, clarinet (WMCT-MOB)
  • 1979-1980 – Raymond Bisha, French horn (WMCT-MOB)
  • 1978-1979 – Lise Vaugeois, French horn (WMCT-MOB)
  • 1977-1978 – Giselle Dalbec, violin (WMCT-MOB)
  • 1976-1977 – Colleen Farrier, piano (WMCT-MOB)
  • 1975-1976 – Galia Shaked, piano (WMCT-MOB)
  • 1974-1975 – Caralyn Tomlin, soprano (WMCT-MOB)
  • 1973-1974 – Helena Bowkun, piano (WMCT-MOB)
  • 1972-1973 – Jill Pert, contralto (MOBA)
    • Connie Stewart, piano (WMCTS)
  • 1971-1972 – Bonnie Silver, piano (MOBA)
    • Fujiko Imajishi, violin (WMCTB)
    • Caralyn Tomlin, soprano (WMCTS)
  • 1970-1971 – Jane Coop, piano (MOBA)
    • Allan Stellings, cello (WMCTB)
    • Roderick Campbell, baritone (ISH)
  • 1969-1970 – Mary Lou Fallis, soprano (MOBA)
    • Bonnie Silver, piano (WMCTB)
    • Madeleine Courtney, contralto (ISH)
  • 1968-1969 – Judith Kenedi, piano (MOBA)
    •  Adele Armin, violin (WMCTB)
    • John Dodington, bass-baritone (ISH)
  • 1967-1968 – Renee Rosen, soprano (MOBA)
    • Judith Kenedi, piano (WMCTB)
    • Sonya Rohozynsky, contralto (ISH)
  • 1966-1967 – Isabel Vila, violin (MOBA)
    • Paul Brown, baritone (ISH)
    • Burnetta Day, soprano (WMCTB)
    • Walter Buczynski, piano and composer (JGF)
  • 1965-1966 – Nancy Greenwood, contralto (MOBA)
  • 1964-1965 – Maria Pellegrini, soprano (BSG)
  • 1962-1965 – Ruth Shakarian, soprano (MOBA) (3 years)
  • 1961-1962 – Janet Thom, piano (MOBA)
  • 1960-1961 – No award given
  • 1959-1960 – Robert Aitken, flute (MOBA)
  • 1958-1959 – Orval Ries, oboe (MOBA)
  • 1957-1958 – Teresa Stratas, soprano (MOBA)
  • 1956-1957 – Bruce Mather, piano and composer (MOBA)
  • 1955-1956 – Pierrette Lepage, piano (MOBA)
  • 1954-1955 – Paul Helmer, piano (WMCTS)
  • 1953-1954 – Bernard Turgeon, baritone (WMCTS)
  • 1952-1953 – Bernard Turgeon, baritone (WMCTS)
  • 1951-1952 – Ray Dudley, piano
  • 1950-1951 – Betty-Jean Hagen, violin (WMCTS)