Canadian Children's Opera Company's Lullabies: from kids, for kids

Canadian Children's Opera Company's Lullabies: from kids, for kids

Jenna Simeonov

The Canadian Children’s Opera Company is in its 48th season, and the first under new Artistic Director, Dean Burry. After 15 years, Ann Cooper Gay retired from her leadership of the CCOC, which consists of 6 choruses for young singers aged 3 to 19. Cooper Gay has left an extraordinary parting gift, entitled Lullabies, a CD of lullabies in 12 different languages, recorded by the CCOC. The CD will be given, free of cost, to new parents and their babies at Toronto-based hospitals, shelters, and care centres.

“When I took over the artistic helm at the CCOC I was really hoping to find ways to engage the organization with the greater community,” says current Artistic Director Dean Burry. “We are certainly and arts producer, but also provide a unique educational experience for our participants and I think if is really important for them to know that the impact that their artistic practise can have. So I was thrilled to have inherited the chance to promote this CD.”

The Principal and Youth Choruses of the CCOC are heard on Lullabies, as well as several featured alumni. “It just goes to show how much value Ann placed on young people. And having 12 different languages represented on the CD couldn’t be more Canadian.”

I had the chance to ask Ann Cooper Gay about this project, and what it means to give back to her community through these young folks.

You can have a listen to two tracks from Lullabies right here: - “Thula Baba” - and “Walad Gamil”

1. How did you settle on a project meant to be gifted to new parents and babies at hospitals and shelters?

I had heard about a similar project organized by one of our CCOC Honorary Patrons, TSO Maestro Peter Oundjian, who is also Music Director/Conductor with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. They recorded lullabies and offered the CDs to new mothers & babies. I immediately recognized that the CCOC could do the same, but we could take it a step further by actually singing texts from many different countries, thereby reflecting the cultural diversity of Toronto.

2. How did you go about collecting these lullabies?

It was such fun collecting the lullabies and doing the research. We ended up with 17 tracks and singing in 12 different languages. Some of the songs were ones that I had sung as a soprano soloist, others were already in the repertoire of the CCOC, and then I asked for suggestions from the choristers, and two songs were suggested by parents. I am pleased with the variety and the CD features the Principal and Youth Choruses, alumni soloists, staff, and one musician-parent. So, you will hear choruses, soloists, added instrumentalists, and a few new arrangements.

3. What sort of reaction or feedback have you gotten from members of the CCOC about working on Lullabies, and its CD release?

I think the choristers are very proud of the CD and eager to share it with new mothers & babies. We are excited to have a launch and to showcase a couple of the songs, so there is some buzz around this. The response from organizations has been quite wonderful and the new Artistic Director, Dean Burry, has planned the event in a very appropriate venue. I have recently retired, but this seems to be a great parting “musical gift”.

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