Check out: FAWN Chamber Creative

Check out: FAWN Chamber Creative

Photo: L'Homme et le Ciel workshop performance in the Open Ears Festival. l-r: Larissa Koniuk as Rhoda, Gregory Finney as Hermas, Adanya Dunn as The Messenger.

Based in Toronto, FAWN Chamber Creative is focused on getting Canadian music heard by new people. They mash up art forms, like their Synesthesia series combining new Canadian music, design, and film, and they commission new works like Adam Scime's L'homme et le ciel, which you can hear in Toronto this December at the Music Gallery.

Artistic Director and Resident Stage Director Amanda Smith talks about paying careful attention to her audience, and why "FAWN is the underground, gallery-hopping, club-going sibling of the opera world."

1. What is the mission behind FAWN Chamber Creative?

FAWN Chamber Creative is a Toronto-based collective dedicated to expanding the audience for Canadian classical music, with an emphasis on bringing new opera and multi-disciplinary works to the stage. FAWN’s principal priority is to commission and present new chamber music and operas by Canadian up-and-coming composers. In its productions, FAWN seeks to incorporate the work of artists in other fields, with the goal of bridging the gap between historically siloed audiences. By pairing new music with interdisciplinary productions, FAWN aims to reach new audiences who are artistically inclined but may not have a pre-existing connection to the genre of New Music.

2. How does FAWN fit into today's opera scene?

FAWN is the underground, gallery-hopping, club-going sibling of the opera world. We look to provide an exciting night out to our audiences, filled with music, art, drinks and a fun environment. With that, we are also committed to presenting work that is innovative and stimulating. Our events exhibit music by Canadian composers, many of who are young and interested in the exploration of music.

I joke about us as a sibling because, as much as we are part of the operatic family, we also have roots in the new classical music world and have many friends in various other creative scenes. FAWN produces interdisciplinary concerts that allow the work of Canadian composers to intersect with that of artists from other disciplines. We believe these types of collaborations not only stimulate new ideas but also new audiences. Our goal is to grow the audience of New Music and opera, attracting those who are especially interested in music as an exploratory art form. By bringing in new audience members from other creative communities and providing thematic parallels between our interdisciplinary concert programming and operatic programming, we hope to introduce a new and curious young audience to the vast forms of New Music and opera.

3. What do you offer that's unique in the opera & theatre scene?

What is truly unique about a FAWN event is the atmosphere. There is always a buzz of vibrant, creative energy at our events. Our intermissions feel like mini-parties, where people get to kick back and share their enthusiasm for what they have collectively experienced. We like to provide a social environment where audience members can have a blast sharing their different perspectives of the night.

FAWN's 2014/15 Fundraiser at Gallery 345, after a performance of Miss Donnithorne's Maggot. l-r: Adam Scime (FAWN Musical Director & Resident Composer), Edward Epstein (owner of Gallery 345), Stacie Dunlop (FAWN Special Projects Coordinator & Resident Performer), Lara Dodds-Eden (pianist), Holly Meyer-Dymny (FAWN Production Manager & Resident Designer), Amanda Smith (FAWN Artistic Director & Resident Stage Director). Photo by Josh Chong.

4. What does opera need more, or less of?

Opera simply needs more people to care about it, especially young people, which is what we hope to achieve. We want to eliminate the stigma of opera being stuffy or too much of an investment, as many people don’t have the time or pocketbook for it these days. We want our audience members to walk away with the feeling of having been given a great cultural experience as well as a fun night out with their friends, even if you went alone.

5. What kind of feedback have you gotten from your work thus far?

Most people approach us with a lot of enthusiasm, expressing how we have given them a completely new experience. Even if individual pieces don’t speak to everyone (art is subjective, as we know), we consistently are told that they appreciate having the opportunity to be exposed to something new and that they had a great time hearing it.

6. What do you hope FAWN will accomplish in future seasons? Do you have any "bucket list" productions you'd like to create?

Now that we have established our programming and feel confident in its reception, we plan to incorporate infrequently produced contemporary music and chamber versions of contemporary opera that has made it into the standard repertoire but is still infrequently performed. In doing so, we will bring our audiences deeper into the growing world of opera and New Music, and provide them with an insight into the compositions that continue to influence Canada’s young composers.

As for a “bucket list”, we have pieces of interest but will keep them under wraps until the time is right. Our main priority right now is the opera we have been developing for the past two years with FAWN Chamber Creative’s very own Adam Scime (Music Director & Resident Composer) titled, L’Homme et le Ciel. We’re very excited to be producing this at the beginning of December 2015 as a co-produced event with the Music Gallery. New work takes time and a heck of a lot of passion from everyone involved, so we are looking forward to celebrating this gorgeous new opera with everyone.

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Written by

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna is the editor and co-creator of Schmopera.com. She's also a pianist, vocal coach, and répétiteur, and working with singers is how she fell in love with opera. Her favourite operas include Peter Grimes, Ariadne auf Naxos, Tristan und Isolde, Written on Skin, and Anna Nicole.

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