Resources & visibility for IRCPA's New Singing Stars Adrianne Pieczonka at IRCPA's New Singing Stars, Zoomer Hall. Photo by Caitlin Cucco.

Resources & visibility for IRCPA's New Singing Stars

Jenna Simeonov

Among the young artist programmes and summer opera workshops - all in general agreement over their aim to help young singers make the leap from academia to career - is the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists. The organization has, for 35 years, produced workshops and encounters that connect emerging artists with their professional, established counterparts, in the hopes of facilitating the all-important practice of networking.

Most recently, IRCPA sent eleven young singers to mentor with Canadian operatic superstar Adrianne Pieczonka. They each sang for her in a working session - the latest in IRCPA’s romantically titled “Encounters with…” - and the work culminated in New Singing Stars, the November 5th concert at Toronto’s Zoomer Hall.

Following the concert, IRCPA awarded its annual “Career Blueprint” to soprano Sara Schabas, who had wowed the crowd - both live and those watching and listening live on The New Classical FM - with her crystalline singing of a snippet of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. With her winnings Schabas will head to New York, where she’ll be provided with new audio and video recordings, new professional photos, website consultation, professional mentoring, and more.

IRCPA Career Blueprint winner Sara Schabas with Adrianne Pieczonka.

Each of the eleven singers were also awarded a scholarship in the name of a renowned Canadian singer (Schabas’ was for Lois Marshall). The New Singing Stars did indeed seem littered with the figures of Canadian opera, both established and up-and-coming; the concert was hosted by Jean Stilwell, accompanied by Rachel Andrist, and in the audience was renowned coach Joan Dornemann.

As a simple audience member, New Singing Stars was a chance to indulge the ears in some new voices. A few were familiar: Teiya Kasahara’s ringing soprano is now expanding into something newly thrilling; Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor found a glove-like fit for her voice in Leonore’s beastly aria from Fidelio (one of Pieczonka’s signature roles); and Beth Hagermann’s singing of that great La Wally aria grabbed her listeners by the hearts.

New voices are always the most exciting, though. Mezzo Georgia Burashko stood out with her coloratura-laden aria from Handel’s Ariodante, soprano Jocelyn Fralick’s “Il est doux, il est bon” (Hérodiade) showed promise of a thrilling - maybe even enormous - voice on the verge, and tenor Zachary Rioux brought great singing and some serious guts with his “Salut! Demeure chaste et pure” from Faust.

The evening itself could have been slightly rattling for the singers, particularly those with less professional experience. On top of the usual pressures of singing for an audience were the close quarters of microphones and video cameras, and the specificities of a live broadcast. Impressively, the singers showed little of the vicarious stress I felt on their behalf.

Adrianne Pieczonka and the singers of New Singing Stars applauding Joan Dornemann and IRCPA Founder/Director Ann Summers Dossena. Photo: Caitlin Cucco.

The IRCPA also has an “urgent need” for an artistic hub in Toronto, similar to the National Opera Center in New York. The organization “There is no place for artists to meet together, exchange creative ideas, to work, study, practice, rehearse, or to be mentored.” Find details here, and donate here.



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