The Scene


Cecilia Livingston

Cecilia Livingston

With her melody-first approach and “vast and curious creative mind” (Lydia Perović, The Whole Note), British-Canadian composer Cecilia Livingston has emerged as a leading figure of new music for the voice. Her work leans organically to women’s stories, and in her lyrical fusion of styles from minimalism to jazz, tells stories that re-examine well-known literary characters.

Ms. Livingston is composer-in-residence at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, a position that builds upon her two-year fellowship at The American Opera Project in New York (2015-17). Her opera Terror & Erebus earned Ms. Livingston the Canadian Music Centre Emerging Composer Award (2018), and her recently debuted Singing Only Softly was a 2020 Dora Mavor Moore Awards nominee for Outstanding New Opera. She is a recipient of the Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes for women opera composers (2018), a finalist for the Ontario Arts Foundation’s Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize (2019), and a nominee for the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award (2020). Her harp and vibraphone duo, Garden, is featured on Angela Schwarzkopf’s detach, the 2020 JUNO Award Winner for Classical Album of the Year.

In addition to performances by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and the Kingston Symphony, Ms. Livingston’s music is programmed across Canada and internationally, notably with Glyndebourne Festival Opera Tour, Tapestry Opera, Soundstreams, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Bang on a Can Summer Festival, Nuit Blanche, Fashion Art Toronto, the Canadian Art Song Project, and the Royal Conservatory of Music’s 21C Festival.

Ms. Livingston’s current and upcoming projects include performances of Terror & Erebus with Opera 5 and TorQ Percussion Quartet, a portrait concert with Soundstreams and the 21C Festival directed by Tim Albery, Penelope with mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo at the Kennedy Center, and operatic projects with Glyndebourne Youth Opera.

Ms. Livingston holds a doctorate in composition from the University of Toronto, and she is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow in Music at King’s College London. Currently Vice-President of the Canadian League of Composers and a member of the Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Music Centre, Ms. Livingston has published on contemporary opera with The Opera Quarterly (Oxford), Cambridge Opera Journal, and Tempo (Cambridge). Future publications are forthcoming with Opera in Flux (U. Michigan Press) and The Cambridge Companion to Composition.

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