This weekend: Songbook V

This weekend: Songbook V

Jenna Simeonov

This Saturday, January 24th, Tapestry Opera presents Songbook V. It's a one-night-only concert, featuring excerpts from Tapestry's library of Canadian opera. Baritone Peter McGillivray and pianist Steven Philcox will perform along with the singers and pianists of Tapestry Opera's New Opera 101 program.

I spoke with Steven Philcox, who's also one of the Artistic Directors of the Canadian Art Song Project, about his role with Songbook V. "I think any time you're being innovative and creating something from the ground up, it's exciting. Both [Tapestry Opera and the Canadian Art Song Project] are trying to give both our artists and their respective art forms a new voice. Saying, what does it mean to create opera in the 21st century? How do we make it relatable to our current audiences? Also, looking at the work of contemporary librettists and writers who might have new angles for us to explore the human condition and bring that to the performing stage."

What will be on the programme, you ask? The public will hear selections from the pile of music that's ready to be explored with New Opera 101, chosen by Tapestry Opera's Artistic Director, Michael Mori. Says Philcox, "it's repertoire that's going to let each of these artists shine." That he's a fantastic pianist and collaborator is common knowledge among Canadian opera-ites; Steven Philcox is also a passionate educator. "The performing is always fun, but it's the teaching that I'm looking forward to the most, and kind of getting inside this music with the young artists, and helping them find their own truths through it."

In my own experience with Tapestry shows, the collection of short scenes and excerpts is an amazing way to get a taste of what Canadians are writing and what kind of stories they're telling. "When you think about Canada as a nation, we're known for being self-effacing," says Philcox. "I think that because of that there are so many influences that are coming into Canadian music that it's, you know, a kind of cornucopia of sound. Each composer might have his own language and a certain style that definitely becomes recognizable. But to say that there's an overall Canadian sound, I don't think you can actually say that, but that's what makes Canadian music so wonderful."

Songbook V happens at 8pm this Saturday, January 24th, at the Ernest Balmer Studio in the Distillery District. Click here for details and tickets.



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