The Story Behind the Project
In an effort to revive the existing art song repertoire and to develop new vocal works for Canadian professional artists, tenor Lawrence Wiliford joined with pianist Steven Philcox and together founded the Canadian Art Song Project (CASP) in 2011. CASP promotes art song written by Canadian composers for Canadian musicians. More than simply encouraging artists and presenters to include some “Canadian content” once in a while, its mission is to encourage us all to embrace Canadian art song as a vital art form that speaks to performers and audiences today.
Since its founding, Canadian Art Song Project has commissioned numerous works for voice and piano by composers including Brian Current, Brian Harman, Marjan Mozetich, Norbert Palej, James Rolfe, Erik Ross, Ana Sokolovic, Peter Tiefenbach and others. These commissions are made with the intent to bring the performing artists together with the composer in the hope that the works might stand the test of time and that a new generation of advocates for Canadian song might be established.
In collaboration with the Canadian Music Centre, CASP has begun a series of recordings highlighting the wealth of song by Canadian composers and is working towards making available new editions of scores by Canada’s most important song composers.
Meet Our Artistic Directors
Pianist STEVEN PHILCOX has quickly established himself as one of Canada’s finest collaborators and has performed with many renowned singers including Richard Margison, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Shannon Mercer, and Measha Brueggergosman. His performances consistently receive high praise and critical acclaim prompting Toronto’s The Globe and Mail to write “a superb piano partner…gorgeously accompanied.”
Mr. Philcox is extremely excited about his recent appointment to the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto where he will head the collaborative piano department. Mr. Philcox will also continue a relationship with the Canadian Opera Company as a member of its music staff for the final production of the season. A graduate of the University of British Columbia, Mr. Philcox pursued his love of vocal literature for two summers at the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California. Subsequently, he went on to receive his Master of Music Degree in Vocal Accompanying from the Manhattan School of Music.
LAWRENCE WILIFORD is in high demand in concert, opera, and recital repertoire ranging from works by Monteverdi to contemporary composers. Critics have acclaimed him as an “amazing tenor” (Vancouver Sun) having “exceptional power throughout his range” (Boston Globe) and as a “phenomenal” and “matchless artist” (Globe and Mail).
Mr. Wiliford has collaborated with conductors such as Richard Bradshaw, Jane Glover, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Trevor Pinnock, Matthew Halls, Nicholas McGegan, Helmuth Rilling, and Pinchas Zukerman. His diverse opera credits include Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, and Die Entführung aus dem Serail; Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Albert Herring and The Turn of the Screw; Lully’s Persée; and Rameau’s Pygmalion and La Guirlande.
Mr. Wiliford has been recognized in particular for his interpretation of Bach and other composers of the Baroque period and is a champion of English and North American art song, a passion that has led to engagements across North America and at the Aldeburgh Festival in England. He has been involved in a number of world premiere performances featuring works by Benjamin Britten, John Greer, Derek Holman, James Rolfe, Erik Ross, Norbert Palej, and Zachary Wadsorth. His recorded projects appear on the ATMA Classique & NAXOS labels and include J.S. Bach’s Johannes-Passion under the direction of Alex Weimann and a solo recording entitled Divine Musick: The Late Works for Tenor and Harp by Benjamin Britten. Most recently he is featured on the Centrediscs release Ash Roses: Songs by Derek Holman.