2021 Mentorship Program
Canadian Art Song Project (CASP) announces winners of the Chung-Wai Chow and John Wright Art Song Mentorship Program
Prize supports emerging composers of Canadian art song
Toronto, May 11, 2021 – Canadian Art Song Project (CASP) is pleased to announce Laurence Jobidon and Jesse Plessis as the inaugural mentees in the Chung-Wai Chow and John Wright Art Song Mentorship Program for Composers—a new CASP initiative designed to support emerging composers working in the field of Canadian Art Song. They will be working with mentors Luna Pearl Woolf and Jocelyn Morlock, respectively.
Generously supported by Chung-Wai Chow and John Wright, the program was announced by CASP Co-artistic Directors Steven Philcox and Lawrence Wiliford in February 2021 as a way to help enrich and re-imagine the writing of Art Song in Canada by bringing together emerging and established artists within a collaborative and open environment.
Over the course of the next year, Laurence Jobidon will be working with Luna Pearl Woolf on her project that sets the poetry of Blanche Lamontagne, the first French-Canadian woman poet to publish under her own name.
Jesse Plessis will be working with Jocelyn Morlock on a project entitled ‘Time’s Kiss’ that will interweave texts by Rabindranath Tagore, Anne Carson, and Geneviève Plessis.
CASP is thrilled with the number of highly qualified applicants who applied to be part of this program. We look forward to receiving more applications next February when the next round will open and another two sets of mentor/mentees will be chosen.
About the 2021 Mentees:
Canadian composer and organist, Laurence Jobidon (b. 1992) has written for a variety of ensembles, notably chamber, solo, vocal, and orchestral music. Hailed for her inventiveness (Jeu), powerful lyricism (Avant-Scène Opéra),and for the richness of her musical language (Folia Organologica, Poland), her works have been performed in North America and Europe in venues such as Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, the Canadian Opera Company noon-concert series, the Canadian International Organ Competition festival (CIOC), the International Review of Composers (Serbia), and the Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ). Laureate and finalist of many composition prizes (Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers, Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes with librettist Pascale St-Onge, New Generation Orchestra), she has benefited from the guidance of renowned Canadian composer Andrew P. MacDonald in her compositional journey.
In the last few years, her love of collaborative work, poetry, literature, and dance naturally sparked an interest in vocal music and multidisciplinary works—an interest she will be exploring further with upcoming projects, including Ceux qui répondent à l’écho (with poet Gabriel Jobidon, mezzo-soprano Charlotte Gagnon, and dancer Alexis Cousineau), a new work for spatialized chamber orchestra for Cuña (Petrikor Danse).
Jesse Plessis is a Canadian pianist and composer of Métis heritage who was born in Sparwood, British Columbia. He studied piano with Deanna Oye and composition with Arlan Schultz at the University of Lethbridge, and later piano with Megumi Masaki and composition with Patrick Carrabré at Brandon University. After attending masterclasses with Norma Fischer in London (England) and Edith Fischer in Blonay (Switzerland), he completed a doctorate in piano performance at the Université de Montréal in the class of Paul Stewart. He currently attends the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, where he is pursuing a doctorate in composition in the classes of Denys Bouliane and Philippe Leroux.
His compositions have been broadcast on CBC Radio, and have been performed by the Land’s End Chamber Ensemble, Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra, Musaeus String Quartet, Global Drums Percussion Ensemble, University of Lethbridge Singers, Canadian soprano Lisa Mulgrew, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
As a pianist, he has appeared in solo recitals, chamber music, and concerto performances across Canada and Europe. European classical music of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries occupies a central place in his repertoire, as does the western art music of the current era.
About the 2021 Mentors:
Luna Pearl Woolf
Canadian-American composer Luna Pearl Woolf has long used her creative voice to advocate for social and political change. Particularly renowned in the field of opera, her music, praised by The New York Times for its “psychological nuances and emotional depth,” is characterized by its dramatic intention, with a penetrating focus on music’s capacity as a storytelling language.
The 2021 GRAMMY-nominated composer-portrait album, LUNA PEARL WOOLF: Fire and Flood, spans several decades of the composer’s work and grapples with such pressing issues as climate change, poverty, zealotry, racism, gender roles, and plague, through music that is as intensely emotional as it is lyrical and complex. The album, released on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series, features The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, NOVUS NY and conductor Julian Wachner, with soloists cellist Matt Haimovitz, soprano Devon Guthrie, mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata, and Broadway actor Nancy Anderson.
Woolf founded the ground-breaking Oxingale Records with Haimovitz in 2000, and Oxingale Music in 2010. Her music can be heard internationally on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series.
Jocelyn Morlock is a composer living in Vancouver, Canada, the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil Waututh First Nations. Her music is inspired by birds, insomnia, nature, fear, other people’s music and art, nocturnal wandering thoughts, lucid dreaming, death, and the liminal times and experiences before and after death.
Morlock was the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s first female Composer-in-Residence (2014–2019), and inaugural Composer-in-Residence for Vancouver’s Music on Main (2012–2014.) She won a 2018 JUNO for her piece My Name is Amanda Todd—an elegy for and celebration of the life of Amanda Todd, a young woman whose message of hope, empathy, and tolerance has caused a groundswell of support and awareness around bullying, cyber abuse, and internet safety; she believes in the proliferation of positive energy that a large group of people can create together through many small actions. She writes music that is very personal and draws on her own life experiences. She recently had the opportunity to be one of six participating artists creating an imagined composition with of-the-now: Decolonial Imaginings, curated by Dylan Robinson and Mitch Reynaud. As a listener and music educator, she has a broad-ranging interest in all kinds and styles of music and is very grateful to be living in a time and place where we can hear so many diverse voices express their identity in music.
About the Chung-Wai Chow and John Wright Art Song Mentorship Program for Composers:
The Chung-Wai Chow and John Wright Art Song Mentorship Program for Composers was created to empower new voices to bring their different lived experiences into the evolving art form of Canadian Art Song. Applications from people who identify as female, non-binary, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and artists from traditionally under-represented populations are strongly encouraged.
Two grants of $2000 will be awarded each year until 2023. The successful applicants will be expected to create three Art Songs (free-standing poems set to music—read more about Art Song here), roughly 10 to 12 minutes in total, within eight months of the agreed start date. As part of the program the grant recipients are paired with recognized Canadian Art Song composers who will act as Mentors throughout the process to provide guidance and support.
In addition to seeking applications from graduates of composition programs, those in post-graduate composition programs and/or other emerging freelance composers who wish to advance their skills in the writing of Art Song, CASP welcomes applications from composers from non-traditional or non-classical backgrounds. The program is open to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.
Canadian Art Song Project recognizes the generosity of Chung-Wai Chow and John Wright, long-time supporters of Canadian Art Song Project, for making this mentorship program possible.
2021 Mentorship Program Jury
- Rebecca Hass: mezzo-soprano, Director of Community Engagement – Pacific Opera Victoria
- Nathalie Paulin: soprano, Faculty – University of Toronto
- Steven Philcox: pianist, head of collaborative piano- University of Toronto, Co-Artistic Director- CASP
- Jordan de Souza: conductor (Erster Kapellmeister – Komische Oper Berlin), pianist
- Peter Tiefenbach: composer, pianist, vocal coach, Faculty – The Glenn Gould School
- Leslie Uyeda: composer, pianist, vocal coach
- Lawrence Wiliford: tenor, Co-Artistic Director- CASP
Rebecca Hass is a citizen of the Métis Nation of British Columbia and is of mixed European descent. A graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University with an Honours Bachelor in Music and Voice Performance, she has enjoyed an over 30-year career as a mezzo soprano performing across Canada with almost every opera company and orchestra as a soloist and lead performer. She has been a creative participant in many workshops for new works including several seasons with the Lib Lab-Tapestry New Opera Works; Lillian Alling, Vancouver Opera; Missing, Pacific Opera. Recent projects of note include her appearance with the Vancouver and Calgary Symphonies for performances of Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, by Canadian composer Jeffery Ryan and her personal music and story- telling show “Sauvage”. Currently, as Director of Civic Engagement for Pacific Opera she manages a residency program for new works, and a civically engaged emerging artist program.
Soprano Nathalie Paulin has established herself in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Far East as an interpretive artist of the very first rank. Winner of a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Opera Performance, she has collaborated with internationally renowned conductors including Kent Nagano and Yannick Nézet-Séguin on both the concert platform and in opera. She is a past winner of the Montréal Symphony Competition. She has also received awards and prizes from the George London Foundation in New York, the Young Mozart Singers’ Competition in Toronto, and the Canadian Music Competition. Still active as a performer, Nathalie Paulin is an assistant professor (teaching voice, French Mélodie, and Advanced French Lyric Diction), at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. Nathalie has also been on faculty at VISI (Vancouver International Song Institute), Orford Music (Quebec), the Barachois Musical Summer Academy (New Brunswick) and at the Stratford Summer Music Vocal Academy.
Steven Philcox – coArtistic Director, Canadian Art Song Project
Pianist Steven Philcox is Associate Professor at the University of Toronto where he leads the Collaborative Piano Program. One of Canada’s finest collaborators, he is a frequent partner of Canada’s vocal elite and continues to perform in leading concert halls across North America. From 1999-2010, Mr. Philcox was répétiteur, assistant conductor, and orchestral continuo player with the Canadian Opera Company where he had the privilege of working on more than 35 productions. Increasingly recognized for his teaching, Mr. Philcox has given masterclasses throughout Canada and is regularly invited to mentor young artists at many of Canada’s prestigious summer programs: Opera on the Avalon, Toronto Sumer Music, and Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI). He has also held teaching positions at the Banff Center’s Twentieth Century Opera and Song Festival, the Chautauqua Summer Institute, the Center for Operatic Studies in Italy (COSI), and the Highlands Opera Studio in Haliburton, Ontario. Mr. Philcox’ most recent endeavor is the Canadian Art Song Project (CASP) which he co-directs with tenor, Lawrence Wiliford.
University of Toronto Profile
Jordan de Souza
Canadian conductor Jordan de Souza is quickly making his mark on orchestras and theatres internationally and has been First Kapellmeister of the Komische Oper Berlin from 2017-2020.
Born in Toronto, Jordan studied conducting at McGill University and the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, making his conducting debut aged 20 with Bach’s St John Passion. After graduating, he joined the McGill faculty from 2011 to 2015 and went on to conduct several important choral works including the St. Matthew Passion, Christmas Oratorio, Mass in B-Minor, and the Requiems of Verdi, Mozart, and Fauré. During this time, he was also Conductor in Residence of Tapestry Opera in Toronto, conducting the world premieres of three full-length operas.
Jordan made his debut in 2015 for the Canadian Opera Company, conducting their Claus Guth production of Le nozze di Figaro, and the following year he was invited to join the staff of the Komische Oper, Berlin.
Peter Tiefenbach is a pianist, composer and vocal coach, though he’s also worked as an organist, conductor, broadcaster, writer, actor and singer. A native of Regina, he studied music in Canada, the U.S. and England, before settling in Toronto in 1986.
Self-taught as a composer, his first major commission was Opening Day, for the 1991 Guelph Spring Festival. In 1994, he was nominated for a Juno for Best Classical Composition (Three Poems).
In 1997, following several years as a broadcaster with CBC Radio Music, he joined the faculty of the new Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music, where he is a vocal coach and music director of the school’s annual Chamber Opera.
His commissions include works for Canadian Art Song Project, CBC Radio Music, Debut Atlantic, Saskatoon Children’s Choir, Canadian Brass, Elora Festival Singers, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Toronto Orpheus Choir, Stratford Summer Music & Ottawa Chamberfest.
Composer, conductor and pianist Leslie Uyeda was born in Montréal and lives in Vancouver. She has been coach/pianist/conductor/chorus director with the Canadian Opera Company, L’Opéra de Montréal, Manitoba Opera, Edmonton Opera, Opera Hamilton, the Banff Centre, the Chautauqua Institute of Music NY, and Vancouver Opera, where she also conducted several main stage productions. Recent commissions/world premièresinclude Empress Jitō Dances; two song cycles for soprano and piano – Midnight Watch and A Quiet Place; three songs for young voices and piano; Three Lorca Songs for soprano, harp and percussion; Your Breath, My Breath: Dialogue for a Mother and Daughter; Would You Ask Me? and Corona Isolata. Upcoming performances include a new work for soprano, piano and dancer. In 2022 her opera When the Sun Comes Out will be produced by Portland Opera. Her music has been published by the Avondale Press, now held within the Canadian Music Centre.
Lawrence Wiliford – coArtistic Director, Canadian Art Song Project
Lauded for his luminous projection, lyrical sensitivity, and brilliant coloratura, American-Canadian tenor Lawrence Wiliford is in high demand in concert, opera, and recital repertoire.
Mr. Wiliford has collaborated with conductors such as Jane Glover, Matthew Halls, Grant Llewellyn, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Trevor Pinnock, Helmuth Rilling, Nathalie Stutzmann, 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 involved in a number of world premiere performances featuring works by Benjamin Britten, Derek Holman, James Rolfe, John Greer, Marjan Mozetich, and Zachary Wadsworth among others.
His recorded projects appear on several labels and include a GRAMMY nominated and JUNO award-winning recording of music by Vaughan Williams with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Peter Oundjian (Chandos); J.S. Bach’s Johannes-Passion under the direction of Alex Weimann (ATMA Classique); a program of late works for tenor and harp by Benjamin Britten (ATMA Classique), and sacred songs by Edmund Rubbra, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst (Stone Records). Wiliford is also a featured soloist on the 2020 JUNO nominated recording of Zachary Wadsworth’s oratorio When There is Peace by Chor Leoni Men’s Choir.