Our Board and wide array of Artistic Partners all take great pride in the work that we do at CASP.
Through a combination of commission sponsors, donor support and artistic good will, we have commissioned several new works to date and have only just begun. Please have a look below for a history of our announced commissions to-date.
2023 Cecilia Livingston
Poetry by Anne Michaels and Duncan McFarlane
Commissioned at the request of long-time supporters and board members Linda and Michael Hutcheon, Cecilia Livingston wrote this set of songs for tenor Lawrence Wiliford and pianist Steven Philcox. A premiere performance will take place on May 7, 2023. With poetry by Anne Michaels (former Toronto poet laureate) and Duncan McFarlane, and connected by imagery of the moon, the three songs in this cycle are each cast in a different light and the quiet of night.
The title of the cycle comes from Book IV of the Aeneid (line 81) where Virgil personifies the moon, suppressing its own light along with the stars’ and setting the scene that follows in darkness. The text of the first song, adapted from the Aeneid, shows the moon turning away from Dido’s loneliness in her quiet hall, as the piano brings another silvery light to gleam around the vocal line. In the second song, the moon is described as a female figure, luring us across one of Anne Michaels’ pastoral landscapes. The third song draws on a different set of late-night images, as melody surfaces through the horror of war and exile towards some place of consolation and resignation.
Commission sponsored by Linda and Michael Hutcheon.
2022 Maria Thompson Corley
The Colour of Joy
Texts by Maria Thompson Corley, Kanika Ambrose and Christene A. Browne
Canadian Art Song Project commissioned Maria Thompson Corley to compose The Colour of Joy for soprano Jonelle Sills and piano accompaniment in 2022.
We commissioned the work in response to the realization that very little Canadian art music gives voice to a Black experience in Canada.
This work sets new texts by three Black Canadian women writers whose families have ties to the Caribbean.
The texts lift up the warmth found in communities of shared experiences and gives voice to the resiliency of so many who call Canada home.
This work will be featured in an upcoming commercial recording to be released in 2024.
Commission sponsored by Canada Council for the Arts.
2021 Christos Hatzis
Three Songs on Poems of Anne Michaels
Commissioned to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Canadian Art Song Project’s founding, this collection of three songs for tenor and piano defies idiomatic convention, offering moments inspired by classical, jazz and folk music traditions. Pianist Steven Philcox and tenor Lawrence Wiliford offer the premiere live performance of this work as part of the celebratory concert honoring the 70th birthday of composer Christos Hatzis.
2020 Afarin Mansouri
Āshéghāné-Hā (Love Songs)
Settings of Hāfez, Malek Jan Nemati and Jalāl ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Three beautiful and powerful song settings of Persian love poetry by Iranian-Canadian composer Afarin Mansouri using the untranslated Persian texts. Premiered by soprano Miriam Khalil and pianist Carolyn Maule Braun in 2021 as part of a Royal Conservatory of Music recital celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven, this commissioned work was developed as a response to An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98. Āshéghāné-Hā is written for soprano, but may be suitable for some high mezzo-sopranos.
2019 Abigail Richardson-Schulte
CASP’s third commission for the Maureen Forrester Prize (in collaboration with Jeunesses Musicales Canada) is inspired by the poetry of children reflecting on the experiences of refugees. In 2009 the UNHCR Toronto office (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and COSTI Immigrant Services organized the first Refugees and Human Rights Child and Youth Poetry Contest in commemoration of World Refugee Day. Several years of winning poems were published in a collection entitled “A Book of Poems: Expressions from our Youth”. Composer Abigail Richardson-Schulte sets six of these poems in a powerful work. The entire cycle was premiered in a filmed performance by soprano Anna-Sophie Neher and pianist Carl Matthieu Neher in February 2022.
2019 Cecilia Livingston
Homesung: Four Songs
Original text and songs by Wade Hemsworth
The songs of Wade Hemsworth have become Canadian folksongs in the truest meaning – known widely to the general public but the originating artist is often forgotten. This beautiful collection of songs arranged by Cecilia Livingston, includes well known favourites “Foolish You”, “My Mother is the Ocean”; “The Wild Goose”; and “Quiet on the River”. Premiered by tenor Lawrence Wiliford and pianist Steven Philcox in 2019, these songs are available in High and Medium voice versions and are appropriate for a wide range of vocal abilities.
2019 Dean Burry
Texts by E.J. Pratt
Two Newfoundland natives come together in a cycle that explores the many faces of the sea. Composer Dean Burry sets the words of EJ Pratt- the leading poet of his time. Premiered by tenor Michael Colvin and pianist Steven Philcox at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on May 22, 2019.
Commission sponsored by Ontario Arts Council
2018 Jeffrey Ryan
Miss Carr in Seven Scenes
Iconic Canadian painter Emily Carr blazed a trail for woman artists in this country. Vancouver composer Jeffrey Ryan brings to life her lesser known journal writings (Hundreds and Thousands) in a cycle that speaks to the unique journey of all artists. Premiered by mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabo and pianist Steven Philcox on March 19, 2018- Walter Hall, University of Toronto.
2017 Ana Sokolović
dawn always begins in the bones
For Canada’s sesquicentennial, CASP celebrated by commissioning Ana Sokolović to create a piece that challenges the traditions of the genre. Written for vocal quartet (SATB) and piano, this cycle of 14 songs sets the poetry of 12 poets from across Canada in a collage of sound and word as diverse as Canada itself. Premiered by members of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio: soprano Danika Loren, mezzo soprano Emily D’Angelo, tenor Aaron Sheppard, and baritone Bruno Roy with Liz Upchurch (head of the COC Ensemble) at the piano. May 17, 2017- Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.
Commission sponsored by Canada Council for the Arts
2016 Tawnie Olson
Three Songs on Poems of Lorri Neilsen Glenn
CASP’s second commission for the Maureen Forrester Prize (in collaboration with Jeunesses Musicales Canada) won 2nd prize in the 2018 NATS Art Song Composition Award competition. Composer Tawnie Olsen sets the poetry of prairie poet Lorri Neilsen Glenn. Premiered and subsequently recorded by soprano Magali Simard-Galdès and pianist Olivier Hébert-Bouchard.
2015 Erik Ross
The Living Spectacle
Text by Charles Baudelaire; Roy Campbell, translation
Charles Beaudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal (1857) sent waves throughout the artistic community for its bold foray into human decadence and eroticism. Roy Campbell’s English translation (considered the definitive by many) is the inspiration here for a collection of three songs by composer Erik Ross. Premiered by soprano Ambur Braid and pianist Steven Philcox on November 7, 2015 at Toronto’s The Extension Room.
Commission sponsored by Peter Deeb.
2015 Peter Tiefenbach
The Long Walk Home
Text by James Ostime
A Winterreise for our time, Peter Tiefenbach’s A Long Walk Home sets James Ostime’s hilarious and often poignant cycle of one man’s one-night journey through the tribulations of finding love and himself in a technology-driven, chaotic world. Premiered by baritone Geoffrey Sirett with the composer at the piano on March 23, 2015- Walter Hall, University of Toronto.
Commission sponsored by John Wright and Chung-Wai Chow
2015 Marjan Mozetich
Enchantments of Gwendolyn
Marjan Mozetich sets the words of celebrated Canadian poet Gwendolyn MacEwen. Rooted in the mysterious, magical and philosophical, this collection of songs received its premiere on January 27, 2015 by mezzo soprano Allyson McHardy and pianist Adam Sherkin- Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.
Commission sponsored by Cynthia Tape.
2014 James Rolfe
Composer James Rolfe collaborates with friend and Giller Prize winner André Alexis on a new cycle of six poems that trace the journey of the sleeper from darkness to light. Premiered by Brett Polegato, baritone and Steven Philcox, piano at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on March 27, 2014.
Commission sponsored by Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts
2013 Brian Current
Extreme Positions and Birefringence
Composer Brian Current’s Extreme Positions (text by b.p. Nichol) and Birefringence (text by Christian Bök) marks the beginning of CASP’s partnership with Jeunesses Musicales Canada and the Maureen Forrester Prize. Premiered throughout Ontario and Quebec by the inaugural prize winner- soprano Simone Osborne with pianist Anne Larlee.
2013 Norbert Palej
Cloud Light: 14 small songs
Inspired by 14 of Jan Zwicky’s Twenty-One Small Songs, Norbert Palej’s Cloud Light is an eclectic and colourful journey into the world of the miniature. Composed for CASP’s artistic directors, it received its premiere at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on April 16, 2013.
Commission sponsored by Roger D. Moore.
2012 Brian Harman
Sewing the Earthworm
CASP’s inaugural commission brings together composer Brian Harman and writer David Brock in this virtuosic and gripping cycle that boldly tells the story of one woman’s struggle with her physical and mental deterioration. Written for soprano Carla Huhtanen and pianist Steven Philcox, it was premiered by the duo on March 6, 2012 at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts