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Glitz and Glamour: A Night of Song with Students of the GGS Vocal Program

Glitz and Glamour: A Night of Song with Students of the GGS Vocal Program
The GGS Vocal Showcase premieres on RoyalConservatory.Live on May 20 at 3 p.m. ET, after which the broadcast will remain available to watch on-demand.

This year has been a whirlwind of change and flexibility for the voice students in the GGS Vocal Program. With government regulations changing frequently, students, faculty and staff have been kept on their toes with the need to adapt. This has resulted in many exciting recording projects and new ways of learning stage craft, and most recently, students had the opportunity to perform the GGS Vocal Showcase as a recorded feature in Temerty Theatre. This will be released to online audiences on May 20, 2021 and features all GGS voice students present in Canada. 
Adrianne Pieczonka,
Vocal Chair and Head of the
GGS Voice Department
The concert had many variations over the months, and the repeated stay-at-home orders put a damper on live performances in Koerner Hall. “This year we changed the date three times for our vocal showcase (normally held in late January). It was exciting because, due to COVID-19, the first two alternate showcase dates were going to be filmed in Koerner Hall. Many of our GGS voice students have not yet performed on this amazing stage and everyone was looking forward to it,” says Vocal Chair and Head of the Voice Department, Adrianne Pieczonka.  
“Due to various restrictions, we filmed the showcase in Temerty Theatre and were grateful that this beautiful space was still available to us. So many performance halls in Toronto have been shut for months now. The students were very pleased that the showcase was able to take place considering the strict lockdown in Ontario. They were so good at adapting to each new scenario and their outlook was very positive. Normally at the vocal showcase, the BMus students perform ensembles - duets, trios, quartets while the ADP students sing solo arias.”

Given that the lockdown measures prevented multiple performers, students performed a solo piece of their own choice with piano. “The concert is a mixture of art song and opera arias.  Students sing in several different languages and styles. The students chose pieces they love and which they wanted to share with the viewers,” says Pieczonka, “It's been a challenging year, but our vocal showcase will demonstrate that music is alive and well at GGS!”

We spoke to two students to get a sense of their mindset in their repertoire choices for this concert.

Second year Emma Heaton (BMus ‘23, soprano) and first year Charlotte Anderson (BMus’ 24, soprano) missed out on the chance to perform in the operas as part of the Bachelor of Music Program, so this opportunity held some excitement for both.  

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Emma Heaton performs in Temerty Theatre with vocal coach, Rachael Kerr
Emma Heaton: I sang ‘O Kuhler Wald’ for the showcase. It’s a beautiful song composed by Brahms, and it’s one of my favourites out of all of the repertoire I’m currently singing. When I sing Brahms, I’m always intrigued by the creativity and clarity of his music. ‘O Kuhler Wald’ in particular has been rewarding for me technically and musically, and I’ve watched the richness of my voice grow through learning it. Although recording instead of doing live performances is challenging, I think that pre-recording this song actually helped me explore some of Brahms’ musical intentions. In particular, I felt like the focus that recording requires led me to carefully think about the interplay between the voice and piano while singing. As my coach and I worked together to bring that interplay to life, I was reminded of how much singing means to me.
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Charlotte Anderson performs in Temerty Theatre with vocal coach, Rachael Kerr
Charlotte Anderson: The song I performed was “Beloved”, from Michael Head’s song cycle Over the Rim of the Moon. I had a very positive experience pre-recording the performance! Everything felt very safe, and it was lovely to sing without a screen in front of me. With my gown and a live accompanist, it really felt like a normal performance – we were just missing the audience. I chose to sing “Beloved” because I adore the setting of the poetry and the emotions it lets me express. For my recital this year, I sang the entire song cycle as my closing piece. I found that I really connected with the text, especially as it’s in my native language. I can’t help but smile when I picture the beautiful scene and the singing birds that I describe in the song! Everyone seems to need a bit more joy in their lives right now, so I knew this piece was the perfect choice.

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GGS Vocal Coach, Rachael Kerr
Along with our newest students, some of our newest faculty have faced the challenges of a remote and distanced year at the GGS. Recently appointed vocal coach Rachael Kerr is facing her first year in her new position, and though the position has not looked like a typical year, Kerr has been happy to have the opportunity to perform with students both in the spring opera and in this Vocal Showcase concert.
“I'm so glad that we were able to safely film the Vocal Showcase this spring.  Although we wished it could have been for an in-person audience as originally intended, the whole experience still felt very much like a performance. For those students who were not involved in the Fall and Spring operas, this was their first major performance of the year! I think everyone enjoyed getting to choose their favourite piece to share with our online audiences, don performance attire, and sing their hearts out in Temerty Theatre,” says Kerr.
She is looking forward to next year and hopes for a more normal approach to music making. “It probably goes without saying that I'm really looking forward to the potential of next year being much easier to do in-person musical activities.  And I'm sure the students look forward to being able to rehearse and coach without masks on!  I hope that next year we can expand chances for the students to explore smaller ensemble repertoire - duets/trios, vocal chamber music, and operatic scenes -- all things that have not been possible this year.  I can't wait!”


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