Vocal Art on Stage - CCMC Peer Session


Time: 14:30 - 16:00

Location: Halton, Intercontinental Hotel Toronto Centre

Moderator: Shira Gilbert, Shira Gilbert PR

Panelists: Aaron Jensen (SING!), Brainerd Blyden Taylor (Nathaniel Dett Chorale), Patricia O'Callaghan (Artist), Susan Worthington (Stratford Summer Music)

Vocal art on the stage: What is the magic of singing and what are the challenges of presenting song whether with a soloist, an ensemble, a choir, music-theatre or an opera? Do our audiences love it? Why or why not? Come prepared to talk, listen and think and also to sing with Aaron Jensen of the festival “SING!” and Brainerd Blyden Taylor, founder and artistic director of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, amongst others.



Susan Worthington

Susan is a versatile and creative arts management professional with twenty five years of producing and management expertise in opera, theatre and classical music. She is passionate about the work of Canadian creative, interpretive and performing artists and in her time as Producing Director at Tapestry Opera, she produced over a dozen world premieres and remounts of Canadian operas in both traditional and alternative venues, as well as extensive provincial tours of operas for children. She has designed and implemented artistic, financial, audience development, fundraising and marketing initiatives in small to midsized organizations and is skilled in building partnerships with community organizations and co-producing partners, working alongside both administrative and artistic colleagues. Prior to her appointment as General Manager of the Stratford Summer Music Festival in April 2013, Susan was the Manager of Individual Giving for the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and in 2013 achieved the highest amount raised in the history of the Conductor’s Challenge Campaign.

Shira Gilbert

Shira Gilbert is a public relations and communications professional with 15 years’ experience in promoting Classical music and the arts. Based in Montreal, Shira Gilbert PR offers creative public relations, marketing and social media campaigns for musicians and arts organizations across North America and in Europe. Current clients and projects include Sir James Galway and First Flute, Bows & Batons with Itzhak Perlman, violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, New York City concert presenter DCINY, pianist Louise Bessette, and harpsichordist Hank Knox, along with numerous solo, orchestral and opera recordings for Allegro Classical and its affiliate record labels. Shira is also a contributing writer and columnist for the monthly Canadian music magazine, La Scena Musicale. Formerly Publicity Manager for Universal Classics Group in New York (Deutsche Grammophon, Decca and Philips labels), Shira has collaborated with many of the world’s most prestigious classical artists including singers Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Anna Netrebko, Juan Diego Florez and Thomas Quasthoff, violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Hilary Hahn, and Lang Lang, piano. Shira holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from the University of Toronto.

Patricia O’Callaghan

Patricia O’Callaghan is something of a wandering minstrel. Her fifteen-year career has taken her across genres, continents, and a range of disciplines and passions. Her recording career spans five solo albums and many interesting visits along the way as a guest on other artists’ CDs. A speaker of French, Spanish, and German, her early recordings focused on European cabaret, and she is considered a specialist, most significantly, in the music of Kurt Weill. Patricia has performed his Threepenny Opera, Seven Deadly Sins, and Kleine Mahagonny with Soulpepper Theatre Company, Edmonton Opera, and Vancouver Opera, to name a few.

Aaron Jensen

Aaron Jensen is an internationally-published composer, arranger and performer based out of Toronto, Canada. He studied composition at York University. His creative offerings have been performed across North and South America, Asia and Europe. Recent works include commissions by the world-renowned Swingle Singers, Windago, and Serenade! Choral Festival Washington DC as part of the Eric Daniel Helms New Works Program. In 2012, Jensen was awarded the grand prize by the International John Lennon Songwriting Competition in the jazz category. In 2009, he completed his first orchestral commission which was premiered in Florence, Italy and has since been performed in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Izmir, Turkey; and Strasbourg, France. Aaron's works have been played on syndicated radio stations worldwide. As a vocalist, Aaron has actively toured and recorded with various award-winning vocal groups including Cadence, Retrocity, and The Watch. Jensen co-founded the vocal ensemble Countermeasure, a group he continues to lead as musical director and conductor. Aaron is an active clinician and offers regular workshops across North America and Europe. He is also the Artistic Director and co-founder of the international event, SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival.

Brainerd Blyden-Taylor

Brainerd Blyden-Taylor is the Founder, Artistic Director and conductor of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada’s first professional chamber choir dedicated to the creation and performance of Afrocentric music of all styles. He founded The Chorale in 1998, in response to a musical void in Canada; there had never before been a professional ensemble dedicated to the dissemination of Afrocentric choral music. The response that The Chorale has received in Canada and the United States since its inception has certainly given credence to Mr. Blyden-Taylor’s vision.

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