Canada Music Week is a nation-wide celebration of Canadian composers and their music established by the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations in 1960 to commemorate their 25th Anniversary. It takes place each year in the third week of November in order to include November 22, dedicated to St. Cecilia, Patron Saint of Music.

To celebrate Canada Music Week this year (November 19 — 25) CMC BC co-sponsored two vocal recitals produced by Community Partners UBC Opera here in Vancouver, and Pacific Opera in Victoria. Both concerts featured arias from soprano Stephanie Nakagawa‘s landmark Canadian Opera Anthology for Soprano.

The first was a UBC Opera Tea matinee recital in UBC’s Old Auditorium, which featured arias from Harry Somers‘ opera Louis Riel, John Estacio‘s Filumena, Jean Coulthard‘s Return of the Native, Chan Ka Nin‘s Iron Road, Victor DaviesTransit of Venus, Neil Weisensel‘s Stickboy, Lloyd Burritt‘s The Dream Healer, and John Estacio’s Lillian Alling.

CMC BC was pleased to present two Barbara Pentland Awards at the UBC Opera concert — an Award of Excellence for UBC Opera’s many commissions, performances, and support of Canadian music, presented to Nancy Hermiston, Chair of UBC Opera & Voice Divisions; and an Award of Excellence to Stephanie Nakagawa, for her remarkable doctoral project — the Canadian Opera Anthology for Soprano. It was a joy to present these awards and have the opportunity to discuss the work of the Canadian Music Centre onstage with Nancy Hermiston at the opening of the second half of the program.

Stephanie Nakagawa (soprano), Sean Bickerton, Nancy Hermiston (Director of UBC Opera Program)

Soprano Stephanie Nakagawa (L) & UBC Opera’s Nancy Hermiston (R) with BC Director Sean Bickerton

The second concert CMC BC co-presented for Canada Music Week was in partnership with Pacific Opera in Victoria. Our Victoria Engagement Leader Christopher Reiche-Boucher was there, and contributed the following report:

Soprano Stephanie Nakagawa is an accomplished singer committed to Canadian Opera and the performance of Canadian Operatic Work. She has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Prince George Symphony, and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. She also is music director and conductor of the Vancouver women’s chamber choir Coro Cantare.

On Tuesday, November 21, 2017 she was in Victoria performing at Pacific Opera Victoria’s Lunchbox Opera. Joined by her accompanist Peemanat “Benz” Kittimontreechai on piano, Stephanie Nakagawa presented works from a project near to her heart. She presented selections from her Canadian Opera Aria Anthology for Soprano.

The Canadian Opera Aria Anthology for Soprano began as a part of her doctoral work at the University of British Columbia. Stephanie is in the process of putting together an edition geared towards singers so that they may have a collection of Canadian works to draw from when preparing their repertoire for concerts and educational purposes. “I also intend to put together Anthologies for other voice types” Stephanie explained on stage before performing selections for soprano voice.

Stephanie has been working with Opera companies across Canada to learn what is being performed and to get ideas for arias to include in her anthologies. She also has been working directly with the composers to find the works that can stand alone on a concert or recital program.

At the Lunchbox Opera program she presented five works from the anthology including more recent selections such as Neil Weisensel and Shane Koyczan “One Day This Will All Pass” from Stickboy with older selections such as “Deirdre’s Song” from Deirdre one of the earliest, if not the first, opera commissioned in Canada by Healey Willan, with text by John Coulter.

After the performance, Ian Rye, Pacific Opera’s CEO, and Caitlin Wood and Kaden Forsberg, two singers who shared the Lunch Box Opera programme with Stephanie were raving about Stephanie’s work. It was pointed out that anthologies of American Opera are easily available, however this is the first anthology of Canadian Opera that will be available to singers. They emphasized how important this anthology will be to Canadian singers, especially those interested in an operatic career.

We would like to congratulate Stephanie Nakagawa on a fantastic performance in Victoria and to thank her for her work on the Canadian Opera Aria Anthology.