Krisztina Szabó is known worldwide as an artist of supreme musicianship and stagecraft. Her engagements in the 2018–19 season include performances of the Stabat Mater and arias by Steffani, Messiah with both Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Early Music Seattle, George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill with Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Musikfest Berlin, and the premiere of an oratorio by Barbara Croall entitled Mizewe (Everywhere) with Pax Christi Chorale.
Last season, Szabó made her Royal Opera House, Covent Garden debut singing roles in the world premiere of George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence, and reprised these roles with the Dutch National Opera. She was Second Angel/Marie in Benjamin’s Written on Skin with Opera Philadelphia and Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and joined Toronto Masque Theatre as Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and James Rolfe’s Aeneas and Dido. Concert engagements included Messiah with Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody with Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, and a triple bill of Bruckner’s Te Deum, Brahms’s Schicksalslied and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Pax Christi Chorale. She made her debut with the NAC Orchestra in 2017, as soloist in the world premiere of Gary Kulesha’s From the Diary of Virginia Woolf.
Born in Midland, Ontario, August 24, 1981
Now living in Toronto
Canadian composer Ian Cusson studied composition privately with Samuel Dolin in Penetanguishene, Ontario and with Jake Heggie in San Francsico. At the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, he studied piano with James Anagnoson. Reflecting Cusson’s Métis and French Canadian descent, his work explores the Canadian Aboriginal experience including the history of the Métis people, the hybridity of mixed-racial identity, and the intersection of Western and Indigenous cultures.
“I write mainly for the voice,” says Cusson. “It is the most personal of instruments, because the performer’s body is his or her instrument. I am fascinated by singers. They are fearfully wonderful creatures. I look for the dramatic arc in everything I write. This is partly why I am drawn to working with text. But even in purely instrumental work I am always looking for the story: the narrative thread that runs through the work.” Canadian authors Cusson has set include Marilyn Dumont (like Cusson, also of Métis descent), Gwendolyn MacEwen and Émile Nelligan.
Cusson explains that “I am learning to come to terms with who I am as a composer and not to fight the tonal impulses. I am equally drawn to the macabre, the disjunct, the cacophonous, the sublime, the lyrical. I like silence and hope to learn how better to write for it. Silence is the most powerful musical tool in the composer’s arsenal. I like the unexpected.”
Born in Vancouver, June 6, 1935
Now living in Toronto
Joy Kogawa is one of Canada’s leading authors. Born in Vancouver to first-generation Japanese-Canadians, she was interned at the age of six in a camp at Slocum, B.C., along with her parents, during the years of World War II. After the war she resettled in Coaldale, Alberta, where she completed high school. She then went on to study at the University of Alberta, the Anglican Women’s Training College, the University of Saskatchewan, and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where she studied piano.
Kogawa has worked tirelessly to bring to public attention the injustice she and her family suffered during their years of internment. In 1981, she wrote the semi-autobiographical novel Obasan (aunt), which has become her best-known work and one of the most important books of Canadian literature. Kogawa began her writing career as a poet. Her first volume, The Splintered Moon, appeared in 1968. This was followed by seven more volumes. In 1986, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 2006, a Member of the Order of British Columbia. In 2010, the Japanese government honoured Kogawa with the Order of the Rising Sun.