When I was a student at Queen’s, I remember being asked what exactly music students did all day. Did we head over to the music building after breakfast and just play our instruments all day? Well, not quite. We did spend significant amounts of time each day in the practice room, or in rehearsals, but that was on top of our academic classes. Being a music student was hard work. Sure, we had our creative outlets, but our days were fairly routine. Much like life after graduation. Because being a professional musician isn’t as glamourous as it may seem. Don’t get me wrong, being a professional musician is wonderful! There are some really cool aspects to this job. As a musician I sometimes get to travel to places I would otherwise not have the opportunity to visit, I get to work with all kinds of interesting people, and, one of my favourite parts, I get to wear beautiful gowns. For work! But “musician” is still a job, and just like any other job, it isn’t exciting all the time. So I thought I’d share with you how I spend a typical day….
There are so many reasons why I love living in Toronto. I love that there are so many different neighbourhoods to explore, each with its own variety of unique shops and restaurants. I love seeing the seasons change in Don Valley (the only upside of being stuck in traffic on the Don Valley Parkway). I even love the Toronto Maple Leafs. But above all this, I love how much music and theatre I have the opportunity to experience here, and not just from major organizations like the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company, or Mirvish Productions, but also from the growing number of smaller performing arts companies that call Toronto home. Companies like Essential Opera, Opera Five, Opera by Request, Against the Grain Theatre, and Metro Youth Opera, to name a few. Not only do they provide Toronto arts lovers with innovative, high calibre performances, but they also provide young artists valuable opportunities to perform.
As a working singer who is still learning and growing, it’s so inspiring to see other young artists on stage. This past weekend I attended a performance of Samuel Barber’s A Hand of Bridge and Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit, produced by Soup Can Theatre. A Hand of Bridge featured two dear friends of mine — soprano Taylor Strande, and mezzo-soprano Shilpa Sharma. The entire cast, which included tenor Alvaro Vazquez Robles and baritone Keith O’Brien, gave compelling performances and filled the room with their rich voices, but it was the two women that captivated me the most. (I may be just the teensiest bit biased though.) I only wished that Barber had composed more than just ten minutes of music, so I could hear more of my friends’ beautiful voices. The play that followed this short opera, No Exit, was also brilliantly executed, and featured four compelling actors who I felt were perfectly cast. (None are personal friends, so no bias here.) Overall, I had a thoroughly enjoyable Saturday night at the opera/theatre. It was both time and money well spent. (Bonus: ticket prices were very reasonable — as they usually are with these smaller companies — which I very much appreciate as an artist on a budget!)
There’s always something to see and hear in Toronto. There are far more organizations than there is time for me to write about in this post, and there are so many more things I love about Toronto. I’ll save those for future posts. In the meantime, I plan to get out and enjoy everything that this great city has to offer, and support local artists at the same time!