Vox Humana

An exploration of the human voice as a pure instrument.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006, at 8PM
Trinity St. Paul's Centre

For Immediate Release - Toronto, January 13, 2006: Toronto's Talisker Players return to Trinity St. Paul Centre on Wednesday, February 15 with a particularly innovative program consisting entirely of "songs without words", or vocalises. The evening, entitled Vox Humana promises to divert and engage the winter-weary listener.

As a presenter of vocal chamber music, Talisker Players usually highlights the interaction of text and music, and the ability of each to illuminate the other. Vox Humana, featuring the ensemble along with guest artists Heidi Klann (soprano) and Vilma Indra Vitols (mezzo soprano), showcases the human voice as a pure musical instrument interacting with other instruments, and underscores its unique power to communicate even without words.

The concert includes the world premiere of Agon, a new work by the award-winning Toronto composer Abigail Richardson for two voices and string quartet. The title refers to a dramatic form from ancient Greece in which there is a verbal contest between two characters in a play. In this case the characters are the singers, and the string quartet plays the role of the Greek chorus, commenting on and also judging the drama, and eventually restoring harmony. This work was commissioned by the Talisker Players with the assistance of a grant from the Laidlaw Foundation.

Vox Humana also features a wide variety of composers from Canada and other countries, from a broad time-span and with many different combinations of instruments. Vocalises are usually thought of as exercises for singers, but the form has inspired many composers to write some of their most beautiful music. The concert includes works by Canadians Harry Freedman (for voice and flute); Michael C. Baker (voice, violin and piano); Miesczslaw Kolinski (voice, clarinet and piano) and Murray Adaskin (for voice, piano and percussion); and by international figures Ralph Vaughan Williams (voice and clarinet); André Previn (voice, cello and piano); Heitor Villa-Lobos (voice and violin); Morton Feldman (voice, violin and piano); Henry Cowell (voice, flute and piano) and David Diamond (voice and viola).

Heidi Klann, soprano.Canadian soprano Heidi Klann has performed extensively across North America and Europe, to the delight of critics and audiences alike. She is equally at home in opera, oratorio and recital. Her wide repertoire ranges from early baroque to contemporary: her credits include Buxtehude's Magnificat, Bach's St. John Passion, Handel's Messiah and Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass. Opera appearances include Monica in Menotti's The Medium for the Orford Arts Festival, Clitoria in Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, and Madame de Tourvel in Conrad Susa's The Dangerous Liaisons at the Banff Centre for the Arts. A committed concert and recital artist, she has appeared with the Aldeburgh Connection in Toronto, the Spectrum Concert Series in Edmonton, and has premiered works written for her by Canadian composers James Rolfe, Andrew Ager, and Alain Beauchesne. A recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, Ms. Klann has been awarded, among others, the Luciano Pavarotti Scholarship, the Johann Strauss Foundation Scholarship, the Winspear Foundation Scholarship, and the Diane Thorssen Usher Award for Outstanding Vocalist. She was also a semi-finalist in the Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition.

Vilma Indra Vitols, mezzo-soprano.After completing her M.A. in philosophy, mezzo-soprano Vilma Indra Vitols went on to full-time music studies at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. Operatic credits include the title role in Bizet's Carmen for Summer Opera Lyric Theatre, Nancy in Britten's Albert Herring with the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh, England, and Hansel in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel with the Canadian Opera Company's Outreach tour. She has appeared with Opera Atelier's productions of Mozart's The Magic Flute, Lully's Persée and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in Toronto. She will return in 2006 for Die Zauberflöte (in Toronto and on tour in Asia). A frequent performer of new music, Vilma has had works written for her by several Canadian composers including John Hawkins and Talivaldis Kenins.

As always, this Talisker Players production includes the spoken word. The evening's readings will be a lively selection of excerpts from treatises and memoirs about singers and the art of song, read by the well-known stage and television actor Jan Filips.

Media Contact: Francine Labelle/flINK

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