Learning from the masters

Two internationally acclaimed Canadian singers will be conducting masterclasses this month in the Department of Music’s classical vocal performance program in the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Baritone Russell Braun, will deliver a masterclass on Fri. Jan. 14 from 2:30 to 5:30pm with piano accompaniment by George Brough. Soprano Donna Brown, will conduct a session on Tues. Jan. 25 from 11am to 1:30pm with Raisa Nakhmanovich at the piano.

Both masterclasses take place in McLaughlin Performance Hall, 050 McLaughlin College, Keele campus. Observers are welcome and admission is free.

Valuable elements of a singer’s professional training, masterclasses are a forum for intensive mentorship between established and emerging artists. Drawing on their own experience, seasoned performers offer insights on such aspects as how to “find your voice”, and how to imbue a performance with personality and emotion, enhance expression, increase the intensity of a performance and foster the rapport between artist and audience.

Audience members can watch Braun and Brown work with students in York’s Classical Music program, as they help them with their vocal technique and interpretation while sharing their own love of music and their personal approach to performance.

Russell Braun, left, excels in both opera and recital performance. He appears regularly at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Canadian Opera Company (COC) and other major houses. Career highlights include the title role in the acclaimed Robert Wilson production of Debussy’s Pélleas et Mélisande at l’Opéra de Paris, which was staged with great success at the Salzburg Festival.

Most recently, he sang the role of Enrico in the COC’s production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and the title role of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with San Francisco Opera. His discography includes numerous CBC recordings, including Shattered Night, Shivering Stars, a prize-winning collection of music by Canadian composer Alexina Louie.

Renowned for the floating quality of her voice, Donna Brown, right, has performed on many of the world’s great opera and concert stages, including Paris, London, Tokyo, San Francisco, Berlin, Toronto and Los Angeles. Her notable operatic roles include Sophie in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier for the English National Opera and Opera Toulouse; Almirena in Handel’s Rinaldo for Geneva Opera; and Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute at Opera Bastille, Geneva Opera, Canadian Opera Company and in Tokyo under Wolfgang Sawallisch. She is also a celebrated recitalist and has made 24 recordings, including Frühlingslieder with Stéphane Lemelin and Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Theresienmesse with l’Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique directed by Sir John Eliot Gardiner for Philips Classics.

Braun’s and Brown’s visits are part of the Music Department’s Distinguished Artist Masterclass series. A third masterclass, featuring Canadian tenor Benjamin Butterfield, is scheduled for March 15.