Le Salon de Chant returns with mystery guests and an exciting premise

Since it started four years ago, Le Salon de Chant has gained a reputation for beautiful classical singing, stunning formal gowns and period settings, and high-profile mystery guests (including Measha Brueggergosman and Colin Ainsworth in previous years). Written and directed by York Professor Catherine Robbin, who heads the Music Department’s classical vocal studies area, this annual staged recital has traditionally been set in a Romantic-era European salon, with singers in character as lords and ladies performing vocal masterworks.

Le Salon de Chant takes place Thursday through Saturday, March 6-8 at 7:30pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, 112 Accolade East Building, Keele campus. Admission is $15 and $5 for students and seniors. For tickets, call 416-736-5888 or visit the York University Box Office Web site.

Above: Performers from the 2006 Salon de Chant

In a radical departure, Robbin has set the 2008 Salon de Chant in our own time and in a situation many Torontonians experience every winter. This year, the performers are stranded in an airport waiting-lounge for the night because a snowstorm has closed the airport and all flights are grounded. They are students en route to Paris for a voice conference. Finding a piano in the concourse, they manage to get it unlocked for their use and decide to give a concert to entertain the other stranded passengers and to perfect their performances for Paris.

Who should come along but a couple of professional opera singers – a well-known coloratura soprano and an exciting young tenor – who just happen to also be en route to singing engagements. They join in the fun.

Right: Catherine Robbin

Running on three consecutive evenings, from March 6 to 8, the salon will feature English and French art songs, German lieder and operatic repertoire, performed by rising young singers studying at York with Catherine Robbin, Norma Burrowes, Stephanie Bogle, Michael Donovan, Janet Obermeyer and Karen Rymal. They will be accompanied by pianist Raisa Nakhmanovich, who is also an instructor in the Department of Music.

Many of the young artists appearing in Le Salon de Chant are award-winners who have taken top honours at vocal competitions such as the Kiwanis Festival, Newmarket Voice Festival and National Association of Teachers of Singing regional auditions.

The wide-ranging salon program includes the ravishing “Flower Duet” from the opera Lakmé, a generous helping of Mozart, a little taste of Puccini, and selections by Fauré, Copland, Finzi, Berlioz, Gounod, Rossini, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Offenbach. The performers will showcase their passion and vocal powers in interpreting the beauty of both the poetry and the music in these engaging works.