Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky was born in Berwyn Illinois, near Chicago but for 10 years her hometown has been near Toronto – first Oakville, and now on 10 acres in Caledon, where she lives with her Canadian husband and business manager, Duncan Lear. When not travelling around the world, she enjoys taking walks in the hills, gardening, splitting firewood, watching the wild turkeys cruise the driveway, entertaining friends, and,  most of all, doing absolutely nothing!

Radvanovsky is greatly admired for her interpretations of 19th century operatic repertoire, and Verdi in particular. Her voice is both agile and powerful, and a  deep  emotional intelligence informs her interpretation. Her acting is thoughtful and persuasive. She has performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Paris Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Vienna State Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. Her Aida debut,  last autumn in Toronto, was also her Canadian Opera Company debut. This production will be broadcast on CBC RADIO 2,  Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on June 4 at 1pm.

The very same day at 8pm Radvanovsky's many admirers will have the rare opportunity to hear her perform live on stage at the new BlackCreek Summer Festival, with Placido Domingo.

What does the childhood photo cause you to think of or remember?

The photo makes me think of my grandmother on my mother’s side because it was her purse at her house with her jewels on.  To me, she was the epitome of a grand dame and I guess even at a young age I wanted to be a diva!

Suppose you met a little child today – perhaps the child of a friend who is NOT a musical colleague. If they asked you  "What  do you do?", how might you reply?

Well, I would tell them the same thing I tell adults, “I get to dress up in pretty clothes, pretend to be someone else and sing like a little bird.”

Suppose you were chatting with some nice person during a long wait whilst traveling, and after enthusiastically telling you all about their career in pest control or medical imaging, they asked about your work. What might you tell them?

This is a tough question because often times people don’t really understand what I do.  I have told innocent people that I have sat next to on a plane that I was an opera singer and they said, “Oh, we just LOVEEEEEEEE the Grand Ole’ Opry!|  So I have learned to read a person a bit before jumping in with both feet and saying that I sing opera – like Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti – and instead just say I am in the arts or the music business.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Berwyn, Illinois USA. We lived in the Chicagoland area until 1st grade and then my father was transferred to a *little* town in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana and later transferred again to Southern California for my Junior year of High School.

Where did you attend high school?

Both Richmond, Indiana High School and then Mission Viejo High School in Southern California

And after high school?

The day before I started my Senior Year of High School in California, my father passed away from a heart attack at 54 years old. I was in complete shock and didn’t really know where to go with my life after that. It really was my singing that kept me together, as well as my wonderful mother, and she sought out a great voice teacher in Los Angeles and I studied with him every weekend while I was in High School.  He was a teacher at USC in Los Angeles and so I ended up getting a full scholarship to USC and spent 2 years there before transferring to UCLA as a drama major for 2 years.  After that, I finally realized that the whole college scene wasn’t for me so I quit and studied voice privately while working full time until I won the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in 1995.  The rest, as they say, is history!

Music in Your Childhood

What is your absolute earliest musical memory?

My very earliest musical memory is of me singing along with my Karen Carpenter record when I was 4 or 5 years old.  I just LOVED her voice.

Are there (or were there) other musicians or performers in your family?

My mother always appreciated music but really could NOT hold a tune to save her life, as well as my father.  But my brother was a very good musician, much better than me, and played the piano very well.

Where did hearing music, both formal and informal, fit into various aspects of your life around  the time that photograph was taken, or a bit later?

Well, we went to church every weekend and I really think that hearing the Methodist hymns shaped my view of music.  My mother said that I would always sway along with the beat, even at a very early age.

What is your first memory of  yourself singing?

Hummmm, I would have to say it was of myself having my first little solo in our church choir, so I must have been around 6 or 7 years old.  I sang the butterfly solo and my mother bawled for DAYS!

What , if anything, was your first instrument?

I played the piano from around 9 to 10 years old and HATED it.  My mother and father said that they never wanted to make us do anything that we didn’t want to do so I stopped taking those lessons and started playing the flute and piccolo.  And, actually, I had to toss a coin to determine if I was going to be a voice major in college or a flute major.

What were your first experiences of making music with ensemble?

I was in my Junior High School band and loved the music making.  Also, as I mentioned before, singing in my church choir from a very early age.

What were your first experiences of role-playing or acting?

I sang in my first opera, as a smoke girl in CARMEN, when I was 15 and I was HOOKED!

Do you remember when you first sang alone for an audience?

Oh YES!  My father was the head usher at our church in Indiana and I was asked to sing “He shall feed his flock” form the Messiah or an offertory.  So, I am standing at the pulpit, the organist plays the first chord, and I forget my words.  So, as every good 16 year old does, I said, into the microphone, “Oh shit!” I can’t remember exactly when after that that my father dropped his collection plate but….

Do you remember the point at which you began to think of yourself as a musician? Do you remember ever thinking you would do anything else?

I can’t remember a time when I DIDN’T think of myself as a musician.  There really was no question in my mind or my parent’s minds that I was going to be involved in music in some way or another.

If you could travel back through time and meet face to face with the young person in that childhood photo (or maybe just  a little older), is there anything you would like to say to her?  Or ask her?

“You go girl!”  “It will be a tough life, in the music world, but the payoff is SO great.  And this is the gift that you have been given…use it and share the music.”

Who is June’s Child?

58aAh…the simple pleasures of barefoot summer music for a serious young violinist!

Does that candid gaze see straight ahead, like Time’s Arrow, into a future of international touring with a quartet – from Osaka to North America (via … some city in Austria)?

This lifelong chamber musician will once again conclude a busy 2010-11 season with a week in July, sharing the finer points of Forgotten Romantics, with emerging young artists in Toronto.

Think you know who our mystery child is? Send your best guess to Please provide your mailing address just in case your name is drawn! Winners will be selected by random draw among correct replies received by May 20, 2011.



• June Rilett and a lucky guest will hear Sondra Radvanovsky and Placido Domingo sing together at the opening night of the BlackCreek Summer Music Festival. This concert is guaranteed to be a thrilling feast of opera duets and arias. One of the greatest tenors of all time whose voice has brought pleasure to millions around the globe, Domingo – “the King of Opera” makes his first Toronto appearance in over a decade!

• Clement NG, Claire Lalonde, and Joseph Earls will receive Sondra Radvanovsky’s glorious solo CD VERDI ARIAS – selections from Il Trovatore, Un ballo in Maschera, Il Corsaro, La Forza del destino, Ernani, and I vespri siciliani. Sondra Radvanovsky, soprano; Constantine Orbelian, conductor; Philharmonia of Russia Academy of Choral Art, Moscow. DELOS (#DE 3404)

• Charles Ritchie, Paul Sayer and Claudia Krawchuk will receive VERDI OPERA SCENES – Gala Live Concert from the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, with Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone; Sondra Radvanovsky, soprano; Constantine Orbelian, conductor; Philharmonia of Russia. High drama, and great Verdi duet scenes from Il Trovatore, Un Ballo in Maschera, and Simon Boccanegra. Includes arias “O Carlo, ascolta,” from Don Carlo (Hvorostovsky) and “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca (Radvanovsky). DELOS (#DE 3403).

April’s Child Marie Bérard


Concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, and previously a member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Marie Bérard is also a chamber musician, soloist, recording artist and a passionate teacher. Bérard is a member of Trio Arkel as well as the ARC Ensemble which has tours extensively (Europe, China, USA) and had had two Grammy Award nominations for their recordings on the Sony label. The Arc Ensemble has a Koerner Hall coming up on April 26. Over the course of a season you are likely to find her collaborating with The Art of Time Ensemble,  Amici, ArrayMusic, and New Music Concerts to name just a few.  Bérard also holds the position of associate concertmaster of the Mainly Mozart festival in San Diego.

Born and raised in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Marie Bérard attended high school at Collège Marie de L’Incarnation, a private school run by very musically enlightened nuns for kids with musical talent. "I didn’t have to take Physics so I could practice during school hours. Of course now I know nothing of Physics…" She came to Toronto to study at UofT with David Zafer did summer programs with Lorand Fenyves, Sydney Harth and Nathan Milstein as well as the National Youth Orchestra.

Marie lives in Parkdale with her daughter Evelyne and a very quirky cat named Twister. She enjoys gardening all 12 square feet of her tiny garden and has been known to enjoy relaxing after performances with a good crossword puzzle and a tall glass of beer...

Do you remember the childhood photo being taken?

Not clearly but I remember sewing that funny jumper-dress! It was taken at a family gathering at my aunt’s house.

Your earliest musical memory?

Coming home from school for lunch every day to the sound of my mom playing a recording of Brahms violin concerto with Christian Ferras. Listening to my dad come home from work and practice every day was a determining factor in developing the idea that music is just part of life, it’s what you do and it’s the most natural thing.

Other musicians in your family?

Everyone is a musician! My dad (in the picture with me, ubiquitous cigarette included…) was a fine pianist, graduate of the Conservatoire, my mom is a wonderful singer, a contralto, the most amazing of female voices, my sister is a hugely talented cellist and I have an aunt who has had a very successful series of house concerts for the past 30 years. My brother doesn’t play anything but at heart, he’s probably also a musician!

What is your first memory of singing (yourself or anyone else)?

I have a very precious cassette recording of myself singing “ J’ai perdu le do de ma clarinette” at around age 5!

Your first instrument?

The recorder!

What were your first experiences of making music with others?

At the Conservatoire I met musicians who were founding what is now the OSTR, the symphony orchestra in town and they asked me to join them. I have since gone back and played as a soloist with that same orchestra, a wonderful trip down memory lane…

Do you remember when you first played alone for an audience?

Oh yes, catastrophic. CMC competition, terrifying!

Do you remember the point at which you began to think of yourself as a musician?


Do you remember ever thinking you would do anything else? if so, what were those things?

I remember later on being amazed at (perhaps what was pure cockiness) having never even thought of what else I would do.

If you could travel back through time and meet face to face with the young person in that childhood photo (or maybe just  a little older), is there anything you would like to say to her?  Or ask her?

I would tell her to go practice! And I would tell her to stay open-minded and learn from every situation and every musician she encounters.

Please mention any engagements you have coming up in Southern Ontario over the next few months, and/or any new recordings you are involved in.

I will be performing Offertorium by Gubaidelina for violin and orchestra with Esprit on May 15th, and on June 4th we will have the first concert of the Black Creek Festival Orchestra with Placido Domingo.

Following festivals in California and Charlevoix, QC I will return to a beloved teaching and performing gig at Music at Port Milford in Prince Edward county.

I then have a concert at a wonderful new series in Gananoque with some colleagues from the ARC ensemble on August 22nd.

Music's Children gratefully acknowledges Joan, Phil, Randy, Amanda, Duncan and Svetlana, the COC, ESPRIT, and the ARC Ensemble

Who is May’s Child?

60bThe Diva wears diapers, and is just walking, but already has a smile and a handbag that say “watch out for me – I’m going places!” This elegant little lady will soar to significant height, register, and an acclaimed international career

“La Donna e mobile” indeed! She will inhabit many favourite Verdi characters – best known, perhaps for Leonore in Il Trovatore.

Her Un ballo in maschera debut was in 2010 (Lyric Opera, Chicago – her other hometown) but clearly her appetite for ballgown glamour and fine costume jewellery began in babyhood.

In 2010, she made her Aida debut in a production which did NOT feature ballgowns.

To date she has performed only one role with the Canadian Opera Company, although has lived near Toronto for 10 years and is married to a Canadian.

Think you know who our mystery child is? Send your best guess to Please provide your mailing address just in case your name is drawn! Winners will be selected by random draw among correct replies received by April 20, 2011.

Photo taken 1970, near Chicago, Illinois.


•Lise Ferguson: a pair of tickets to Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos (April 30-May 29). Sir Andrew Davis’s Canadian Opera Company conducting debut features Adrianne Pieczonka, Richard Margison Jane Archibald and Alice Coote (also COC debuts); and of course our wonderful COC Orchestra with Marie Bérard! Directed by Neil Armfield.

•Mary McClymont: a pair of tickets to Musical Offerings (May 15). Marie Bérard is the guest of ESPRIT Orchestra for a concert which includes Gubaidulina Offertorium (concerto for violin and orchestra, 1980) centered around the royal theme of Frederick the Great from Bach’s A Musical Offering (BWV 1079). Also: Pauk’s Portals of Intent; Harman’s Coyote Soul (world premiere & Esprit Commission) and Gougeon’s Phenix.

•Noah Watson wins Two Roads to Exile: String Sextet – Adolf Busch; String Quintet – Walter Brunets. Chamber music by two composers of very different backgrounds who experienced equally different exiles: the result of Nazi persecution which destroyed their careers. Both tonal pieces are gorgeously shaped and coloured on this disc, demonstrating how they deserve a new life in the post-serialist 21st century. (John Terauds) Nominated for a 2010 Grammy award in the best chamber music category (RCA Red Seal 88697 644464490 2).

March’s Child Alain Trudel

adult_alain_trudel_trombone_lake57_musicschild_alaintrudelAlain Trudel began his musical life as a trombonist. He played his solo debut at   the age of 18 with l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, but it would be hard to say which aspect of his work today he is best known for. Composing, educating, recording and conducting are all aspects of the life of this immensely well-liked musical man with a ready grin, infectious enthusiasms, and apparently endless energy, unquenchable even in the face of a rare and often lethal cancer, from which he recovered in 2006.

On the late February day this interview was completed, Alain Trudel was conducting his debut performance with the St. Petersburg Cappella Symphony Orchestra, but still found time, good-humouredly, to email these final details:

“Alain currently lives in Chambly, Québec, with his partner Christine, a nurse (and no, they did not meet at the hospital!). Between the two of them they have five teenagers: Alexis (14), Roxanne (14), Olivier (17), Elisabeth (19) and Alexandre (19). This lively house is also the home of Oreo, a tuxedo cat, and Kovi, their faithful Golden retriever.”

Between that day at the end of February and the first week of May he will have been the guest conductor of the Hamilton Philharmonic (March 5), and connected with almost all of his main ensembles: he’s music director of l’Orchestre symphonique de Laval (March 6, April 26), principal guest conductor of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra (March 26, May 6), conductor of the Toronto Youth Symphony Orchestra (April 10-16), and principal guest conductor of the Hannaford Street Silver Band (April 17). He’s also music director of the National Broadcast Orchestra.

The recipient of several international and Canadian awards, and the first Canadian to be a Yamaha international artist, Trudel has conducted and been a guest soloist with renowned orchestras on five continents. Among his colleagues he is known as an eager collaborator: “Bellows and Brass” with Guy Few and Joseph Petric, and “Kiosque,” which recreates the band music of small Quebec towns at the turn of the previous century, are two examples of the imaginative music making he embraces.

The lucky young people under his baton in the TYSO are only a few of those whose music futures he will shape. For more than two decades his summers have included time at camps such as Interprovincial Music Camp in Ontario and Camp Laurentide, in Quebec.

Do you remember that childhood photo being taken? My confirmation! One of the rites of the Catholic religion. I was 6 or 7, and was really excited about that suit… especially the shoes! I lived almost across the street from the church and used to play very often on the church grounds as a child. Later when I started playing in the community brass band (les Ritmiks de Montréal) we spent a lot of smoky nights playing music at the church bingo games to raise money for the different activities of our band.

Suppose a child of about the same age today asked “What do you do?” How might you reply? I am living my dream! If an adult asked you the same question? I am living my dream. With all the beautiful moments and the moments of sacrifice that it involves!

Where did you grow up and go to school? I was born in Montréal – what is now known as “le plateau”… before it was posh! My last two years of high school were the turning point in my life and musical career. I went to Joseph-François-Perrault High School where I met my two mentors, Raymond Grignet and Gerald Macley. They started a special intensive music program, with about 50 students in those days (now thriving with more than 700!). We had an orchestra and Monsieur Grignet use to let me conduct it, a little bit at a time but on a regular basis… and we all know how valuable early podium time is for a conductor! After high school I studied at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal. Great school, Old European training with huge emphasis on solfège, musical dictation, history of art… the good stuff!

What is your absolute earliest memory of music? My mother singing jazz. She was a cabaret singer. She had a wonderful voice. Other musicians in your family? My father was an excellent jazz drummer, back in the days when there were jazz clubs in Montréal! I started being interested in music around 12, so it was always around.

Your first instrument? Guitar (for a very short time)! It was the big Harmonium craze in Québec – a really great group, try listening to their album “si on avait besoin d’une 5ieme saison,” – incredible musicians. Then trumpet and then valve trombone.

Your first experiences of making music with others? Right from the beginning! I joined “les Ritmiks,” a community brass band, with a few of my friends and we started that very night.

Do you remember when you first performed alone for an audience? That would have to be when I used to practise outside in the summer, in a quiet corner of the botanical garden in Montréal!

Was there some point when you began to think of yourself as a musician? No! It really has been a process, and I think it’s just fine that way.

Ever think you would do anything else? Before starting with the band, I wanted to be a veterinarian, a psychologist, an airplane pilot, and not to forget the all too famous astronaut! After entering the band I never looked back.

If you could travel back through time to the little guy in your childhood photo, is there anything you would like to say to him? I would tell him not to worry; life will be very interesting for you… But lose the shoes!

Who is April’s Child?

mystery-childWill someone offer the young lady a chair?

Not yet, but she has one today that she’s occupied since 1989 which will, by the end of this season, have taken her literally to hell and back again, visiting (among other places) Egypt, Venice, China and Naxos along the way.

Evidently not one to take life sitting down, today she plays musical chairs with numerous diverse chamber groups as well. Among her many collaborations, an ensmble whose name sounds like a kind of floating hotel for wild animals: how fitting for someone who must often commute to a city famous for its zoo – San Diego!

Think you know who our mystery child is? Send your best guess to Please provide your mailing address just in case your name is drawn! Winners will be selected by random draw among correct replies received by March 20, 2011.


Annie Odom: a pair of tickets to the Toronto Youth Symphony Orchestra’s spring concert (April 13, George Weston Recital Hall) featuring Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Copland’s Old American Songs, Dvorˇák’s Symphony No. 9 (From the New World), and the world premiere of Dreams of Voyage, by Canadian composer Tristan Capacchione.

Phoebe Cleverley: a pair of tickets to the Hannaford Street Silver Band’s Low Blows (April 17, Jane Mallet Theatre) featuring American tuba virtuoso Patrick Sheridan and the premiere of his new work, The Straights of Hormuz for tuba and brass band. The HSSB will perform Graham’s Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. Also featured: HSSB’s annual young soloist contest winner. Alain Trudel will direct all and play his trombone, closing the show with a blues duet.

Doogie Simcoe: a CD/DVD set by the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, conducted by Alain Trudel, featuring selections from their 2009 national tour. This 2009 Juno nominated recording features Mahler’s Symphony No.6 and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and includes a DVD of their webcast concert.

June Keys: a remarkable duo recording Conversations with Alain Trudel, trombone, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, piano. Music by Elgar, Saint-Saëns, Ravel, Bruch, Tchaikovsky, Blazewitch, Kreisler, Glière, Jongen, Brahms, Fauré, Fièvet. (ATMA: ACD2228).

Did you know there’s a sculpture and plaque for Mary Pickford in front of Hospital for Sick Children? “America’s Sweetheart,” a founder and vice-president of United Artists, and icon from the early days of moving pictures, was born Gladys Mary Smith in a home on University Avenue near Gerrard. Her father died when she was quite young and left the family near-destitute. Mary’s mother took in sewing and was working on costumes when Mary was “discovered” and made her acting debut at the age of five in Toronto stock theatre.

Here are photos of “February’s Children” in WholeNote from the past 6 years.

The first two readers to correctly identify three of these six sweethearts will each win a pair of tickets to SWEETHEART: The Mary Pickford Story, a musical by Dan Burry, presented at Spadina Museum (February 10 - 27).





Already smiling on the podium!

5_musicschild_alaintrudelNever choirboy material, but destined to develop a fine ear for The Voice of God.

His gospel, as a mentor, and the secret to having rhythmic chops?

“Subdivision is your friend!”

Look for him in this issue’s Concerts in the GTA, in the hall of a Gimquat, and in Concerts Beyond the GTA sharing nicely with another one of Music’s Children.

Your challenge?

Tell us not only who the little guy is

but also who he’ll be “playing with” in February!

Send your best guess to Please provide your mailing address just in case your name is drawn!

Winners will be selected by random draw among correct replies received by February 20, 2011.

November's Child Michael Schade: King for the Day!

p61aCanadian-German lyric tenor, Michael Schade, was born in Petit-Lancy, Geneva, Switzerland, in the month of January and spent his early childhood in Switzerland and Germany. Schade's engineer father's work with Inco's European office brought the family to Canada in 1977. Schade attended St. Michael's Choir School and later earned an Honours Degree in Performance with a minor in Pre-Medical Sciences at the University of Western Ontario. He went on to earn a Masters in Opera from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.

Today he is equally at home in Europe’s and North America’s foremost opera houses. His passion for singing embraces an extensive schedule of solo and collaborative concerts and recitals, and he is a prolific recording artist. Michael Schade’s discography covers a wide range of opera, oratorios and passions, lieder and recital repertoire.

In March 2007, Schade and Adrianne Pieczonka were the first Canadians awarded the Austrian title of Kammersänger: Austria's highest honour for singers. Summer 2008 featured Michael Schade’s 15th consecutive year at the Salzburg Festival, where he took on the new role of Co-Director of the new Salzburg Young Artists Project alongside Barbara Bonney

Previously married to Calgary-born mezzo-soprano Norine Burgess, Michael Schade makes his home in Oakville, Ontario and in Vienna with his four children, four step-children and partner Deanne McKee.

Do you remember last month's childhood photos being taken?

Yes indeed: Christmas! And mountain hikes in the summer!  Both were always a big deal for us.

Christmas is very special in my parents home. -  a celebration of family and our religion. My father reads from the Bible and my mother plays the guitar and sings with the children and to the children (now grandchildren) in the evening and the house is lit with candles and then we all go to Mass. It is a magical time to be a child and my parents taught me to celebrate that.  So far my son Niki has escaped the green tights and crown; maybe this year!

As far as the outdoors are concerned,  my family spent a lot of time in the beautiful Swiss outdoors and it was always important to my parents that we made these outings during weekends and holidays. My mother packed the best picnics a child could want.

Suppose you met a little child today who asked "What  do you do?"?

I would explain that I am a singing court jester!  That my life is a dream, that my work makes me happy. I would tell the child to dream and to work hard at making those dreams happen for themselves; to never settle for just vanilla or convention for convention's sake or success’ sake.  Dare to be different and dare to do something that makes you happy, whenever possible..

What's your absolute earliest  musical memory?

I remember my Mom, Grandmother and Tante Sixta singing songs for every special family occasion......and for everyday mundane occurrences…like those obvious German Lied moments such as: waking up, brushing your teeth, going to bed, the sun coming up, cloudy days, rainy days, the first snow fall, the second snowfall, a bee coming to a picnic, a river, a mountain, the moon, your first day of school, hurting your knee on your bicycle, a sunflower....etc. etc, you get the idea-they just know thousands of songs by heart.

Other musicians in your family?

I certainly hope so; Everyone sings. I was always surrounded by music, thank God! My brother was at the choir school with me, my sister played cello and met her husband singing in the Mendelssohn Youth Choir. My parents were longtime members of the Mendelssohn Choir. My oldest daughter, Sophie, plays violin in the Halton Youth Orchestra and my twins just started violin and cello. I sang with the twins for the first time in public this summer, it was very special, and they liked the applause. My youngest, Eva, insists that she will sing Pamina when she grows up, and Daddy can be her Tamino.  She will start in the church choir as soon as she can read more than three letter words; which she insists is now and has talked her way into the Christmas pageant this year at 4, which is reserved for starting at 6!

What is your first memory of  yourself singing?

Singing for Monsignor Armstrong to get into the choir school…I sang a German church song Grosser Gott wir loben Dich--- very mini Beyreuth, but this is my first real memory.

A first instrument?

I was pretty good at the flute, good enough to teach it at St. Mildred's in Oakville, I suck at piano!  I really regret that I didn't practice and keep it up.

First experiences of making music with other people?

Singing madrigals with my parents for dad’s cool business parties…we were pretty good!

Do you remember when you first sang alone for an audience?

Yes, I sang Nanki Poo and forgot  the words.  Then trying to make up a verse during "the flowers that bloom in the spring trala”  and surviving my own verse writing on the fly. Seems like things haven’t changed that much: I have been known to edit the words of Goethe during recitals, an unbelievably nerve racking venture.

Any one person who particularly inspired your childhood engagement with music?

My parents. Full stop!

And later, in your student years?

Roma Butler Riddell, my first teacher and a saint.  Also, Marlena Malas and Helmuth Rilling…two of my heroes!

The point at which you began to think of yourself as a musician?

Never until I was 22. Why? Because at the choir school we learned music by osmosis. It is just what we did, much like at a sports school all children just "do" sports. It never dawned on me to make a living from it. I thought biology was to be my destiny. And yet, during my first Biology 101 class at the University of Western Ontario, where 300 people literally sat and watched a tape recorder “lecture” us, I rethought what a "calling " meant. Somehow music was talking to me much louder than that particular way of learning - so many others in such an un-personable space . In music "my" answer counts much more than having the right solution - in other words expression from experience counts! To understand why one likes to perform was a liberating and important experience.

Ever think you would do something else?

Yes, become a Veterinarian or a diplomat

If you could travel back thought time and meet face to face with the child in the is there anything you would like to say, or ask?

Do your parents know that you are wearing a crown and green tights??

Do you know that you will wear these items many times more, in many different colours, as a grown man, and get paid for it!

Do you know that you will love your work and have as much joy each time you perform as you feel right now having been made king for the day!


I will be doing lots with the COC and I will be back with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the future.  I also love going to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra - will make a DVD of Messiah with them at Notre Dame Cathedral on Dec 11 & 13  in Montreal under Kent Nagano.

Newly released or upcoming CD or DVD projects?

DGG Elijah with Thomas Quasthoff and Julia Kleiter under Harding; Liebesliederwalzer for DGG; DUO Recital with Thomas Quasthoff for  DGG; Meistersinger (David) with Thielemann on DVD; Thais DVD with Rene Fleming; DGG Mozart Gala  DVD with la Netrepko and others…


• Oh the Magic! Margaret Oldfield & Elizabeth Erskine each win a magnificent pair of tickets to hear Michael Schade sing the role of Tamino in The Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Mozart’s playful and sublimely melodic The Magic Flute (Jan 29 - Feb 25). Please see our listings for full details, or visit 
• Michael Schade’s Alma Mater! Lorrie MacKinnon, Adrienne Pollak & George Fung are guests of St. Michael’s Choir School with a pair of VIP tickets (reception and premium seating) for the Friday Dec 10 Massey Hall concert Christmas Fantasy (7:30pm). Mary Dee, Claudia Krawchuk & Charles Ritchie: a pair of tickets each for the concert on Saturday Dec 11 (2pm). See our listings for full concert details. Mr. Schade (not performing at this concert) says “That school is the best thing since sliced bread!” 
• Linda Skeries wins Mozart: Arie & Duetti with Russell Braun, Isabel Bayrakdarian & Michael Schade; Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, Richard Bradshaw, conductor. CBC Records’ own delightful celebration of Mozart’s 250th birthday. (SMCD 5239) 
• Jean Parkes wins the Medici Arts DVD Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Falk Struckmann (Hans Sachs), Ain Anger (Veit Pogner), Adrian Eröd (Sixtus Beckmesser), Johan Botha (Walther von Stolzing), Michael Schade (David) & Ricarda Merbeth (Eva); Orchestra & Chorus of the Vienna State Opera, conducted by Christian Thielemann. (Medici Arts: 2072488) 
• Rudi Peka, Otto Rath, & Catherine You: In Midnight’s Stillness – St. Michael’s Choir School’s 10th recording: traditional carols, sacred melodies and contemporary seasonal music with their guests The True North Brass.

Spare a Thought…for ALL Music’s Children

Where, you ask, is December’s Child? No new contest this month. We’ll be making an exciting list of new Mystery Children for 2011. Are you a hoarding treasured old photo? Share your great idea for someone who should appear in this column! Gifts of Music Most of Music’s Children remember singing, playing and sharing music informally “en famille” and with friends. So why not celebrate the old/new with an all ages Bring Your Own Bouzouki music party! Also, this is a particularly good time of year to give a gift of live music. Please take some lucky young person to at least one performance in the next few weeks. Concert gifting benefits everyone, including your favourite ensemble. Can’t bring a favourite youngster to a Sing-Along Messiah? Invite them to share a fine radio or television broadcast or a favourite recording. (Hallelujah! Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir’s Sing-Along Messiah will be on Bravo! Dec 6 at 9pm.) Just add cider and cookies. December’s child? Probably someone very close to your heart, and home.

jack buell

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