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2011 Grant Recipient

Classical Voice Winner
Emily Duncan-Brown

Emily Duncan-Brown, a native of Mississauga ON, is a 25-year-old soprano who will continue her professional studies with renowned voice teacher Ruth Falcon in New York this autumn. Emily holds a Professional Studies Diploma and a Master of Music Degree from Mannes College, the New School for Music in New York and a Bachelor of Music from McGill University. She was a child actress with Cirque du Soleil and has performed in numerous venues across North America, as well as participating in national and international summer programs, including at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Israel. In addition to receiving many prestigious awards, she captured First Place at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions - New England Region.

In submitting the nomination for The Hnatyshyn Foundation classical voice grant, Ruth Falcon identified Ms. Duncan-Brown as having a ravishingly beautiful lyric soprano voice, and went onto say: "She is comfortable in different languages and styles and is able to express herself beautifully in such. She is equally at home on the operatic stage and in recital repertoire. I believe that this young singer and artist will find her way into an outstanding career."

In adjudicating Emily's performance submissions, the jury for classical voice praised her stunning, beautiful voice and elegant style.This is a good voice with good energies and intonations. Brava!

Jury members included: Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano, Toronto; Kim Mattice Wanat, Founder, Opera Nuova, Edmonton; and Timothy Vernon, Artistic Director, Pacific Opera, Victoria.

Artist's Statement

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to pursue what I love most in the world as a career. To be an opera singer is to leave a piece of yourself on the stage for every performance, and it is to leave a piece of yourself with every member of that audience. Because you sing text along with the musical line you hold twice the responsibility of an instrumentalist, but also twice the power to do what I believe is the most important aspect of this art - to communicate an emotion to your audience. It is my goal to serve the music and text with what I can uniquely offer as an artist. I want to make the audience laugh through my sense of humor seeping into my vocal phrasing and facial expressions. I want to make them get shivers and cry from the colours of vulnerability and grief in my voice. Of course this requires the highest level of technical proficiency in order to give these vocal expressions, but it also requires a deep understanding of the character in order to give the most truthful performance. I believe in order to give the most genuine performance you must constantly be involved in artistic self-analysis and reflection. I was raised to believe the Stanislavsky quote "Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art" as law. It is essential for us to remember that this is a selfless art - each performance is to serve that greater purpose. serving the music, text and touching the public.

My dream would be to have a career like Renee Fleming, performing at the greatest opera houses all over the world. But my goal is to make my living doing what I love first and foremost. I need to be singing, to be sharing my passion, and I believe I have the potential for a great career. it is just a long and lucky road there. I aspire to be known as a great musician, singer, actor and colleague. I would like to be known for my versatility and unique timbre. I want to sing Baroque music through Mozart and Verdi on through contemporary composers. I want to be respected for the work I put into making my performances truthful and moving - no matter what stage I'm on.

The technical mastery comes with devoted practice and a trusted guide. Practically every lesson, with the help of my teacher, I come to understand some tiny nuance of my voice that had been a mystery before. I believe healthy singing should sound easy: no tension from the neck up, but active and elastic ribs and support.

I am a sensitive person. I am constantly moved by music and inspired by art and the people who create it. But what inspires me the most has been my work teaching children how to sing, teaching them about the music itself and finally watching their reactions. I know through them that this art form is far from fading. I watched a twelve-year-old student of mine attend her first live opera, and it was a life changing experience for us both. She sat there in awe, physically shaking from her emotions, and couldn't stop talking about it when it was over. I watched her describing the experience to her peers, and the details she remembered. Her reaction was so similar to the way I would feel as a child that I was flooded with hope. She is the future of this art. whether she ends up a performer or audience member, she is passionate about the music and that is what is important.






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