Satie Sortie

When we discovered there were 9 pianos lined up on the third floor of the Kinnear building at the Banff Centre for the Arts we thought there must be something we could do with them - then I remembered this track by Brendan Lannis that had been doing the rounds on facebook and thought, maybe we can attempt the same concept live?

This sweet, impromptu version was the result. Thankyou to the wonderful musicians who said yes, Stuart Fraser and Cate Thomason-Redus at Banff Music for making it happen and happen by lamplight, and Pedja Muzijevic for letting us all be playful.

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conversing in a dream

World famous projectionist Jacques Collin was a faculty member at the Banff 'Concert as Theatre' Residency in February 2016.  Whilst flautist Heather Beaty and I were preparing for our performance of 'I conversed with you in a dream' by Vancouver based composer Jocelyn Morlock, Jacques took video of us to create a literal dream conversation across three panels especially for our Rolston Hall performance on the 26th February.

video coming soon

Carmen fantasise..

Listen here - 8 hands, 2 pianos with Melisande Sinsoulier,  Lydia Wong and Steven Philcox!
Walter Hall March 17


Marche Militaire Op. 51 No. 1
Franz Schubert

12 Klavierstücke für kleine und große Kinder, Op. 85 (Selections)
Robert Schumann 

i. Geburtstagmarsch - Birthday March
iii. Gartenmelodie - Garden Melody
iv. Beim Kranzewinden - Intertwined Wreaths
vii. Turniermarsch - Tournament March
viii. Reigen - Round Dance
ix. Am Springbrunnen - At the Fountain
x. Versteckens - Hide and Seek
xi. Gespenstermärchen - Ghost Stories
xii. Abendlied - Evening Song

Fantasy on Themes From Bizet’s Carmen for 2 Pianos, 8 Hands
arr. Mack Wilberg

Marche Militaire Op. 51 No. 1
Franz Schubert (arr. John Gardner) 

Under Many A Star - DMA Recital 1

Recital #1 of my DMA programme in Collaborative Piano.
It was such a beautiful thing to share the stage with my awesomely talented friends playing music we love.

Ben McCarthy menagerie
field recordings
from the Amazon rainforest - Nico Dann
of lake Ontario and bellbirds in Narooma - Lara Dodds-Eden
of Canberra morning magpies - Claire Dodds-Eden
of a bearded seal, common nightingales, redhead ducks and a giant kingbird - Macaulay Library[TK1] 
and vinyl crackle 76rpm - Ben McCarthy
Gabriel Faure La chanson d’Eve

Prima verba
Roses ardentes
Comme Dieu rayonne
L'aube blanche
Eau vivante
Veilles-tu, ma senteur de soleil?
Dans un parfum de roses blanches
O mort, poussière d'étoiles

Danika Loren
Ned Rorem As Adam Early In The Morning
Alex Samaras
Karol Szymanowski Mythes Op. 30 for violin and piano
 La fontaine d’Arethuse
Dryades et Pan

Sheila Jaffe
Robin Dann mother of the word
Robin Dann with Alex Samaras and Ilana Zarankin
George Crumb Apparition
Elegiac Songs and Vocalises for Soprano and Amplified Piano
(on texts from Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”)

I. The Night in Silence under Many a Star
Vocalise 1: Summer Sounds
II. When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d
III. Dark Mother Always Gliding Near with Soft Feet
Vocalise 2: Invocation
IV. Approach Strong Deliveress!
Vocalise 3: Death Carol (“Song of the Nightbird”)
V. Come Lovely and Soothing Death
VI. The Night in Silence under Many a Star

Ilana Zarankin

La chanson d’Éve Op. 95 (composed 1906-1910)

With a simple rising fifth Faure renders the first morning of the world, and Charles van Lerberghe’s Eve wakes to the beauty of the world around her and to her own nature. Gabriel Faure selected ten excerpts for this, the longest of his song cycles, from the poet’s substantial work of ninety-six poems. His selections focus on the wonder of creation rather than the more traditional focus on the temptation of the serpent. The fall from grace and the figure of Adam are merely implied. These are really Eve’s songs.
Though a cosmic figure, she is touchingly humane, and the songs vibrate with organic sensuality. Tasked by the voice of God (a unique occurrence in song literature – and Faure did not take the task lightly!) Eve begins to nominate the creation around her, bringing it into consciousness with her own voice and coming into maturity over the course of the cycle.

As Adam Early in the Morning (composed 1957)

This song is from a collection entitled ‘14 Songs on American Poetry’, commissioned by and dedicated to Walder Luke Burnap, who premiered the songs accompanying himself at the piano in the spring of 1958. The short poem comes from the ‘Children of Adam’ series of poems in Whitman's[TK2]  ‘Leaves of Grass’ (1881-82). Adam too is newly awakened in paradise, unabashed and inviting us to be likewise unafraid.

Mythes (composed 1915)

Written in the spring of 1915, these are striking, lyrical and virtuousic renderings of classical creation stories. First, the watery flight of the nymph Arethusa , who, in escaping the advances of the god Alpheius, is turned into a spring by Artemis (the supposed site can be found near Syracuse in Sicily); secondly, a dreamy cantilena in the violin over an increasingly fraught piano part depicts the mortifying self-transfixion of Narcissus; and thirdly, the caprice of the god Pan and his lustful pursuit of wood nymphs are illustrated in chimerical arabesques in both instruments, with the panpipes imitated in violin harmonics.

mother of the word (composed 2016)

Robin wrote this song especially for this evening.

Apparition (composed 1979)

Crumb’s meditation on Whitman’s ‘When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d’ opens with a zither-like strum inside the piano, a conjuring motion that sets the tone for the ecstatic visions to come. The paired arches of the piano score in ‘The Night In Silence Under Many a Star’, the song that opens and closes the set, visually embodies the circularities implied in the text and in the form of the work – birth and death are radically embraced and inevitably continuous.
Written for Jan DeGaetani and Gilbert Kalish, the text was selected from a set of poems grouped under the title Memories of President Lincoln, written by Whitman in the weeks following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Crumb chose most of the text from a section sub-titled Death Carol, which contains some of Whitman's most imaginative writing on the experience of death.


“to all, to each”
“thing that glides, thing that breathes, thing that flies”
“hear my voice”
“as I pass into another room”


New member of the 2016/17 Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, Danika Lorèn is known for her dramatic sensitivity and instinctive musicality. Ever versatile, Danika’s past roles include: Monica (The Medium), Lady with a Hand Mirror (Postcard from Morocco), Mimì (La Bohème), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Frasquita (Carmen), Pamina/2nd Lady (Die Zauberflöte) and Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro). Upcoming roles include Tiny (Paul Bunyan) with University of Toronto Opera, and Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) with the Saskatoon Opera Company in 2016.

After winning the University of Toronto Concerto Competition in 2014/15, Danika performed Richard Strauss’ Op. 27, Vier Lieder with the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra in October 2015. Other orchestral appearances include Faure’s Requiem with acclaimed baritone Nathan Berg, conductor Eric Paetkau and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, and Mozart’s Coronation Mass with conductor David Holler and the London Fanshawe Chorus.

Danika’s finesse with song repertoire has afforded her opportunities to share the stage in recital with internationally recognised singers such as Stephanie Blythe, Adrianne Pieczonka and Catherine Wyn-Rogers. She is also a founding member of Collectìf, an artist collective dedicated to exploring art song as theatre.

Hailing from Saskatoon, Danika pursued a BFA in acting at the University of Saskatchewan while studying voice with Marilyn Whitehead. She has since completed her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at the University of Toronto under the instruction of J. Patrick Raftery, and is currently in the final year of her master's degree at the University of Toronto with Wendy Nielsen.

Alex Samaras is a singer. He is one of Toronto's few performers who has the rare ability to enrapture an audience with his voice and presence no matter the style or setting. Alex loves singing with Grex, his vocal ensemble that specializes in improvisatory and ancient music, The Queer Songbook Orchestra, a group dedicated to performing songs that have affected and shaped the Queer community, and Rallidae, a band led by Angela Morris based in Brooklyn that will be releasing their second album in summer, 2016. 

Alex has also released a number of recordings including A Sondheim Jazz Project's City Of Strangers (2013) and Twin Within's Horizontal Lines (2015), both receiving critical acclaim upon their release.

Alex is passionate about teaching and works at Humber College and The University of Toronto in the jazz departments. He teaches during the summer at Jazzworks (adult jazz camp!) and runs the vocal jazz program at National Music Camp for high schoolers. He is also the proud conductor of the PAL Chorale at the Performing Artists Lodge in Toronto.

Alex is thrilled to be sharing the stage with Lara for this recital and loves her dearly.

Montreal-born violinist Sheila Jaffé is widely appreciated for her versatility, skill and openness. Her budding career has already brought her to stages in and around cities across Europe and North America such as New York, Chicago, Vienna, Berlin and many others. Very much in demand in [TK4] chamber music circles, miss Jaffé has performed in numerous international festivals, including Domaine Forget in Quebec, Prussia Cove in England and the Schleswig-Holstein festival in Germany with some of the world's finest chamber musicians. An experienced orchestral musician and leader, Sheila has worked with many orchestras and conductors in Canada and Europe. While living in Berlin she was chosen to participate in the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester's academy program, in which she performed with the ensemble as a regular member for one year. After completing her studies in Montreal and Berlin, she has recently settled in Toronto as the newest member of the Canadian Opera Company's viola section.

Sheila plays on a Francesco Gobetti violin (1710-15) and Raymond Shryer viola (2002) on generous loan from Canimex. 

Robin Dann is a singer and songwriter based in Toronto, Canada. Robin completed an Undergraduate degree in Jazz Performance at the University of Toronto and, through the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, a Masters of Music in Creative Practice from Goldsmiths University (London, UK), where she focused on composition and music production. She collaborates frequently with Alex Samaras, Ben Gunning, Felicity Williams, and Thom Gill. Robin’s band ‘bernice’ have been actively recording and playing live since 2011, and have toured the US, Canada, Europe and the UK with such artists as Devon Sproule and Tegan and Sara. Brad Wheeler of the Globe and Mail described her voice as “something like a bath”. ‘Bernice’ just completed a new record and is currently making plans for its’ release.

Described as possessing a voice capable of “vaulting to vertiginous heights” (The New York Times), with “bell-like high notes” (OperaRamblings) and singing with “poise, polish and a lovely voice” (The Millbrook Independent), soprano Ilana Zarankin is a graduate of Dawn Upshaw’s Bard College Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Program in NY. After five years living and working in Brooklyn, Ilana has recently moved back to Toronto. Since her return, she is thrilled to have made her debut with Talisker Players (with whom she will be appearing again later this season) and with New Music Concerts. She is the co-artistic director (with her husband jazz drummer Nico Dann) of a two-concert Off Centre Music Salon offshoot series entitled dérangé, which launched in February 2015 at the Music Gallery. In January 2015, her indie-folk band elephant ear completed a tour of Western Canada. In January 2014, Ilana spent three weeks at the Banff Centre doing a Winter Music Residency, where she collaborated with such artists as pianist Lara Dodds-Eden and American New Music champion, soprano Lucy Shelton. In 2013, Ilana joined the adjunct faculty of the Bard College GVAP as the instructor of Russian Lyric Diction. In 2012 she joined the roster of Vocal Fellows at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where she performed the roles of Potted Plant, Baby and Mother Goose in Oliver Knussen’s Higglety Pigglety Pop! to great critical acclaim and was one of three sprechers in a centennial celebration performance of Pierrot Lunaire (she reprised the role, in its entirety, with Off Centre Music Salon last season). In 2011, Ilana made her Carnegie Hall (Weill Hall) debut in a World Premiere of Christopher Mayo’s song-cycle “Death on Three-Mile Creek” and also performed in an evening of “First Songs” at the Morgan Library (in NYC). Ilana and Nico have just become parents to a wide-eyed baby boy named August!

read a review from Operaramblings here