Summer school to provide opportunities to sing … and to listen

The 15th Summer School for the Solo Voice is about to get underway. An annual event that attracts students from throughout Canada and staff from throughout the world, it is organized by famed mezzo-soprano Lisa Hornung and a group of dedicated volunteers.

Hornung says, "The people, businesses and organizations in the Battlefords have been incredibly generous in supporting Summer School for the Solo Voice, enabling me to continue growing this international program right in our own back yard. I am so grateful for their recognition of the calibre and importance of this program and their generosity in being patrons of the arts. Their support provides amazing opportunities for so many."

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Summer School for the Solo Voice is a seven-day intensive study and performance opportunity for singers, accompanists, teachers and choral conductors at the beginner, intermediate and senior levels.

In addition to providing opportunities for singers, the summer school also provides an opportunity for the community to attend free public concerts of high calibre.

The staff of last year's Summer School for the Solo Voice will be returning, including Chris Kelly, Naomi Suchan, Paul Suchan, Jaya Hoy, Geoffrey Pratley, Karen Charlton, Dr. Laura Loewen, Laurence Ewashko, Joy McFarlane-Burton, Mark Turner, Heather Macnab, Lisa Hornung, Bernadette Fanner and Dr. Rick Gore-Hickman. In addition, this year's faculty will include Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber.

Cutsforth-Huber, who grew up on a ranch in the Maidstone area, holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Saskatchewan, a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from Southern Illinois University, and a PhD in Musicology from the University of Kentucky. She currently serves as assistant professor of music at Penn State Altoona.

Hornung says Cutsforth-Huber is a former student, colleague and dear friend.

"Bonnie will be an incredible addition and asset to SSSV and I am so excited to have her share the week with us," says Hornung.

Last year's summer school attracted 85 singers and accompanists, from youth to adults. The school has earned national and international attention for its unique character, and includes a series of admission free recitals featuring students and staff.

The school and the recitals will be held at Third Avenue United Church in North Battleford.

The first recital will be Tuesday, July 8 featuring the world-class staff of the summer school, beginning at 7 p.m.

On the morning of Thursday, at 11:10 a.m., and again at 3:30 p.m., there will be recitals of advanced singers and advanced accompanists. That evening, at 7 p.m. Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber will present Against All Odds: One Singer's Battle with Chiari Malformation. Cutsforth-Huber was diagnosed with this life-threatening condition in 2007 and endured emergency brain/spinal cord surgery and months of rehabilitation not only to reclaim her life, but re-discover her voice.

Friday, an 11:10 a.m. recital will feature advanced singers and advanced accompanists and jazz students. At 3:30 p.m., there will be a recital by advanced singers, advanced accompanists and opera ensembles.

Friday, another world-class recital will feature Hornung, Pratley, Kelly and cellist Michael McKenna.

Saturday at 1:30 p.m. there will be a concert by the SSSV massed choir, the men's choir, opera ensembles and musical theatre ensembles.

Staff returning this year include the former director of the Vienna Boys Choir and current associate professor of choral studies at the University of Ottawa, Laurence Ewashko. This will be his third year with the school, which he describes as the only one of its kind in the world. Due to the large number of adult men participating this year, Ewashko will be teaching an SSSV men's choir.

Also returning is one of Britain's best-known accompanists, arrangers and composers, Geoffrey Pratley. Last year was his first year with the school, having come together with Hornung through her search for his arrangements of English, Irish and Scottish folk songs.

Another faculty member returning this year is Jaya Hoy, who has enjoyed an international career and now resides in Saskatoon after several years living in North Battleford where she was active as a teacher, coach, accompanist and organist.

Also returning this year is Chris Kelly, a sessional lecturer in the University of Saskatchewan's Department of Music, teaching voice and musicianship and serving as an accompanist. He has been on the faculty of the summer school since its inception.

Joy McFarlane-Burton has more than 35 years of experience working with developing singers, in many genres including musical theatre, choral, as well as the standard vocal repertoire. She has been an instructor at the summer school for more than a decade.

Bernadette Fanner maintains an active teaching studio and accompanying career. She completed associate, licentiate and fellowship diplomas at Trinity College of London and earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance with Great Distinction from the University of Saskatchewan .

Long-time faculty member, Dr. Gore-Hickman is a clinical assistant professor of surgery at the University of Saskatchewan. His lectures include an in-depth look at the physiology of the voice, video-laryngoscopies of different techniques in singing and speaking as well as video-laryngoscopies and discussions concerning vocal health and care of the voice.

Another faculty alumnus, Heather Macnab of Maple Creek, is active as a singer, singing teacher, director, accompanist and adjudicator. She also regularly conducts speech arts workshops across the province.

Paul Suchan, who has also been on the summer school faculty several times and is a former North Battleford Comprehensive High School teacher, is an emerging Canadian composer of instrumental and vocal music. He is originally from Saskatoon, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Saskatchewan. He furthered his studies at the Université de Montréal with a Master of Music in Composition. He is currently based in Montreal where he lives with his wife Naomi, who is also returning to the summer school faculty.

Naomi Piggott Suchan graduated with honours from McGill University's Master of Accompanying and is currently working as an accompanist for McGill University's Voice Department where she coaches singers in languages, singing diction, musical style and ensemble. She received a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Saskatchewan, where she graduated at the top of her class.

Returning for her third year is Karen Charlton, whose operatic experience has allowed her to play opposite some of Canada's most exciting emerging and established leading men. She has been featured on CBC radio and has appeared as a soprano soloist with the Saskatoon Symphony many times.

Returning for a second year, Dr. Laura Loewen of the University of Manitoba's faculty of music holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Accompanying/Coaching from the University of Minnesota and has appeared in concerts throughout North America and in Europe, Asia and South America.

Gary Gaunsauge will, as always, be at the piano. Gansauge is well known in the Battlefords and area as an accompanist, organist and keyboard player. He has spent many years accompanying vocal and band students in local and provincial music festivals as well as community events and recitals, and is the accompanist for Hornung's Children's Youth Choir.

Holly Voeltz will be on campus to provide yoga sessions as well.

Of course there will be an army of volunteers running the kitchen and all the behind the scenes activities.

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