Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Match made in heaven for singers, listeners

  • Print

Don't try to pigeonhole Canadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc. Most of us know her as the singer with the voice as clear as crystal; an expert in the interpretation of early music.

But there's much more to this singer from the Maritimes. There is an entrepreneurship quality to her career, with a creative aspect, the 51-year-old says in a telephone interview from her home in Fox Point, Nova Scotia, 40 minutes from Halifax.

LeBlanc and renowned Canadian countertenor Daniel Taylor will be performing with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Anne Manson at 7:30 p.m. May 14 at Westminster United Church. They last sang here together in 2004 and the memory of that concert still lingers with many who witnessed it.

It's a match made in heaven for listeners and for the singers, who have collaborated onstage and in the recording studio on many occasions. They first sang together in the Messiah in Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal, says LeBlanc, a McGill University alumnus. The group, Les Idées Heureuses had asked them to do a recital together.

"We had an affinity in so many ways -- a blend," she says. "Now we don't see each other often so it's really fun when we can get together."

The repertoire for the evening is full of audience pleasers, with a good mix of baroque -- plenty of Handel, some Vivaldi, Gluck, Pergolesi, Hasse and a Mozart aria from Die Zauberflote.

LeBlanc caught the music bug quickly. She was a harpsichord major at McGill, studying with John Grew. "I already was in love with the music of the 16th and 17th centuries through my harpsichord study," she said. "I felt I understood it, its architecture and how it worked. I knew the language. At McGill I accompanied a lot and when I accompanied singers I was fascinated that there was a text and by the process of shaping the music to fit with the text."

LeBlanc had sung in choirs as a child growing up in Edmunston, New Brunswick, and her mother was a singer. "I had started voice -- a lesson here or there with singers around town and my mother gave me tips at home. I was a good sight reader so I was often called upon to replace singers. I jumped at the opportunity and ended up singing 50 per cent of the concerts."

Her big break came in 1987, when she was asked to fill in for famed British soprano Emma Kirkby for eight months during Kirkby's pregnancy. "No one knew me -- it was a foot through the door. I had to do a special concert in Tel Aviv, a big, big solo that Emma would have done." She recalls plaudits from her performance at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in London. "The critics loved me. It gave me a lot of courage."

Before this phenomenal opportunity came along, LeBlanc had been thinking of going to study in London. "This was my ticket," she says. She landed up studying with Kirkby's former teacher, Jessica Cash.

There's been no looking back since. LeBlanc's career has taken her to opera stages and festivals around the world; she is featured on over 50 recordings, and she starred in the film Last Song, directed by Rodrigue Jean. "I played a singer who interrupted her career for motherhood. It was an amazing experience, but I'm not looking for more movie contracts," she laughed.

She enjoys walking in nature. "That's when I can clarify my thoughts about what to do next -- to feel what's really calling me."

LeBlanc is currently working on a venture that is close to her heart, the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Project, recording songs commissioned for the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (EB100) in Nova Scotia (2011) with the Blue Engine String Quartet. The original music, written by Canadian composers Christos Hatzis, Alasdair MacLean, John Plant and Emily Doolittle is set to Bishop's poems.

Bishop spent part of her childhood in Nova Scotia before moving to the U.S. where she was Poet Laureate in 1949-1950 and a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1956. But her formative years in Canada were of great inspiration to her and this project aims to reclaim Bishop as a Canadian poet.

LeBlanc and all involved have committed a great deal of time and energy to this project and are still raising funds to complete it. The CD is due for release this fall and the debut concert will be in Winnipeg with the MCO next February.

Finding time to practise has been a bit tricky lately, LeBlanc admits. "There is so much administration with the EB100 Project. I carve time out of necessity. The best is first thing in the morning. My happiest time is when I am singing."

 

Tickets are $26.50 / adults, $24.50 / seniors and $7.50 / students at McNally Robinson Booksellers, the West End Cultural Centre, Organic Planet, at www.themco.ca or by calling 204-783-7377.

gwenda.nemerofsky@shaw.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2013 C3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Keri Latimer looks for beauty in the dark and the spaces between the notes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Aerial view of Portage and Main, The Esplanade Riel, Provencher Bridge over the Red River, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and The Forks near the Assiniboine River, October 21st, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) CMHR
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will higher pork prices change your grocery-shopping habits?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google