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This article was published 18/12/2017 (665 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Opera singer Andrea Lett will be making the trip home from the west coast for a special performance celebrating some of Winnipeg’s finest musical talent.
Lett, 26, has been working in California for the past two months as an understudy for the San Francisco Opera’s production of John Adams and Peter Sellars’ new opera, Girls of the Golden West. The show wrapped on Dec. 10.
Lett, who was also part of the Santa Fe Opera’s prestigious 2017 Young Artist Apprentice Singer Program earlier this year, said practising with the San Francisco Opera was a huge opportunity and her first professional gig outside of an apprenticeship capacity.
"Because it’s a new opera, if someone gets sick they can’t just fly someone else in because no one else knows the music, so they work with us and we go through the whole show," Lett, who sings soprano, explained.
"I love singing new music, I love singing jazz music in particular, and it was a chance to get to work with the composer and make these connections down here in San Francisco which has been very positive overall," she said.
Prior to her study in California, Lett completed her master’s degree at the University of Toronto and was a finalist Canadian Opera Company’s 2016 Centre Stage Gala Competition in Toronto.
Despite her time away, the upward trajectory for the Osborne Village local and University of Manitoba alumna has continued in Winnipeg.
Lett is one of five recipients of the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg scholarships. She will be performing along side fellow winners Kristy Tucker (bassoon), Paul Williamson (piano), Yufei Liu (violin) and Nolan Powell (guitar) at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Dec. 28 for the organization’s annual WMC Scholarship Winners’ Recital.
Lett took the top prize in the competition, which was held at the University of Manitoba, and said the experience was one she’d expected to be challenging because of Manitoba’s depth of talent.
"These competitions are a way of celebrating music and a way of recognizing local musicians, so that is ultimately a very positive thing," she said.
"I was very excited and I was very honoured. I didn’t go in with any expectations and it was really reaffirming that this is something that I love to do and hopefully other people believe in me."
Lett will be performing song cycle Les Illuminations by Benjamin Britten and said she’s grateful for the opportunity to sing one of her favourite pieces for a hometown crowd.
"It’s very difficult but it’s very fun. I think it’s perfect and it’s a chance to sort of perform and delve into not just the musical side of it, but there’s a psychological side to it as well."
Fellow University of Manitoba grad and violinist Yufei Liu will be performing four pieces: John Williams’ theme from the Schindler’s List, Vittorio Monti’s Csárdás, Niccolò Paganini’s Caprice No. 20, and the classical Chinese piece Fisherman’s Song in the Evening (English translation) by Shuhua Lou.
"All of this music is really beautiful. I really want to share this music with the audience," Liu, 27, said.
Liu, who is originally from Beijing but currently lives in Bridgwater, just graduated with a master’s in performance from the U of M and said he has been focusing on booking gigs in the city, teaching violin, and working part time with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
He began playing violin at age four and has studied across the globe, earning a full scholarship to study in England at the Birmingham Conservatoire.
"From that time my direction was music, from very early years," he said. "At the same time, I like music and my parents really like music so they really encouraged me to play music."
Liu said he was excited to win the WMC’s Holtby Scholarship and it will allow him to cover costs associated with continuing to perform around the city.
"This is really important for me to have the experience and to take different competitions," he said.
The scholarship winners’ recital begins at 7 p.m. and the public is invited to attend. Tickets for $20 are available through the WMC’s website (www.womensmusicalclubofwpg.ca) or at the door. Students are $5 at the door only.
Danielle Da Silva
Community journalist — The Sou'wester
Danielle Da Silva is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Email her at email@example.com