Canada Day is almost here, and all of our hosts took a moment to celebrate and toast some of Canada’s most memorable classical musicians. On July 1 all day, we’ll be broadcasting the best of Canada’s performers, conductors, and composers. This week features favourite artists in the words of our on-air hosts. Enjoy, and have a great Canada Day long weekend! #ClassicalCanadian
Sunday Night at the Opera, 9 PM – 10 PM
Contralto Maureen Forrester
One of my favourite singers ever is the late great Canadian contralto, Maureen Forrester. She grew up in Montreal, sang in church choirs, and quit school at 13 to help support her family as a telephone operator. After being convinced to take singing lessons, she made her concert debut in Beethovne’s 9th with the Montreal Symphony under Otto Klemperer. When Bruno Walter, who had been a student of Mahler, worked with her, she became a magical singer of Mahler songs and symphonies. In fact, I discovered both her and Mahler at the same time when I picked up a recording of Mahler’s “Ruckert Songs” at a Boxing Day sale at Sam the Record Man, when I was a student. When I was in the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in the ‘80s, she was sometimes one of the soloists in choral masses, and I had the enormous privilege of experiencing her magic from close up – she sang every aria as it was her favourite piece of music, and every note as if it was the most beautiful note ever. Maureen Forrester really got to me. Also, she was Biana Castafiore in the 1991 French/Belgian/Canadian television animated “Adventures of Tintin” – who could resist that?