Toronto – Cecilia Livingston has been named the new Composer-in-Residence at the Canadian Opera Company. The program was created to support artistic growth and career development, with each residency custom-tailored to each artist. Livingston’s residency will last for two years, during which she will work closely with, and be mentored by, the company’s executive, artistic, and community programming leaders.
“Opera is an art form that continues to evolve and push boundaries like no other,” says COC General Director Perryn Leech. “I am committed to finding talented new artists to be part of that future and Cecilia’s ability to find a sound world that builds on what has gone before, and excites and enriches the stories yet to be told, stood out incredibly strongly amongst our many applicants. Cecilia already has a wonderful understanding of the voice and, while this residency will provide plenty of opportunity for honing that ability, it will also shed crucial light on the practicalities and day-to-day realities of mounting an operatic work–all important experience for a composer of new opera.”
In an important feature of the composer residency, the Canadian Opera Company will work with Livingston on an artistic project to showcase the composer’s abilities, offering everything from dramaturgical input to musical feedback and critique through every step from conception through production.
“It means the world to me to come home to Canada and make an ambitious new work with our national opera company,” says Livingston. “I admire the COC’s leadership in supporting Canadian artists on its international stage, and I’m thrilled to collaborate with the premiere presenter of live opera in this country.”
Livingston was recently composer-in-residence at Glyndebourne from 2019-2022, building on previous fellowships with The American Opera Project in Brooklyn and Bang on a Can. This past summer, she joined the faculty at Banff Centre’s Opera in the 21st Century program. Her opera Singing Only Softly won the inaugural Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes and was nominated for two 2020 Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Theatre (including Outstanding New Opera), and her harp and vibraphone duo “Garden” features on the 2020 JUNO Classical Album of the Year for Solo or Chamber. Livingston’s work has been performed in recital for Deutsche Grammophon’s Digital Stage by mezzo-soprano and COC Ensemble Studio alumna Emily D’Angelo, and she also recently completed a forthcoming recording with Canadian poet Anne Michaels and soprano Hera Hyesang Park for Deutsche Grammophon.
“I am very excited to welcome and work with Cecilia,” says Johannes Debus, COC Music Director. “I admire her artistic ideas and vision, as well as her ability to express complex matters through a musical language that is equally accessible and comprehensible as it is sophisticated, intelligent, and evocative. I trust the COC can further nurture her unique talent in writing for the human voice, and I am looking forward to experiencing first-hand the creative energy she brings to the art form.”
As the COC’s new Composer-in-Residence, Livingston will regularly collaborate with the company’s Ensemble Studio for emerging artists, working alongside singers, instrumentalists, and program trainers to gain a deeper understanding of performers’ needs and perspective, while also coming together on creative endeavours.
“To me, the theatre is a place of empathy,” says Livingston. “Now, more than ever, we’re hungry for the immediacy of live performance. The singing voice is at the heart of my work, and its electric intimacy drives my thinking about structure, atmosphere, and pacing–about how we listen, and how music can unfold around a spine of melody to create opportunities for audiences to experience something profound.”
For more details on the Composer-in-Residence program at the Canadian Opera Company, please visit: coc.ca/Composer.