Mother de St Joseph, an Ursuline who came to Canada in the mid-1630s, was one of the first to train young singers. From about 1776 to 1900 singing schools were established in various locations, usually for brief periods, by itinerant teachers from the US who stressed music reading and on-pitch singing. Many fine singers came as immigrants to Canada and taught singing, and Canadian singers went abroad to study in various centres in Italy, Germany, France and England. Travelling theatrical companies visiting Canada from the US and Europe provided opportunities to hear singers.
Voice training entails developing the human body into a musical instrument and depends on posture, breath control, producing pure vowels, focusing tone and building resonance. Notable Canadian teachers of singing over the last 150 years include Achille Fortier, Rolande Dion, Guillaume COUTURE, Bernard Diamant, Irene Jessner, Emile Larochelle, Dorothy Allan Park, George Lambert, May Lawson, Helen Davies Sherry, Ernesto Vinci, Salvator Issaurel and Emmy Heim. As a result of the varied backgrounds of singing teachers, Canadian singers have been able to perform in various styles and in several languages. Emma ALBANI became one of the world's foremost sopranos and travelled the world taking leading opera roles and performing in concerts in major centres.
Other Canadian singers who have gained international fame are Lois MARSHALL, lyric soprano; Teresa STRATAS, lyric soprano; Mary MORRISON, soprano; Pauline DONALDA, soprano; Jeanne Dusseau, soprano; Phyllis Mailing, mezzo-soprano; Eva GAUTHIER, mezzo-soprano; Maureen FORRESTER, contralto; Jon VICKERS, dramatic tenor; Edward JOHNSON, tenor; Raoul JOBIN, tenor; Léopold SIMONEAU, lyric tenor; John Boyden, baritone; Louis QUILICO and Gino QUILICO, baritones; Morley Meredith, baritone; James Milligan, baritone; Donald Bell, bass-baritone; Claude Corbeil, lyric bass; Joseph ROULEAU, bass; Nancy Argentina, soprano; Donna Brown, soprano; Gerald Finley, baritone; Judith FORST, mezzo-soprano; Paul FREY, tenor; Ben HEPPNER, tenor; Richard MARGISON, tenor; Catherine ROBBIN, mezzo-soprano; Michael Shade, tenor; Edith Wiens, soprano.
Author ISABELLE MILLS
Links to Other Sites
Mary Travers (La Bolduc)
This site honours singer and songwriter Mary Travers (La Bolduc) and other exemplary musicians. Listen to an excerpt of "J'ai un bouton sur la langue", composed and sung by La Bolduc. Part of the "Celebrating Women's Achievements" series from Library and Archives Canada.
The Virtual Gramophone: The First World War Era
Listen to audio clips of popular songs produced by Canada’s burgeoning music industry during the First World War. This Virtual Gramophone website also features digitized sheet music and related archival resources. From Library and Archives Canada.
English Songs Popular during the First World War
Listen to a selection of songs that were popular during the First World War.
Madame Édouard Bolduc (Mary Rose Anne Travers)
This Virtual Gramophone website is dedicated to Madame Édouard Bolduc (Mary Rose Anne Travers). Features an illustrated biography and many sound clips of her music.
The website for Canadian lyric tenor Ken Lavigne. Features Lavigne's biography, video clips, and more.
Lessons in Piano, Accompaniment and Singing
Brief notes about Weldon Kilburn's style of teaching from his students.