Singing Classical Chinese Poetry
"Diversity is one of Canada’s greatest assets, and we are fortunate to live in one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. A large part of a people’s culture is its music. In this issue, we highlight the art song of Hungary, China, and the Jewish people. I trust that these fascinating articles by Leslie Dala, Jialiang Zhu, and Jaclyn Grossman and Nate Ben-Horin will encourage you to explore further this repertoire which, for many of us, is unknown." – Brett Polegato, Editor, Art Song Canada
The 2022 Winter Issue of Art Song Canada celebrates the multi-cultural tapestry of vocal repertoire in Canada. Jialiang is thrilled and honoured to share one of her childhood inspirations, classical Chinese poetry, and how this inspiration has led her to exploring a rare gem in the vocal repertoire, Chinese art song. Also featured in this issue are Expanding the Germanic Canon: Songs of the Holocaust by pianist-composer Nate Ben-Horin and soprano Jaclyn Grossman and Magyar Melodies: A Brief Survey of Hungarian Art Song by conductor Leslie Dala. Enjoy the 2022 Winter Issue here, and don't miss the hyperlinks in the articles for a fuller experience of the poetry and music!
* The Art Song Foundation of Canada provides financial support to Canadian singers and collaborative pianists who have been accepted into an art song program anywhere in the world. The Foundation is funded exclusively through the generosity of its donors. If you would like to donate, please visit www.artsongfoundation.ca.
In the following Lecture Recital, Jialiang invites you on a journey to discover poetry from thousands of years ago and freshly set to music by composers in the last 100 years. This program explores timeless and universal subjects such as love, women, and reflection on life. The song selections are written by composers from diverse Chinese-speaking communities around the globe and are interpreted by a team of both native and non-native Mandarin speaking musicians. Regardless of your cultural, ethnic and linguistic background, you will certainly be able to resonate with the universal human emotions—longing, suffering, hope, fear, nostalgia.
Jialiang is immensely grateful to her husband Yang Sui for generously and masterfully producing this virtual lecture recital.
Making New Chinese Art Song
Friendship and the power of words are two main sources of inspiration for Jialiang's creative work. With the generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Jialiang collaborated with three Chinese-Canadian artists - poet Edith Yang Qing, composer Roydon Tse, and soprano Zixin Emily Lapin - to make a new Chinese song cycle "Clouds are the Languege of the Sky 云是天空的语言 " in 2022-23. Here is what Roydon says about turning Edith's poems into music:
Set in seven movements, my song cycle “Clouds are the Language of the Sky” weaves the poetry of Edith Yang Qing with music for soprano and piano. In it, the poem evokes seven different states and personifies the clouds through richly expressive vocabulary. The poems are impressionistic yet full of personality and my music seeks to convey and amplify these poetic impulses in a contemporary tonal language."
Jialiang and Emily gave the world premiere of this song cycle in January 2023 in Markham, Ontario and performed it multiple times in the following months as part of The Power of Words recital series in Ontario. Jialiang's husband Yang Sui generously and masterfully produced the concert video.
In August 2021, Jialiang joined Chinese-Canadian composer Alice Ping Yee Ho in making Ms. Ho's album A Woman's Voice, a collection of her songs and duets for voices and piano. The repertoire is inspired by literature that celebrates women’s spirit and their challenging roles through history. It is a poetic depiction of how female characters embrace love, joy, desire, and their resilience to tackle grief and hardship. The album features a collective work in multiple languages (English, French, and Mandarin) created with eight living Canadian writers, along with ancient Chinese poems from the Tang Dynasty and a First World War poem by English poet Charlotte Mew. Jialiang is truly grateful to be able to collaborate with both Canadian and Canada-based young talents from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. To buy or stream the album, click here.
Back to Live Concerts
Join soprano Katy Clark and Jialiang on a journey of diverse and powerful vocal music! This is a long-awaited recital in recognition of Katy's receipt of the 2019 Jim and Charlotte Norcop Prize in Song. The two musicians are presenting songs by Cécile Chaminade, Rebecca Clarke, Alice Ho, and Ana Sokolović. This concert is generously supported by Mr. Jim Norcop: Katy is the winner of the 2019 Jim and Charlotte Norcop Prize in Song; and Jialiang is the recipient of the 2018 Gwendolyn Williams Koldofsky Prize in Accompanying. Jialiang is stepping in for the fantastic pianist and friend Helen Becqué, who sadly cannot join Katy this time but will come back in the future to do another recital with Katy.
The Pandemic has been a trying time for most of us. Performing artists in Toronto, including musicians, had experienced a long hiatus of some eighteen months. BUT, Bedford Trio is finally back! Words cannot tell how blessed, grateful, and excited they are for the opportunity to communicate with their audience face-to-face again! It turned out that it has been the case for our audience as well! At their first in-person performance at the St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in downtown Toronto, many audience members told them that it was their first time returning to a live music event since March 2020. The gratitude, excitement, and joy were mutual. As musicians, the Bedford Trio members have learned not to take anything for granted. They have cherished every minute of rehearsals and performances more than ever; they are much more motivated and focused; they are constantly thinking of ways to connect with an expanding audience in this New Normal situation. Check out Jialiang's Calendar for more info on the trio's upcoming events! For now, please enjoy their concert at the magnificent St. Andrew's Church, beautifully recorded by the fantastic sound engineer and videographer Marc Koecher.
Virtual World Premieres
In August 2021, Jialiang joined Chinese-Canadian composer Alice Ping Yee Ho and several fantastic fellow vocalists in recording Alice's latest album A Woman's Voice (to be launched in May 2022). With the help of videographers Cathy Ord, Daniel Royer, Andrew Ascenzo, and sound engineer Peter Olsen, Alice was able to produce some beautiful videos of selected tracks on her album. You are now invited to a sneak peek of this album - two arias from the upcoming CHINATOWN opera. This is a brilliant, heart-wrenching, and highly relevant work created by Alice, authors Madeleine Thien and Paul Yee, commissioned and to be premiered by City Opera Vancouver. The story spans across three generations of Chinese immigrants in Canada and explores family bonds, love, relationship, the challenges one encounters and the sacrifices they have to make when chasing their dreams.
Forging Canadian New Music
In January 2021, Bedford Trio adjudicated the first edition of University of Toronto piano trio composition competition. We were truly impressed by the diversity of creativity and the high caliber of the composition students. In the two reading sessions, we got to play through the submissions and interact with the students and faculty members. Even though due to the ongoing situation, we couldn't give a live premiere of the winning piece by the talented fellow Katharine Petkovski, we were able to produce a video ourselves and share the world premiere with audiences near and far! We are grateful to the University of Toronto New Music Festival for organizing the world premiere and to Ms. Irene R. Miller, our sponsor, and the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music for their generous support!
Socially Distanced, Musically Together
Nothing can stop us from creating art together
2021 Valentine's Day Special Edition
Dear friend and fantastic violinist Alessia Disimino and Jialiang present you a little musical gift, in which we mix two of our favourite tunes. We wish you a Happy Valentine's Day and keep well!
Piano Duet with Oneself –
Dvorak Slavonic Dances Op.72 No.2 in E minor
Toronto fashion boutique Zvelle headed an virtual campaign called “Healthcare Heroes” in April-June 2020, during which they sent beautiful shoes as gifts to female healthcare workers who are fighting day and night at the front line for all of us. Meanwhile, Zvelle invited multiple female artists, including Jialiang, to join their initiative and create something to share with friends. Jialiang thought of how much she missed her friends and missed making music with them. The desire to connect with others inspired her to record this piano duet excerpt with herself playing both parts. This is a special way to cherish the friendship and warm memories with her friends. Special thanks to her partner Yang for recording and editing the video.
Our Message to You
What you see in this video was the Bedford Trio's first attempt to make music together but remotely in the beginning of the lockdown. 2020 has been an uncertain and turbulent time. From the wild fire in Australia, the Ukraine plane crash, to COVID-19 global outbreak, the George Floyd case and police force brutality, and to the massive anti-racism protests, the world seems to become more and more devastated. The Bedford Trio members wanted to share this solidarity video with you: Keep looking up and stay strong, no amount of social distancing or injustice can keep us part. We are standing by you and sending our best wishes to you and your loved ones.
As the winner of the 2018 University of Toronto DMA Recital Competition, Jialiang presents the Peace and Turmoil recital. The programme features Humoreske by Robert Schumann and Sonata No.7 in B flat Major by Sergei Prokofie - two works that explore the many manifestations of peace and turmoil, an essential dichotomy in human emotion and experience.