Retrospect: LAMP Workshops 2022

EQInterviews & Feature articles, Projects

Personal accounts from Sara Schabas & Danika Loren.


Workshops led by Barbara Hannigan, Jackie Reardon & Patrick Stanley.
Barbara Hannigan conductor
Elinor Rufeizen assistant conductor
Danika Loren soprano
Sara Schabas soprano
Adanya Dunn mezzo-soprano
Brad Cherwin clarinet
Rebecca Moranis flute & piccolo
Tristan Durie flute
Daniel Dastoor violin
David Bourque clarinet
Jack Smith saxophone
Jeanne-Sophie Baron violin
David Liam Roberts cello
Ryan Davis viola
Isabelle David piano


Sara Schabas: Danika!! It’s been almost two weeks since we left Lunenburg. How are you
feeling? Have we digested our lobster subs yet? 😉


Danika Loren : Well-digested and dreaming of more. 🙂 How about you?


Sara: Absolutely. That week was such an oasis – meeting all those fantastic fellow musicians,
daily work with Barbara, Jackie Reardon and Pat Stanley – all while soaking up Lunenburg’s
Maritime air in a hilltop, Victorian manor. I will forever associate lobster subs with music-making
and meditation!


Danika: Sounds delicious on many levels. 🙂 So, it was your first year at LAMP/EQ. How were
you feeling before the program started? What was your preparation like?


Sara: Yes, it was! I’m sure I’m not alone in sharing that Barbara is someone with whom I’d long
dreamed of collaborating. After a couple of years of suitcase-travelling/auditioning in Europe
and making many a pandemic-friendly video project, I couldn’t wait to make chamber music
and share it with a live audience. I prepared quite extensively because Russian is a new
language to me. It was so interesting delving into Stravinsky’s inspiration in writing the peculiar
pieces I performed, as well as the works by the other members of Les Apaches, a group of
artistic friends a bit like us! Doing the Friendly Eyes program work for the three months leading
up to the program also made a huge difference as I prepared. (PS: Thanks for being my
meditation-accountability buddy!) How about you? This was year two for you!


Danika: Yes, it was! It was really lovely to come back for a second year. I made sure to get
COVID a few weeks before we started which meant my prep was largely mental leading up to
our week together. I was also working through Jackie’s Discover course, a meditation-focused
program which proved to be an asset in keeping my focus where it needed to be: on learning
Ravel’s Shéhérézade! It was my first time looking at the piece and it fit like a glove vocally
(thank goodness!), but required a lot of thought in text interpretation. Our programme centred
around repertoire with a heavy theme of Exoticism, so it was important to me that I really
understood what my perspective was going into it. Everything really came together in concert,
and I especially enjoyed the Stravinsky Concertino for string quartet that Daniel,
Jeanne-Sophie, David and Ryan played! What were some of the musical highlights of the
programme for you?


Sara: Oof, those Ravel pieces are a dream. I was amazed at how modern Ravel’s Trois poèmes
de Mallarmé sounded, a piece new to me and sung by Adanya’s luxurious mezzo voice. I had a
bit of a crazy musical week as Barbara emailed me the day of our flights to let me know she was
recovering from illness and would need me to learn the Quatre poèmes hindous by Délage to
sing the next day, which she was scheduled to sing in the concert. I’d never heard those pieces
before so I spent my plane ride to Lunenburg score-studying, looking at the texts and listening
to recordings, followed by non-stop practise in my host’s basement once I landed! (Luckily she
didn’t mind and hosted me in her gorgeous villa by the sea near Mahone Bay… could’ve been
worse!) I was grateful to have worked so hard, though, as It was quite a dream to sing them in
rehearsal with the ensemble and Elinor Rufeizen conducting. Those viola and cello solos in the
second movement imitating traditional Indian instruments are stunning! (Shout-out to Ryan and
David who completely entranced us with their playing.) And hearing Barbara’s artistry
afterwards in rehearsal and performance (once she recovered) has made those pieces really
special to me now. I’m excited to perform them someday down the line.


Let’s talk a bit about our experiences working with Barbara, Jackie and Pat. What was it like
returning for a second year? Was your level of understanding different? I noticed you were
particularly committed in the Tai Chi classes. 🙂


Danika: Yes! I really adore Pat’s Tai Chi classes – the focused physical energy in the room is so
uplifting and meditative for me. This was one of the things I was most looking forward to
coming back for my second year. It was also so lovely to be reunited and supported by Jackie
throughout the week. This concert was my first opportunity to work with Barbara as a
conductor, which was so fulfilling. Her keen ears and musical sensibility completely transformed
and supported what I brought to the table vocally, and I think we shared a very satisfying and
electric performance together with the amazing instrumentalists that came this year. It is so
exciting to see/hear/feel this community of Canadian music makers come together and create.
It makes me really excited about the year(s) ahead and the possible future collaborations that
await us! After your first year, what are some of your take-aways from LAMP/EQ?


Sara: I’m a big fan of yoga (I just finished my teacher training) and I was so intrigued to learn Tai
Chi, another ancient method of linking breath with movement, something extremely beneficial
for calming the mind (great for us high-achieving/energy performer types!). Pat’s classes were
eye-opening and completely calming… otherworldly, in a way. I’m sure I’ll be practising Form
and my Golden Cock stands in dressing rooms to come.


I also took so much from working with Jackie and Barbara. Having the opportunity to speak
frankly with Barbara about her career trajectory, her work habits, her philosophy, and her
challenges was deeply inspiring. She was completely candid with us – a total gift for young
professionals working with someone who’s been at the highest level of the business for many
years. I loved observing her in rehearsal and seeing her absolute commitment to the music and
text and the amount of detail she is able to draw from a score, both as a conductor and a
singer.


Working with Jackie was also a game changer for me. I’d been feeling quite burnt out after a
few years auditioning and living on the road, and Jackie helped me to acknowledge all the
work I do (including cramming Délage!) and see myself with kindness. I know I’ll return to her
Friendly Eyes program and meditation techniques over and over again.


Our week was also a masterclass in constructing a historically and artistically-fulfilling program!
I’ve been a sucker for the French Symbolist movement since I began studying singing as a
teenager, so it was a treat to dive into some of the lesser-known contributions to this repertoire.


I’m sad to say it’s already been two weeks since we left Lunenburg. How are you applying this
work into your artistic practise now that you’re back home?


Danika: Last season, I came home from Lunenburg with a huge well of inspiration, ready to take
on the coming season and continue refining my artistic practice. This season, I arrived home
with a renewed sense of that inspiration and an affirmed sense of who I am as an artist. I know
that this affirmation comes from the high level of musicality and drive that Barbara exudes,
from the connection to my body and its dynamic energy that Pat’s Tai Chi showed me, and
from the mental fortitude that Jackie’s work has encouraged. Very few days go by where I do
not hear Jackie’s voice in my head saying, “Are you paying attention to what you want to pay
attention to?” A simple and oh-so-helpful reminder when I get caught up in unhelpful “energy
leaks.”


Another hugely important take-away for me are the new connections to other exceptional
Canadian musicians. It was so nice to get to know you and Adanya better after having known of
each other for many years and to share supportive community with you both. It was such a thrill
to perform with the outstanding chamber ensemble, and to meet other passionate musicians
that want to shape Canada’s classical music landscape. We are a unique brand over here, and
what we bring to the world of classical music is very special.


What has the programme helped you discover about yourself? Aside from the fact that with
one day’s notice you can fully learn and conquer some very tricky chamber music (she’s a
superstar!)…


Sara: Aw thank you so much, Danika. And speak for yourself, my composing, sewing, painting
superstar pal!


To echo your words, this program also helped me rediscover the unique artist that lies within
me. Working with Barbara, Jackie, and Pat helped me find her again after a long pandemic and
some seasons of change, both personally and professionally, and it was beautiful and
nourishing to get to share with the audience and my fellow musicians in our final performance. I
feel even more committed to my life as a musician than before, now with renewed inner
resources, energy and discipline to help me along the way.


I agree that it was a gift to get to know you and Adanya better, fellow U of T Music Alums
who’ve taken the world by storm since graduating(!), as well as all the other changemakers and
passionate musicians that Barbara and Burt Wathen assembled. In a way, I feel inducted into a
secret society of musicians who think outside the box and aren’t afraid to be different – all
spearheaded by the conducting, singing, pointe-dancing (etc. etc.!) Barbara! I know I will take
the creative, committed spirit we cultivated in Lunenburg wherever my career takes me next.


Danika: Can’t wait to see where that is for you and for all of us! ♥️ And I hope that wherever
we go, there are more lobster rolls. 🙂


Sara: You too, my friend! And yes, many more crustacean sandwich-fueled collaborations to
come!! xoxox