I often get asked about choosing and finding repertoire that’s outside of the Western European classical canon, and/or that’s by contemporary composers.
Throughout music school I had a special interest in programming contemporary works (including some commissions even early on), but it wasn’t until I was finished my master’s that I could really focus on this vast niche.
If I reflect on my music making over the past 13+ years, I’ve spent most of my time commissioning, premiering, recording, and performing works by living composers.
In 2015, I founded Crossing BordersCrossing Borders, a recital series that celebrates music by living composers from Canada and other countries. I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many amazing composers, singing incredible works for voice, voice & piano, voice & electronics. I’m the co-artistic director of Essential Opera, an indie opera company that we founded in 2010, that also loves contemporary composers.
I’m so grateful for these two curatorial outlets to get to branch out from the canon because there is SO MUCH to discover. I also love me some Mozart/Schubert/Puccini, et al. And I’ve always imagined that it would be SO COOL if we could have asked the composers of centuries past what the intention was behind a line they wrote, or how they might have been ok with adjusting something to suit my voice specifically.
There are a ton of really great sites to use as you embark on your search. I’ve compiled some here. But some of these sites have their own INCREDIBLE resource pages (and they’re much prettier than this post). I’d also recommend going to new music concerts in your area as well as checking out digital streaming broadcasts of new music to get your own creative flow happening.
This is a non-exhaustive compilation.
Have I missed any of your fav resources?
Branch out from conventions and find your own curatorial voice as you share with us what’s important to YOU. I always love watching these types of concerts.
The Canadian Music Centre has been supporting, preserving, and celebrating the works of Canadian composers since 1959. As proud and passionate advocates, we offer innovative resources for discovering, exploring, listening to and playing Canadian music online and in five regional hubs.
Serving composers, artists, performing organizations, educators, students and audiences of all ages, we offer a feast for the ears from the heart of our unique cultural experience!
CMC is the catalyst that connects you to the ever-evolving world of Canadian musical creation through performance, education, and promotion.
Search the library here – you can search by instrument, keywords, etc. And many composers have perusal copies up here, too!
A searchable database on Canadian opera, presented by Tapestry Opera. Your one-stop-shop for Canadian opera. Find your next favourite piece to sing in seconds, discover new Canadian artists, and promote your work, because it deserves to be seen again and again.
Over 100+ operas are at your fingertips.
A resource for musicians to aid in the discovery and celebration of art song by women composers.
These folks also do consultations and presentations.
This page is EXCELLENT – SO MANY BRILLIANT RESOURCES and so gorgeously organized. Do yourself a favour and go here RIGHT NOW:
And here’s a PDF of those resources with beautiful summaries. Seriously go check this out if you’re on a repertoire exploration journey! It includes, other sites, social media accounts to follow, scores, publishers, podcasts, and more!
The Kassia Database has partnered with the Institute for Composer Diversity! The art song database is now searchable in the Institutes Works Diversity Database, alongside the Christian Michael Folk Orchestral and Wind Ensemble Catalog.
The Institute for Composer Diversity works to advance an environment in which historically underrepresented groups are fully represented and supported.
A project dedicated to accountability, visibility, and support for Queer+ performers, writers, musicians, administrators, and artists in Canada. Founded by Jacob Edward Caines, a conductor, musicologist, and performer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Blog post in celebration of Women’s History Month by James Mason, Technical Services Librarian, U of Toronto Music Library
The Association of Canadian Women Composers is the only professional association of women composers and musicians in Canada. The ACWC wishes to build on the achievements of the past, encourage women and women-identified composers of the present and develop a body of well researched, catalogued and preserved archival material accessible to students, researchers and performers in the future. It would like to increase and broaden its membership base to reflect the varied cultures, which have made their home here, and to raise its profile in the Canadian and International Music scene.
Donne, Women in music is a charitable foundation that celebrates, advances and amplifies women in music. We are dedicated to achieving gender equality in the music industry. We are here to connect and empower anyone who identifies as a woman in order to create a more equitable music industry.
The BIG LIST of Women Composers is an ever-expanding list featuring more than 5,000 women composers (and counting). From pre-medieval composers to 21st century singer-songwriters, pick a country, a century, a music genre: you will find a woman there!
There has never been a simple way to search through the vast number of art songs by poet, date of composition, thematic links, keywords, or utility. SongHelix brings this ever-evolving information available into one searchable location. It is an online tool that enables users to search through the vast repertoire of art songs in order to find just the right piece. The website’s immediate purpose is to give singers and teachers the primary online tool for finding related repertoire.
Another BEAUTIFULLY CURATED resource list! ^^^^^^
Represent Classical is the only news source in the world dedicated to the future of classical music centering the news and performances of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color classically trained musicians, composers, educators, students, & scholars. We aim to promote the visibility, appreciation, representation, and contributions of these artists and thinkers who have been systematically excluded in the historical record of classical music.
Latin American Art Song Alliance
Celebrating, Performing, and Supporting Music Composed by Women
Boulanger Initiative advocates for women and all gender marginalized composers. We foster inclusivity and representation to expand and enrich the collective understanding of what music is, has been, and can be. We promote music composed by women through performance, education, research, consulting, and commissions.
These folks don’t specialize in vocal music yet from what I can tell BUT they do offer a repertoire consultation service! So cool! (https://www.boulangerinitiative.org/consulting-services)
Curated by writer and singer Aiden K. Feltkamp, this collection of 21 works for solo voice and piano accompaniment is ideal for trans and nonbinary singers looking for repertoire written by their community, teachers searching for exciting new repertoire for their studios, presenters expanding the diversity of their programming, and singers of any ability or gender seeking out new works. The anthology spans genres, including Western classical art song, opera, musical theatre, and singer-songwriter. These works, all of which were composed in the 21st century, represent a broad range of compositional styles from composers living and writing today, and were curated for beginner through advanced singers of all vocal ranges. All songs are available for transposition into any key by request.
A shout-out to some other groups presenting and curating new music for singers: