“Is it possible yet for a Canadian to manage an international career out of Toronto or Vancouver, or say, Brandon? It is important to us because we have largely paid for their education and training and if they continue to leave, it’s a cultural and financial investment down the drain.”
– Globe and Mail
The mandate of the IRCPA is to help freelance classical performing artists make the transition from graduation to steady employment, and to help audiences understand and support the preparation and needs of the artists they will eventually enjoy in performance. IRCPA aims to help all performing artists in the classical music and ballet fields to move into professional careers, with special attention to singers and dancers because of their short career spans.
The IRCPA programs include Encounters with Employers (artistic directors, conductors, stage directors, coaches) for artistic direction for singers, teachers, coaches, accompanists, aspiring conductors and stage directors. Opera Week includes Encounters with current experts in the field. In 2011 Vincenzo Scalera from La Scala, and Joan Dorneman from the Metropolitan Opera were guest employers.
Career Moves (Business in Performing) is scheduled in November for performers of all disciplines. In 2011 the panel included William Littler, moderator; Colin Eatock, critic; Liz Parker, publicist, Michael Colgrass, composer; Marco Parisotto, conductor and presenter Bruce Owens of Barrie Concerts Association. Edna Landau, co-founder of IMG International Management, presented a question and answer period for performers. Read more about the 2011 Career Moves Workshop.
Addressing the Need: Bridging the Gap
With orchestras, opera companies and concert societies booking almost two years in advance, the IRCPA keeps artists focused in order to bridge the gap between graduation and full employment. Major employers plan their seasons several years in advance, so new artists need advice on how to survive and stay focused in the interim. With help, the IRCPA artists can be based at home while enjoying an international career.
The crucial period for the performing artist’s career comes after the completion of training but before a national or international reputation has been earned. Training must concentrate on artistic concerns, but artists must still prepare for the business and professional aspects of their careers. Without the knowledge, artists have either had to leave the country or have simply never realized their full potential.
Each Fall and Spring, “Encounters with Employers” and “Career Moves” (Business of Career Development) workshops are scheduled in Toronto, as funds permit. A National Network was created with a grant in 1989 with short, basic sessions in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Brandon, Montreal, and Halifx. Scholarships were granted in each city to enable artists to participate in the Toronto season.
Experienced mentors give their time to advise “fellows” in career decisions, strategic planning, business and artistic choices.
For several years, “Singing Stars of Tomorrow” concerts were produced in Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio following a week’s sessions.
A Singers Round Table was created for artists to practice performing in auditoriums, rather than small studios.
Round Table Discussions were organized for parents of gifted children. Parents of Karen Kain, Veronica Tennant, Ofra Harnoy, and Shawna Farrell shared their experiences.
Balletto Classico, a group of 6 classical ballet dancers was organized for performances in Italy for the Music and Architecture Festival dedicated to Canadian artists. On their return to Canada, they requested to continue performing together. Vanessa Harwood became the artistic director. For several years, Balletto Classico performed the grand pas de deux, and solos of the traditional repertoire and produced new works for audiences in communities unable to afford large companies. The dancers included members of the National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Several young dancers also made their first performances together with these outstanding professionals. Their last performances were with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in several sold-out performances in Centre in the Square, and in Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall.
To celebrate the careers of prominent Canadian singers, and to showcase young artists, Sumptuous Sunday Brunches were organized in 1999. Clarice Carson, Louis Quilico, Mary Morrison, and Ermanno Mauro, were honoured for their contribution to Canada’s reputation and prestige, and two sopranos, two baritones, a tenor and mezzo-soprano were showcased.