Wednesday June 15, 2022 7pm

Artist Bios:

Saskatchewan born baritone Stuart Graham, received his formal education at the Faculty of Music of McGill University in Montréal, Canada, with the renowned Canadian baritone Mr. Bernard Turgeon. In 1998, he continued his studies with Diane Forlano at the Koninklijk Conservatorium, Den Haag, Nederlands, and since January of 2000, Mr. Graham has enjoyed the mentorship of Diana Soviero (Metropolitan Opera, New York) as well as coaching with the incomparable Maestra Teresa Berganza (Madrid, España). Since 1992 Stuart Graham has been heard in recital, oratorio and in opera in Canada, the United States and in Europe, enjoying successes accompanied by orchestras and ensembles, such as: l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, I Musici de Montréal, the Saskatoon Symphony, Silesian State Opera, Slovak State Philharmonic (Košice) and the Oakville Symphony Orchestra. His performance in the world premier of Edifice by Arlan Schultz was broadcast by CBC, the BBC, Radio-France and the Bavarian Radio. In 1993, Mr. Graham made his New York debut as invited artist in recital as part of the Riverside Chamber Music Series (Riverside Church, New York, NY.).

Just before the global pandemic hit, Stuart enjoyed a busy calendar with performances that include his most recent recital outing with pianist Narmina Afandiyeva presenting their program of Rachmaninoff songs, Rachel Laurin’s LES TROIS FABLES and Gustav Mahler’s DES KNABEN WUNDERHORN (Jeanne Lamon Hall – Toronto, La Roche d’Hys – France). In opera he played Plagio in VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert’s Canadian Premier production of Mercadante’s I DUE FIGARO, as Fr. Andrew in Opera in Concert’s World Premier production of Victor Davies’ adaptation of George Ryga’s THE ECSTACY OF RITA JOE (also presented at the Ryga Festival, Summerland, BC), as Agamemnon  in Toronto Operetta Theatre’s LA BELLE HÉLÈNE of Jacques Offenbach. 2018 also saw Mr. Graham’s Italian debut in Milan performing the roles of Tonio/Taddeo in Leoncavallo’s I PAGLIACCI with La Compagnia di Canto Vittorio Tosto. He returned to Milan in February 2019 to sing further presentations of I PAGLIACCI. Other recent performance credits include: Peter Tongi’s ISIS AND OSIRIS: THE GODS OF EGYPT as the Grand Vizier Khamet (world premier) with Toronto’s Opera in Concert, as Marquis Evrémonde in Victor Davies/Eugene Benson’s TALE OF TWO CITIES (world premier), as well as performances of Jacques Offenbach’s LA VIE PARISIENNE (Baron Gondremark) with the Toronto Operetta Theatre, Angeles Lopez-Artiga’s YO VIVO (for baritone & orchestra) at the Palau des Arts (Valencia, Spain) and in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as guest artist with the Opera Nacional Bellas Artes (Mexico City) and the Orquesta Sinfónica Silvestre Revueltas in Celaya, México.

born in Baku (Azerbaijan). A fourth-generation musician, Narmina never had to think about her occupational choice. After an early start, she gave her premiere solo concert at the age of 6. During her studies at the Bülbül Specialized musical school under the guidance of Adelya Vekilova, Narmina frequently gave solo concerts and performed with the orchestra.

Prize-winner of many piano contests in Azerbaijan, Narmina graduated from the U. Hadjibeyov Azerbaijan State Conservatory with master’s degree in 2000.

In October 2012, she was awarded the Gwendolyn Koldofsky Prize in Accompanying, (University of Toronto, Faculty of Music). In demand as a collaborative pianist and coach, Narmina has been working as a music director for VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert, Summer Opera Lyric Theatre and other companies.

Being involved in many great projects, Narmina has the honour to work with Canadian composers, such as Victor Davies and Peter Togni, and enjoys working under the batons of Robert Cooper, Derek Bate and Larry Beckwith.

Recent performances include chamber music and piano works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Grieg, Chopin and such operas as I Due Figaro by Mercadante, THE ECSTACY OF RITA JOE by Victor Davis and WERTHER by Massenet ( Opera in Concert).

ODE TO A PANDEMIC….

The global pandemic and the last 26 months have certainly given us a lot to think about, evaluate, re-evaluate; a world and its societies in collective turmoil, every person being forced their own unique journey of sudden change, sudden loss, silence, gross deception, of education, re-education, revelation, of re-invention. For myself, an artist whose industry and engagements were suddenly closed and cancelled, the inspiration of this program started to manifest. Johann Sebastian Bach’s stunning solo Cantata “Ich habe genug” is truly music at its most sublime and straight to the heart. Written for the liturgical Feast of the Purification, the journey through the test of life and faith, denouncing of what is false of “the world”, aspiring to the joy of the divine, laying to rest of the worldly notions that deny peace “Welt, ich bleibe nicht mehr hier….”, and that moment of commitment, that leap of faith into the purity of life and the divine, “Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod!”. The image and process of a caterpillar’s transition to chrysalis, molecular reorganization, and re-emergence into the world as a butterfly aptly comes to mind.

Just over a hundred years ago, humanity had just come out of the Great War (WWI) which dovetailed with the last major pandemic that shut down the world, The Spanish Flu. Taking a little dive into history, there was witness of so many parallel stories of struggle that became sources of inspiration and change with that “breakout” attitude. One that spoke to me was the development of a small group of composers in France that were under the mentorship of Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie. The group included Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Germaine Tailleferre, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc and, this evening’s guest, Arthur Honegger. The group came to be known as Les Six and they initially presented out of a small gallery/studio in Montparnasse, all with the mission to discern and develop a national voice and identity in French music and what became known as avant garde. Honegger’s setting of the Six Poèmes d’Apollinaire: extraits de “Alcools” gives a fresh and fun example of the energy and movement into the “Roaring ’20’s” in the Paris scene.

In discussion with Narmina, we both came to the table with our “bucket list” of what we wanted to perform coming out of this locked down quarantine existence. The classic cycle of Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe (Opus 48) was our common denominator. If you know it, you know why…. If you don’t, do come and witness the performance and you’ll be privy to the secret.

17 months after the firstCOVID lockdowns, we started to see the ever growing light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, we took a leap of faith and invited an audience for a live and in-person public performance in the glorious acoustic of Toronto’s JEANNE LAMON HALL. It was an emotional moment for artists and audience a like. Now, we take it to France and the artistic “Shangri-La” that is LA ROCHE D’HYS: Domaine des Arts nestled in the rolling valleys of the Bourgogne region of France. If you are in the area, it will be our absolute pleasure to welcome you to our audience!



For inquiries about this performance or box office, please contact us at:

LA ROCHE D’HYS: Domaine des Arts, Massingy-lès-Vitteaux

Tel: +33 (0) 380 33 94 42

Email: info@stuartgraham.ca