FRIDAY OCTOBER 6, 2023 7:30pm

Cultural and nationalist movement against an empire, banalities and war, mourning the death of children; these themes could all be said of today’s current global state. But, through the literature, visual and dramatic arts and musical expression, we find it is an ongoing battle of the human condition, spirit and journey. This is what has inspired the curation of this programme.

ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

As a student, it’s a heady business learning repertoire in many languages and historic periods, swimming in its beauty and aesthetic. But, as an emerging artist developing for the stage, I was quickly hit with the reality of the responsibility of the interpreter especially when performing works of a language and culture that were not of my lived experience. A big pivotal moment for me was the summer of 2000 when I received a Slavic Music Prize from Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques (Montreal), a scholarship to participate in the International Summer Masterclass Series at the Janáček Akademie (Brno, Czech Rep.) to study with mezzo Anna Barová and pianist Marta Vašková (see photo below). My project was the Gypsy Songs of Antonín Dvořák, poetry by Adolf Heyduk (part of the Májovci). It was the first time I was truly confronted with the responsibility of presenting a work, performing in a language that I didn’t speak but was the Mother Tongue of the Czech audience, interpreting a composer and poet that were so celebrated and important to the resurgence of the Czech language, literature, culture, and national identity in the Europe of 1880. It was a profound exercise of cultural accountability. With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and as a new Czech Republique emerged, the nationalist sentiments from 100 years prior once again rang. The summer of 2000 was my third tour in Central Europe, and from my previous engagements in 1996 (Opava, Praha) and 1997 (Ostrava, Olomouc), it was an ongoing important and intense cultural and linguistic learning curve for this young artist and student of humanity.


Les Banalités is somewhat of a bizarre musical romp when one considers the circumstances of which they were written. Poulenc was a man and composer who pretty much marched to the beat of his own drum, certainly inspired under the mentorships of the likes of Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie as he grew compositionally in the young collective known as Les Six. What is curious about this cycle is that it was written in Paris and in Noizay in 1940 during the Nazi Occupation of WWII. After being called up to serve in an anti-aircraft unit, he was released from service in July 1940 and began an intense spree of composing, of which Les Banalités came to fruition. The poetry certainly rings of banal themes until we get to Sanglots where even the endless cycle of suffering (war) is banal.

GUSTAV MAHLER (1860-1911)

Friedrich Rückert, poet, in 1833-34 wrote 428 poems in an outpouring of grief following the illness and death of his two children due to scarlet fever. These poems have been described as being manic documents of a psychological endeavour to cope with such profound loss. Mahler selected five of these poems to become the Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children) which were composed between 1901-04, each song with their own perspective of the mourning process. Three years after the work had been completed Mahler’s daughter Maria died of scarlet fever and he wrote to Guido Adler, “I placed myself in the situation that a child of mine had died. When I really lost my daughter, I could not have written these songs anymore.”

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).

Can’t come to the concert, but would like to support our event? Please consider donating tickets.

Your donated tickets will go to the students of the Regent Park School of Music and to the YMCA Youth Groups. Your generosity goes a long way to support the creation of dynamic events such as OpéraFest, MÉXICO CANTA and recitals such as this evening enabling our community cultural outreach. Your gesture is greatly appreciated and we thank you.



-ONLINE BOX OFFICE CLOSES AT 3PM, Friday October 6, 2023-




Single: $25  |  “Bring-A-Date” (2 tickets): $40

Music Students* & Children (18 yrs of age or under): $10 cash/debit at the door

SAVE up to $20 when buying your Advance “Bring-a-Date” option!

  • With vaild Student ID


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Hence, the security block when trying to access PayPal and process your ticket purchase. After a week’s long intense troubleshooting with the developer team at PayPal, we discovered that THAT was the issue and that there was a very easy solution. All you have to do is copy and paste this fresh link into a fresh browser tab and you should have clean and secure access to the PayPal Checkout function.

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TEL/SMS/WhatsApp: +1 416 927 9105




***Cash, Debit and Credit Cards Accepted***

Single: $30  |  “Bring-A-Date” (2 tickets): $50

Music Students* & Children (18 yrs of age or under): $10 cash/debit at the door

– The venue doors and box office will be open 1 hour before showtime-

*With valid Student ID


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For inquiries about the program or box office, please contact us at:

Tel: +1 416.927.9105


JEANNE LAMON HALL, Trinity-St. Paul Centre, Toronto, Canada