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ASL Co-Founders Michael Park, Alison d'Amato, and Ray Hsu stand in a row smiling at the camera

(art)Song Lab Brings Innovative Collaborations to Life in Winnipeg

June 20, 2024 — 

Composers, Writers and Performers from Across North America Unite in Winnipeg

For more than a decade, Art Song Lab has been making an indelible mark on the landscape of contemporary classical song in North

Alison d'amato on the left plays the piano while smiling and Lynne sings on the right

(art) Song Lab Faculty, Alison d’amato (left) and Lynne McMurtry (right)
photo credit: Jessica Rudman

America. After ten summers focusing on composers and writers in Vancouver, BC, this year’s programming brings performer participants into the mix between June 24-29th in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Activities include intensive rehearsals, workshops with esteemed guest artists, and performances including interactive SongSparks evenings, and the SongLAUNCH concert of world premieres.

This year, 19 participants from Canada and the United States were selected to undertake the 6-month collaborative opportunity. Teams of one composer, one writer, and one singer were formed earlier in 2024 to collaboratively create a song for voice and piano from scratch. In the month leading up to the program, participant and faculty performers have been learning the songs so everyone arrives ready to bring them to life and beyond.

Once everybody is together in Winnipeg, the program focuses on those new songs through rehearsals and performances. Informal evenings called SongSPARKS allow the audience into the process. Having the creators, performers, and audience in the same room engaging in dialogue is a luxury that (art) Song Lab prioritizes.

Participants also have the opportunity to attend workshops and mentoring with two Winnipeg legends of national acclaim. Both poet Di Brandt and composer Andrew Balfour have been given the unique challenge of creating a workshop that is specific to their craft, but also equally appealing to both composers and writers. The program culminates with a concert of contemporary art songs, including the nine songs written for (art) Song Lab 2024, featuring both faculty and participant performers.

This summer marks something of a homecoming for co-founder, Michael Park, who grew up in Winnipeg and graduated from University of Manitoba’s Bachelor of Music program in 2007.

“There’s something truly special about the singing that happens in Winnipeg. I had no idea how lucky I was while I lived there. After moving away from Manitoba, I realized how privileged I was to have sung in the Winnipeg Boys Choir, at the New Music Festival, and to have studied at the University of Manitoba. Laura Loewen and Mel Braun taught me so much about how to connect piano playing to the text of sung music. It’s an honour to bring (art) Song Lab back to where I started, and to be working with them as peers.”

Park and pianist Alison d’Amato co-founded the program along with poet Ray Hsu in 2011 and have co-directed the program together since 2015. Since its conception in 2011, (art) Song Lab has connected 70 writers with 108 composers, presenting world premieres of 126 new art songs. 


See below for a full listing of events: 


June 29th, 7pm – SongLAUNCH: World Premieres from (art) Song Lab 2024

The culmination of all our collaborations, and the beginning of nine new songs in the art scene! Come support the launch of new works with the poets, composers, and performers in the hall.  The concert is held at the Desautels Faculty of Music, 150 Dafoe Rd.

June 26, 2pm – Workshop with Andrew Balfour

June 27, 2pm – Workshop with Di Brandt

Unique insight from our guest artists, we present workshops specially developed for both composers and writers. Limited space available. Entry by donation. Workshops are held at the Desautels Faculty of Music, 150 Dafoe Rd.). 

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June 24, 7pm – Poetry Reading featuring Participants and Alumni

June 25, 7pm – Baritone SongSparks with Mel Braun and Laura Loewen.

June 26, 7pm- Contralto SongSparks with Lynne McMurtry and Rachel Iwaasa

June 27, 7pm – Soprano SongSparks with Zorana Sadiq and Alison d’Amato

SongSparks are interactive song workshops centered around the dialogue among composers, writers, performers and audience about the interpretation and performance of art song. Constructive audience feedback is at the core of this experience. SongSparks are held at the Desautels Faculty of Music, 150 Dafoe Rd.

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