February 22, 2015 “Love Songs”

Kristin Hoff (arch)

Mezzo soprano Kristin Hoff has sung in Carnegie Hall under Maestro James Levine, and soloed with many orchestras, including the Boston Pops, the Vancouver and Montreal Symphony Orchestras. Reviewers have described her “…visually and vocally stunning” presentation and her “extraordinary vocal range” as well as the “body and beauty” of her voice.

February 22 Concert Program

On February 22 at 2 pm, Kristin performed a one-act, a capella opera called “Love Songs” by the Canadian composer Ana Sokolovic. This is a dazzling and unique combination of vocal and theatrical fireworks, and runs the gamut of what the New York Times describes as “(mezzo soprano Kristin Hoff’s) appealing clarity and emotional heft.” At one point in the opera, she sings the word “love” in a hundred languages.
The opera is short, running about 45 minutes with no intermission, and Ms. Hoff says audiences need time afterwards to come down from their emotional high and “debrief,” as it were, so she holds an interactive question and answer period. Following this there will be our traditional, delicious and heart-warming “Meet the Artist” reception.

Originally from St. Catharines, Ontario, Mezzo-Soprano Kristin Hoff graduated from the University of Montreal and made her Carnegie Hall debut with James Levine and the Met Chamber Ensemble. She has appeared at Caramoor and in NYC in the Caramoor Vocal Rising Stars program. Kristin recently performed the role of Carmen with the Jeunesses Musicales opera tour. A recent first-prize winner of the NYCO Mozart competition, Ms. Hoff performed Mozart arias with the Toronto ensemble in March 2013. She has performed many operatic roles, including Mrs. Herring in Albert Herring in Vermont with the Green Mountain Opera Festival and Dryade in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Tanglewood Music Festival. This past season understudied the roles of Nancy, Mum and Donna Elvira in Albert Herring and Don Giovanni on the mainstage, as well as sang the role of Tebaldo and covered Princess Eboli in Don Carlo. She recently debuted with both the Montreal and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras. This coming season will also see her performing with the Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra and the Palm Court Light Orchestra in Victoria, as well as duo concerts with pianist Antoine Joubert, a performance of Messiaen’s Harawi with pianist Sonia Wheaton-Dudley and a performance of Love Songs at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts. She will also perform again with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in Mendelssohn’s 2nd Symphony.

Serbian-born composer Ana Sokolovic, who has lived in Montreal for two decades, has been immersed in the arts all her life. Before taking up theatre and music, she studied classical ballet. She studied composition at university under Dusan Radi? in Novi Sad and Zoran Eri? in Belgrade, then completed a master’s degree under the supervision of José Evangelista at the Université de Montréal in the mid-1990s. Her work is suffused with her fascination for different forms of artistic expression. Both rich and playful, her compositions draw the listener into a vividly imagined world, often inspired by Balkan folk music and its asymmetrical festive rhythms. In the winter of 2012, she was recognized as a national treasure by Quebec’s Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine.

Over the years, Ana Sokolovi? has earned a steady stream of commissions and awards. Today, her repertoire includes orchestral, vocal, chamber, operatic and theatrical pieces. From 1995 to 1998, she was a three-time recipient of the SOCAN Foundation Award for Young Composers. In the 1999 edition of the CBC Young Composers Competition, she won the grand prize along with first prize in the chamber music category. In 2005, she won the Joseph S. Stauffer Prize presented by the Canada Council for the Arts, and in 2007 the Conseil québécois de la musique awarded her the Prix Opus for composer of the year. In 2008, she won the Jan V. Matejcek Award presented by SOCAN; in 2012, she was a repeat winner of the same award. In 2009, she won the prestigious National Arts Centre Award, which included commissions, residencies and teaching positions over a five-year period. In the summer of 2012, her opera Svadba-Wedding, commissioned and produced by the Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, received six nominations for the Dora Mavor Moore Awards and won for Outstanding New Musical/Opera. The opera then went on tour in Canada and Europe until 2013. 

The Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) recently marked the 20th anniversary of Ana Sokolovi?’s arrival in Quebec with a celebration of her body of work. The society’s artistic committee unanimously decided to devote the third edition of its Série Hommage tribute performance series to her. The series, held over the 2011-12 season, attracted record participation as Canadian artists and organizations enthusiastically answered the call. More than 200 events were presented in her honour from coast to coast. Ana Sokolovi? teaches composition at the Université de Montréal.