Soprano Taylor Strande performs the role of Susanna in Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro." Photo by Nicola Betts

Soprano Taylor Strande finds a home in the Catholic Church

By  Allison Hunwicks, The Catholic Register
  • April 22, 2012

TORONTO - Hailed as having “natural acting ability and a clear arcing lyric soprano” by Classical 96.3 radio, praised for “a clear lyric soprano and quite beautiful sound” by Opera Canada, and about to star as Morgana in Opera Nuova’s production of Alcina, Taylor Strande appears headed to operatic greatness.

But despite the many rigours of a professional music career, Strande also parlays her impressive abilities into worship and service through the music ministry of her Catholic Church, particularly her work with the Our Lady of Sorrows chorale.

Strande’s journey to the faith was a somewhat winding one. After moving to Toronto 10 years ago, she did what many aspiring musicians do: found a job singing at a church.

“I’ve sang for the Presbyterian Church, the United Church and then my last official church job was with the Anglican Church as a section leader and soloist,” Strande told The Catholic Register.

“After that I spent some time overseas in Germany and Italy, and when I was in Italy I really found that I did love the Catholic tradition and so when I got back I searched for a volunteer (music ministry) position with the Catholic Church.”

Having just completed a prestigious musical residency at The Banff Centre in Alberta, Strande says she relishes the unique challenges that come with singing in a church choir.

“The difference between singing in ‘the real world,’ let’s say, and singing in the church, is that the church is very structured. We’re required to be at every rehearsal on Sunday and every Sunday morning Mass. Often the opera world and the concert world don’t quite work like that. My day-to-day schedule varies every week.

“Having the Sunday consistently is nice. It’s something that I look forward to every week. It’s part of a routine that I don’t actually get otherwise,” said Strande, who currently studies with Monica Whicher, who she also worked with while obtaining an artist diploma from the Glenn Gould School in Toronto.

Despite having a resume peppered with such roles as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro (her favourite role), Zerlina in Don Giovanni and Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte, Strande still finds that she gains valuable musicianship experience from working in music ministry.

“Even the things that look difficult on paper will sort of fall into place once you hear it all together, and sometimes things that look relatively easy completely fall apart if you’re not fully aware of what’s going on and what’s coming up next in the music,” said Strande.

While she will be leaving soon for Edmonton to prepare for her role in Handel’s Alcina, Strande can still be seen weekly in Toronto with the Our Lady of Sorrows chorale.

She also recently performed as a soloist at the Polish Memorial Concert under the direction of Gordon Mansell.

“I think every Sunday is wonderful. I do enjoy singing Gordon’s (compositions) quite a lot. There was one Sunday where we were singing his ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ for the first time and it was just perfect. Everything that we had rehearsed came through in that performance,” said Strande.

“I think that was a great experience to know that something so difficult can come together with a little bit of rehearsal, even for an amateur choir.”

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