Meet Your 2016 Academy Fellows, Part Two!

In this week’s edition of Fellow Fridays, we feature four of the participants in the 2016 Art of Song program: Ellen McAteer, Rose Naggar-Tremblay, Madeleine Christie, and Rachael Kerr.

Ellen - Baroque

Ellen McAteer


1. How did you first get involved with music?

I struggled with speech problems as a child, so at the suggestion of my speech therapist I joined a choir at the age of 8. I loved singing and remained in choir until age 18, when I began music school.

2. Why did you want to spend part of your summer studying at the Toronto Summer Music Academy?

I enjoy being in Toronto and have not yet had the opportunity to participate in a summer program that takes place in the city. I’m delighted to be able to remain in the city I’ve called home for the past four years while working with the tremendous faculty at the Toronto Summer Music Academy.

3. If you could perform any piece of music in any concert hall in the world, what and where would it be?

This is a very difficult question, but I would have to say the fourth movement of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, “Wir genießen die himmlischen Freuden.” This beautiful piece depicts the food, company and music in heaven through the eyes of a child, and Mahler’s writing is both fittingly complex and heartbreakingly innocent. Being from Ottawa, I would love the opportunity to some day sing as a soloist on the stage of the National Arts Centre.

4. Imagine that you weren’t pursuing a career in music –what would you be doing?

Until the end of high school I assumed I would pursue a career in math and physics – my two favourite subjects. Studying music at university seemed too good to be true, and although I’m happy with the choice I’ve made, I still enjoy tutoring math on occasion.

5. If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

My grandmother passed away recently, and I have since been riddled with questions I wish I could have asked her. She was an enigma in her own right, an accomplished conversationalist and loved to eat – the perfect lunch companion!

Rose Naggar-Tremblay

Rose Naggar-Tremblay


1. How did you first get involved with music?

I started singing before I could even talk. It was always the most natural way to express myself. I took piano lessons as a kid, and sang in choirs until my first voice teacher would consider me old enough to start my training at 12.

2. Why did you want to spend part of your summer studying at the Toronto Summer Music Academy?

Toronto has a very vibrant musical scene that I have wanted to explore for a long time.

3. If you could perform any piece of music in any concert hall in the world, what and where would it be?

Right now, it would be Elgar’s Sea pictures in the Théâtre de La Vieille Forge, a small concert hall in Gaspésie with the most beautiful view on the St-Laurent River, but ask me again tomorrow…

4. Imagine that you weren’t pursuing a career in music –what would you be doing?

I would love to be a writer. Probably a librettist.

5. If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

I would love to have lunch with Wajdi Mouawad and John Estacio, and convince them to write an opera together, preferably with a lead mezzo character.

Madeleine Christie

Madeleine Christie


1. How did you first get involved with music?

My parents (mum, dad, and step-dad) are musicians, so music was all around me when I was growing up. My mum tried to teach me a little violin when I was three, but we soon made the executive decision to part ways as student/teacher. I loved climbing all over our piano, and my parents got me into piano lessons at age 4 so that I would do fewer stunts and more scales.

2. Why did you want to spend part of your summer studying at the Toronto Summer Music Academy?

I have wanted to apply for the TSMA for a long time now, and this was the first year that my summer plans aligned with the festival timing. I also got very excited about the guest artists that the fellows get to work with this year.

3. If you could perform any piece of music in any concert hall in the world, what and where would it be?

I would love to play the recitative for Le nozze di Figaro on the harpsichord at The Metropolitan Opera in New York. That would be a dream come true.

4. Imagine that you weren’t pursuing a career in music –what would you be doing?

I would probably be some kind of dusty academic in the field of English. I love literature and criticism, and almost went for a Comparative Literature degree instead of Music.

5. If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Margaret Atwood. Though I would probably be too flustered to make anything more than awkward small talk, since I admire her so much! She would probably find this very annoying.

Rachael Kerr

Rachael Kerr


1. How did you first get involved with music?

My mom started me in a group keyboard class when I was 5, and took to piano immediately. She came from very musical parents, so music lessons were valued in our family!  It wasn’t until about middle school that I got serious about piano, when I went to Interlochen Arts Camp and met other people my age who loved music as much as I did!

2. Why did you want to spend part of your summer studying at the Toronto Summer Music Academy?

I recently moved to Canada, and I was excited that there was this amazing festival in the city where I live now! I knew the faculty and visiting artists would be amazing,  and I am excited about meeting my fellow musicians, many of whom have connections to Toronto!

3. If you could perform any piece of music in any concert hall in the world, what and where would it be?

This is a tough question to narrow down!  I think I would love to perform a piano concerto in some sort of outdoor venue, because piano isn’t normally an outdoor instrument.  I always loved attending concerts at Grant Park in Chicago or Koussevitsky Shed in Lenox, MA.  One of my favorites is the MacDowell Piano Concerto in d minor.   Not as often performed as some others, but still beautiful.

4. Imagine that you weren’t pursuing a career in music –what would you be doing?

If I weren’t pursuing a career in music, I think I would still want to work in a field related to music somehow! I have a degree in chemistry as well, and I think it would be fun to explore the relationship between music, the brain’s chemistry, and how we perceive music.

5. If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Musically, I would want to meet J. S. Bach and ask him how he kept coming up with brilliant compositions week after week.

Personally, it would have to be my great grandma (who has passed away) who immigrated from Italy.  Now that I’m older, I would love to hear all her stories of her lifetime and what life was like in Europe vs. America.  I also respect her immensely and would want to hear all of her sagely advice for someone in my generation.

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