Meet Your 2016 Academy Fellows, Part Three!

In this week’s edition of Fellow Fridays, we feature three of the participants in the 2016 Art of Song program: Helen Becqué, Adanya Dunn, and Whitney Mather.

Helen Becqué

Helen Becqué


1. 
How did you first get involved with music?

I have always wanted to be a pianist. My dad used to color-code songs for me and I would play them on a little toy piano. In Belgium, where I grew up, the music education system works a little differently. I remember being 6 years old and following my older brother at the beginning of each new school year with a little notebook with staff paper in my hand, desperately hoping to get started with music lessons, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to start lessons till I was 8 years old.

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

Having been in the ‘working field’ for a couple years, it is very nice to be ‘a student’ again and have the opportunity to work and learn from with the incredible artists TSMF brings in.

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

I am not going to lie, I would love to play at Carnegie Hall (!). As far as the piece is concerned, it would be incredibly difficult to choose just one piece. There are so many I love. That said, Robert Schumann is probably one of my favorite composers and I love playing any of his works.

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

That is a hard question, I have always wanted to be a musician. I do love working with children and young adults and at some point (for only a very short time!) was thinking about completing a degree in mathematics and subsequently teaching at a middle or high school.

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

I would love to have been able to talk about Lieder with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and I wouldn’t mind having a little chat with Barack Obama. 🙂

Adanya Dunn

Adanya Dunn


1. How did you first get involved with music?

Growing up, my parents always had music playing in the house.

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

We are incredibly fortunate to learn, study, and perform some of the greatest pieces in the art song repertory under the guidance and mentorship of some of the world’s finest interpreters and performers of these songs. We are able to fully dedicate ourselves and collaborate with other musicians to bring life to these musical masterpieces in such a vibrant city.

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

Winter Morning Walks by Maria Schneider at the Tonhalle Düsseldorf.

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

A dessert chef.

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

My grandparents on both sides of my family – I never had the chance to know them. That would be one long lunch!

Whitney Mather

Whitney Mather


1. How did you first get involved with music?

I grew up singing in church and when I began making up my own songs at the age of 6, my parents decided to put me in voice lessons.

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

The quality of this program is well known and I really love the vibe that it gives. I also really love having the opportunity to work on just song. It is so important to a singer’s development and really helps with character growth and understanding which is directly transferable to opera. I love having the chance to work on poetry and understand the composers’ motivations for how they set the text.

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 sing Queen of the Night in Europe. Anywhere in Europe! She is so fun and challenging and I love being in Europe. I would be pretty happy to live anywhere there!

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

I have a lot of interest in sustainable city planning and would love to explore that more. Either that or languages and linguistics. Both of those areas really excite me!

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

I think it would be pretty incredible to meet with Lily Pons and get to know her and her voice in person!

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