Burnaby soprano a high note at Songfire festival
In today’s economy it’s hard to land a job, but for a professional soprano like Robyn Driedger-Klassen the search is never ending.
The Burnaby woman has been a part of many productions from Baroque to contemporary music, and performances that have included Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Even though she has had great successes it still usually takes 50 auditions to book one job, the competition fierce among female opera singers who are sopranos.
Her career didn’t just happen overnight either, it took “hard work and perseverance,” she says.
“You have to just put yourself out there every day.”
Along with auditions and performing Driedger-Klassen fills her time teaching and organizing on behalf of the Vancouver International Song Institute.
This month, she is involved in several performances at VISI’s annual Songfire Festival of Song, an event that runs throughout June.
“We make theatre out of song, and what people think of as boring now becomes something very visually and musically interesting,” she says.
Driedger-Klassen loves to be in front of an audience, and at 16 she took her first singing lesson and discovered she had a talent for it.
Originally a pianist in training, she made the jump into singing after shoulder problems made it difficult to play.
She won a few provincial singing competitions that year and “never looked back.”
“I just knew I liked to sing,” she said. “I didn’t really learn a lot about opera until I went to school.”
Now that she has turned singing into a career, Driedger-Klassen said she can’t imagine doing anything else.
“It’s a job that is completely weird and wonderful. Every day is different—some days are amazing like when you are actually singing and performing it’s wonderful, but most of the time it’s just me by myself in a room with a piano.”
Those days alone in a room with a piano can sometimes be lonely for the singer, but it helps her appreciate the really social times.
Working with new pieces, “I have no preconceived notions of what it’s supposed to be,” she said. “I find it very challenging and I love unravelling the mysteries of it.”
Being the first to play a part also pushes her creatively when she is on stage.
“In the moment if you’re totally inspired, magical things happen, things that you’ve never done before. It’s a thrill like no other because you can’t go back and redo something.”
As for the future, she hopes to keep singing, performing and working on her craft.
“I find my dreams just kind of change as opportunities come up,” Driedger-Klassen said. “There’s so much great stuff out there, and you never know what kind of experience you are going to have.”
Festival of Song tickets range from free to $40 depending on the event and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.ca.
Full details on all festival events can be found at www.songfire.ca.
Driedger-Klassen will be performing on June 7, 9, 10, 14 and 22 during the festival.