Art Song Lab

Where Poets Composers & Poets Come Together

Filtering by Category: ASL 2018

Pianist, Rachel Iwaasa

If you love the piano, new music, collaborative music making, or amazing people, then you are going to LOVE Rachel Iwaasa! We're thrilled to have Rachel coming back this year for #ASL2019.

Apply today for your chance to work with a sublime pianistic artisan!

KiyoIwaasaRachel headshot.jpg

Hailed in the press as a "keyboard virtuoso and avant-garde muse" (Georgia Straight) with the “emotional intensity” to take a piece “from notes on a page to a stunning work of art” (Victoria Times Colonist), pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa has performed as soloist and chamber musician in Canada, the United States, the Netherlands and Germany. Known for bold and innovative concerts, Rachel combines her warmth and curiosity to touch the hearts and minds of audiences, whether she is playing Beethoven and Schumann or Ligeti and Saariaho.

One half of the flute/piano duo Tiresias with Mark McGregor, Rachel has also performed with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Judith Forst, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw and Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire. Rachel has appeared for Muziekweek Gaudeamus, Music TORONTO, Vancouver New Music, Music on Main, Redshift, the Western Front, the Victoria Symphony, the Aventa Ensemble (Victoria), CONTACT contemporary music (Toronto), New Works Calgary, Groundswell New Music (Winnipeg), and Vancouver Pro Musica. Rachel has a shameless passion for contemporary music, and has performed numerous premières, including pieces written especially for her by Rodney Sharman, Jeffrey Ryan, Jocelyn Morlock, Emily Doolittle, Alexander Pechenyuk, and many other Canadian composers. Rachel’s debut solo CD, Cosmophony, piano music inspired by the cosmos, was released in 2010 on Redshift Records. Praised by the Vancouver Sun as “brilliant” and “unforgettable” and nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award, Cosmophony features the Canadian premiere recording of George Crumb’s Makrokosmos, Volume II and no less than nine commissioned works by Canadian composers.


Rachel is one half of the flute/piano duo Tiresias with Mark McGregor. Their debut CD, Delicate Fires, was nominated for a 2008 Western Canadian Music Award. Delicate Fires was produced with the generous assistance of the Barbara Pentland fund, and features the first commercially released recordings of her Sonata Fantasy for solo piano and Trance for flute and piano. It also presents the premiere recordings of works commissioned by Tiresias from Canadian composers Rodney Sharman, Jennifer Butler, and Jocelyn Morlock. Tiresias’s sophomore recording was double CD released in 2013: Trade Winds, showcasing the works of BC composers Jean Coulthard, Paul Douglas and Christopher Kovarik, paired with Halos of the Moon, exploring Japanese-Canadian hybridity in music with works by Toru Takemitsu, Jo Kondo, Eliot Weisgarber, Anthony Genge, Derek Charke, Hiroki Tsuromoto and Kara Gibbs.

Rachel’s major teachers were Jane Coop, Menahem Pressler, and Robin Wood. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of British Columbia, a Master of Music from Indiana University, and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Victoria, where she earned the Victoria Medal as the top graduating student in Fine Arts. She was also a two-time recipient of the prestigious Annual Grant from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) for graduate studies at the Hochschule für Musik "Hanns Eisler" Berlin. Other awards include numerous grants from the Canada Council, the BC Arts Council, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the Alberta Heritage Foundation. Rachel is a founder of the Queer Arts Festival, regarded as one of the top 5 festivals of its kind worldwide.

Soprano, Dorothea Hayley

It's our pleasure to have Dorothea Hayley joining us for the first time this summer for #ASL2018.


Praised for her “very personal creative power” (Badener Zeitung) and her “amazing coloratura skills” (Opera Canada), Dorothea Hayley has been a soloist with the Vancouver Symphony, the Bourgas Symphony, the Allegra Chamber Orchestra, and Capriccio Basel, and has appeared in recital in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. She has performed in festivals such as Sonic Boom, the Happening Festival, Gulangyu Piano Festival, Performer’s Voice Symposium, New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, and the Atempo Festival of Caracas, and with organizations like the SMCQ, Chants Libres, CIRMMT, Codes d’accès, Vancouver New Music, the Little Chamber Music Series That Could, and the Land’s End Ensemble. She is a member of the Erato Ensemble, the Broadwood Duo, Ensamble Atempo, and the Hayley-Laufer Duo.

An enthusiastic performer of contemporary music, Dory has worked with composers such as Helmut Lachenmann, Diógenes Rivas, Owen Underhill, Jordan Nobles, and Chris Paul Harman, and created roles in Mark Haney’s Omnis Temporalis and Michael James Park’s Diagnosis Diabetes. The Georgia Straight called her performance of Joelysa Pankanea’s The Fifth Stage one of “five transcendent arts moments” of 2015.A former Visiting Scholar at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute and Visiting Faculty Artist at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, she currently teaches at Vancouver Community College. She is the Artistic Co-Director of the Blueridge Chamber Music Festival.

Dory pursued vocal studies at McGill University, the University of British Columbia, and the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien, and has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Koerner Foundation, the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada, and the Conseil des arts et des letters du Québec. She holds a Doctor of Music degree from Université de Montréal.

Pianist, Marguerite Witvoet

It's our pleasure to announce that Marguerite Witvoet will be joining our performers for a second time at Art Song Lab 2018!

Don't miss the chance to work with Marguerite and all our amazing performers.

Apply today:

Marguerite Headshot.jpg

With a rich musical palette and an adventurous spirit, Marguerite Witvoet lays claim to a diverse range of musical territories. As a pianist, vocalist, composer, sound designer, music director/conductor and vocal coach, Marguerite has gained a reputation across Canada as a versatile and creative musician.

An active player in the development of new opera and musical theatre, Marguerite has conducted the world premieres of several new Canadian operas and assisted in the development of numerous others, with companies such as Autumn Leaf Performance, The Banff Centre, Modern Baroque Opera Company, Pro Musica, Restless Productions, Tapestry New Music Theatre, The Vancouver Playhouse and Vancouver New Music. No stranger to theatre, she has also worked with the Arts Club, Belfry Theatre, Canadian Stage, Chemainus Theatre, Shaw Festival and Toronto Operetta Theatre.

Ms. Witvoet regularly performs as a solo and chamber artist, and has made numerous recordings with CBC, frequently interpreting works by established contemporary composers such as John Cage and Georges Aperghis, commissioning new works by Canadian and international composers and performing works of her own composition.

In 2002, Marguerite was nominated for a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for Significant Artistic Achievement for musical composition and arrangement. Her first venture into sound design was deemed "outstanding" by critics and audiences alike, and was nominated for a Jessie Award in 2003 for Best Sound Design. Since then, artists of all disciplines have sought her out for creative collaborations.

Marguerite lends a compassionate approach and a critical ear to her work as a vocal coach and piano teacher for both professionals and amateurs. Working with a combination of intuition, keen observation, years of musical training and a wealth of performance experience, she inspires students to develop their own unique voice as artists and creators.

Recent projects include conducting a 2016 production of White Wines, Radio Play in 3 Acts, composed by Dorothy Chang, and composing and music directing for Th'Owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish, for Axis Theatre in June 2017. Upcoming projects include music directing a December 2017 workshop of Leslie Uyeda's Your Breath, My Breath: Dialogue for a Mother and Daughter and playing in the Arts Club remount of Onegin, by Veda Hille and Amiel Gladstone.

Marguerite is a member of AFM, SOCAN, CMRRA and SCGC, and currently teaches in the Bachelor of Performing Arts program as well as conducting Beginning Choral Ensemble at Douglas College. She also teaches individual voice and choir at Studio 58, Langara College. For over ten years, Marguerite was faculty vocal coach at the International Advanced Voice Workshops at the Banff Centre.

Singer, Will George

We're thrilled to have Will George coming back for another year at Art Song Lab. This will be the 7th installment of #ArtSongLab, and this will be Will's 6th time!

Don't miss the chance to work with Willl, and all our amazing performers...

Apply today:

Will Headshot.jpg

Will George is a versatile performer, equally at home in the world of classical, musical theatre, and pop music.

He has performed leading roles with many international musical organizations, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City Operas, and festivals and concerts in Canada, Hong Kong, Finland, England, Sweden, Germany, the Philippines, and Carnegie Hall.

An active recitalist, Will is co-founder and Artistic Director for Erato Ensemble, and has been featured in a solo recital for Japan’s NHK network television. His CD, “Dew-drops on a Lotus Leaf”, a collection of songs by composer Marga Richter, was released on the Redshift label in 2014. “EAST,” with guitarist Michael Strutt, followed in 2017. Other recordings include “Geometrics” by L.Warde and Brent Michael David's “Viola Jokes”, with acclaimed violist Melia Watras.

A specialist in contemporary music, Will has worked closely with many respected composers, including Michael Tippett, Barry Truax and Marga Richter. He recently received rave reviews for his performance in Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Eight Songs for a Mad King” with Nu:BC Ensemble.
In addition to his classical work, Will also has years of experience singing popular music - rock, jazz, soul and country. He is well known in town as a singer-songwriter, and is the lead singer of the roots-rock band Horse Opera. The band released their debut album in November 2017.
Will received his Masters of Music degree from the University of Southern California, where he was honored as Outstanding Graduate from the School of Music. He currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Also a composer, Will's songs and vocal chamber works have been performed and commissioned by such organizations as New Music New York, Erato Ensemble, Vancouver International Song Institute, Holy Rosary Cathedral, and The Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. His cantata "The Virtues" was nominated for a 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Mr. George is the recipient of multiple ASCAPlus Awards, and is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre.


Guest Poet, Jordan Abel

It delights us to no end to see our ASL Alumni going on to do amazing things.  In 2012, Jordan Abel attended Art Song Lab as a poet participant. His work in erasure poetry, unknown to the composers present, gave his collaborative partner a whole new way of seeing the way a poem could influence their music, and set the precedent for many innovative collaborative approaches to follow. It was for his most recent book of poetry, Injun, that he received the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize.

We're thrilled to announce that Jordan Abel will be the Guest Poet for Art Song Lab 2018. He will present a public workshop designed to speak equally to poets and composers, and participants will have several opportunities to connect personally with Jordan throughout ASL.

Find out more about Jordan at, and listen to his ASL 2012 collaboration with composer Emilie LeBel, "the place of scraps..." on our recordings page.

Jordan Abel is a Nisga'a writer from BC. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD at Simon Fraser University where his research concentrates on the intersection between Digital Humanities and Indigenous Literary Studies. Abel’s creative work has recently been anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry (Tightrope), The Land We Are: Artists and Writers Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation (Arbiter Ring), and The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayword).  Abel is the author of The Place of Scraps (winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), Un/inhabited, and Injun (winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize).

Guest Composer, Rodney Sharman

We're so fortunate to have a wonderful community of composers and poets who value and support the work Art Song Lab is doing. Throughout ASL's history, Rodney has been an active and engaging member of the art-song community. A renowned Canadian composer with an international career, he's attended many of our concerts and open rehearsals, and taken part in our community discussions on the state of art song in our contemporary culture.

We're thrilled to announce that Rodney Sharman will be the Guest Composer for Art Song Lab 2018. He will present a public workshop on collaboration and his own experiences writing art song, and participants will have several opportunities to connect personally with Rodney throughout ASL.

Find out more about Rodney at, and listen to his interview on our "How To 'Art Song'" page.

Rodney Sharman is Composer-in-Residence of Early Music Vancouver’s “New Music for Old Instruments”. He has been Composer-in-Residence of the Victoria Symphony, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as well as Composer-Host of the Calgary Philharmonic’s New Music Festival, "Hear and Now". In addition to concert music, Rodney Sharman writes music for cabaret, opera and dance. He works regularly with choreographer James Kudelka, for whom he has written scores for Oregon Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet and Coleman Lemieux Compagnie (Toronto). Sharman was awarded First Prize in the 1984 CBC Competition for Young Composers and the 1990 Kranichsteiner Prize in Music, Darmstadt, Germany. His score for the dance-opera From The House Of Mirth won the 2013 Dora Mavor Moore Award for outstanding sound design/composition (choreography by James Kudelka, text by Alex Poch Goldin after Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth). 

Art Song Lab was created and takes place on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.