MUSICIAN OF THE MONTH: MAUREEN BATT
Three days into October and our newest Musician of the Month is here: We are thrilled to have Maureen Batt on the site this month.
Maureen Batt is celebrated for her “rich, warm sound and masterful acting” (Opera Canada). Recently, Maureen’s solo career has focused on promoting Canadian classical contemporary repertoire by collaborating with established and emerging composers to commission, première, and re-perform their works. She released her debut album, Lady of the Lake (Leaf Music/Naxos), in June 2017; it includes song cycles by Schubert and Halifax-based composer Fiona Ryan.
Maureen is co-artistic director of Essential Opera—an opera company founded in 2010 with Erin Bardua—and part of the Indie Opera Toronto collective. In 2015, Maureen founded Crossing Borders, a contemporary classical recital series which has toured programs of art song, opera arias, musical theatre, and electronics to the United States and Canada with Cheryl Duvall. She has been the recipient of awards from the SOCAN Foundation, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, SSHRC, FACTOR, Music Nova Scotia, and Arts Nova Scotia.
Her formal training includes a Master of Music from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Music from Dalhousie University, and a Bachelor of Arts from St. Thomas University (French and Spanish).
1.What is your idea of perfect happiness? I wish for me and for those around me to have health and love. If I can be more selfish than that, I want a world where we remember that art has purpose, and that art gives us life. I want to always be able to collaborate with other artists, constantly celebrating what we all do well and love to do. I want to always be able to create and share and be challenged. And I want to be able to share art with my family, friends, and colleagues.
On a lighter note: I’m happiest on an empty beach with my husband and crashing ocean waves for our soundtrack. And, on other days, my idea of perfect happiness might just be a glass of wine after a bunch of submitted grant applications.
2. Recording you would take to a desert island? I had a very hard time answering this. I recently had a dance party in my friend’s kitchen… and we let loose to all our favourite 80s/90s/00s albums. Pure bliss. Music can be such a vehicle into our past. [Goes away and listens to all her favourite albums from her youth].
I remember The Solid Gold Collection tapes they used to give out at gas stations. I LOVED those cassettes–they had such a great mix of genre and era. Among my first CDs were albums by Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Lisa Loebe, The Rankin Family, THE BEATLES, Madonna, Whitney, Chantal Kreviazuk.
If I truly have to pick just one I’d do a coin toss between The Rankin Family’s “North Country” and “De pré-d’en-haut à Bois-Joli” by Bois-Joli.
3. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? I was a saxophone player for most of my school band years and into university – I played alto, tenor, and bari in concert and jazz bands and LOVED it. I still miss it.
4. Any place in the world you have not yet visited, but would like to? Argentina.
5. What/where is your favourite thing to eat? I love Lebanese food. I believe I could live on Tabouleh. And chocolate (obviously).
6. Which composer (dead or alive) would you most like to share a meal with, and what would you like to eat with them? I don’t much care what we’d eat as long as it wasn’t complicated and/or sloppy so that we could easily chat or cackle over the meal. I think I have to go with Mozart. And maybe we’d just have wine. Yes, that sounds delightful.
7. What are you most looking forward to in the 2017-2018 season? I’m most excited about the fact that my debut album, Lady of the Lake, is OUT and we get to start sharing it with the world. I’m looking forward to our launch events in October and November this fall; and I’m looking forward to touring the album after that!
8. Do you have a favourite recipe, and would you share it with us? When I come home from traveling and there’s next-to-nothing in the house for groceries, I’ll often make a simple pasta dish with onion(s), garlic, olive oil, salt, mustard, Dijon, paprika, cayenne, and a smidge of honey. If there happens to be some plain yogurt (Greek or other), I’ll add a dash of that, too. If I’m lucky and happen to have a not-too-shrivelled-up zucchini, I’ll make zucchini noodles instead of pasta. Shockingly, this recipe will also work with fresh ingredients. 😉