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Concert raising money for Timmins singer to attend national program

Briana Sutherland says the city has a 'really strong music community that I talk about all the time down south because I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had up here'
2022-05-06 Briana Sutherland SUP
Briana Sutherland is attending Opera Nuova's seven-week emerging artist program in Edmonton.

A Timmins singer is excited to perform for a hometown crowd for the first time in a couple of years.

Briana Sutherland is staging a fundraising recital this Sunday, May 8 at St. Matthew's Cathedral. It's to help raise money to attend the seven-week Opera Nuova emerging artist program in Edmonton this summer.

Sutherland is a familiar sound in the local music scene. From school choirs to the Porcupine Music Festival and the Timmins Symphony Orchestra Chorus, she's been performing locally for years. 

Since graduating from Timmins High & Vocational School in 2020, she's been attending the University of Western Ontario working towards a Bachelor of music with an honours specialization in voice performance.

Opera Nuova is a not-for-profit organization that trains and promotes operatic vocalists across Canada.

Sutherland missed the original deadline to apply for this year's program. What she didn't know was that the deadline had been extended for mezzo sopranos.

Showing up to a voice lesson in what she describes as typical university student attire — sweatpants, rubber boots and a T-shirt — she got more than she bargained for.

“I went into that day thinking it was going to be a typical lesson day and I ended up going in and doing my audition in rubber boots,” she said.

She got an offer to attend the program the next day.

“It was a very quick turnaround and I was really excited, also equally terrified because I just did it for the sake of applying just to get the experience,” she said.

Normally people her age attend a 10-day program. It was a surreal moment for her to get into the emerging artist program.

“I was just flabbergasted, I was like ‘I don’t even know what to do with this information’,” she recalled.

It will be a busy seven weeks in Alberta. 

Throughout the day she'll be taking a variety of different classes for acting, dance, language and vocal interpretation, and lessons with world-renowned voice instructors and coaches.

On top of that, she's been cast as Vera Boronel in The Consul and is in the ensemble for Tuck Everlasting and will have rehearsals for those at night. The shows will be performed at the end of the program as part of the Edmonton music festival.

It was Timmins voice teacher Alison Kirkpatrick that helped Sutherland become a diverse singer, which she now advocates for.

“She used to say that if you’re a healthy singer and you do everything right technically you should be able to go between styles,” she said.

Along with raising money, this weekend's show is a way for Sutherland to give back to the local music scene.

Lindsay Deschamps is joining her for the concert that will feature a selection of the music she's been working on over the last three years, including songs in English, French, German and Italian. 

She's hopeful that students and youth attend.

“So I can just talk about the importance of being a part of your music community because Timmins really does have a really strong music community that I talk about all the time down south because I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had up here,” she said.

The concert starts at 2 p.m. Entrance is a donation at the door, with all of the proceeds going towards the program's cost.

Donations can also be made by emailing brianasutherland2002@gmail.com.