Raised on the west coast of Canada, Rachel Fenlon is a soprano and pianist who performs song recitals accompanying herself on the piano, drawing from a more singer-songwriter approach, instead of the current classical music performance tradition. She has toured Europe, Canada, and the US with solo recitals, in repertoire from Schubert, Schumann and Debussy, to Olivier Messiaen, George Crumb, Philip Glass, and numerous world premieres. Rachel is dedicated to creating and commissioning new music, and actively has several collaborations with composers for new song cycles for her to perform as self-accompanied singer. Rachel has appeared at festivals such as the Oxford Lieder Festival, the Toronto Summer Music Festival, Kammermusik festival Ahrenshoop, Bristol Song Recitals, the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC Studios), GEDOK Festival Berlin, and solo concerts at venues such as the National SAW Gallery, Fox Cabaret, Oper Leipzig, Vancouver Opera, the Baumann centre at Pacific Opera Victoria, and the Theater am Delphi Berlin.
In this reimagined 2020 season, Rachel has performed livestream recitals with the National Arts Centre Canada, Pocket Concerts Toronto, Against the Grain Theatre, Pacific Opera Victoria, and the Lunenburg Academy. Upcoming streams include Schubert's Schwanengesang with PinDrop Entertainment and United We Stream, Amsterdam Dance Event, a world premiere by Helmut Zapf at Randspiele Berlin, Virtuosi Festival Brazil, and a recital in IDAGIO's acclaimed Global Concert Hall.
Rachel is the founding host of a series titled "Classical (R)evolution" on IDAGIO, in which she interviews weekly guests and discusses what rule breaking and pushing boundaries mean for Classical music, and for musicians today. She has interviewed guests such as Marc-André Hamelin, Barbara Hannigan, Alexander Neef, Avi Avital, Francesco Piemontesi, Gerald Finley, and Nico Muhly, amongst many others.
Rachel began her professional career at Vancouver Opera as a young artist, and went on to perform numerous leading roles with the company: Pamina (The Magic Flute), Mabel (The Pirates of Penzance), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), and most recently, Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro). Rachel has also performed leading roles with Pacific Opera Victoria as Nannetta (Falstaff) and Queen Guinevere (Camelot); Ensemble Nylandia as Galatea (Acis and Galatea); the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as Lisa (Das Land des Lächelns), and with the Bard on the Beach Festival as Mimi (La Boheme). In 2019/20 Rachel debuted as a guest soloist with the Deutsche Oper Berlin in the world premiere of Heart Chamber by Chaya Czernowin, directed by Claus Guth. Rachel appeared as a young artist at the Rossini Opera Festival, leading to performances as soprano soloist with Alberto Zedda in Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, and has performed as a soloist with the Victoria Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the Northern Czech Philharmonic.
Upcoming and rescheduled performances for future seasons also include recitals at Settimane Musicali di Ascona, GEDOK Festival Berlin (world premiere), Podium Festival Matadapera, Array Space Toronto and SAW Gallery (world premiere), as well as an artist residency at the Banff Centre. Her collaborations include ensembles such as the Gryphon Trio, Ensemble Nylandia, Friction Quartet, Impulsia Ensemble, pianists Leslie Dala, Cristian Niculescu and Ugo D'Orazio, and composers Matthias McIntire, Danika Loren, Susanne Stelzenbach, Nicole Lizee, Gavin Fraser, and Helmut Zapf. Her collaboration with composer Matthias McIntire won the two a Toronto Arts Council Grant in 2020 to realize a song cycle composed to Rachel's poetry with live electronics. The two have attended residencies such as Avaloch Farm Music Institute (New Hampshire), and Lunenburg Academy (Nova Scotia). Rachel is a member of the Canadian artist collective New ART/New MEDIA, a three time resident at the Lunenburg Academy, as singer/pianist/composer, and was the first to attend song mastercourses at both the Oxford Lieder Festival and the Crear Song Programme with Sir Malcolm Martineau as a self-accompanying singer. Rachel holds an ARCT Diploma in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music Toronto, and Bachelors and Masters degrees in Opera performance from the University of British Columbia. She has received grants from the Toronto Arts Council, the Vancouver Opera Guild, the National Arts Centre Canada, and the Art Song Foundation of Canada. Fenlon studied voice with Judith Forst, Nancy Hermiston, and Neil Semer, and composition with Stephen Wood, and Robert Aitken, as well as summer composition residencies with Dinuk Wijerhatne and Marco Stroppa.
Rachel lives in Berlin with her cactus Allen Ginsberg, and writes poetry when the muses call.