Raised on the west coast of Canada, soprano and pianist Rachel Fenlon is dedicated to performing song recitals, chamber music, and opera, and creating and commissioning new music. Rachel most frequently performs song recitals accompanying herself on the piano, in repertoire from George Crumb, to Franz Schubert, Benjamin Britten, and world premieres.
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). Rachel has also appeared as a young artist with the Rossini Opera Festival Pesaro, leading to performances 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.
An avid chamber musician and recitalist, she has performed at the Toronto Summer Music Festival, the Oxford Lieder Festival, Oper Leipzig, Bristol Song Recitals, the Canadian Broadcasting Company Studios, Ricasoli Recitals Milano, Klassik @ Stone Berlin, and the Vancouver International Song Institute, to name a few. Additionally, Rachel has been a three-time resident at the Lunenburg Academy as a singer, and in 2018/19, as the guest soprano performing world premieres commissioned especially for its acclaimed contemporary music festival in which she has also participated as a composer herself. Rachel is an inaugural member of the collective New Art/New Media - an interdisciplinary collective for Canadian artists, and was sponsored in August 2019 by FAZIOLI and Showcase Pianos for video projects of her self-accompanied Fenlon & Fenlon.
This 2019/20 season, Rachel makes her debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, as a soloist in the world premiere
of Chaya Czernowin's "Heart Chamber", directed by Claus Guth. Her season hilights include self-accompanied performances of George Crumb's Apparition Cycle at the National SAW Gallery, in Bosawen & Maine, at the Ahrenshoop Festival, and at PODIUM Festival Matadepera; a self-accompanied recital featuring "Frauenliebe und Leben" at Orania Klassik in Berlin, and a self-accompanied performance at Late Night Liederabend Vienna, performing in an all-Schubert programme to celebrate the composer's birthday. As singer, Rachel performs a recital with pianist Leslie Dala at the Canadian Music Centre, featuring Messiaen's Poemes Pour Mi and Samy Moussa's Ahania's Lament, performs Susanne Stelzenbach's "Licht"at the GEDOK Festival Berlin, a recital at the Ahrenshoop Kammermusik Festival with pianist Cristian Niculescu, collaborates with pianist Ugo D'Orazio on Messiaen's Harawi, performs concerts throughout the season as a soprano soloist with Baroque Ensemble Impulsia at the Gedächtniskirche Berlin. Rachel looks forward to recitals as both singer and pianist in performances in July 2020 at Pòdium Festival di Matadepera, and a self-accompanied recital in October 2020 at Settimane Musicali di Ascona.
In 2018/19 Rachel made her debut at Oper Leipzig, in a solo recital with pianist Ugo D'Orazio, returned to Vancouver Opera as a guest artist in two self-accompanied solo recitals, which catapulted a series of highly successful solo performances of George Crumb's Apparition and a solo show featuring Alma Mahler, Benjamin Britten's On This Island, Franz Schubert and John Cage (the CBC studios Vancouver, Fox Cabaret, Bristol Song Series, Lunchtime Live! Bristol, New Art/New Media Ottawa). In Berlin, she was the soloist with Baroque Ensemble Impulsia, which headlined the annual Schönheit Gegen Gewald / Beauty Against Violence open-air concert, and the soprano soloist at the Sophienkirche Berlin with Capella am Weinberg, in Arvo Part's Stabat Mater,
Rachel has an ongoing collaboration as poet & performer with composer Matthias McIntire, with whom she is co-creating a song cycle for voice/piano/electronics, and this season sees the duo attending several residencies over the 19/20 year: at New Music For Strings Festival, run by the Emerson Quartet, in Reykjavik, Iceland, at Avaloch Farms Music Residency in New Hampshire, and at LAMP in Nova Scotia, where the two will also perform in the New Music Festival. The world premiere for the song cycle is in the Autumn of 2020. The duo are both inaugural members of the interdisciplinary collective New Art/New Media, and in this fall were awarded a full commissioning grant from the Toronto Arts Council for this project.
Rachel's musical life began playing the piano from age 5, and singing at age 17, and she brought her long-time dream of singing and accompanying herself in classical songs together in 2017, performing her first liederabend from the piano in an all-Schubert recital debut in Toronto at Gallery 345, subsequently performing this show in Europe (Ricasoli in Milan, "Late Night Liederabend" Vienna, in Berlin at various venues, in the UK, at Pacific Opera Victoria, Vancouver Opera, in Lunenburg at the Lunenburg Academy), and began to curate entire varying programmes in which she could accompany herself - from Schubert, to Schumann, Alma Mahler, to Britten, Ravel, George Crumb, John Cage, with ever-expanding repertoire. Rachel performs every programme entirely from memory. She attended Malcolm Martineau's Programme for Song at Crear Scotland as a singer and pianist, and the Oxford Lieder Festival Mastercourse as a singer and pianist, performing as a self-accompanied singer at both festivals. In March 2019 she launched two music films with artist Daisy Rickman, featuring her as a singer/pianist performing George Crumb, Franz Schubert, and Alma Mahler.
Some of the wonderful artists Rachel has collaborated with include the Gryphon Trio; Ensemble Nylandia; spoken word poet Shane Kocyzan; poet Sue Goyette, poet Graham Forst; pianists Walter Delahunt, Ugo D'Orazio, Esther Gonthier, and Leslie Dala; composers Robert Aitken, Matthias McIntire, Roydon Tse; Directors Glynis Leyshon, Christopher Gaze, Rachel Peake, Alan Corbishley; Friction Quartet, the Borealis String Quartet; cellist Adrian Brendel; conductors Jonathan Darlington, Alberto Zedda, Timothy Vernon, and Bramwell Tovey.
Rachel holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Opera Performance from the University of British Columbia. In 2017, she competed in Moscow in the semi-final round of the 2017 International Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition, and has received grants from the Vancouver Opera Guild, the Arts Song Foundation of Canada, recognition from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and was a finalist in the inaugural Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio competition. She has studied singing under Nancy Hermiston and Judith Forst, and Neil Semer, and studied piano with May Ling Kwok at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, and composition with Stephen Brown, and as a composition resident, short periods of study with Dinuk Wijerhatne and Marco Stroppa. In 2017, Rachel co-founded a chamber-music series: Ricasoli Recitals in Milan. Rachel lives in Berlin with her cactus Allen Ginsberg and writes poetry when the muses call.