Watch the Hound Premiere

Chamber opera premiere by Erato Ensemble
Composer: Stefan Hintersteininger
Libretto: Maria Reva

Saturday, March 21st, 8:00pm
Orpheum Annex, 823 Seymour Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $15 advance (available here), $25 at the door

Watch the Hound is a chamber opera based on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. Orpheus, reputed charmer of all things living, descends to the Underworld to rescue his wife, only to find her unwilling to leave.

Program Notes:

“[Eurydice’s] only recorded words were sighs of pain. She was never really a woman, always an allegory, sketchy and unsatisfactory.” (Ann Roe, Orpheus: The Song of Life)

While many versions of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth exist, the general story is as follows: Eurydice was a tree spirit, and Orpheus sang her to life. Shortly afterward Eurydice died of a snake bite, and Orpheus set out to rescue his beloved from the Underworld, land of the dead. Hades allowed Orpheus to retrieve Eurydice on one condition: Orpheus was to walk in front of her without looking back until they both reached the land of the living. When Orpheus stepped back into the Upperworld, however, he turned back to make sure Eurydice was still behind him, and she fell back down to the Underworld.

While researching the Orpheus and Eurydice myth for Watch the Hound, I found bountiful information on Orpheus but relatively little on Eurydice. Her character seems only half-formed when she is alive, and I wanted to explore this idea. How would she fare by herself in the Underworld? When, in the original myth, Orpheus turns back to make sure Eurydice is behind him, is he simply impatient or does he doubt she will follow him out?

About Erato Ensemble:

Erato is an art-song chamber collective formed in 2006 by tenor/composer William George and soprano/composer Catherine Laub. Erato’s mission is to preserve the art-song tradition, while creating new works in the genre, and to advance the public’s appreciation of the arts by providing performances in public places. (


Illustration: Maria Reva

“Selfie” To Be Performed in Toronto

Shelley Marwood DMA Recital
Recent compositions, including three world premieres
Among several instrumental chamber works, the program includes the choral piece “These Fragile Snowflakes” based on a poem by Toronto poet Desi Di Nardo, art song “Selfie” with text by Maria Reva, and a second staging of the opera “Say No to the Dress” with libretto by Michael Albano.

January 25, 2015 (3:15PM)
Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building (Faculty of Music)
80 Queen’s Park, University of Toronto, Toronto ON, Canada
Check out Shelley Marwood’s website for details


TNQ Shortlist

I am pleased to report that one of my stories, “Subject Winifred,” has been shortlisted for The New Quarterly‘s Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award.

Save the date!

The Southbank Program Reading Series resumes on Thursday, September 11. In line with the night’s garment theme, I will be reading a story called “The Fox Fur Coat”.

Come hear readings by other alumni of SFU’s Southbank Writers’ Program and The Writer’s Studio, with JJ Lee as headliner!

JJ Lee is the author of The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit. It was shortlisted for the 2011 Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, and the 2012 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction. In 2012, he was awarded a GOLD for Best Short Feature by National Magazine Awards for his essay “ELLE First: You are beautiful.” Lee contributes to National Post and ELLE Canada.

Date: Thursday, September 11, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Location: Surrey City Centre Library, 10350 University Drive
Admission: By Donation

Click here for a full bio of all SPRS readers.


Art Song Lab recordings are up!


Photo credit: Daniel O’Shea

This year’s Art Song Lab concert, “Playing with Fire”, took place on June 13 at the Orpheum Annex, and featured a varied program of world premieres. It was a thrill to hear my poems “Selfie” and “Wanted: Your Spare Toe” come alive to music.



SELFIE: noun, informal (also selfy; plural selfies). A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically using a smartphone or webcam, and uploaded to a social media website.  Often accompanied by one’s own extended arm. Origin: early 21st century: from self + ie. Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year 2013. See also: helfie (a picture of one’s hair) and belfie (a picture of one’s posterior); a particular activity –  welfie  (workout selfie), drelfie (drunken selfie), also with items of furniture – shelfie and bookshelfie. (Definition adapted from Oxford English Dictionary)

Composer: Shelley Marwood
Phoebe MacRae, soprano; Marguerite Witvoet, piano


A man is fined $500 for swallowing a mummified human toe, a Yukon pub’s main attraction. Based on true story.
Composer: Arturo Fernandez
Will George, tenor; Corey Hamm, piano

Art Song Lab 2014 participants and performers (2)

Photo credit: Daniel O’Shea

Click here to listen to the other art songs created during this year’s (and previous years’) Art Song Lab!

Art Song Lab 2014

VISI art song labI am excited to collaborate with composers Shelley Marwood and Arturo Fernandez on two pieces, to be premiered on Friday, June 13 as part of Vancouver International Institute’s SONGFIRE Festival of Song. We were paired through VISI’s Art Song Lab 2014, “a multi-month collaborative experience that culminates in a week-long program comprising rehearsals, workshops, forums, community building, and concerts.”

I had a blast writing these texts, and can’t wait to hear how the words will sound to music. Rehearsals and workshops begin next week! 

Playing With Fire
Friday, June 13: 8:00 PM
Orpheum Annex, 823 Seymour St., Vancouver
Tickets: $20 / $15 / $10
Available here

For a list of free public events presented by the Vancouver International Song Institute in partnership with the Canadian Music Centre BC Regional Hub, click here.