Raised on the west coast of Canada, Rachel Fenlon is a soprano and pianist, who, drawing from a singer-songwriter approach, performs song recitals as both singer and pianist accompanying herself. Praised for her “unusually shaped recitals in keeping with her extraordinary talent” (Places des Arts/Festival de Lanaudière), Rachel Fenlon performs internationally as a recitalist, as solo pianist and singer, and on the opera stage.
As self-accompanied singer-pianist, Rachel has performed recitals at prestigious festivals such as Festival de Lanaudière, the Oxford Lieder Festival, PODIUM Festival Matadepera, Vancouver Opera Festival, the Toronto Summer Music Festival, Kammermusik Festival Ahrenshoop, Bristol Song Recitals, the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC Studios), GEDOK Festival Berlin, and at venues such as the National SAW Gallery, the Late Night Liederabend Vienna, the Fox Cabaret, Oper Leipzig, the National Arts Centre Canada, Gallery 345 Toronto, Vancouver Opera, the Baumann Centre at Pacific Opera Victoria, and the Theater am Delphi Berlin.Read more
Rachel began the 2021-22 season at the Festival de Lanaudière, with a self-accompanied recital titled Poésies d’Été – a programme of Debussy, Schubert, Messiaen songs and Grieg’s Lyric Pieces for solo piano, and then was an artist in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts. In March, Rachel performed self-accompanied recitals at Neue Schloss Tettnang in Bodensee, Kulturbrauerei Berlin, and Bach Wochen in Erfurt, then toured to Canada to perform a recital of Messiaen’s Poemes Pour Mi at the Orpheum Annex Vancouver, and to sing the soprano soloist in Bach’s B minor Mass with the Vancouver Bach Choir and Vancouver Opera Orchestra. In the summer of 2022 Rachel will perform the world premiere of a new song cycle for which she is co-creator as poet/librettist, with composer Matthias McIntire, with two performances at Ottawa Chamberfest. An exciting highlight of this season, Rachel will debut her first performance of Schubert’s WINTERREISE as singer and pianist (Ottawa Chamberfest, Big Lake Festival, and Vioro Berlin). In June, Rachel jumped in at the Martha Argerich Festival in Hamburg, performing Montsalvatge Songs at Laeiszhalle Hamburg. Upcoming highlights next season include self-accompanied recitals at Settimane Musicali di Ascona, and Oxford Lieder Festival.
On the opera and concert stage, in 2021-22 Rachel sings the soprano soloist in Bach Cantatas BWV 106, BWV 151, BWV 61 as soprano soloist at the Sophienkirche Berlin, where she is a regular soloist in their Bach ensemble. She sings as soprano soloist in Haydn’s Nelson Messe at Apostel Paulus Kirche Berlin, and the spring, Rachel is the soprano soloist in Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Vancouver Bach Choir and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum Theatre. In April 2022, she jumped in to cover the role of Zerlina in Don Giovanni at Pacific Opera Victoria.
Her interpretations of composers such as Franz Schubert, Claude Debussy, Olivier Messiaen, and George Crumb, have a particular radiance, as well as the songs of Benjamin Britten, Alma and Gustav Mahler, Robert Schumann, and Alban Berg. Valued for her dazzling, flexible soprano, her curiosity and courage to experiment, Rachel is an ideal interpreter of works by contemporary composers, and works written specially for her as self accompanied singer form an increasing part of her repertoire, including songs and song cycles by Matthias McIntire, Susanne Stelzenbach, Gavin Franser, and Danika Loren, and Samy Moussa.
Hailed by Opera Canada as “a young artist with vocal skills which should take her anywhere she wants to go”, Rachel debuted as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance at Vancouver Opera, when she was a member of the Vancouver Opera young artist programme. Rachel has since returned as a guest and has sung many leading roles with Vancouver Opera, including Pamina in The Magic Flute, Mabel inT he Pirates of Penzance, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and most recently, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. Rachel has also performed leading roles with Pacific Opera Victoria as Nannetta in Falstaff, and Queen Guinevere in Camelot; Ensemble Nylandia as Galatea in Acis and Galatea; the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as Lisa in Das Land des Lächelns, and with the Bard on the Beach Festival as Mimi in La Boheme, and 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. In 2019/20 Rachel debuted as a guest with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, singing in the world premiere of Heart Chamber by Chaya Czernowin, directed by Claus Guth, and performed solo recitals at Vancouver Opera and Oper Leipzig.
In 2020-21, Rachel performed livestream self-accompanied recitals with the National Arts Centre Canada, GEDOK Berlin, Virtuosi Festival Brazil, Pocket Concerts Toronto, Against the Grain Theatre, Pacific Opera Victoria, and the Lunenburg Academy. She was music director and performer in Schubert’s Schwanengesang with PinDrop Entertainment and United We Stream, which was a multi performer, multi-genre live production at the Delphi Filmpalast in Berlin. In the summer of 2021, she performed 4 live self-accompanied recitals of George Crumb’s Apparition at the PODIUM Festival Barcelona, as well as chamber music recitals of Schubert and Hindemith.
In addition to her work as a performer, Rachel writes poetry – she has been awarded a grant from the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Councils for her poetry, and will release her debut collection in Winter 2023. She is the co-founder of the Berlin artist collective CROWN THE MUSE – a production, and commissioning body for musical projects, as well as a member of the Canadian Artist Collective New ART New MEDIA. She has attended artist residencies at Avaloch Farms Music Institute in New Hampshire as poet/singer/pianist, and has been a 4-time artist resident at the Lunenburg Academy, which she has attended as singer/pianist/composer. Rachel was a singer/pianist at the Oxford Lieder Mastercourse and at Crear Programme for Song in Scotland with Sir Malcolm Martineau – the first to participate in both as singer and pianist.
Passionate about music and innovation, 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 means for musicians today. She has interviewed guests such as Marc-André Hamelin, Vikingur OIafsson, Barbara Hannigan, Alexander Neef, Avi Avital, Francesco Piemontesi, Sir Donald Runnicles, Magdalena Kožená, and Nico Muhly, amongst many others. To date, she has interviewed over 100 artists.
Rachel’s formal training has been at the University of British Columbia, where she holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Opera Performance, and studied voice with Nancy Hermiston. Rachel studied composition at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, and completed her ARCT Diploma in Piano Performance, under May Ling Kwok, from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada. Rachel lives in Berlin.
“Canadian soprano and pianist Rachel Fenlon is redefining what it means to curate one’s own recital.”
“Rachel Fenlon is an unusual talent. She’s equally skilled as a soprano and as a pianist and she has combined those talents to create an evolving show called Fenlon and Fenlon where she sings (mostly) art song while accompanying herself on piano. Rachel is a very decent singer and a really good pianist and above all a thoughtful and creative musician. Last night was full of little “I thought I might just try this” moments that were great fun and very valid ways of exploring the songs… I like my traditional Liederabend as much as most folks but if someone is going to try to be different I’m much more attracted to what Rachel does than to slipping in some Rodgers and Hammerstein or Leonard Cohen.”