Music Alive

2021 | 2022

Nov 18, 2022 1:00pm

Venue Online

Cost Free

Bringing Music to Life

Witness the transformation from singer to creator as Pacific Opera’s resident citizen artists are mentored by industry professionals from across Canada.

You are invited to follow along here, where we’ll share photos and artist vlogs (video blogs) showcasing the artists’ process, their a-ha moments, and each of the personal journeys as they discovering their own creative potential. The year culminates in a series of six Music Alive video recitals.

Tenor Mike Fan, bass Simon Chalifoux, soprano Rebecca Gray, and countertenor Ryan Patrick McDonald are Music Alive’s Civic Engagement Quartet for 2021-2022, the second year of the program. The four singers will be mentored by artists accomplished in a variety of performing arts disciplines through a process of creation, story telling with voice, and authentic personal connection to song. They then in turn will mentor two local voice students, the Apprentice Civic Engagement Artists, in diverse, authentic ways to engage in community, creating a peer-to-peer learning program that supports artists at all different stages in their journey.

Through artist-led learning, fostering creativity, and cultivating community, Music Alive brings music to life.

Tim looks out over a view of Victoria, BC from a mountaintop

Tim Carter | Preserves

Preserves shows the beauty of the small moments in romance, their lasting impact, how they cause nostalgia to grip your heart so strong you can almost taste it. Tim Carter invites the viewer to join in his reminiscing in this piece from Stuart Beatch’s song cycle, Still Running.

“My video showcases a romantic memory filled with touching nostalgia; a new composition by Stuart Beatch from his song cycle Still Running, featuring modern queer narratives.” – Tim Carter

Alex Chen | Dear Birds

Journey into the world of the skies with “certified bird nerd”, baritone Alex Chen, in his recital, Dear Birds. Focused on the conservation of birds, Alex shares his passion for our flying friends through music, urging for their protection in today’s uncertain world.

Rebecca Gray | Jess

Featuring the compositional and performance work of Rebecca Gray, Jess adapts a graphic novel exploring the impact of stroke and disability, and the restorative power of friendship and imagination.

Telling the story of Rachel and Jessie’s friendship through the hardship of stroke, Jess draws you in through all of the senses, with music that plays your heartstrings and striking visuals that evoke feelings of sadness, hope, and love.

Mike Fan | Tā (他/她)

Coming from my perspective as a non-binary, queer, second-generation immigrant Chinese Canadian artist, Tā (他/她) is my union of opera East and West, exploring a mélange of gender, culture, and sexuality. My title comes from the Chinese pronouns for he (他) and she (她), pronounced the same way. Prior to European colonist influence in the early 1900s, the gender binary did not exist in China until a new female pronoun was created. Today, non-binary people like me are reclaiming gender ambiguity by using the phonetic PinYin “Tā” or the new invented character “X也”. Tā (他/她) explores a complex intermingling of identities in five chapters interwoven with a journey from Toronto’s Harbourfront to Chinatown.” – Mike Fan

Ryan Patrick McDonald | On Tommy

How much further ahead could we be, had we not lost a generation of queer artists to HIV/AIDS? Ryan Patrick McDonald delves into what might have been, and the impact of this loss on the art world and on themself.

Reflecting on on their own inspiration as an artist, Ryan frames their recital through a tribute to Tommy Sexton, the first queer artist they felt a real connection to.

Simon Chalifoux | Ask it All with Simon

Simon Chalifoux pulls back the curtain and invites you into the world of opera as he answers burning opera questions from you, the audience, in ASK IT ALL WITH SIMON! With no question too big or too small, Simon bridges the gap between performer and audience member by sharing the stories you want to hear.


“As we transition to becoming singing professionals, we need to explore what makes us special as artists and what we have to say as people. We need to find ways to reach our communities and make a positive impact on our art and our surroundings. One of the most impactful ways to do this is to embrace and share who we are and where we come from. To explore how that directly colours the way we make music and relates to text and experience. I would like to explore these different possibilities in our work together and encourage these wonderful singers to step outside what is accepted as traditional classical repertoire and expectations and to explore what might be already in their back pocket but not yet viewed as valid or enough.” – Miriam Khalil, Music Alive Mentor

Opera 201

A collage of opera performances with the Opera 201 title overlaidJoin the Greater Victoria Public Library and Pacific Opera Victoria’s Civic Engagement Quartet for Opera 201, a mini-series about the past, present, and future of opera! From performing digitally to sexual identity in opera to indie companies, they share insider insights into important topics in the world of opera.

This series follows Opera 101, where the 2020/21 Civic Engagement Quartet give tips and tricks on all things opera for newbies and aficionados alike!

Civic Engagement Quartet
Apprentice Civic Engagement Artists

What is a “citizen artist”?

Yo-Yo Ma defines citizen artists as those who “transcend technique in order to seek out the truth in our world in a way that gives meaning and sustenance to individuals and communities.”

It is a bridging of “high art” and “community art” that both serves artistic excellence and discourse, and uses artistic innovation to create social or civic impact.

While participating in Music Alive, the citizen artists in the Civic Engagement Quartet will work in collaboration with Pacific Opera’s civic partners, including the Inter Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, the Victoria Public Library, the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, and local educators to bring music to life for our community in new, meaningful ways.


See all events

2021 | 2022 Recitals

Simon Chalifoux
Ryan Patrick McDonald
Mike Fan
Rebecca Gray


Alex Chen
Tim Carter

2020 | 2021 Music Alive

Behind the Scenes

THe Civic Engagement Quartet, Apprentice Artists, and mentors Tom Diamond, Kimberley-Ann Bartczak, and Rebecca Hass smiling in a zoom meeting
In a Zoom mentorship session with the Civic Engagement Quartet and mentor Tom Diamond!