Named one of Canada's 2017 "Top 30 Under 30" Hot Classical Musicians, Canadian-British soprano Alexandra Smither is quickly making a name for herself in the world of old and new classical music.
In May of 2017 Ms. Smither swept the Eckhardt-Grammate National Music Competition, taking home both First Place and Best Performance of the Commissioned Work, Nicole Lizee’s Malfunctionlieder. Her prize included a nationwide tour of Canada in fall of 2017 in which she performed a recital of contemporary works featuring Canadian composers.
She made her triumphant debut with Houston Grand Opera in as Younger Alyce in their production of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, in which she “imbued her solo aria “My Darling Jim” with heartbreaking tenderness” (Texas Classical Review). She returned to Houston Grand Opera in May as Diana in Cruzar la cara de la Luna. Additionally she has appeared on the operatic stage as Gretel (Hansel und Gretel, Rice University), Mrs. Waters (The Boatswain’s Mate, Opera5), Esmeralda (The Bartered Bride, Music Academy of the West), Lydia (Second Nature, Music Academy of the West).
As a 2017 Soprano Fellow at the Tanglewood Festival, she made her Seiji Ozawa Hall debut at the Tanglewood Festival alongside Emanuel Ax and Bill Hudgins in Schubert’s "Der Hirt auf dem Felsen". The festival also brought performances of selections from Berg’s Sieben Fruhe Lieder with the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra, recital of French song, coached by Roger Vignoles. and Bach cantatas under the baton of John Harbison. She returns for her second fellowship at Tanglewood in the summer of 2018; highlights include the premier of Theo Chandler's "Two Taylor Songs" which were written for her, as well the premiere of a new work by Oliver Leith under the baton of Thomas Adès.
Ms. Smither was chosen by Stephanie Blythe to be a fellow at the 2018 Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar. While there, she will sang works by Joan Tower, Chris Cerrone, Aaron Jay Kernis, Dr. Alan Smith, and Juliana Hall.
She has held fellowships at the inaugural Songfest Winter Valley Intensive with Graham Johnson, Sir Thomas Allen, and Suzanne Mentzer; Marilyn Horne's The Song Continues at Carnegie Hall; and the Banff Centre under the direction of Pedja Muzijevic.
Comfortable in early music, she has sung with Houston's acclaimed ensemble Ars Lyrica, as well at the Emmanuel Music Institute out of Boston. She has appeared on the oratorio stage as the soprano soloist in Handel's Messiah and Bach's Magnificat.
An avid chamber collaborator, Ms. Smither has appeared in concert singing Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, Britten’s Les Illuminations, Salonen’s Five Images after Sappho, Chin’s Akrostichon Wortspiel, and Higdon’s Love Sweet. She is a member of the Houston-based contemporary music ensemble Loop38, and was the co-founder of the new music ensemble Hear&Now at Rice University. In May of 2017 her violin-voice duo NORTH/SOUTH (violinist Timothy Steeves) partook in their inaugural tour, performing works by Soper, Lang, Berio, and Kurtag.
2018 brings performances at the Banff Centre, Melbourne Metropolis Festival, Vancouver’s “Music in the Morning”, a tour of Japan as through Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques, an concert with the Cincinnati Song Initiative, and the inaugural tour of PushBack Collective with bassoonist Ben Roidl-Ward.
Ms. Smither has spent her summers at the Music Academy of the West, Songfest Mark and Eva Stern Fellowship), and the Franz Schubert Institute (Jean and Aline Chrétien Grant from the Jacqueline Demarais Foundation). She has performed recitals at the Prince Edward County Music Festival, the Navasota Musical Club, and at the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto, Ontario. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto (BMus 2014) and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University (MMus 2016); as a graduate of the University of Toronto she received the music faculty’s highest graduating award, the Tecumseh Sherman Rogers Memorial Fellowship.
Committed to making contemporary music more approachable and accessible, Ms. Smither has given lecture recitals and masterclasses at institutions including the University of Toronto, Monash University in Melbourne, and James Madison University. Additionally, she has given a masterclass on traditional operatic repertoire at the Harvard College Opera Society.
When she is not singing, Ms. Smither enjoys poetry, obsessively exploring restaurant menus, dancing, gin, and dachshunds.
Ms. Smither holds Canadian and British passports, as well as an American O1-B visa.