We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.

INTERVIEW | Soprano Midori Marsh Talks About Career, And The Women’s Musical Club Of Toronto Award

By Anya Wassenberg on March 21, 2024

L: Soprano Midori Marsh, (Photo: Gaetz Photography); R: (top) Midori Marsh performs with Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Centre Orchestra; (bottom) Midori Marsh performs with the Canadian Opera Company (Photos courtesy of the artist)
L: Soprano Midori Marsh, (Photo: Gaetz Photography); R: (top) Midori Marsh performs with Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Centre Orchestra; (bottom) Midori Marsh performs with the Canadian Opera Company (Photos courtesy of the artist)

Soprano Midori Marsh recently received the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto’s Career Development Award (CDA). The award is designed to help early career artists in making the leap to a professional career.

It includes a cash prize of $25,000, along with a Music in the Afternoon series concert recital. Former winners include violinist Blake Pouliot, accordion player Michael Bridges, and pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin.

We spoke to Midori about awards and competitions, and the ups and downs of a career in opera.

Midori Marsh performs with pianist Trevor Chartrand (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Midori Marsh performs with members of London Symphonia at Midori Marsh: Under The Moon in March 2023. (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Midori Marsh

American-Canadian soprano Midori Marsh is a native of Cleveland. She studied music at Wilfred Laurier University, and went on to receive her Masters in Opera at the University of Toronto. She took first prize and audience choice award at the Canadian Opera Company’s Centre Stage competition in 2019, and is a graduate of that professional development program. She was a semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2023 Laffont competition and a 2023 Lotte Lenya finalist.

In the early stages of a career as an opera singer, awards and competitions are a vital boost.

“I don’t want to be bleak about it, I want people to feel like there’s more that you need,” she begins. “[But] gosh, it sure does help.”

Singing, as she noted in her award acceptance speech, is “one of the best things you can do with your time”.

When it comes to her own singing, she pursues it with a passion that extends beyond a professional career. “There’s a million ways to do it for free,” she says, mentioning her involvement in many choirs and other ensembles over the years.

To make a living at it brings another dimension into the equation: it takes money just to go after a professional career, from the expenses of rehearsals, travel, continuing training, and much more.

“Professionally, it takes so much time and effort and money to even just get one person on stage living their dream.” When she’s in the audience watching other singers, Midori says she’s acutely aware of just how many people are involved behind the scenes. “It took maybe hundreds of people to get them on stage.”

It may seem daunting to a young singer starting out, but it’s also an advantage to have so many people in your corner as you make the climb. “It’s very, very nice,” she says. “It’s very moving.”

The expenses of a professional career don’t end at singing. “Even silly things, that people wouldn’t even think of,” she says, “like a fancy clothes budget.”

Midori credits a background where, like so many other aspiring opera singers, she began with very little. Her undergraduate degree was earned in a small music department at Laurier University. “You learn to do a lot with a little,” she says, remembering the students who would take care of advertising one day, and then take up power tools to construct sets the next.

“The passion helps,” she says. “Nobody who isn’t crazy about it would give up their weekends like that,” she laughs. “A little ingenuity is helpful.”

Midori Marsh sings “Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante” from Bizet’s Carmen at a Canadian Opera Company event:

Current Career

When it comes to career goals, it’s more of the same kind of variety and challenge that have characterized her work so far. “I just want to forge ahead,” she says. “I want to keep some variety.

New music, as she describes it, “doesn’t have anybody else’s fingerprints on it”. To balance it out is the idea of following in a centuries old tradition of repertoire. “There’s something cool about that.”

When it comes to the type of engagements she looks for, they can include smaller projects with lesser pay, but bigger payoffs in terms of community connections.

“It’s important to remember, often times that our job is to make music in service for other people,” she points out. That includes and performances with emotional connections. “I like to sing at nursing homes.”

When it comes to musical genres and styles, she is open to experimentation. “Things that I think I don’t like, I usually end up eating my own words.” She notes that working on a piece, and becoming more and more familiar with it, can create emotional connections to the work. Ideally, a good work flow includes some passion projects, although it’s probably too much to ask for that level of engagement 100% of the time. Sometimes, connecting with the audience takes over when the music is less intense. It makes those passion projects all the more special.

“Passion is so infectious,” she says. It’s one of the reasons she often talks to the audience at recitals. “I also like composers who sing through their music, and respect the limits of the human voice,” she laughs. “The room contributes more to my enjoyment of a performance than anything else,” she says, adding that a tense and toxic room is difficult to perform in, no matter what the material.

Midori Marsh performs Mozart’s “Ach, ich liebte: Die Entführung aus dem Serail” with Trevor Chartrand, piano in February 2024:

What’s Next?

Her upcoming gigs represent her varied interests.

Midori will be premiering A Bohemian Life, a song cycle by Scott Good, and based on the poems of Bohemian artist Else Lasker-Schüler, with the London Symphonia on April 6. On May 15, she’s one of the featured soloists in a performance of Haydn’s Creation with the Amadeus Choir and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. This summer, she’ll be making a return to Wolftrap, the arts centre set in the middle of more than 100 acres of Virginia parkland, “living, singing and sweating in the heat,” she laughs.

It’s a busy schedule, even hectic at times. “Sometimes I really do feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants,” she says. “There’s always an element of luck in it,” she notes, acknowledging that it’s necessary to meet luck with work. “They all kind of feel like small miracles.”

Are you looking to promote an event? Have a news tip? Need to know the best events happening this weekend? Send us a note.


Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig Van Toronto e-Blast! — local classical music and opera news straight to your inbox HERE.

Share this article
comments powered by Disqus


company logo

Part of

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy
© 2024 | Executive Producer Moses Znaimer