Verdi’s Requiem (postponed)

Saturday, May 9, 2020 at 7:30 pm May 8, 2021
Emmanuel United Church East, Peterborough

Featuring: Leslie Fagan, soprano | Laura Pudwell, mezzo | Jonathan Liebich, bass | Ernesto Ramirez, tenor | Ian Sadler, organ | Verdi Brass Ensemble (selected by Paul Otway)

From the composer of Aida, La Traviata, and Rigoletto comes a monumental work that is every bit as tuneful, dramatic, and full of rhythmic intensity as those operas.

It features an amazing cast of four renowned Canadian soloists, a double choir, Ian Sadler at the pipe organ, and a professional brass “orchestra” of twelve, including trumpets, French horns, trombones, and a tuba.

Giuseppe Verdi conducted the first performances of the Requiem himself, and managed to include female singers, which initially the Roman Catholic Church did not want to permit. Following the same liturgical text as Mozart, Fauré, and Duruflé, Verdi’s Requiem stands out as one of the most-performed pieces of the choral repertoire. Come and feel the fury and terror of “Dies Irae” (Day of Wrath), experience the thunder of “Tuba Mirum” when the trumpets of the last judgment erupt, be drawn into the pulsing sorrow of “Lacrymosa” (Weeping), and be reassured by the vindication of “Libera Me” (Deliver Me).




Leslie Fagan has delighted audiences and critics alike at Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Bordeaux Opera House, and Roy Thomson Hall.

Having performed under the batons of such noted conductors as Sir David Willcocks, Hans Graf, Jukke Pekke Saraste, Kent Tritle, Heinz Ferlisch, Victor Borge and Elmer Isler, highlights of Fagan’s past engagements include: a solo concert of music of Stravinsky and Debussy with the Bordeaux Aquitaine Symphonie Nationale, France; Bach’s Weinachts Oratorium in Stuttgart, Germany; Handel’s Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England; Tafelmusik Orchestra and Choir in Toronto, Ontario; and engagement as guest soloist at the International Choral Festival in Gouda, Netherlands. Fagan premiered 5 Mendelssohn Lieder at Steinway Hall in New York with the Clarion Music Society. She made her official her Lincoln Center debut singing Carmina Burana and the world premier of Allesandro Cadario’s Cantata for Revival, and in the same season sang a double debut at Carnegie Hall with Messiah performances with both the Oratorio Society of New York of Kent Tritle and Music Sacra under the baton of Richard Westenburg. Fagan has been fortunate enough to share the stage with many great artists including Victor Borge, Lois Marshall and Maureen Forrester.

Fagan performed concerts in Ribideo, Spain and the United Arab Emirates with Leopoldo Erice, and The Penderecki String Quartet. Fagan has sung two recitals at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates with Spanish pianist Leopoldo Erice. Fagan teamed up with Erice again in Canada for a recital and a recording with the great Canadian clarinetist James Campbell. She has performed with the Penderecki String Quartet at the Festival International Classica die Ribadeo, Spain. Fagan also had the honour of judging the Oratorio Society of New York’s Singing Competition at Carnegie Hall.

On the opera stage, Fagan has sung the title role in Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix; Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte; Sophie in Massenet’s Werther; Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme and Nanetta in Verdi’s Falstaff. At the Aldeburgh Festival in England, Fagan performed the roles of Tytania in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

Fagan has performed on CBC radio and has appeared on CBC television and both BBC radio and television and NPR.

She is a proud Canadian, whose performances at home have led her from Massey Hall to the Massey Ferguson Dealership in Exeter and myriad venues between. Her recordings include her debut solo album Le Miroir de Mon Amour, A Song for all Seasons with The Toronto Children’s Chorus, Handel’s Messiah with the Fanshawe Symphonic Chorus, and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with Chorus London.

Fagan is a graduate of the University of Toronto, where she studied with Madame Irene Jessner and Lois Marshall. Prior to entering university, Fagan studied privately with Catherine Robbin and Greta Kraus. Fagan was the recipient of a Chalmers Grant, which enabled her to study with the great Romanian soprano, Ileana Cotrubas in France, and to Italy to study with Martin Isepp at the Centre for Operatic Studies Sulmona Italy, which led to an invitation to work with this master of Mozart privately in London, England. This Italian study period was made possible by the generous support of the Canada Council.

Fagan is a professor of voice at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and has private studios in New York and her home. She has given master classes at The Juilliard School, York University, Berkshire Choral Festival, the American University of Sharjah, UAE and was an adjudicator for the New York Oratorio Competition. Fagan’s students have gone on to attend Royal College of Music, London Eng., Manhattan School of Music, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Prague Conservatory and the University of Toronto.



Mezzosoprano Grammy-nominated Laura Pudwell’s reputation as a superb vocalist has been well-established as a result of her performances in London, Paris, Salzburg, Houston, Vienna and Boston. Her vast repertoire ranges from early music to contemporary works. Pudwell is equally at home on the opera, oratorio or recital stage, and has received international acclaim for her recordings. A frequent guest of many national and international presenters, Pudwell has had the privilege of working with many outstanding conductors, including Hans Graf, Hervé Niquet, Andrew Parott, Ivars Taurens, David Fallis, Brian Jackson, John Sinclair, Bernard Labadie, Lydia Adams, Howard Dyck and Robert Cooper. On the opera stage, Pudwell has performed across Canada with such companies as Opera Atelier, the Calgary Opera, Vancouver Early Music and Festival Vancouver, as well as with the Houston Grand Opera and the Cleveland Opera. Her many roles include Cornelia (Giulio Cesare), Marcelina (Le Nozze di Figaro), Nerone and Arnalta (L’Incoronazione di Poppea) Mrs. Quickly (Falstaff), and Dido/Sorceress (Dido & Aeneas), which also was an award-winning recording performed by Pudwell in Paris. Laura Pudwell is a regular participant in many festivals, including Festival Vancouver, the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, the Banff Summer Festival, the Elora Festival, the Boston Early Music Festival, the Grand River Baroque Festival, and the WinterPark Bach Festival in Orlando. Pudwell appears regularly with the Toronto Consort, and is a frequent guest soloist with Tafelmusik, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Toronto Chamber Choir, Symphony Nova Scotia, the St. Lawrence Choir, Le Concert Spirituel, Chorus Niagara and the Menno Singers. Pudwell lives in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario with her husband and two children.



Bass-Baritone Jonathan Liebich is known for a rich and expressive voice and has enjoyed performing in Canada and Europe. Most recently, he has appeared in performances of Messiah with the Uxbridge Messiah Singers and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with Cantorei Sine Nomine.

Liebich is particularly passionate about the oratorio repertoire and audiences have been riveted by his commanding performances of repertoire including Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Mass in C, Ninth Symphony, numerous of Bach’s Cantatas as well as St. John’s Passion, Brahms’ German Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s Creation and Lord Nelson Mass, Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, and the Requiems of Mozart, Fauré and Duruflé with numerous orchestras and choirs including the Elmer Iseler Singers, Stuttgart Music Festival under the baton of Helmuth Rilling, the Vancouver Bach Choir, Vancouver Symphony and Kingston Symphony. He has been recorded and aired on CBC Radio2 several times.

He has also navigated many operatic stages in roles such as Count Almaviva and Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Papageno in The Magic Flute, The 4 Villains in Tales of Hoffmann, Belcore in Elixir of Love, Sam in A Masked Ball, El Dancairo in Carmen, and Baron Douphol in La Traviata. Several of these were on Vancouver Opera’s Mainstage. He is also an alumnus of the Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble, with whom he performed Mozart’s Magic Flute in over 200 schools throughout his home province of British Columbia. Jonathan enjoyed working with St. Anne’s MADS as the Pirate King in their award winning production of Pirates of Penzance, including a performance at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton, England. He has been on two European tours performing The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro with his wife, Sasha.

Since 2011, Liebich has shared his love and passion of choral music through his direction of the New Song Chancel Choir in Port Perry, where he currently resides with his wife, two terrific teenage sons and a beautiful daughter.

In his spare time, he is a Project Manager with the Toronto Transit Commission.



Mexican tenor Ernesto Ramírez is garnering rave reviews for his distinctive Italianate sound, “wonderfully fluid line and brilliant high notes,” combined with his “suave, nuanced lyricism.” He debuted as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Mexico’s Opera de Leon, Stefano in Calgary Opera’s Filumena, and Don Jose with Opera Kelowna’s Carmen.

Ramirez has performed to great acclaim for audiences in France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States.

In 2014, while engaged as a cover for the title role of Roberto Devereux with the Canadian Opera Company, he was thrilled to share the stage in performance with soprano Sondra Radvanovsky.

Operatic roles for Ernesto include Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Palacio de Bellas Artes, Ramiro in La Cenerentola with Teatro del Bicentenario in Mexico, and with the Rossini in Wildbad Belcanto Opera Festival in Germany. In Canada, Ramirez starred as Nadir in Les Pêcheurs des Perles with Opera Hamilton, and Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Pacific Opera Victoria. Ramirez sang a “touching and radiant” Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore with Opéra de Angers-Nantes, and with Festival Folies D’O Montpellier. He starred in the title role of Verdi’s Stiffelio with Toronto’s Voicebox: Opera in Concert, Raoul in the Canadian Premiere of Meyerbeer’s Les Huegenots, Arturo in I Puritani, and sang Alfredo in La Traviata with the Sarasota Opera. Ramirez was “the revelation of the evening… a true Italianate tenor with endless lung power and heroic tone” in the role of Javier in Luisa Fernanda with Toronto Operetta Theatre. His “resplendent tenor” has been heard in performances of Verdi’s Requiem with Brott Music Festival, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Niagara Symphony and Kingston Symphony. Opera companies in Zurich, Quebec, Montreal, Tel-Aviv and Mexico City have welcomed him as a guest artist in their Opera Galas. He also performed at The 150th Anniversary of Puccini, a gala hosted by Simonetta Puccini.

Ramirez earned a Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico, and graduated from Boston University’s Opera Institute. He has received awards from The Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions in Los Angeles, the Society of Singers Foundation and the New West Symphony Young Artist Prize.



Ian Sadler began his musical training as a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England. He was a music scholar at The King’s School, Canterbury; an organ scholar at Bristol University; and he then held the Organ Scholarship back at St. Paul’s Cathedral from 1978–80. In 1980, Ian played the organ in the movie Chariots of Fire.  He moved to Canada following appointments in Toronto as Director of Music at Grace Church on-the-Hill and Choral Director at Upper Canada College.

In 1985, Ian took first prize in the Syracuse International Organ Playing Competition.  He has since given recitals in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, England, the United States, and across Canada.  He has conducted the 100-voice Stratford Concert Choir since 1989.  Ian is also Conductor of The Cathedral Singers of Ontario, which he founded in 1999.  This choir sang last summer for a week at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.  This season Ian will present organ recitals in Finland, Jamaica, and at Coventry Cathedral in England.

In 2000, Ian was presented with a Juno Award for a choral CD by his Burlington chamber choir, Pro Musica.  For his dedication to promoting the organ and Canadian music, both at home and abroad, The Royal Canadian College of Organists honoured Ian in 2007 with a “Fellowship of The Royal Canadian College of Organists.”


Ira Zingraff will manage and lead the Verdi Brass Ensemble

Ian Sadler has been accompanying the Singers’ oratorio performances for over 15 years, and it is always a thrill to have him with the choir. But now the upcoming performance of Verdi’s Requiem in May of 2020 has been greatly enhanced due to the generosity of a loyal audience member, Alan Wotherspoon, who stepped forward and offered to cover the added cost of 12 brass players. Alan Wotherspoon was blown away by the excitement added by the brass playing as the Peterborough Singers sang William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast last season, and when he heard there were no plans for brass because of financial constraints, he decided to help. The Verdi Brass Ensemble was put together under the guidance of trumpeter Paul Otway, who regularly performs with the choir.  Here’s what he has to say about the brass in the Verdi Requiem:

I have played the Verdi Requiem several times. As a trumpeter, I have had the opportunity to play in the orchestra, which has four trumpet parts, and I have also played an offstage trumpet part. The Requiem is one of those pieces that I am always grateful for the opportunity to be included in, no matter what part I am assigned. The way that Verdi uses the brass is thrilling! There are moments throughout the piece when the brass parts are exceptional and exciting to play, but I think most brass players would agree that the highlight is the “Dies Irae,” at least as a brass player. It starts with an explosion of overwhelming sound, and is amazing to be a part of. Then, later in the movement, a lonely solo trumpet plays, and the response is heard in the offstage trumpets. This starts a process that leads to the whole orchestra playing, culminating in a crescendo of absolutely epic proportions!

Recordings of Verdi’s Requiem are good, but nothing beats experiencing this magnificent piece live in concert!

Best wishes!  Paul Otway