For the past three weeks Cowichan Valley-raised opera singer Eve Daniell has been touring the Island giving audiences an introduction to some under-appreciated woman composers from Romantic-era Europe to modern-day North America.
On Aug. 11 Daniell and her accompanist, pianist Rykie Avenant, bring that unsung repertoire to Nanaimo’s St. Paul’s Anglican Church.
“I was always interested in finding the off-the-beaten-path options…” Daniell said. “I wanted to go and find something that was a little bit lesser known that I could really find my relationship with, sink my teeth into and find what I thought was my personal stamp that I could offer those pieces.”
That search led her first to Clara Schumann, wife of composer Robert Schumann, and Fanny Hansel, sister of composer Felix Mendelssohn. As they were both born in 19th century Germany, Daniell said gender restrictions meant they were not permitted to work so very few of their compositions became known.
“It kind of became double-barrelled,” Daniell said. “Not only was this music wonderful, but I felt like I had a chance to share something and give the music the audience it deserved in a place where I knew people would be warm and responsive to hearing it.”
Other composers featured in the recital are Amy Beach, from turn-of-the-century Boston, and Jean Coulthard and Christine Donkin, from contemporary Vancouver and Victoria, respectively. Daniell said the older and newer pieces complement one another.
“New composers also don’t get much of a platform and so if I could find new composers and female composers it felt really nice to get to find a way to really integrate them into a program where I thought it would fit,” she said.
Daniell said at her recitals she’s been telling anecdotes about each composer and discussing their backgrounds to give listeners an introduction to them and to provide some context. She said audience members have been coming up to her after the shows wanting to know more about the pieces of music and the women who made them.
“We are finding they are all lesser-known but deeply deserving pieces of music,” she said. “They’re gorgeous, they’re sincere, often they’re heartbreakingly simple and they just deserve more of a platform than they’ve got so far.”
WHAT’S ON … Eve Daniell performs at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 29 Church St., on Sunday, Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. $25 for adults, $15 for students. Tickets available at the door or from the church office, by phone at 250-753-2523 or online via Eventbrite.