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- The Aldeburgh Connection Concert Socety
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The Aldeburgh Connection was founded in 1982 by pianists Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata. Former faculty members, pianists, and coaches at the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh, England, Ralls and Ubukata moved to Toronto in 1978 for positions at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto.
Starting in 1982, Ralls and Ubukata developed a Sunday afternoon vocal and piano concert series in Walter Hall that featured leading Canadian singers. The Aldeburgh Connection was officially formed as an organization and registered charity in 1986 under the name “The Aldeburgh Connection Concert Society.” Their founding patron was Sir Peter Pears, and Ralls and Ubukata were co-artistic directors.
Each concert in the Sunday afternoon series was based on a theme (musical, literary, or a historical character or period) and integrated music and narration, based on letters, diaries, newspapers, and poetry. In addition to this concert series, which ran from 1982 until 2013, the Aldeburgh Connection also produced a recital series (1993-2013), featuring complete song cycles without a narrative framework; and, the Young Artists Recitals series (1998-2011), renamed the Discovery Series in 2006. The Discovery Series consisted of two recitals per season and featured vocal and opera students from the University of Toronto. Following the success of three annual concerts in Bayfield, Ontario (2004-2006), the Aldeburgh Connection also established the Bayfield Festival of Song (2007-2012), which included masterclasses and concerts. Starting in 2009, they added a tour of Huron and Perth elementary schools to the festival. Ralls and Ubukata also performed with the Aldeburgh Connection at various venues in North America and in the United Kingdom, including two appearances at the Aldeburgh Festival in Suffolk, England (1988 and 1992).
The Aldeburgh Connection regularly commissioned new works by Canadian composers, including John Beckwith, Roger Bergs, John Greer, Derek Holman, Gary Kulesha, James Rolfe, Erik Ross, Harry Somers, and Timothy Sullivan. They also released seven CDs, including the 2008 Judo-nominated Schubert among Friends, with Gillian Keith (soprano), Colin Ainsworth and Michael Schade (tenors), and Gerald Finley (baritone). In 2013, Ralls and Ubukata were both named members of the Order of Canada.
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