Toronto composer James Rolfe has been commissioned and performed by ensembles, orchestras, choirs, theatres, and opera companies in Canada, the USA, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the K. M. Hunter Music Award, the Louis Applebaum Composers Award, the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, SOCAN’s Jan V. Matejcek Concert Music Award, a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, and the Outstanding Choral Work Award from the Association of Canadian Choral Communities.
The Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company production of Mr. Rolfe’s opera Beatrice Chancy played to sold-out houses and rave reviews in Toronto, Dartmouth, and Edmonton. The company later produced Inês, which was nominated for a Dora Award. Three masques–Orpheus and Eurydice, Aeneas and Dido, and Europa–were premiered by The Toronto Masque Theatre to critical and audience acclaim. Elijah’s Kite, an opera for children, was co-produced in New York by Tapestry Opera and the Manhattan School of Music, and given its Canadian premiere before the Governor-General at Rideau Hall. His opera Swoon was premiered by the Canadian Opera Company, which commissioned a new opera, Crush, mounted in a workshop production at The Banff Centre in July 2015.
Current projects include a new operatic version of Gogol’s The Overcoat for Tapestry Opera / Canstage and Vancouver Opera with writer Morris Panych (to be produced in Toronto 27 March to 14 April 2018, and in Vancouver 28 April to 12 May 2018), as well as new works for soprano Janice Jackson (Pirate Song, with a libretto by Anna Chatterton, to be premiered 23 November 2017 in Halifax, NS); Continuum Contemporary Music (Clinical Notes of the Bipolar Therapist, with poems by Steven Heighton, to be premiered in Toronto 8-9 December 2017), the Hannaford Street Silver Band with the Amadeus Choir (Winter Songs, to be premiered 12 December 2017 in Toronto), and Soundstreams (I Think We Are Angels, to be premiered 6-7 June 2018 in Toronto). Breathe, a CD of Mr. Rolfe’s works for voices and early instruments, featuring singers Suzie LeBlanc, Monica Whicher, and Alexander Dobson, with conductors David Fallis and Larry Beckwith, and members of the Toronto Consort and the Toronto Masque Theatre, will be released on the Centrediscs label on 21 October 2017.
“I can’t recall attending such a gripping premiere in many years of opera-going.”
– Peter Dyson, Opera Magazine (UK)
“Percussive pulses, colour, and tension are served up with refinement.”
– Frits van der Waa, de Volkskrant [Amsterdam]
“One of our most gifted composers of new concert music.”
– Andrew Timar, The Whole Note, Toronto