Combining classical pop sounds and four strong female and male voices, Vivace is putting its own unique spin on the classical crossover genre.
And the vocal ensemble is bringing its unique sound to Quesnel for the first time Jan. 15 as part of the Quesnel Live Arts season.
Based primarily out of Vancouver, Vivace started merging their talents in 2010, performing at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Members have shared the stage and billed events with artists such as David Foster, Ben Harper, Jackson Browne, Katy Perry, Loverboy, and Colin James, and the group was featured at the TEDxVancouver conference in 2010.
With a repertoire that ranges from pop songs to opera arias and their own original material, Vivace puts a fresh spin on both classical and contemporary music and is considered Canada’s biggest classical-pop group to emerge since The Canadian Tenors.
Soprano Tiffany Desrosiers describes the group as two opera singers and two adult contemporary pop singers who like to take opera songs and put a pop spin on them and take pop songs and make them more operatic.
“It’s a really unique combination,” she said. “There have been a lot of male groups, such as The Tenors and Il Divo. Vivace brings the female aspect to it, so it’s a very unique combination that way. There is bit of a gap between pop and classical, and we aim to bridge the gap.”
Desrosiers herself has found a way to bridge that gap. She was classically trained from a young age, but she always loved pop music too.
“I started classical lessons when I was eight years old, and I was always competing,” she said. “I always had a passion for pop music, and Celine Dion is my favourite singer ever. What I love about this group is now that I’m older, I have such a mad respect for opera and classical … it’s so fun not to be boxed in.”
Desrosiers first started taking vocal lessons through her acting career. She was a child actress for film and television, and when she was eight years old, she took an acting class where the instructor would make them sing.
“The one time she gave me a chance for a solo line, I was so nervous I forgot to come in,” she recalls.
The instructor gave the solo line to someone else, and Desrosiers was determined to prove to her instructor that she had made a mistake.
“She basically wrote me off, and I decided I was going to prove her wrong,” she said, with a laugh. “Around the same time, my grandma told my mom to put me in voice lessons because she thought I had a natural ability at that age that could be worked with.”
Desrosiers went on to earn her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of British Columbia, with a major in Vocal Performance.
On three separate occasions, she won the B.C. Provincials, and she later went on to represent British Columbia at the Nationals in New Brunswick.
Desrosiers’ unique ability to sing both pop and classical styles led to opportunities to share the stage with David Foster, Ben Harper, Jackson Browne, Colin James, the former Canadian Tenors, Mark Masri, Bobby Kimball (Toto), Jully Black and Loverboy. She has collaborated as a background vocalist on recordings for Rita MacNeil, Mýa and Melanie B (from the Spice Girls) and has recorded with Ari Levine of the Smeezingtons production team and songwriters behind names such as Bruno Mars and Adele. She performed with role of ‘Köningin der Nacht’ in a 2012 Vancouver Academy of Music production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and most recently headlined the soprano role of Royal Princess Cruises’ production of Encore.
Desrosiers says one of the most exciting performances for her was performing for David Foster about 13 years ago.
“David Foster is such a genius, and growing up listening to all the songs he has produced and written … it was such an honour to be able to be heard by him,” she said.
Another major highlight was one of her first performances with this group, which was under a different name at the time, during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Desrosiers performed on Princess Cruises cruise ships in the Caribbean as a guest entertainer, and she says that was a lot of fun because she sang a real variety of music, everything from opera to Whitney Houston.
With Vivace, there are many songs Desrosiers loves to sing.
One of her favourites is “Hallelujah.”
“It’s just such a mesmerizing melody, and the lyrics are really brilliant, the way Leonard Cohen has structured them,” she said.
“The Prayer” is another song she loves, and she says these two songs are probably the songs she sings the most.
“‘The Prayer’ is so beautiful, and the audience loves it,” she said.
Desrosiers also loves singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love” as a duet with Joey Nicesoro, who is a guest singer with Vivace on this northern B.C. tour.
“He’s such a great voice,” she said. “It’s a slightly different version of ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love.’ Another one that is really fun that seems to go over really well is ‘O Sole Mio” because we make it a pop-versus-opera competition.”
“Dream On” is another song Desrosiers says she loves to sing.
Vivace’s performance in Quesnel will feature Desrosiers; Joey Nicesoro, who was one of the original Canadian Tenors; classically trained soprano and crossover artist Taylor Pardell, who is a recent graduate of Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program; and tenor Joel Ros, a Pittsburgh singer-songwriter whose sound is described as a unique style of pop infused with a classical flair.
This will be Vivace’s first time performing in Quesnel.
“I think there’s something for everyone, there’s a song for everyone,” said Desrosiers. “What we try to do is hit the different decades. There are songs that people will resonate with, that they grew up listening to, but at the same time, we know there are lots of contemporary listeners in the audience as well, and we try to draw them in as well. The show also has some comedy and audience interaction — it’s a really fun time. We love what we do.”
Vivace performs Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chuck Mobley Theatre at Correlieu Secondary School. Tickets are $25 for adults or $20 for students and are available at Green Tree Health and Wellness, K-Max, Save On Foods, the Occidental and at the door.
For more information about the Quesnel Live Arts series, visit qla.ca.
To learn more about Vivace, visit vivaceofficial.com.