Music Issue: Finding inspiration in collaboration

Editor’s note: As the Juno Awards 2013 prepare to celebrate the best of Canadian music this weekend, Western Journalism students help us celebrate the best in Western Music. Read the full Music Issue.

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A soft piano melody floats through the hallway of the Music Building, where Anita Krause-Wiebe sits in her studio. It’s a small room, but it has all the essentials – a baby grand piano, a shelf full of music books, two chairs – and her voice.

It’s in this room that Krause-Wiebe conducts private voice lessons with her seven students. She is a part-time lecturer in voice in the Don Wright Faculty of Music.

Krause-Wiebe is an established mezzo-soprano, with an impressively large repertoire.

Throughout her career, she has performed a combination of concerts, oratorios and operas.  She has shared the stage with the Toronto Symphony, the Chicago Symphony and the Canadian Opera Company – among many others.

While working with her students, Krause-Wiebe said her focus is to move them on to vocal maturity and prepare them for concerts and exams.

“Singing is such a personal expression,” she said. “So there’s a lot of trust that needs to be established. I enjoy creating that. And I enjoy seeing them progress over the years.”

She began teaching in 2002. Her husband Tom Wiebe – an esteemed cellist – took a full-time job with the Don Wright Faculty of Music in 2001, so the couple moved to London from Toronto. Shortly after, Krause-Wiebe was also offered a teaching position.

Music has always played a role in Krause-Wiebe’s life. When she was a young girl, the B.C. native sang in church choirs and went on to star in high school musicals.  

“When I graduated, I knew I could sing and I wasn’t quite sure what else I could do,” she said with a laugh. “And then doors kept opening and teachers were encouraging, so I just kept doing it.”

Krause-Wiebe got her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Wheaton College in Chicago, and went on to receive a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Southern California in 1992.  

“It’s quite amazing to me that my livelihood comes from making music and performing,” she said.

Her commitment to each performance and composure on stage is something that her agent Henry Ingram said makes her one of the most important mezzo-sopranos in Canada today. Ingram has worked with Krause-Wiebe for over a decade and said she is a consummate professional.

“I love watching her. I’m an absolutely unabashed admirer,” he said.

In addition to her performances in concert halls and on stage, Krause-Wiebe has also sung recitals on CBC radio, giving her national exposure.

Krause-Wiebe cites proper preparation as the best way to overcome nerves.

“What I tell my students – and what I need to remember for myself – is that audiences are there because they want to enjoy music. They’re not critics,” she said.

A large part of her inspiration comes from the rehearsal process. “I love collaborating with other musicians, when everything kind of comes together,” she said. “I find that deeply satisfying.”

Krause-Wiebe will be finishing off 2012 with a performance of Handel’s Messiah alongside the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières in Quebec, and she is looking forward to performing some of Mahler’s work with the Orchestra London in April 2013.

“I’m just so happy that I’m still singing,” she said with a bright smile.