Phyllis Mailing | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Phyllis Mailing

Phyllis (Margaret) Mailing. Mezzo-soprano, teacher, b Brantford, Ont, 4 Nov 1929, d West Vancouver, B.C., 26 Nov 2004; ARCT voice and piano 1950, honorary FRHCM 1978.

Mailing, Phyllis

Phyllis (Margaret) Mailing. Mezzo-soprano, teacher, b Brantford, Ont, 4 Nov 1929, d West Vancouver, B.C., 26 Nov 2004; ARCT voice and piano 1950, honorary FRHCM 1978. After studies at the Hamilton Cons (RHCM) with Bertha Carey Morrow (voice) and Reginald Godden (piano) she attended the RCMT 1952-7, where her teachers were George Lambert, Weldon Kilburn, and Aksel Schiøtz. In 1954 she became an original member of the Festival Singers and in 1955 she made her solo debut (in Bach's St John Passion, conducted by Sir Ernest MacMillan) with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. In the next three years she sang several small roles with the COC. She resumed study 1959-60 in Stuttgart, in Vienna with Giselle Rathanser, and in London with Bruce Boyce. Returning to Canada she sang in Toronto 1961-3 and moved to St John's, Nfld, to teach voice and the Orff method 1963-5 privately. She conducted the St John's Madrigal Singers (St John's, Nfld) 1964-5 and was heard often in recital on CBC radio from Halifax. In 1965 she was a winner of a Concert Artists Guild Town Hall recital (New York) and sang thereafter throughout North America, France, and accompanied by William Aide, in the USSR in 1971. She was artist-in-residence 1965-7 and 1970-5 at Simon Fraser University, where she conducted three choirs. On leave-of-absence 1974-5, she collaborated with Raymond Pannell in Co-Opera Theatre in Toronto. She began teaching at the Community Music School of Greater Vancouver (Vancouver Academy of Music) in 1975; she started to teach there full-time in the early 1980s and became head of the voice department in 1983.

Mailing has adjudicated competitions and has served on the boards of EMC, the Vancouver New Music Society (of which she was a founding director and, 1972-9, president), and the Canadian Music Centre (1979-87). Though she does not neglect the standard repertoire, Mailing has specialized in contemporary music, appearing regularly with NMC, NOVA MUSIC, the SMCQ, and (1973-86) the Vancouver New Music Society. She was a soloist 1972-4 in operas at Stratford, Ont, and in the late 1970s and early 1980s she appeared with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Opera Association, the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, and at the Victoria International Festival. She performed in Hungary in 1979, in Paris in 1980 (sponsored by Radio France), at the Scotia Festival of Music in 1981, and for the Edmonton meeting of the National Association of Teachers of Singing in 1985. She has increasingly devoted time to workshops, masterclasses, and lectures, eg, the National Association of Teachers of Singing summer workshop on contemporary music (Vancouver 1990).

Mailing has sung (or sung in) the premieres of many of the works of R. Murray Schafer (to whom she was married 1960-75), including Three Contemporaries (1958), Kinderlieder (1963), Minnelieder (1965), Loving (1966), Protest and Incarceration (1967), Requiems for the Party Girl (1967), Dream Passage (CBC 1969), Sappho (1970), Music for the Morning of the World (1971), Patria II (1972), and Okeanos (1972). She also performed Requiems for the Party Girl in 1972 in the New York Philharmonic 'Prospective Encounters' series conducted by Bruno Maderna. In addition she has sung in premieres of works by Anhalt (La Tourangelle, 1975; Thisness, commissioned by the Vancouver New Music Society for Mailing, 1986), Babiak (Three Songs of Time, 1956), Behrens (The Lay of Thrym, 1968), Coulthard (The Pines of Emily Carr, 1969; Two Songs for Midsummer, 1970), Goldberg (Daedalus, 1977), Healey (Seabird Island, 1977), Mather (Au Château de Pompairain, 1977), Pannell (Exiles, 1973), Pauk (Underneath an Afternoon, 1977), Pentland (News, 1971; Sung Songs 4 and 5, 1972; Disasters of the Sun, 1977), Somers (The Fool, 1956), Truax (She, 1974; Trigon, 1975), Turner (The Brideship, 1967), and Wilson (Summoning of Everyman, 1974).

Mailing's voice is rich and warm, and she displays dramatic capacity as well as lyrical intensity; her versatility in her repertoire is considerable. She received the Canadian Music Council Medal for outstanding service to Canadian music in 1977.