Musical Alchemy: (Arts) Winnipeg Song Lab

For more than a decade, the (Art)Song Lab has provided composers, singers, and writers with opportunities to experiment and explore.

After ten summers in Vancouver, the program has arrived in Grande Prairie, setting up shop at the Desautels School of Music at the University of Manitoba, where it will run June 24-29.

Simply put, “art song” – a centuries-old tradition in the Western musical world – is a combination of text (usually poetry) that accompanies recitation.

“Of course, we respect the great tradition of art song,” said co-founder Michael Parker. “But we’re also helping to redefine what vocal music is and allow us to truly collaborate.”

Since its founding in 2011, the (Art) Song Lab has facilitated the creation of nearly 100 new art songs, connecting more than 70 independent writers and composers with singers from across the continent. Co-founder Alison D’Amato describes the effort as “amazing interdisciplinary alchemy.”

“Everyone has their own direct relationship with the lyrics and the music,” D’Amato said.

Over a period of 6 months, writers and composers work together, culminating in an intensive one-week workshop with singers, teachers and coaches.

Daily rehearsals, workshops and evening performances provide ample opportunity for the songs to grow, change and develop.

This year, 19 participants from all over the world gathered in Winnipeg, and 9 new art songs were included in the canon.

To learn more and find a full list of ongoing events, visit:

Art Song Lab Poster

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