Falling into Autumn….and then Christmas!

Jessica Lane & Sonja Gustafson

Jessica Lane and Sonja perform in The Old Maid and the Thief

Where the Summer (and Spring for that matter!) went, I have no idea!  It’s already the middle of October and Winter and Christmas are coming up quickly.  When I last wrote, we were gearing up for the London Fringe Festival with Diva Lounge Productions’ offering of Gian-Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief.  We had a lot of fun and so did our audiences. The show was a big hit and the production received lots of positive reviews.  I was particularly impressed with how quickly our cast managed to make major scene changes, hauling beds and chairs on and off of the stage with barely a breath to spare between phrases – what a workout! Bravo to the performers of this year’s Diva Lounge show!

After the frantic pace of the Fringe, July and August were relatively quiet with several weddings and private functions.  I never tire of being part of a couple’s big day – it’s a true honour to be asked to participate in such an important event in people’s lives; after all, who doesn’t love to shed a tear when the bride is coming down the aisle?!

This coming weekend (October 21-23), I am off to the border to sing two concerts with the International Symphony Orchestra.  As the guest on the season opener, I’ll be singing a variety of selections, ranging from Mozart’s Queen of the Night, to the torchy jazz standard Cry Me a River!  Talk about contrasting repertoire!  I think I will be up to the challenge though! It will be my third time collaborating with the ISO and I’m looking forward to a weekend of making great music with some great people.

Sonja belts it out at the 2010 Stardust Lounge Gala 

Another thing to get excited about – the 5th annual MS Society gala: Saturday Night at the Stardust Lounge! This organization is near and dear to me and I have been thrilled to lend my voice to such a worthwhile cause. Dr. Andrew Appleton is once again our charming host at The Great Hall at the University of Western Ontario on October 29th.  It promises to be a glamorous evening, with a few fun surprises thrown in!  I’d love to see as many out to support the event as possible, so please visit my website for complete details and hopefully you can join us!  As it’s the weekend before Hallowe’en, we’re encouraging all who attend to have fun and get really dressed up – you can’t overdo it in my opinion!

Of course after Hallowe’en, it’s straight into the Christmas season – my favourite time of year! With several Christmas party bookings and concert appearances, it will be easy getting into the Christmas spirit!  I’m thrilled to be appearing in concert with local choirs on the concert circuit, including appearing as soloist for Vivaldi’s Gloria with the King’s University College Chamber Choir under the direction of Janet Loo, who played the title role in Diva Lounge’s very first production, The Medium!  Catch me also at any of several Maggies Jazz and Supper Club dates for some sultry jazz and Christmas cheer!

Happy Holidays filled with Comfort & Joy!

Happy Holidays filled with Comfort & Joy!

Of course, the Holiday season will also see the re-release of my double Christmas album.  Don’t miss this opportunity to purchase Comfort & Joy for yourself and for family and friends, near and far – available online from now through December 31st  on my website, and in digital format on iTunes and Amazon.com.  It’s also available locally at Maggie’s Supper & Jazz Club, and at many of my live appearances. Additional retail locations will be posted on my website soon.  I was so pleased to hear that the album made so many of you happy last year around the Holiday Season. It also makes a great gift and is sure to get everyone into the Holiday spirit!

I hope to see many of you out enjoying the wonderful music and arts our City has to offer and wish you the very best for a happy and healthy remainder of 2011!

Yours in music,
Sonja

Sonja & Opera Return to the Fringe

sonjagustafson_comfortandjoy

Comfort & Joy Album Cover Art

It seems like ages since the holiday season and the release of “Comfort and Joy”. Thanks so much to everyone who picked up a copy or two, or more – it’s so nice to know that people were enjoying my favourite Christmas songs while they entertained, baked cookies and opened gifts over the holidays!

Since December, I’ve kept busy with performing – some highlights include returning to the centennial hall stage for a fun pops program with Orchestra London and conductor Jeff Christmas. Entitled “Bellbottoms & Tiffany’s”, I sang selections ranging from Petula Clark, The Monkees, and Michael Jackson, to a neo-classical vocalise and the theme to Star Trek!

The Eiffel tower lit up at night!

I also had fun guesting with the house trio at the Top Flyte Lounge in beautiful Southampton, ON. We had a great turnout despite frigid temperatures on that blustery February evening! And in May, I had the wonderful experience of performing an opera gala in Paris, France at the historical Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera. It was a magical evening that featured myself and tenor Mark Payne and bass-baritone JP Decosse singing selections by Verdi, Puccini, Lehar and Bizet in what were truly the most glorious surroundings I’ve ever performed in!

Most recently I’ve been hard at work rehearsing for Diva Lounge Productions 2011 Fringe Festival offering of Gian-Carlo Menotti’s, “The Old Maid And The Thief”. This year’s festival runs June 17th – 26th and a full festival program can be viewed at www.londonfringe.ca. Described by the composer himself as a “Grotesque opera in 14 scenes”, this gem of a one act opera is a hilarious commentary on the human condition, and what monotony can drive a person to do. Featuring two arias that are part of the audition repertoire of every young singer, the music is classic Menotti – tuneful and intriguing in every scene, with plenty of humour, yet also moments of true beauty and meaning. For full info on the cast and showtimes, visit the Diva Lounge page on SonjaGustafson.com. And if you’d like to play a part in bringing this wonderful production to the stage, you can become a sponsor by visiting the Sponsors page.

I look forward to seeing many of you out at the Fringe, after which, I will be looking ahead to a busy fall of performances. I will be appearing with the International Symphony Orchestra in a program of “dazzling prima donna delights” and will return to the cabaret stage with my annual “Saturday Night At The Stardust Lounge”gala fundraiser for the MS Society on October 29th. For a complete listing of performances, visit the Shows page on my website – new shows will be updated periodically as the season gets underway, so visit often!

Hoping you enjoy a music-filled summer!

Sonja