Welcome back to “Let’s Meet”, a weekly interview where we get a chance to meet members of The Toronto Consort’s core ensemble and Artistic Associates. This week, we meet Michele DeBoer, a versatile soprano who often sings the upper soprano line, but can often be heard performing whichever part needs covering!
How long have you been a professional musician?
I started singing as a paid church choir lead and teaching singing lessons to a few neighbourhood kids as a teenager…so without giving too much away, that’s multiple decades!
When did you decide to pursue music?
I went to an arts high school (Earl Haig – Claude Watson) where I was very involved as a performer and director. All the while, I sang in the Toronto Children’s Chorus, where I had incredible opportunities to begin building my performance experiences as a chorister and soloist at home and abroad. With an older brother who had his ARCT in piano performance at 16 and an older sister who played guitar and lute and had gone off to U of T to study music (with Terry McKenna!), I really just moved into post-secondary music naturally. I don’t remember a clear moment of decision, but more a steady and building flow in that direction.
What enticed you to your instrument/discipline?
Honestly, I loved to sing from the time I was tiny. One year, when I was 3 or 4, my family went away over Christmas, meaning I had to miss the church Christmas concert. They actually recorded me singing the songs to play along with the other kids in my absence! I also studied piano and violin, but singing was something that my older siblings weren’t particularly interested in, so I was able to carve out my musical niche in the family.
I have always been happiest when my music-making includes a balance of singing, teaching, and choral directing (especially children and teens).
Why do you love Early Music Rep?
My voice quality has always been well-suited to early music, which worked out really well because I prefer the sounds and stylings of early music over many other genres. The sounds are clean to my ear. I’m not a fan of big vibrato. I also enjoy the active role that the performers play in crafting each piece. There is so much opportunity to personalize, from selecting instruments, embellishing melodies, to deciding things like repeats, dynamics and more. The more modern the music gets, the more of these details are dictated by the composer. With early music, it feels like you’re collaborating with the composer and your colleagues to create something unique!