Singing the praises of home

Relocated performer loving life in Oak Bay, preparing for recital at Goolden hall

Susan Platts will be accompanied by pianist Robert Holliston at her upcoming recital.

Susan Platts will be accompanied by pianist Robert Holliston at her upcoming recital.

One of Canada’s brightest vocal talents has returned to Greater Victoria, and with that comes her first hometown solo performance in nearly a decade.

Mezzo-soprano Susan Platts has performed all over the world, but since moving to Oak Bay in January, she has continuously been reminded of the wonders that lie in her own backyard.

“I love it, it’s so beautiful,” she said. “I was away long enough that when I came back everything seemed kind of new. Oak Bay in particular, I love the community, I love the shops, your closeness to the water.

“It’s a lovely pace and way of life here. I go to a lot of places and I can adjust, but it feels healthy here.”

Plenty has happened in the intervening years since Platts, who grew up in the Cadboro Bay area and graduated from St. Michaels University School, moved away. Right at the top of the list is the special relationship she’s formed with world-famous soprano Jessye Norman.

In 2004 Norman took Platts under wing as part of the Rolex Mentor & Protege Initiative. Though the arrangement was initially intended to last only a year, the two are still close.

“We’ve remained really good friends,” said Platts, 38. “I just saw her in New York last week and sang through the repertoire, and she told me ‘do this, don’t do that.’”

That repertoire, for her upcoming recital, includes pieces by Gustav Mahler – her favourite composer – and a selection of English songs and folk music which serve as a tribute to legendary British singer Kathleen Ferrier.

The recital will also feature Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich’s “Under the Watchful Sky,” a piece Platts commissioned with the help of some funding from Rolex.

“To have the money to do that doesn’t happen all the time, so I wanted to use that money for something that would be here 10, 20 years down the road,” she said.

Platts has performed with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra a couple of times in the last few years, but this will be her first recital here since she left.

She’s planning another engagement with the symphony in November, but for now her focus is on the recital, where she will be accompanied by Victoria’s Robert Holliston on piano.

“Since I was 24 or 25 I’ve earned my living as a singer, which as an artist is pretty amazing,” Platts said.

“I feel lucky that I love it so much and this is my job and I get paid to do it.”

The show goes Saturday, Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. at Alix Goolden Hall, 907 Pandora Ave.

Tickets cost $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors and can be purchased at the door or at Munro’s Books, Ivy’s Book Shop and the Cadboro Bay Book Company.

editor@oakbaynews.com