Classical music community mourns death of Canadian soprano Erin Wall at age 44

Fans of classical music remember Canadian soprano Erin Wall as a talented virtuoso whose voice was taken too soon.

The singer’s family say in an obituary that Wall died Thursday of complications from metastatic breast cancer. She was 44 years old.

With a repertoire ranging from Mozart to modern opera, Wall has held leading roles in some of the world’s most prestigious operas including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Opera de Paris and the Opéra Lyrique de Chicago.

Her vocal versatility has been featured on several recordings, including a performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with the San Francisco Symphony which won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Album in 2010.

As news of his death sparked a wave of tributes on social media, Christopher Deacon, President and CEO of Canada’s National Arts Center, wrote that Wall “shines brightly on stages around the world, inspiring and moving so many people ”.

The National Arts Center Orchestra also wrote that he was “devastated” by the loss of Wall, who he said “will be deeply missed and remembered for his quick wit and infectious laughter.”

Born in Calgary on November 4, 1975, Wall grew up in Vancouver, where her parents, both American musicians, played in the local symphony orchestra.

She studied piano at the Vancouver Academy of Music and then studied voice at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., Rice University in Houston, the Aspen Music Festival and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, in California.

In 2001, she launched her professional career as a member of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera in Chicago. She returned to Canada in 2009 and settled with her family in Toronto.

She has performed in concert with the symphony orchestras of Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Nashville in the United States, as well as with the London Symphonic Orchestra and the Orchester de Paris.

In Canada, in addition to the National Arts Center Orchestra and the Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra, she has sung with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic and the Edmonton Symphony.

Wall has won awards and scholarships from several arts organizations, including the Richard Tucker Foundation, the George London Foundation, the Marilyn Horne Foundation, the Florida Opera, the Dallas Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.

She continued to perform across the world while being treated for breast cancer in 2018, and in her spare time, trained to finish the New York City Marathon.

“Erin was a shining light with an amazing gift and a huge heart,” the family obituary reads. “Just as her soul and special gift have enabled her to lift the spirits of those she touched, may her spirit shine on all who knew her and keep her close to our hearts forever.”

Wall leaves behind her husband and two children. In honor of his passion for mentoring young artists, his family established the Erin Wall Tribute Fund at the Canadian Opera Company.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 10, 2020.

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