Success summers in Lloyd

By Geoff Lee

July 21, 2016 12:00 AM

This is Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber in a performance of the Durufle Requiem with the New York City Chamber Orchestra, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City, March 2014. The Maidstone born opera star hopes to perform in Lloydminster next year to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary.

If Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber had to sing for her dinner, she would get second helpings and dessert with her commanding contralto voice.
The Maidstone born and bred international opera star is on a summer break in Lloydminster from her job as an associate professor of music at Penn State University.
This marks the third year in a row she’s spent a week teaching young singers at the Summer School for the Voice in North Battleford.
“I make an effort to make sure my schedule is clear so I can come home to the province and teach the next generation of singers and musicians,” she said in an interview with the Source from her sister’s house in Lloydminster.
“There’s a lot of talented kids in the prairie provinces, so I think it’s important for people like me to give back and come back.”
At 43, her energy and resolve to teach others is remarkable given she’s endured a couple of brain surgeries since being diagnosed with Chiari Malformation when she was 34.
Her condition was a life threatening malformation of the brain that blocked messages to her vocal chords, inhibited her ability to breath or swallow among a suite of symptoms due to nerve damage.
She has had to relearn how to sing and recently wowed audiences in her home province of Saskatchewan.
On May 7, she performed with the Regina Symphony Orchestra and then on May 14, she sang with the Saskatoon Symphony orchestra with no hint of medical troubles in her voice.
“Usually with Chiari it’s not something that you can cure 100 per cent,” she said, noting her condition has been stable for the past three years.
“Things are the best now than they’ve been which is the direction we need to go.”
That confidence brought her back to give back to her home province.
“That was really important to me, so it was really wonderful,” she said of her symphony showings.
While growing up in Maidstone, she used to sing in annual music festivals in Lloydminster and in provincial competitions.
As a professional opera singer,  she said she’d love to put on a recital for local residents next year to celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday.
“It would be nice to put something together for a performance in Lloydminster since it’s my home turf,” she said.
Cutsforth-Huber started voice lessons in Maidstone when she was just four and admits there wasn’t a lot of opera, if any, going on in her community when she was growing up.
“My parents and my grandparents bought me lots of recordings and videos and that’s how I was exposed to it,” she said.
She said neither of her parents are musical, but they always encouraged her in what she wanted to do and gave her the lessons she needed.
“There is no way I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for my parents,” she said.
Her talent has led her to perform all over the world including stints in France, Germany, Austria and Italy in Europe.
Closer to home, she’s performed at Carnegie Hall in 2012 and the Lincoln Centre in New York in 2014.
Cutsforth-Huber earned a bachelor of music degree at the University of Saskatchewan then a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University and a PhD from the University of Kentucky.
She has not recorded any albums yet, but teased she has some projects in the works that could change that.

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