Suzanne Rigden: Running for the Symphony

Suzanne Rigden     Suzanne Rigden 2     Suzanne Ridgen 3

Suzanne Rigden is an acclaimed Canadian opera singer. A resident of Montreal, she travels the world making her mark as a coloratura soprano on the international stage… so what’s she doing at the Blue Nose Marathon?

Suzanne was born and raised in Halifax-Dartmouth. Coming from a musical family, with fiddler grandfathers, a music teacher / pianist mom, and a jazz saxophonist / concert band clarinetist dad, music has always been an important part of her life. Her early training included voice lessons at Halifax’s Maritime Conservatory, piano, flute, ballet and jazz dancing with Coastal Dance, and singing in many choirs including the National Youth Choir of Canada.

Here’s what Suzanne says about her commitment to Symphony Nova Scotia:

“When I was young, I was brought to many Symphony concerts with musician parents and family members. I felt very lucky to be able to attend such wonderful events. I have no doubt that this helped to sculpt my future as I became a classical musician myself and have even sung as a soloist with the Symphony!

“As a native Blue Noser and fellow musician and runner, I felt that this was the perfect cause for me to contribute to. Every dollar I raise goes to support Symphony Nova Scotia’s education and outreach programs. This is something I hold near and dear to my heart because my mother, as a music teacher, was very involved with it and the kids had so many wonderful opportunities to interact with the Symphony over the years.

“I believe the education and outreach programs play a very integral role in keeping classical music alive. They bring in potential audience members. They enrich the culture in Nova Scotia and produce platforms where our community may connect on deeper levels.”

What is your earliest musical memory?

“I remember going to see the Nutcracker at the Cohn with my aunt when I was about 6 or 7.

“I remember thinking that the Cohn was huge and I was blown away by the vastness. Seeing all the instruments and hearing them all played together in such beautiful harmony was a new experience that left a big impression on me.”

When did you know you were headed for a career in music?

“I’d say it became obvious to me in high school, although the idea was always lingering, with piano, flute, and dancing lessons, all the choirs, and of course my loving and supportive parents. I’m a product of all the wonderful music and culture in Nova Scotia, which I couldn’t be more proud of.”

You have a personal connection to Symphony Nova Scotia. Tell us about it.

“The Symphony hired me for my second Oratorio gig back in March 2010. It was early on in my career and really helped me to go further in my career, as one needs experience to get more contracts. As an opera singer, you are more likely to be hired from a performance than from an audition, as it shows more of what you can do and acts like a stamp of approval from another company.

“I’ve also worked with a number of the Symphony musicians in my debuts with Opera Nova Scotia over the years, and also my parents are friends with Allan Gaskin, the recently retired coordinator of the education and outreach programs. It is a small world, and I love that!”

When you think of Symphony Nova Scotia what comes to mind? 

“A family-like musical connection. It’s one of the nicest orchestras I’ve ever worked with and I love coming home and seeing all those faces that I still recognize, after all these years.”

Why should Nova Scotians support the Symphony as ticket buyers?

“People should go to the Symphony to see and support their friends and neighbours on the stage performing. You are not just supporting an orchestra; you are supporting your community to thrive and connect on a deeper level.”

Why should Nova Scotians support the Symphony as donors?

“I know from experience as a professional opera singer that ticket sales don’t even come close to covering the costs of putting on concerts. If you are able to contribute a little extra to the Symphony, you are helping with operating costs and also helping to keep the Symphony alive for future generations.”

Why is it important to ensure the symphony experience will be available for future generations?

“I believe it is very important to share classical music with those who might not know about it, with those who might not be able to afford it, and with the little ones who might grow up to love it or even become musicians themselves. I can say that I was one of the children who was lucky enough to participate in the Symphony program in our schools and I am very grateful. When times are tough with the economy, these types of programs are often the first ones to be cut even though one could argue that we need it more in those moments. Music such is an integral part of our history and therefore it must be part of our future. This program ensures a future for classical music in Nova Scotia. In the words of Shakespeare: ‘If music be the food of love, play on.'”

To learn more about Suzanne, please visit her website here.