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June 17, 2010

Maureen Forrester, the extraordinary Canadian contralto, dies at 79

True contralto voices, with richness and smoothness of tone, are as rare as they are compelling. Maureen Forrester was one of the few.

The Canadian singer died Wednesday at the age of 79 in Toronto, leaving behind a valuable legacy on recordings that capture her artistry in a wide variety of repertoire.

I only got to hear Miss Forrester in performance once (it was a recital at the University of Maryland in the late 1970s, if my foggy memory serves me well), but I still fondly remember the experience of encountering in person the depth of her sound, the warmth of her interpretations.

Here's a superb example of the contralto's artistry, singing an aria from Bach's "St. Matthew Passion":

Posted by Tim Smith at 2:53 PM | | Comments (3)


Maureen Forrester is indeed marvellous in Bach. Her recordings on the Vanguard label are a reference for me in the repertoire - and, as a bonus, some of them feature the underrated Antonio Janigro.

A great artist has passed away.

Thanks for this link. A really great talent, which I have been completely unaware off until now!

I'm glad to be of service. As you've no doubt discovered by now, there is a rich legacy of Maureen Forrester recordings (and a pretty good representation on YouTube). TIM

May Maureen Forrester rest in peace, she gave a nice contribution to the music world and she was the favorite hymn of my pass away grand mother.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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