Daisy Press

Daisy Press was raised on the buses, planes, hotels, and stages of a large-scale international rock ’n’ roll tour, on which both her parents performed for over 40 years. Since then, she has become a ferocious and ardent interpreter and creator of experimental classical (and non-classical) music in the United States and Europe.

In the modern classical genre, Daisy regularly performs as a soloist with Vienna-based ensembles Klangforum Wien and Phace, and with them has sung the work of composers Bernard Lang, Martin Smolka, Rebecca Saunders, and Fausto Romitelli at the Wiener Konzerthaus, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, and numerous other venues in Germany, Austria, Spain, and Slovakia.

In the US, working with So Percussion, she has sung Steve Reich’s Drumming and Music for 18 Musicians worldwide, including at Alice Tully Hall and the Barbican in London. For her interpretation of Morton Feldman's Three Voices and Schoenberg's Herzgewächse at the Museum of Modern Art, Press was hailed by the New York Times as "intrepid" and "passionate." The Times also praised the “winning subtlety and understatement” of Daisy’s Miller Theater presentation of George Crumb’s Unto the Hills. She sang Bernhard Lang’s DW2 with the Argento Ensemble at Le Poisson Rouge, and has enjoyed a longtime collaboration with composer Nick Hallett and visual artist Shana Moulton on the video opera Whispering Pines 10. Additional credits include the New York premiere of Phillipe Leroux’s blindingly virtuosic Voi(rex) alongside IRCAM at the Miller Theater and György Kurtág’s  Attila-Joszef Fragments at Symphony Space.

In the world of nightlife and pop music, for several years Daisy served as the lead backing singer/dancer for the band Chromeo, and appeared with them on The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Lollapalooza, Coachella, and, as headliners, at the Montreal Jazz Festival. On Broadway, she originated the Horned Goddess role in The Devouring, where she sang her feminine-vibes arrangement of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” every night. At Brooklyn’s noted and notorious House of Yes, Daisy has served as singer-in-residence, and regularly collaborates with its truly astounding in-house aerialists, dancers, and circus performers, composing, improvising, and performing works which embody virtuosity, ecstasy, holiness, humor, and necessary stings of irreverence.

On her own, over the last 20 years, Daisy has become a specialist in the music of 12th-century mystic and polymath Hildegard of Bingen. Not a traditionalist, Press incorporates elements of North Indian (Hindustani) ragas into her unusual and extraordinary interpretations of the original Medieval chants. Besides special performances at the House of Yes, Press has performed Hildegard at National Sawdust in Brooklyn and in the dust of the Burning Man Festival, in German churches, on subway platforms, in Central Park, at memorial services and the bedsides of the dying. As an outgrowth of her devotion to Hildegard, Daisy is the founder and High Priestess of "Voice Cult," a vibrant community which meets weekly to explore singing Hildegard’s music as a regular grounding practice for body and spirit. As an active and passionate teacher, she utilizes a powerful synergistic mix of Western classical/pop vocal technique and North Indian ragas to coax her students into a fully-embodied, joyful manifestation of their vocal, emotional, and spiritual potential.

Academically, Press holds degrees from Sarah Lawrence College and the Manhattan School of Music, where she proceeded to serve on the faculty after attaining her Masters degree. Privately, she has studied voice with Trish McCaffrey and North Indian ragas with Michael Harrison.

Suresh Singaratnam

Suresh Singaratnam is a trumpeter of uncommon breadth - unique not only for the small crowd he inhabits as a virtuoso of both classical and jazz styles but also for the continuity and clarity of his voice across both idioms. When he began to study the trumpet at age nine, it never occurred to him that he might have to choose between the two.

Torontonian by way of Zambia (where he was born) and the U.K., Singaratnam boasts a background that defies classification as nimbly as his artistic taste. In eighth grade he asked a music teacher if she knew of anyone who played both jazz and classical trumpet at a high level and she steered him to Wynton Marsalis, two of whose records he promptly went out and bought. Suresh studied with Canadian trumpet virtuoso Norman Engel throughout high school, and even then exhibited an uncommon aptitude for the technicalities of the trumpet, besting pianists and string players alike to win the Scarborough Philharmonic Youth Concerto Competition at the age of 17. In his last year of high school he studied with Toronto Symphony trumpeter Barton Woomert, then spent a year at the University of Toronto studying with Chase Sanborn.

After one year at the University of Toronto Singaratnam transferred to Manhattan School of Music in New York City, a move whose tremendous impact on his life and psyche he chronicles in his recent album Lost in New York. Even though Singaratnam focused on the classical style in his early lessons (probably because the technique came most naturally) it was jazz trumpet he went on to study as an undergraduate. Suresh studied with jazz great Lew Soloff but continued his classical trumpet studies with the New York Philharmonic's Vincent Penzarella.

Applying for Manhattan School of Music's Master's program, Singaratnam switched hats again and was accepted with scholarship for classical trumpet. Orchestration studies with Paul Allan Levi and composition classes with Ludmilla Ulehla proved a powerful influence, and continue to inform his approach to composition. During these years, Singaratnam also received lessons from Canadian Brass veteran Jens Lindeman and the trumpeter whose recordings had fed his budding interest, Wynton Marsalis.

Singaratnam's dual album release in 2009 was the product of several years of germination. "Two Hundred Sixty-One, Vol. 1" is not an opening statement but rather an adult work, born of years refining technique and taste. Even the selection of repertoire bespeaks maturity, encompassing trumpet "standards" like Arban's The Carnival of Venice and Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of The Bumblebee, Paul Hindemith's vast and varied Sonata for Trumpet and Piano and transcriptions from the violin and opera canons.

Similarly,"Lost in New York", Singaratnam's all-original jazz album, was years in the making and literally narrates several years of the artist's life during his time in New York. The program is eclectic, ranging from intervalic and twelve-tonal to singable originals evocative of Strayhorn and Johnny Mercer. Listen to both records back-to-back and you'll be startled by their artistic coherence. Jazz and classical trumpet are idioms with different techniques, assumptions, and histories, and unlike some other dual-idiomist trumpeters before him (admittedly a small group) Singaratnam approaches each on its own terms. Still, an aesthetic thread conjoins them: more a matter of taste than of technique or sound.

- Nathaniel Smith

Alana McCarthy

Alana McCarthy is an illustrator from Toronto who makes bright, painterly eye-catching imagery, lettering, design and murals to help brands and businesses stand out.

She is an honours graduate from OCAD illustration and is the perfect combination of artist and designer. She also worked in-house as a senior designer for Nelvana Animation, so she knows her way around visual marketing and licensing.

Over her award winning 20 year career she's worked with amazing clients such as Disney/Pixar, Nickelodeon, The Wall Street Journal, Taco Bell, Cadbury, Coca Cola, Scholastic, Penguin Books, and Absolut Vodka. Her work has been recognized by Communication Arts, Applied Arts, American Illustration and HOW Magazine.

She is also dipping her toes into the NFT space and is working on her first eco-friendly collection - Cat Chonks by GeekyPetNFT. Her goal is to learn more about the web3 space so that she can empower other artists to do the same.

Seasonal Songs for Southern Ontario

Music & lyrics by Suresh Singaratnam (ASCAP)
Vocals performed & recorded by Daisy Press
Illustrations & time-lapse animation by Alana McCarthy
Produced by Suresh Singaratnam & Marc Koecher
Marc Koecher - Chief Audio Engineer
Nathan James - Mastering Engineer

This project was made possible with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts

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