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ROXOLANA ROSLAK


Singer/Teacher

Date and Place of Birth: 194O in in Chortkiv, Ukraine


Date of Interview: June 23, 2017

Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario

Interviewer: Sophia Isajiw

Length of Interview: 01:35:49 (raw)



(Excerpt):


Interviewer: Is there also a conductor, a composer, a musician, that you enjoyed working with most, or who stands out in your performing career, because we’ll talk about teaching in a minute?

RR: Well, a composer, I can’t say because I did a lot of them and I certainly did a lot of the newer works. Well, Harry Somers would be one, definitely. Another one that I worked with that I thought was really very special was – I did some songs by Lothar Klein, a Canadian composer. Andrew Davis was really a wonderful conductor to work with. Well, Elmer Iseler, also I did a lot of work with the Iseler Singers or the Mendelssohn Choir, so that was certainly a very good experience. I did something with the Mendelssohn Choir by Leonard Bernstein, which was really very special, it was the Kaddish [Qaddish], which was really wonderful to do. I can’t say if there’s anybody really, because they’re all sort of different. And if it works well, it doesn’t just work well with one person. It certainly worked well with Glenn Gould and I certainly enjoyed, that was certainly a very special working relationship.

Again, I have a story. As much as Harry [Somers] said ‘the piece is yours’ and all that…you see, when he first hired me for the Ophelia role, of course I knew who he was and so I was naturally a little bit overwhelmed by doing that. So we came to our first rehearsal, on Sumac Street here, and we started, of course I was all nervous and so on, so we sang the first song, it was ok. We went into the second one, then he stopped at one point and he said, “Oh, you want to take that, to pull that a little bit here. That’s wonderful, it makes great musical sense.” And with that he released me, because, again, he didn’t tell me, ‘no, this has to go this way,’ or anything like that. He said, no this makes musical sense. And after that I felt like I was part of the process and part of the equation. And certainly coming from him it meant a great deal.

But the people, as I said, like Glenn [Gould] and like Harry [Somers], those kind of people, I think they kind of, oh, how to put it, it never occurs to them to impose something on anybody. And also I think it becomes a journey – a great word actually, that, at least I’ve always felt that. They just want you to go on a journey with them.

Interviewer: When you say it works, is that because of an understanding of collaboration between the two of you, is that because of just a, ‘here’s what I did, let’s see what you can do with it…’

No, I think it was collaboration, definitely. Collaboration and what I was saying previously, collaboration and a sense of discovery together, through the music. And on top of that I’d say the music always – the really inspired music – always offers you endless discoveries. So, every time you do it you might find something different, somewhere else to go. And every time you do it with someone else the two of you might, it’s that kind of a process. To me that’s the kind of process that I felt, and obviously they felt that from me, and I felt that from them.


  1. “Among the most gifted vocal artists of this generation.”

  2. –Glenn Gould on Roxolana Roslak



CROSS REFERENCES:


Roxolana’s sister, Maria Dytyniak was interviewed by Jurij Darewych on July 11, 2016 for the Oral History of Ukrainian Canada (OHUC) project. UCRDC File #395 (Video).


Roslak, Roxolana. Biography. The Canadian Encyclopedia


Roslak, Roxolana page at The Royal Conservatory of Music


Roslak, Roxolana and Glenn Gould: Richard Strauss-Ophelia Songs-opus 67 


Roslak, Roxolana and Glenn Gould-Hindemith-Marienleben No.5


Roslak, Roxolana. Juno Award for Best Classical Album of the Year (1979), with Glenn Gould for Hindermith; Das Marienleben


Roslak, Roxolana photographs by Walter Curtin at The National Gallery of Canada


Roslak, Roxolana. IMDB biography


•  Roslak, Roxolana and Glenn Gould, Hindemith: Das Marienleben - Gould Remastered 

The interviews can be accessed at the UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org

excerpt from the Interview with ROXOLANA ROSLAK
ORAL HISTORY OF UKRAINIAN CANADA