MacLaurin Building (Music Wing)
Born in Halifax NS and raised in Victoria BC, Benjamin Butterfield began singing in school choirs and at his local church (Christ Church Cathedral). Performing at the local music festival and in summer variety shows he later pursued formal voice studies with Selena James at the Victoria Conservatory of Music while attending the University of Victoria in General Arts. He furthered his studies at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts in contemporary music theatre performing and touring with the Music Theater Studio Ensemble before accepting an entrance scholarship to McGill University to study under Jocelyn Fleury-Coutu and William Neil. After graduation he received grants from the Canada Council to work with David Gordon in Philadelphia, Diane Forlano in London and Leopold Simoneau in Victoria. He also received assistance from the Sullivan Foundation in New York City to study in Toronto, New York, London and Italy preparing operatic roles. Other mentors have included Sir Thomas Allan, Peter Schreier, Elly Ameling, Rudolph Piernay, Noelle Barker, Margreet Honing, Roger Vignoles, Michael Gormley, Paul Stewart, Stuart Hamilton, Don Tarnawski and Michael McMahon.
Prior to his appointment at the University of Victoria, Mr. Butterfield taught voice at York University in Toronto. He has also been a faculty member at Opera Nuova Edmonton, Opera on the Avalon Newfoundland, the Vancouver International Song Institute, the Amalfi Coast Music Festival, the Victoria Conservatory Summer Vocal Academy and Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival in Vermont. Mr. Butterfield maintains an active national and international performing calendar and is represented by Schwalbe & Partners in New York City.
In a career spanning thirty years, Mr. Butterfield has been recognized for his performances throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and New Zealand. Highlights have included tours with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert as well as with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre. On the operatic stage he has toured with the Welsh National Opera, New York City Opera, Canterbury Opera in New Zealand and with Canada’s Opera Atelier. He has performed with Tafelmusik and Les Violons du Roy as well as with The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and American Bach Soloists in San Francisco and has worked with Jonathan Miller at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival, performed with the Dave Brubeck Quartet at the Montreal Jazz Festival, presented Britten’s War Requiem with the London Philharmonia Chorus in Thessalonika and has shared the stage with film actress Isabella Rosselini at the San Carlo in Naples, later touring with that company to the ancient amphitheater of Epidaurus in Greece.
Mr. Butterfield has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, with the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival, the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic, Le Capitole in Toulouse, the Carmel Bach Festival in California as well as participating in the St. Matthew Passion at the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan under Seiji Ozawa. He has also performed in the symphony halls of Dallas, Houston, Detroit, San Diego, Boston and San Francisco as well as at the Sheldonian Hall Oxford, Kings College Chapel Cambridge, for the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican Centre in London, Millenium Park Chicago, the National Cathedral in Washington as well as Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and at the Royal Court Opera in the Palace of Versailles. He has worked under the batons of Sir Andrew Davis, James Conlon, Paul McCreesh, Nicholas McGegan, Leonard Slatkin, Andreas Delfs, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Pinkas Zuckerman, Gerard Schwarz, Bruno Weil, Grant Llewellan, Hans Graf, Mario Bernardi, Bramwell Tovey, Andrew Parrott, Frédéric Chaslin, Friedemann Layer, Jane Glover, Claudio Desderi, Gabrielle Ferro and Carlo Rizzi.
In Canada Mr. Butterfield has sung with all the major Orchestras and Opera Companies as well as with the Aldeburgh Connection, Toronto Masque Theater, Theater of Early Music, Off Center Music Salon, I Musici, McGill Chamber Orchestra under Boris Brott, Music in the Morning and with Aventa and Continuum. He has performed in summer festivals at Sharon, Elora, Orford, Guelph, Lameque, West Brome and Almonte as well as in Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City. Engagements of particular note have included L’enfant et les sortileges with Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony filmed for Channel 4, Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder with the Toronto Symphony under Jukka Pekka Saraste and Vancouver Opera’s 50th Anniversary Gala under Jonathan Darlington. Other highlights have included Schmidt’s Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln at the Toronto International Choral Festival under Howard Dyck, Britten’s Curlew River with Festival Vancouver and Penderecky’s Polish Requiem with the Vancouver Bach Choir both under Bruce Pullan as well as recording “Opera Encores” with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra under Richard Bradshaw for CBC Records.
Recently Mr. Butterfield sang Elijah with the Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center under Julian Wachner, Haydn’s Creation with the Orchestra of St. Lukes at Carnegie Hall, Mozart arias and duets with the American Classical Orchestra at Lincoln Center and Haydn’s Seasons at the Grant Park Festival in Chicago under Carlos Kalmar. He has also performed in Puccini’s Messa di Gloria with the Taiwan National Choir under Agnes Grossmann in Taipei, St. John Passion with Jan Willem de Vriend and the Residentie Orkest in Holland, Messiah with the Vancouver Chamber Choir and Theodora with the Victoria Philharmonic Choir. He presented Janacek’s The diary of one who disappeared at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and recorded the Mahler/ Schönberg Das Lied von der Erde atYellow Barn as well as the St. John Passion with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem for Analekta.
Mr. Butterfield’s recent operatic roles include Grimoaldo in Handel’s Rodelinda and Jupiter in Semele as well as Mime in Das Rheingold with Pacific Opera Victoria under Timothy Vernon, Frère Massée in Messiaen’s St. François d’Assise with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony, Tamino in The Magic Flute with the Toronto Symphony and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Calgary Opera. Other roles have included Tom Rakewell, Ernesto, Belmonte, Almaviva, Peter Quint and Wilhelm Meister (replacing an ailing Jonas Kaufman) with companies such as Arizona Opera, Montpellier, the Canadian Opera Company, Montreal Opera, Vancouver Opera and Houston Grand Opera.
Mr. Butterfield’s most recent engagements have included performances of the 9th Symphony of Beethoven with the Elgin Symphony, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra and with the San Diego Symphony performing in Haydn’s Paukenmesse. He also sang as the Evangelist in the St. John Passion with the Victoria Philharmonic Choir, in Handel’s Cecilia, volgi un sguardo and Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra under Marc Destrubé as well as in Britten’s Serenade with L’Orchestre Lyrique de Montreal and the War Requiem with the Victoria Symphony under Tania Miller.
The 2015 – 16 season will see Mr. Butterfield singing Messiah in Newfoundland with the St. John’s Symphony, a Viennese New Years Concert with the Victoria Symphony, St. Matthew Passion (arias and Evangelist) with the Vancouver Bach Choir, Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin at the University of Toronto with pianist Steven Philcox and Janacek’s The diary of one who disappeared for the Jeffry Concerts in London Ontario. He will also participate in recording with the Ukrainian Art Song Project in Toronto his fifth volume of art songs (Galicians II) for Musicaleopolis and will also be in residence at Yellow Barn in Vermont performing the music of Britten, Janacek, Wagner, Schubert and Bach.
Mr. Butterfield can be heard regularly on CBC Radio and has been featured on “This is my Music”. His more than forty recordings are available on CBC Records, Koch International, Dorion, Marquis, Timpani, Analekta and Musica Leopolis.
Music samples in MP3
- Bach: St. John Passion - BWV 245 - Part 1/13. Ach, Mein Sinn
- Ah! ne t'éveille pas encor - Godard's Jocelyn. Canadian Opera Company. Richard Bradshaw. (CBC)
- Un momento di contento - Handel's Alcina. Les Violons du Roi. Bernard Labadie. (CBC Radio)