Barbara Hannigan, soprano

Barbara Hannigan

Embodying music with an unparalleled dramatic sensibility, soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan is an artist at the forefront of creation. Her artistic colleagues include John Zorn, Krszysztof Warlikowski, Simon Rattle, Sasha Waltz, Kent Nagano, Vladimir Jurowski, Andreas Kriegenburg, Andris Nelsons, Esa Pekka Salonen, Christoph Marthaler, Antonio Pappano, Katie Mitchell, and Kirill Petrenko. The late conductor and pianist Reinbert de Leeuw has been an extraordinary influence and inspiration on her development as a musician.

The Canadian musician has shown a profound commitment to the music of our time and has given the world première performances of over 90 new creations. Hannigan has collaborated extensively with composers including Boulez, Zorn, Dutilleux, Ligeti, Stockhausen, Sciarrino, Barry, Dusapin, Dean, Benjamin and Abrahamsen.

The past few seasons have brought the premiere of a new production of Poulenc's opera La Voix Humaine, in which she both sings and conducts, interacting with live video. This new production and concept was created by Hannigan in collaboration with video artist Denis Guéguin and premiered with l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. The acclaimed performance has toured to various orchestras and halls including Copenhagen, Gothenburg, London, Rotterdam, Spoleto, Ludwigsburg, Winterthur, Wroclaw and Munich. Recent world premieres include Golfam Khayam's I am not a tale to be told with Iceland Symphony Orchestra, John Zorn's Split the Lark for soprano and piano with Stephen Gosling and Star Catcher for soprano, piano, upright bass, and drums with Gosling, Jorge Roeder and Ches Smith, Zosha di Castri's In the Half Light with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and a new project with Katia et Marielle Labeque inspired by the life and music of Hildegard von Bingen. 2023/24 includes further world premieres by John Zorn, Salvatore Sciarrino, and Jan Sandström.

Last season, Barbara made her conducting debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, with further debuts with Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, as well as ongoing musical collaborations with Gothenburg Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, LSO, Santa Cecilia, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, and appearances at festivals in Spoleto, Oslo, Copenhagen, Hanover, Ludwigsburg and Aix en Provence.

On record, Barbara Hannigan’s fruitful relationship with Alpha Classics began in 2017 with the release of Crazy Girl Crazy, which won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal album, among other awards including an Edison (Holland) and a Juno (Canada). Five critically-acclaimed recordings followed, including Vienna: fin de siècle with pianist Reinbert de Leeuw, La Passione featuring works by Nono, Haydn and Grisey, and most recently Infinite Voyage, joining her colleagues of the Emerson String Quartet for their final album, in works of Schoenberg, Hindemith, Berg and Chausson. Spring 2024 brings the release of the ecstatic vocal works of Messiaen with pianist Bertrand Chamayou.

Barbara’s commitment to the younger generation of musicians led her to create the mentoring initiatives Equilibrium Young Artists (2017), and Momentum: our Future Now (2020), both initiatives offering both guidance and performing opportunities to young professional artists. She was recently named the Reinbert de Leeuw Professor of Music at the RAM. Her awards and honours include the Dresdener Musikfestspiele Glashütte Award (2020), Denmark’s Léonie Sonning Music Prize (2021), Canada's De Hueck and Walford Career Achievement Award (2023), the Order of Canada (2016), Germany's Faust Award (2015), Sweden's Rolf Schock Prize for Musical Arts (2018) and the 2021 Stena Foundation's Cultural Scholarship, Officier des Arts et des Lettres in France (2022), and Gramophone Magazine’s 2022 Artist of the Year.

Barbara resides in Finistère, on the northwest coast of France, directly across the Atlantic from where she grew up in Waverley, Nova Scotia.