Hailing from Coast Salish Territories, Anika Venkatesh is a genre-defying vocalist currently based in Tkarón:to, and a recent graduate of the University of Toronto under the tutelage of Laura Tucker (BMus’23 in Voice Performance). Anika was the proud recipient of the 2022 Mary Morrison Award in Voice Performance, awarded to a voice student who demonstrates excellence in both vocal talent and musicianship and shows vocal ability within a broad range of musical styles.
Recent stage credits include the world premiere of Chan Ka Nin’s Dragon’s Tale (Tapestry Opera & Soundstreams Choir 21), scenes in Tapestry Opera’s Songbook XII, Ben Ross in Nkieru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (The Nathaniel Dett Chorale – NDC), alto soloist in R. Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses (NDC & The Rochester Oratorio Society), and Drusilla in Verdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (NUOVA Vocal Arts). They have been fortunate to perform in masterclasses for Judith Forst, Margo Garrett, Michael McMahon and Colin Ainsworth and have worked under the notable direction of Christopher Bagan, David Fallis, Kathleen Allan, and Brainerd Blyden-Taylor. Along with their classical, operatic, and choral skillsets and special interest in contemporary music, Anika is also a jazz and R&B musician venturing into stage acting.
Anika is highly passionate about the future of opera and classical music and seeks to engage with new music relevant to the lives of people today. In August 2020, they and fellow UofT music students founded the now-defunct Faculty of Music Anti-Racism Alliance (FoMARA). This organization aimed to create an equitable and safe environment within the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, bringing to light issues surrounding racism, systemic oppression, and colonialism through activism, education and collaborative dialogue with stakeholders in the Faculty of Music and the broader community. In winter 2021, FoMARA established the new Black and Indigenous Musical Excellence scholarship at UofT, which provides funding for current Black and Indigenous students at the Faculty of Music. Anika believes in making art that crosses boundaries both artistically and socially.
This past October, Anika premiered James Rolfe’s song “Wound Turned to Light” with Confluence Concerts and performed Craig Hella Johnson’s Considering Matthew Sheppard with Concreamus Chamber Choir. Upcoming performances include the premiere of Quote Unquote Collective’s production, Universal Child Care, at Canadian Stage in February 2024 in association with Nightwood Theatre, Why Not Theatre, and the National Art Centre, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the TSO and the Toronto Mendelssohn Singers in June 2024. Through musical storytelling, Anika hopes to garner curiosity, reflection, kindness, play, connection, tenderness, intimacy, and strength.