By Sharon Savunthararajah

“I wouldn’t say I began composing for opera because of a deep love for traditional opera. I was pulled into the sphere of opera by glimpsing the potential the art form has and wanting to be a part of what it could be, not what it was in the past.”

Benton Roark participated in LIBLAB once previously and was the composer of last season’s Bandits in the Valley. He returned this year to take stock of his creative journey and to test himself to break new ground. “It has been great to discover things and approaches that are new for me. I came here mostly expecting to use techniques I have developed over the years, not to do anything entirely different and so I was surprised.” Benton felt that he had a handle on what he brought to the art form and what his process was in composing. He was delighted to find himself challenged with every new project. “It’s refreshing to get out of my comfort zone, stretch my reach and to then to develop a new level of comfort with each of the short projects we were doing.”

“Tapestry creates relevance for the art form today. The company and the projects they choose to invest in, push opera into new places, topics, and, in the process bring opera to new audiences.” Benton believes that the LIBLAB is the most valuable forum for creating connections between artists who might collaborate in the future and for teaching participants new to the art form everything from the rudiments of how scenes work (how drama and music work together) to supporting creative experiments within the art form.

LIBLAB has developed a new generation of Canadian composers and writers that are comfortable working within the genre of opera and able bring to the art form innovation and craftsmanship. Whether LIBLAB compositions go on to be mounted as full-scale productions or chamber works, or remain as 2 minute opera scenarios, these exercises positively influence the course of new opera and its creators.

Sharon Savunthararajah is an undergraduate marketing student at Ryerson University at the Ted Rogers School of Management and studies Digital Media at OCAD University. She currently provides pro-bono marketing consulting services within her community and constantly looks for ways to experiment with media.