Cecilia Livingston, composer

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After the kingfisher's wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent,
the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.

— T.S. Eliot, "Burnt Norton", Four Quartets


With music described as "haunting" and "eerily beautiful" (Tapestry Opera), Canadian composer Cecilia Livingston specializes in music for voice. She is a Visiting Research Fellow in Music at King's College London (UK) and was a 2015-2017 Fellow at American Opera Projects in New York.

Winner of the Canadian Music Centre's 2018 Toronto Emerging Composer Award, and a winner in the SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers, her music has been heard at Nuit Blanche, the 21C Music Festival, World Choir Games, on tour with The Bicycle Opera Project, with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Kingston Symphony, and with Toronto’s Thin Edge New Music Collective. She worked with Steve Reich at Bang On a Can’s Summer Music Festival and at Soundstreams'  Emerging Composer Workshop, and her next project is a full-length opera with TorQ Percussion Quartet and Toronto's Opera 5

 Self Limited Photography

Self Limited Photography

An associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre and a National Councillor of the Canadian League of Composers, her creative and research work is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Tempo (Cambridge), the Cambridge Opera Journal, The Opera Quarterly (Oxford), Canadian Music EducatorNotations (Canadian Music Centre), Ludwig Van Toronto (formerly Musical Toronto)Musicworks magazine, at the International Conference on Music Since 1900, the 2017 Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy conference and the 54th RMA annual conference in Liverpool. Her master’s and doctoral research was fully funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS-M and CGS-D); she holds a doctorate in Composition from the University of Toronto, supervised by Christos Hatzis, where she was awarded the Theodoros Mirkopoulos Fellowship in Composition.

... this vast and curious creative mind ...
— WholeNote magazine, 2017

Current Projects


opera (90'00); premiere 2019 (Canada), 2020 (Europe)

with the support of 

O sea-starved, hungry sea

CD release 2018
soprano Danielle Buonaiuto
and pianist John Wilson

art song by Livingston
(Kalypso and Penelope),
Natalie Draper, James Young, and Douglas Buchanan

recorded at New World Symphony, Miami

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2019, February 12

London, UK

Penelope, for soprano and piano

Women on the Verge in collaboration with Borough New Music


2018, July 25


Guest lecture, "The Composer's Imagination", University of Toronto


2018, July 6

London, UK

Kalypso, for soprano and piano

Alexandra Rose Hospenthal, soprano; Lucìa Sanchez, piano
London House, Goodenough College


2018, June 16

London, UK

Kalypso, for soprano and piano

Alexandra Rose Hospenthal, soprano; Katie Wong, piano
London House, Goodenough College


2018, June 8


Guest lecture, "Composing For Voice: Building a Career"
Soundstreams Emerging Composer Workshop


2018, May 26

Kingston, Ontario

"What a Feast!" from The Masque of the Red Death 
opera chorus/scene

Bicycle Opera Project with Cantabile Choirs of Kingston
Mark Sirett, conductor


2018, May 10, 11, 12


The Attendant, from Four Scenes of Loss
opera scene; libretto by Morris Panych
Natalya Gennadi, soprano; Camille Rogers, mezzo-soprano
Topher Mokrzewski, piano

Tapestry Opera's Songbook VIII, part of New Opera 101
Michael Hidetoshi Mori, director


2018, April 21


Canadian Music Centre 2018 Toronto Emerging Composer Award presentation

Soundstreams, "Freddy's Tune"
Gryphon Trio, with Dafnis Prieto (drums), Roberto Occhipinti (bass), Scott Good (trombone) and DJ SlowPitchSound - Honourable Mention, CMC 2018 TECA


2018, February 25

San Francisco, USA

Penelope, for soprano and piano

Marina Davis, soprano; Steven Bailey, piano
San Francisco Conservatory of Music


2018, February 20

London, UK

Give Me Your Hand, for soprano and piano

Alessia Naccarato, soprano
Krystal Tunnicliffe, piano
20|21 Concerts in collaboration with Borough New Music 


2018, February 20


Troy, for vibraphone quartet

TorQ Percussion Quartet at the Tranzac


2018, February 13


Toronto Symphony Orchestra Canada Mosaic Project composer delegate
presentation to Minister of Canadian Heritage, Parliament Hill


2018, January 21


"Canadian Opera 151- Where do we go from here?:
Imagining the future of Canadian opera"

Symposium, New Music Festival
University of Toronto


2018, January 20


The Wild Goose, for tenor and piano
from a set of arrangements of Wade Hemsworth by Livingston
for the Canadian Art Song Project

Lawrence Wiliford, tenor; Emily Rho, piano
Pocket Concerts


2017, December 14 and 15


Moon, for solo piano

"Music for the Winter Solstice" at Music on Main
Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, piano


2017, November 27


Guest lecture, "The Composer's Imagination", University of Toronto


2017, October-November

Canada and USA, various

Two Dreams, arr. for soprano and piano

Alexandra Smither, soprano
Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition 2017-2018 winner's tour
with Trevor Chartrand, piano and with Pierre-André Doucet, piano


2017, October 27


Two Dreams, for soprano and string quartet

Rachel Krehm, soprano; Ton Beau String Quartet


2017, October 22

Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Kingston

Leap of the Heart, fanfare for orchestra
commissioned through the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Canada Mosaic Project celebrating Canada's Sesquicentennial

Click here for more information about this "Sesquie" commission

"Canadian Seasons" (Masterworks Series)
Kingston Symphony
Evan Mitchell, conductor


2017, September 30

Nuit Blanche, Toronto

Listen to the Chorus, immersive video installation for Nuit Blanche Toronto

Madeleine Co. and Nasim Asgari, spoken-word poet
score by Cecilia Livingston
click here for more information on the Nuit Blanche site


2017, September 23

Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto

Leap of the Heart, fanfare for orchestra
commissioned through the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Canada Mosaic Project celebrating Canada's Sesquicentennial

click here for more information about this "Sesquie" commission

"A Tribute to Glenn Gould"
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Peter Oundjian, conductor; Colm Feore, host






"'salt strange and sweet': Timbre and Tension in Written on Skin."
Conference paper. American Musicological Society Annual Meeting, 1-4 Nov. 2018



Review-essay, Andrew Norman's A Trip to the Moon. The Opera Quarterly, Oxford University Press, Vol. 33, No. 2 (2018), 188-202.



Interview with The WholeNote magazine with Lindsay Lalla, by Lydia Perovic, about art song, working with text, and Lalla's "Imperfect Song" recital. 
click here for the web version
click here for WholeNote's September 2017 issue PDF (page 32)



"'salt strange and sweet': Musical and Dramatic Tensions in Written on Skin.
Conference paper. 54th Annual Conference of the Royal Musical Association, University of Liverpool, 7-9 Sept. 2017



"'Here Be Dragons': Voice and Opera at the Edge of the Map." Cambridge Opera Journal, Cambridge University Press, Vol. 28, No. 3 (2016), 373-383.






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