Cecilia Livingston, composer

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

photo by Kaitlin Moreno

photo by Kaitlin Moreno

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

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

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 Educator, Notations (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)

Opera 5 banner cropped.jpg

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




Picture 172.jpg



2017, December 14 and 15


Moon, for solo piano

"Music for the Winter Solstice"
at Music on Main
Nicole Lizée, composer & performer
Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, piano
Wallgrin, violin & voice
Carman J. Price, vocals


2017, November 27


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


2017, October-November

Canada and USA, various

Two Dreams (arranged for soprano and piano)

Alexandra Smither, soprano
Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition 2017-2018 winner's tour

with Trevor Chartrand, piano
22 Oct. 2017, Toronto, ON
25 Oct. 2017, Harrisonburg, VA (USA)
28 Oct. 2017, Sackville, NB

with Pierre-André Doucet, piano
20 Nov. 2017, Calgary, AB
22 Nov. 2017, Vancouver, BC
click here for more information through the Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition website


2017, October 27



2017, October 22

Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Kingston

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

Click here for more information about this particular "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
click here for a trailer from Madeleine Co.


2017, September 23

Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto

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

click here for more information about this particular "Sesquie" commission

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





Review-essay in The Opera Quarterly (Oxford). 5500 words. In press.



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." Review-essay. Cambridge Opera Journal. Vol. 28, No. 3 (2016), 373-383.






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