After her June quadruple bypass, soprano Measha Brueggergosman’s only 2009 Ontario show will be held at a church on the corner of Toronto’s King and Simcoe, a surprisingly intimate venue where lucky ticket holders can see her fully recovered.
“Oh I’m fine,” laughs Brueggergosman, on the phone from her Toronto home, “they just cracked my chest open.”
The 32-year-old media darling is as sunny as ever. Her hair-raising heart surgery hardly comes up: she seems more interested in having the right accompanist.
“I host a TV show called Berlin Arte Lounge, for classical and other arts,” explains Brueggergosman. “It’s filmed in this fabulously skuzzy dirty techno bar in Maria am Ostbahnhof. Andreas who plays on that program will be in Toronto too!”
Accompanying Brueggergosman will be pianist Andreas Kern, who was born in South Africa and trained in Berlin. Together, their Toronto show will be a benefit for in support of AMREF — the African Medical & Research Foundation — a cause that’s literally close to her heart.
“It’s fitting that this is my first recital back (in Ontario) because I’ve benefitted from a tremendous amount of generosity in my life,” says Brueggergosman. “It’s a blessing to sing for my people again, finally. It’s an honour to give back to my community. As a city and as a province and as a country we are so lucky. Meanwhile, people in Northern Uganda have no clean running water and live in mud huts.
“Five per cent of my income goes to AMREF,” she adds. AMREF is also in the business of extending basic education to young girls, which is absolutely crucial to developing nations becoming more self-sufficient.
Brueggergosman and Kern’s program is packed with material that we associate with her, including Schubert, Wolf and spirituals, which are fairly guaranteed to amp up the atmosphere at St. Andrew’s. Schubert and Wolf were perhaps the most tragic and soulful songwriters of Romantic Era, dying young and misunderstood and destitute in Vienna. Even a little charity could have saved them. Their untimely deaths remind us how even just a little kindness can make all the difference.
But if we can learn anything from Brueggergosman, it’s how hope and courage prevails. That’s because she’s all heart. “This show is really about promoting solutions to help West Africa,” she says.
Count on Measha to make recovery and performance and charity into a single act.