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Canadian baritone to be featured at ‘Remembering the Fallen’ concert

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Canadian baritone Phillip Addis is looking forward to spending more time in Watertown than the last time he was in town about 15 years ago.

He was a student at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, when he and a friend decided to ride their bikes to the Niagara Peninsula in Southern Ontario, where Mr. Addis has relatives. The trek began with ferry rides from Kingston to Wolfe Island to Cape Vincent.

“We completely misjudged the trip in terms of energy and what we were able to do,” he said. “We ended up sleeping on benches and in diners.”

But he added, “It was a lovely time of day when we were riding through Watertown and Sackets Harbor.”

Mr. Addis, 35, is the featured soloist in next Sunday’s “Remember the Fallen” concert by the Sackets Harbor Vocal Arts Ensemble.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Mr. Addis said from his home in Stratford, Ontario. “I love that part of the state and look forward to getting to know some of the folks there — one thing I missed out on on my bike ride.”

The pieces in next Sunday’s concert — “Dona Nobis Pacem” and “A German Requiem” — are quite different from his latest gig. He played Algernon in the world premiere of an operatic version of the Oscar Wilde play “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Irish composer Gerald Barry at the Opéra de Nancy in France.

“It was a lot of fun, and completely different from what we’re preparing in Watertown,” Mr. Addis said. “It was absurd, flashy and colorful.”

But starting with the concert next Sunday, his schedule turns more serious again. On May 11, he will perform in Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem” in Cincinnati. A few weeks later, he will sing in a requiem in Montreal.

Mr. Addis noted that the two pieces he will sing next Sunday are principally choral pieces.

“They feature the chorus at its best,” he said. “Soloists, while important, don’t have long, long passages or solos. The important thing is to blend in with the energy of the chorus and to deliver your lines — but not in a way that’s brash or doesn’t fit the mood of the whole work.”

He added, “It’s an exercise in being part of the greater whole, which is really great. It’s very satisfying to be one important piece.”

With a bachelor of music from Queen’s University in 2000 and a diploma in operatic performance from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, Mr. Addis began his operatic career in the apprenticeship program at the Atelier Lyrique de L’Opéra de Montréal and studied further at the Steans Institute at Ravinia in Illinois, the Britten-Pears School in England and the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute in Montreal.

He didn’t take singing seriously until he was a student at Queen’s, where he sang in choirs. He was paying more attention to playing the tuba.

“The (vocal) coach of the choir said, ‘There’s something there. Why don’t you take a voice lesson?’” Mr. Addis recalled.

“I had a lesson and pretty quickly realized it was something I could do, and it was a lot more portable than a tuba,” Mr. Addis said. “I felt I could get my musical ideas across much more directly.”

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The other featured soloist in the “Remembering the Fallen” concert is soprano Diana Gamet, a former Rodman resident and a graduate of South Jefferson Central School who received a bachelor’s degree in music performancefrom SUNY Potsdam in 2009. She has also performed as a soloist for Northern Choral Society. Richard E. Probert, director of the Sackets Harbor Vocal Arts Ensemble, said Miss Gamet is studying music in Boston.

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