Showcase Series

Taking place in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheater at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the Showcase Series features artists and creatives from the Asian, African and Caribbean, and Latin American diasporas, to celebrate and honour these many cultures and histories through creative expression, storytelling, and cultural participation.

This series continues to fulfill the Canadian Opera Company's mandate for increased access to the arts through developing new relationships and partnerships with diverse communities and championing culturally responsive and engaged learning opportunities.

February 2023: Black History Month

The third segment of the series will present four events that feature a variety of cultural identities of artists and creatives from the African and Caribbean community in Toronto—to tell stories through their art forms as a living, relevant form of cultural expression. Participants will have the opportunity to experience musical performances that feature Afrocentric choral music, chamber works from living black composers, Pan-African dance, and so much more.

Performance Information

Performances take place in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre from 12-1 p.m. All events are FREE but require registration. Group registration for schools or community groups over 5 is required. Register online, through [email protected] (school groups only), or call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231 to reserve your spot.

It is our policy to overbook. In the event of reaching full capacity, your reservation may not guarantee admission. Unclaimed reservations will be released to a standby line 10 minutes prior to the start of the program. We recommend that you arrive at least 20 minutes before the event start time.

Limited seating is available on a first-come-first-served basis for 100 guests. Once these seats are filled, all other guests will be standing for the duration of the performance. Seats cannot be held or reserved in advance.

Wednesday, February 1
12–1 P.M.

Voices of the Diaspora... Go Where I Send Thee

Brainerd Blyden-Taylor and the Nathaniel Dett Chorale present Voices of the Diaspora...Go Where I Send Thee. The program will showcase some of the Afrocentric choral repertoire for which the ensemble has become known—including Spirituals, Art Songs, an excerpt from the oratorio "The Ordering of Moses" by the ensemble’s namesake R. Nathaniel Dett, and an excerpt from the opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line To Freedom by Nkeiru Okoye—which the Chorale will present in its entirety on February 17, 2023 at Grace Church-on-the-Hill. For more information visit


Thursday, February 9
12–1 P.M.

Off-Spring Live

Aaron Manswell delivers his “offspring,” bringing to the COC his collection of compositions reflective of his simultaneous relationship with multiple genres in music: Classical, R&B, Hip-Hop, and Gospel. His work deals with the various subjects of love, religion, civil rights, and are a direct result of his experiences growing up in Toronto as a young black man who then relocated to the Deep South to further his studies in composition.


Thursday, February 16
12–1 P.M.

Baraka: Dancing through the African Diaspora

Baraka is a cultural homage to the African aesthetics in dances of the Western Hemisphere. From African modern to ballet,  African descendants have contributed to the global influence of dance. Dancers Kevin Ormsby and Jordana Daumec invite you on this journey. Baraka speaks to African diasporic traditions that survived through time, which is now a living testament to the experience of living in the Western hemisphere. 


Friday, February 24
12–1 P.M.

Songs of our History

COC Ensemble studio members Queen Hezumuryango and Charlotte Siegel, along with collaborative pianist Brian Cho, share their joy of classical music, while highlighting selections by black composers. The recital centers around important historical figures and includes some of the poets from the Harlem Renaissance Period.


Meet the Artists


D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor is the Founder, Artistic Director, and Conductor of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada's first professional chamber choir dedicated to the creation, preservation and performance of Afrocentric choral music of all genres.

Mr. Blyden-Taylor has worked extensively as an educator at the university, public school, and community levels, and was awarded the degree Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from York University, Toronto for his service to education. He is in demand as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer, both nationally and internationally. 

Mr. Blyden-Taylor has been an active and dedicated church musician for more than 50 years.

The multi-faceted vocalists of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale perform all styles and genres of music as appropriate to the traditions of Africa and its Diasporas. The Chorale’s mission is to build bridges of understanding, appreciation, and acceptance between communities of people through the medium of Afrocentric choral music.

Founder D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor named The Nathaniel Dett Chorale after internationally-renowned African Canadian composer R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) to draw attention to Dett’s legacy, to the breadth of Afrocentric choral music, and to be a professional choral ensemble where persons of African heritage can be well represented. 

Currently in its 23rd Season, The Nathaniel Dett Chorale was recently named Artist in Residence at The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas at York University. 


Aaron Manswell is a composer from Toronto, Ontario. His style of writing is heavily influenced by the genres of R&B, Classical, and Gospel music. His songs have been performed by choirs including the Grand Philharmonic Choir, Nathaniel Dett Chorale, and the Oakwood University Aeolians, and he is the winner of the 2022 Grand Philharmonic Choir Canada-wide Composition Contest. As a music producer, he has worked with award-winning R&B artists such as DVSN and Savannah Ré, also functioning as the latter’s music director. As a film composer, he wrote the original score for the sci-fi films H.E.N.R.I”(Ryan Singh) and Soap Dish (Troy Crossfield), which premiered at the Toronto and Montreal Black Film Festivals. As an educator, he is the former Wind Band Conductor at Crawford Adventist Academy, leading the concert bands to city-wide awards. Manswell has earned music composition degrees from Oakwood University and the University of Memphis, and is currently the composer-in-residence for the McMillan Singers at the University of Toronto where he is completing his Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition.


Jordana Daumec was born in New York City, New York and trained at Studio Maestro in New York City, New York and Canada’s National Ballet School. She joined The National Ballet of Canada as a RBC Apprentice in 2003 and was promoted to First Soloist in 2015. In 2020, with Black Lives Matter gaining momentum, Jordana initiated a series of group discussions around racial justice with her fellow dancers to encourage greater Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in dance, resulting in the creation of the Dancer Affinity Group. In 2017, Jordana received the My Entertainment World Award for Best Outstanding Ballet Performance for her role as Bronislava in Nijinsky.

Artistic Director of KasheDance and Program Manager at Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO), Kevin A. Ormsby has performed with companies in Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean. A finalist for the 2021 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes and recipient of Canada Council for the Arts’ Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award, Kevin was an inaugural TAC Cultural Leaders Fellow. Kevin is on the faculty of Centennial College’s Dance Performance Program and has been a Guest Artist in Residence at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of the West Indies (Mona), University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University and University of Texas at Austin. 

Charlotte Siegel is a soprano and singer/songwriter from Toronto. She is currently a member of the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio and made her debut as Second Lady in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, and as Manon in Ian Cusson's Fantasma for the COC. She holds a Graduate Diploma and Masters in Opera and Voice from McGill University where she studied with Dominique Labelle, and John Mac Master, and obtained her Bachelor of Classical Voice Performance from the University of Toronto studying with Frédérique Vézina. Charlotte was a Buffalo/Toronto District winner for the 2021 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, made CBC’s 2021 list of “30 Hot Classical Musicians Under 30”, placed 3rd in the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio Competition 2019, and was also a finalist for the Atelier Lyrique National Auditions 2019 (Opéra de Montréal). She is a co-founder and co-director of the Toronto based non-profit the Marigold Music Program, which aims to close the accessibility gap between marginalized youth and music education.

Originally from Burundi, Queen Hezumuryango holds both her master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Montreal, where she earned prizes such as the Ferguson scholarship and the Gadbois bursary and the support of the Jeunesses Musicales Canada foundation. Some credits include Tisbe in La cenerentola, Carmen in La tragédie de Carmen, Madam Larina in Eugene Onegin and Zita in Gianni Schicchi. She was a semifinalist in the OSM Competition in 2021 and has participated in prestigious programs including the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute, Highlands Opera Studio and the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance.

Brian Cho is a Toronto-based collaborative pianist from Mississauga, Ontario. Brian completed his Bachelor of Musical Arts and Masters in Collaborative Piano at Western University. As a highly sought-after collaborative pianist and vocal coach, Brian continues to showcase his musical curiosity through a variety of different concert performances and across a wide spectrum of different genres and instrumentations. He was a 2020 Magisterra fellow where he collaborated with the ensemble in their public concerts. Brian is an accomplished music director and is known within the London community for his work with Pacheco Theatre, MTP Theatre, Kings Theatre, Theatre Western, Original Kids Theatre, and Can of Soup Collective. 

Frequently Asked Questions

All events are free but registration is strongly recommended. Group registration for schools or community groups over 5 is required. Register online, through [email protected] (school groups only) or call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231 to reserve your spot.
Please note: The continued use of face masks is strongly recommended while attending a performance or event at the Canadian Opera Company. While not mandatory, wearing a mask is a small measure that we can all take to keep our artistic and audience communities safe.

Find our latest health and safety policies at
As this program in free, we do anticipate a number of ticket holders will not be able to join us. For that reason, unclaimed reservations will be released to a standby line 10 minutes prior to the start of the program.
There is no late seating for performances in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre and re-admittance during the performance cannot be accommodated.

We recommend that you arrive at least 20 minutes before the event start time and remain for the duration of the performance.


Phone: 416-363-8231

Toll Free: 1-800-250-4653

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