Barbara Ebbeson, mezzo soprano, is a lieder specialist and visual artist. Although her training and background is in opera, she began to specialize in concert work when she became a single parent and moved to Gabriola Island. She identifies as bi-sexual and as a gender queer performer in part because she sings concert repertoire usually considered the territory of men- in particular the large Schubert Cycles, Winterreise and Die Schöne Müllerin. She is also a comedic actress and enjoys singing funny cabaret from all sources, lately as her favourite alter-ego “Augusta Symington”. Barbara often performs new music and art song, and particularly loves it when there is a personal connection with the composer. She has premiered many new works.
In 1999, her lifelong friend and colleague – composer Rodney Sharman- wrote her the first of his cabaret series, “Tobacco Road”, to a text by Canadian writer, Joan Skogan. Barbara premiered it later that year in Victoria, B.C. to the delight of Canadian composer Murray Adaskin who immediately suggested that Rodney write more of these songs and to make them “naughty”. The result was a collection of more than a dozen pieces, some of them funny, some risqué, some poignant –all written for her voice. She later premiered five more with pianist Leslie Dala in a zany one woman show called “Cabaret Canada”. Part of the Vancouver New Music Festival, this late night cabaret showcased songs by many other composers including Linda Catlin Smith, Christopher Butterfield, John Oliver, Sylvia Rickard and David Gordon Duke. Most recently, Barbara performed “The Pronoun Symphony” at Victoria’s HOMO Cabaret. Sharman’s newest song- “Academia”- receives its premiere in Erato’s October 26th SEX concert. Sharman has described Barbara as his “muse” and often includes her in his artistic process, particularly in the choice of text for vocal and choral music.
Barbara Ebbeson has performed with the Vancouver Symphony, the Victoria Symphony and Pacific Opera Victoria. Her collaborative pianists have included Harold Douglas Brown, Robert Holliston, Leslie Dala, Rachel Iwaasa and Alix Nishihara.