Ralls, Stephen

Stephen Ralls. Pianist, producer, vocal coach, b Hertford, England, 1 Jul 1944; MA (Merton College, Oxford) 1967, LRAM (London) 1969. Stephen Ralls studied privately with Frederick Jackson, Rex Stephens, and Geraint Jones. He worked 1972-7 in the UK with the English Opera Group and the English Music Theatre Company at the Aldeburgh Festival, and was pianist for the first performances and recordings of Benjamin Britten's opera Death in Venice. He has appeared throughout the UK in recital and as accompanist for British singers Sir Peter Pears, Stephen Roberts, and Graham Trew at the Aldeburgh Festival and in first performances of song cycles by Alun Hoddinott and Robin Holloway. Since the early 1970s he has been an accompanist and vocal coach for summer courses at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies at Aldeburgh.

Ralls emigrated to Canada in 1978 and joined the University of Toronto Opera Division, where he was musical director 1996-2008. Ralls has been a repetiteur for the Canadian Opera Company (COC), and in 1982 co-founded with Bruce Ubukata the Toronto-based vocal concert series, The Aldeburgh Connection. He has appeared frequently on the CBC and at the Algoma, Elora, Guelph, and Shaw Festivals; the Festival of the Sound; and Music at Sharon. He accompanied Mark Pedrotti on a recording of Oskar Morawetz' Vocal Works (1989, Centrediscs CMC-CD-3589) and accompanied Gerald Finley on the 1998 Juno Award-winning album Songs of Travel (CBC Records MVCD 1115). Ralls also recorded several cds with Ubukata and other artists for The Aldeburgh Connection. Stephen Ralls remained artistic director and accompanist for The Aldeburgh Connection in its final season (2012-2013). He was appointed as a Member to the Order of Canada in 2012.