Artist Bios

Midday Songbirds

Alison Jane Taylor, soprano
Laura Aylan-Parker, mezzo-soprano
Doreen Uren Simmons, piano

Alison & Laura are a classically trained duo who present sparkling duets in a variety of genres. This charismatic combo is comprised of soprano Alison Jane Taylor and mezzo-soprano Laura Aylan-Parker. Since they began harmonizing in 2010, they have been striving to select repertoire that demonstrates their vivacious personalities and highlights their classical roots. Their repertoire ranges from opera and art song to folk and musical theatre, exploring themes of love, heartache, and girlish glee. With a full performance schedule, Alison & Laura delight and entertain in recital and at events throughout Toronto and Southwestern Ontario.

Alison Jane Taylor, soprano

Born in London, Ontario, Alison received a Bachelor of Music Degree and a Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Western Ontario. In addition to her work as a soprano soloist, her performance credits include musical theatre, choral singing, and ensemble work. Alison has always enjoyed performing, and finds inspiration in making music with others, whether as a teacher or singer.

Alison has had the opportunity to participate in many festivals, courses and competitions, such as the Brott Music Festival (Hamilton, ON), the BlackCreek Summer Music Festival (Toronto, ON), VoiceCare Impact Course (St. John University, MN), and the 2010 NATS Ontario Chapter Auditions (first place). She has had the privilege to work with many distinguished conductors, teachers, and coaches, including Lorin Maazel, Boris Brott, Mei Lee, Jennifer Moir (Project Sing!), Susan Eichhorn-Young, Joel Katz, and Oszkar Morzsa. Favourite roles include Suor Dolcina (Suor Angelica, TOC), Linda English (Pal Joey, LMT), Winny Tate (Annie Get Your Gun, LMT), and excerpts include Amor (Paride ed Elena, Gluck) and Adele (Die Fledermaus, Strauss). She continues to study voice with Mei Lee.

Alison’s performance credits range from soprano soloist and chorister, to opera and musical theatre. Most recently she prepared the role of Suor Dolcina for the Toronto Opera Collaborative’s production of Suor Angelica (April 2012). She not only sings with the Heliconian Choir and Orchestra, but also serves on the Artistic Direction team as Choir Manager, assisting in repertoire selection and planning each season.

In June 2009, Alison completed the three-year training course to become a Certified Teacher of the Alexander Technique. This hands-on teaching method can be applied to any activity at any time to facilitate better overall use of the body. Increased awareness through recognizing and eliminating habits can help to decrease anxiety and muscular tension, allowing for everyday tasks to be performed more efficiently, with greater ease and less chance of injury. Alison continues to explore how the Alexander Technique can benefit musicians, offering lessons, workshops and presentations in Toronto and throughout the GTA.

Laura Aylan-Parker, mezzo-soprano

Toronto based mezzo-soprano Laura Aylan-Parker is an active member of Ontario’s professional music scene. Laura’s delightful stage presence captivates audiences with her exquisite voice and energetic spirit. While Laura specializes as a soloist, her other performance credits include choral singing, musical theatre, and ensemble work.

Born and raised in Orillia, Ontario, Laura is a graduate of York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts with an honours degree in music under the direction of Canadian legend, Catherine Robbin.

Eager to share her love of musical performance, Laura performs at various special events, concerts and galas throughout Ontario. In recent years, she was a member of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Mendelssohn Singers, frequently performing at Roy Thompson Hall with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

During recent years, a prestigious highlight included performing with internationally renowned singer, Andrea Bocelli, at the Air Canada Centre for his ‘My Christmas Tour’ in 2009. In 2011, Laura was chosen to be a member of both the Core and Choral Singers for Canada’s famous BlackCreek Music Festival. During this tremendous summer of music, Laura had the immense pleasure to share the stage with international opera legend, Placido Domingo. She was also pleased to sing backup for fellow Canadian, Sondra Radvanovsky. Throughout the rest of the BlackCreek Festival, Laura enjoyed performing with the London Symphony Orchestra, Martin Short, Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell, amongst other notable performances.

During her years of study, Laura has had the pleasure to be the prize-winner in numerous music festivals including the notable National Association of Teachers of Singing Auditions. Laura was also the winner of several awards including the Orpheus Award, the Imasco Performing Arts Award, the Patricia and Robert Martin Award, the Catherine Robbin Scholarship for most emotionally-moving Performance, the Spedding Memorial Scholarship in Music, the Newmarket Voice Festival Senior Scholarship, the Ron Bonham Scholarship, the Kaptyn Family Scholarship, as well as the Orillia Kiwanis Music Festival Best Female Vocalist Award.

Laura is currently Senior Development Officer, Special Events & Ensemble Circle at Canadian Opera Company.


Ms. Doreen Uren Simmons, piano

Doreen Uren Simmons was born in Ingersoll, Ontario, where she received her early music education. After high school she moved to Toronto, where she studied with the renowned Mona Bates. In 1961 she made her professional debut at Wigmore Hall, in London, England. During the over 40 years she spent in Toronto, she worked with many choirs and many internationally-acclaimed singers, which she discovered was her true calling. Her mother had been a singer. Doreen was the studio accompanist for the beloved Lois Marshall in her studio for her 12 years at the University of Toronto. Doreen moved to Orillia in 1996, to be nearer to grandchildren, and established her studio there. Now back in Toronto, she is working with Catherine Robbin and Norma Burrowes at York University, and with Peter Barnes at the U. of T. Her great joy is accompanying and coaching young singers.

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