In First Steps, Taryn Plater explores themes of re-accessing avenues of expression and reclaiming her own cultural history through Ukrainian art song and dance.

“I’ve wanted to use Ukrainian art song to explore my Ukrainian-ness and my Baba’s side of the family for a while now. What I realized when I was finally planning this project was that I don’t actually know very much about my Baba. What I did know what that I wanted to film it on Vancouver Island, which was where she lived during my entire life.”

“I had this very surreal experience when I was watching my old dance tapes. It felt like I was watching a ghost, and like it was something that was no longer a part of me. I think this imposter feeling is so relatable I think so many of us have these different sides to our identities that feel like they compete sometimes.”

“I feel like the first step in reclaiming this creative outlet is finally real. But the wildest part is that this project actually did somehow reveal to me more about my family heritage. Two days after I finished the first cut, I was gifted a book by my aunt. My uncle had just passed away, so she was rehoming some of his more sentimental belongings. This book was a complete history of my ancestors…Tucked into the book, there’s this three-page, condensed autobiography typed out by my Baba, landing on some of the themes of identity and loss that I had explored in my video. So, maybe I’m not as far from her as I thought.

Taryn Plater is a versatile musician with a strong investment in the future of opera and arts outreach. Applauded for her “dramatic and vocal thrust” (Opera Canada), the Vancouver-based mezzo-soprano has trained with Opera NUOVA and the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival and was the recipient of an encouragement award at the 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Western Canada District). Taryn enjoys varied performance opportunities ranging from accessible opera concerts in public spaces to jazz piano and vocal performances. In addition to her onstage endeavours, Taryn works in development at Vancouver Opera, is a mentor with Opera InReach, and frequently applies her marketing experience to produce own projects. She completed her opera performance studies at the University of British Columbia under Krisztina Szabó and Marisa Gaetanne while simultaneously earning degrees in business management and linguistics.


Thank you to Taryn for sharing her project and artistic voice. You can find more of Taryn on Instagram, as well as by visiting her website.


The Artist Statement Project was created as a part of AtG and University of Toronto’s National Opera Intensive program in August 2021. To explore more projects by participating artists, click here. To learn more about the National Opera Intensive, click here.