“A Day in the Life” with Vancouver Classical Musician Heather Pawsey

Heather Pawsey is one of Canada’s most widely acclaimed performers and presenters of Canadian contemporary classical music—one of her biggest passions in life and something she’s nurtured over the past two decades since winning the coveted Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition.

Heather’s love for the arts flourished from an early age, with piano and singing lessons, choirs of every kind, and tons of musical theatre in high school. Leaving Regina to study voice at UBC, her first ‘on the road’ gig found her onstage in historic, gold-rush Barkerville, BC. That experience left a lasting impression, kindling her passion for the outdoors and for adventure. After further studies in Europe, she returned to Canada to begin her singing career and also started to produce her own work—in particular, a unique series of “New Music in New Places” public performances where she presented concerts of Canadian contemporary classical music in such diverse settings as wineries, aquariums, railway stations, gardens, funeral homes, museums, and copper mines.

The resounding success of these further ignited Heather’s imagination which, in turn, led to the founding of her own company, Astrolabe Musik Theatre, in 2010, with a focus on creating compelling works of music at the intersection of theatre, dance, visual art and film, with a special dedication to creating, commissioning and performing works by Canadian artists.

Heather’s days are filled with performing, running Astrolabe, collaborating with colleagues across disciplines, staying in touch with friends and family, and enjoying good meals and fine wines! Her busy schedule juggles her singing career, shaping new projects for Astrolabe, teaching voice at Capilano University, and working with students in her own studio. She loves to travel (once having been one-half of Team Canada in a race around the world in 100 days taking only ships and trains) and relishes a good road trip, especially across the back roads of the Prairies to her native Saskatchewan.

-Written by Tim Pawsey, Heather’s husband

Heather Pawsey
As Persephone in Astrolabe Musik Theatre’s  “Unheard”, shot by my friend and colleague Maggie MacPherson
Heather Pawsey
At one of my favourite beaches
Delphine and I with the sculpture “Walk With Me” depicting us in the opera The Lake / nx̌aʔx̌aʔitkʷ, at Quails’ Gate Winery
Having a serious business meeting with my film director and co-producer John Bolton of Opus 59 Films!
My incredible colleagues – cast-mates on the closing night of the Noh opera Kayoi Komachi. Komachi Visited for Tomoe Arts
Singing ‘O Canada’ to tens of thousands of Seattle Seahawks fans at QWest Stadium
Heather Pawsey
With director John Bolton and fellow artists Corinne Derickson and Delphine Derickson on The Lake / nx̌aʔx̌aʔitkʷ shoot
Heather Pawsey
With my friend and colleague mezzo-soprano Barbara Towell in the storm scene of The Lake / nx̌aʔx̌aʔitkʷ


Which ’hood are you in?

I’m privileged to live and work as an uninvited guest on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Specifically, I’m in Vancouver’s West End.

What do you do?

I’m an opera/contemporary classical music singer; producer; director; singing teacher; and the Founding Artistic Director and General Manager of my company, Astrolabe Musik Theatre.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve actually just finished a whole slew of productions with Astrolabe; performing with Vancouver Opera, Yarilo Music and various recitals; and directing Rita Ueda’s new opera I Have My Mother’s Eyes – A Holocaust Memoir Across Generations for the Chutzpah! Festival. I’m currently working towards studying traditional Japanese vocal traditions in Tokyo next year, and the next major Astrolabe production, which I can’t say too much about yet except that it involves opera, women — and vampires.

Where can we find your work?

My work can be found in various theatres and concert halls around the Lower Mainland; on Astrolabe’s Vimeo channel; on our website and Facebook; and, of course, on TELUS Optik TV Channel 8 and online at telusoriginals.com from December 14.


About Emilea Semancik 143 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: