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Maureen Forrester, the extraordinary Canadian contralto, dies at 79

True contralto voices, with richness and smoothness of tone, are as rare as they are compelling. Maureen Forrester was one of the few.

The Canadian singer died Wednesday at the age of 79 in Toronto, leaving behind a valuable legacy on recordings that capture her artistry in a wide variety of repertoire.

I only got to hear Miss Forrester in performance once (it was a recital at the University of Maryland in the late 1970s, if my foggy memory serves me well), but I still fondly remember the experience of encountering in person the depth of her sound, the warmth of her interpretations.

Here's a superb example of the contralto's artistry, singing an aria from Bach's "St. Matthew Passion":

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