In memory of glorious voice
Allan Fast (countertenor)
[March 27, 1954 - May 1995 Montreal, Canada]

"The country was then blessed with the magnificent voice of Allan Fast ---a career of giant potential
tragically cut short by his early death." ---Daniel Taylor, 2002

Late Allan Fast studied at the University of Western Ontario, and sang for several years with the USA based Waverly Consort before returning to Canada in the late 80s. In 1986, Fast became the first prize winner of the International Opera Competition of the Belgian Royal Opera. He also gave private lessons for 16 year old Daniel Taylor at around the same year. In 1988, Fast made his only solo recording "Buxtehude: Alto Cantatas and Sonatas" with the McGill Collegium Musicum and participated with Joshua Rifkin's Bach cantata recordings.

He did numerous recitals and ensemble programs for Radio Canada, toured throughout North America, and taught early music voice at McGill from the early 90s till his death. Fast also co-directed the above mentioned McGill Collegium Musicum with Mary Cyr, who is currently a professor at University of Guelph.

In 1994, Fast taught at the McGill Historical Performance Academy between May 29 and June 5, but was too ill to sing in the staff recital held in that summer. He passed away in May, 1995 at the age of 41. The world has seen a tragic loss of a glorious voice that day.

Thanks are due to the following people who shared their memory of Allan Fast and admiration of his glorious voice.

Prof. Mary Cyr (University of Guelph)

Prof. Hank Knox (McGill University)

Valerie Kinslow (McGill University)

Prof. Julianne Baird (Rutgers University)

Jennifer Lane (Stanford University)

Special thanks to Michael Jaffee (Waverly Consort) who kindly provided me with those precious pictures of Allan Fast.

Waverly Consort (in 1982)
[from top to bottom, left to right]

Allan Fast (countertenor)

Nathaniel Watson (baritone), Julianne Baird (soprano)
John Olund (tenor), Kurt Richards (bass)

Kay Jaffee (co-director, plucked instruments, winds)
Michael Jaffee (director, plucked instruments)

Dennis Godburn (wind instruments)
Cheryl Bensman (mezzo soprano)

Rosamund Morley (bowed instruments)

Discography with Sample Clips
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Buxtehude: Alto Cantatas and Sonatas
McGill Records 750031-2 [1988]

Composer: Dietrich Buxtehude
Performers: Allan Fast (alto solo), McGill Collegium Musicum (dir. Mary Cyr)

1 Jubilate Domino (BuxWV 64) 8:49
2 Wenn ich, Herr Jesu, habe dich (BuxWV 107) 11:29
3 Jesu, meine Freud und Lust (BuxWV 59) 8:30
4 Sonata Op. 2, No. 5 (BuxWV 263) 11:30
5 Sonata for Viola da Gamba (BuxWV 267) 7:57
6 Sonata Op. 2, No. 7 (BuxWV 265) 8:58
7 Gestreuet mit Blumen (BuxWV 118) 6:02


Allan Fast's voice is simply magnificent in this one and only solo recording he left for us. The sound of period ensemble, McGill Collegium Musicum is smooth and has very little sharp edges. Regretfully, excessive resonance in the recording does not help one to appreciate complexity and depth of expression of Fast's voice. Accompanying booklet has an informative explanation for each tracks by Mary Cyr. It also contains lyrics with translation and of course everything is bilingual (English and French). A nice added Canadian touch.

Buxtehude wrote very few solo alto cantatas and those included in this CD are indeed meant for alto voice. For the complete listing of Buxtehude works, see Music and Musicians website.

The last track, BuxWV 118 is a rare secular cantata Buxtehude wrote for the wedding of daughter of Luebeck's mayor. According to the booklet, Buxtehude wrote only 10 secular cantatas (all are wedding arias) while he left total of 112 sacred cantatas. Of those sacred cantatas, one quarter is for solo voice and only three are alto cantatas (BuxWV 64, 107 and 59, that is).

The performing score for this recording was prepared not only consulting with the printed editions but also with manuscripts held at the university library in Uppsala, Sweden. Very authentic and academic approach. It should be, as this recording was made by the university scholars after all.

6 Favorite Cantatas
Cantatas BWV 147, 80, 8, 140, 51& 78

Decca L'Oiseau-Lyre 455706 (2 CDs) [1985, 1986, 1988*]

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performers: The Bach Ensemble with Jane Bryden, Julianne Baird, Drew Minter, Allan Fast, Jeffrey Thomas, Frank Kelley, Jan Opalach, cond. Joshua Rifkin

*denotes the year Fast participated in recording
Allan Fast sings following solo and duet arias:
CD 1-21 Recitative "Zwar Fühlt mein schwaches Herz"
from "Liebster Gott, wann werd ich sterben" BWV 8
CD 2-16 Aria "Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten"
from "Jesu, der du meine Steele" BWV 78 (duet with soprano Julianne Baird)

Joshua Rifkin is an advocator of the "one-voice-per-part theory". This notion is still a controversial issue but I am glad he proceed accordingly in this recording. It gives me a chance to listen Fast's voice more clearly. The sound quality of L'Oiseau-Lyre is excellent. One would appreciate very complex timbre of Allan Fast with this recording. His voice is full of subtleties and nuances. It is pity that he only sang one short recitative and a duet, although they both are superb.

Actus Tragicus
Cantatas BWV 106, 131, 99, 56, 82 & 158

Double Decca 458087 (2 CDs) [1985-1988*]

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performers: The Bach Ensemble with Ann Monoyios, Julianne Baird, Laurie Monahan, Steven Rickards, Allan Fast, Douglas Stevens, Edmund Brownless, Frank Kelley, William Hite, Jan Opalach, cond. Joshua Rifkin

*denotes the year Fast participated in recording
Allan Fast sings following solo and duet arias:
CD 1-16 Recitative "Nun, der von Ewigket geschloßne Bund"
CD 1-17 Arie "Wenn des Kreuzes Bitterkeite"
from "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" BWV 99 (duet with soprano Julianne Baird)

Allan Fast in Bach-Cantatas site
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