Benjamin Butterfield

Benjamin Butterfield
Professor, Head of Voice

Lic. Music (McGill), Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Area of expertise

Voice, Opera

Areas of research & creative activity 

Benjamin Butterfield’s research on “the art of singing” is tied to his interest in the inherent ability of our species to respond vocally by reflex to thoughts, emotions and understanding. His teaching is rooted in the concepts of “functional freedom” (Cornelius Reid), “unleashing the expressive, resonant voice” (Kim Mattice Wannat) and “the art of breathing” (Nancy Zi) while maintaining a solid foundation in the traditions of Bel Canto as celebrated through the maxims of Lamperti “…[to avoid] the decadence of this divine art.”

Inspired by his teachers Selena James, William Neill, Diane Forlano, with mentorship from Michael McMahon, Don Tarnawski and Leopold Simoneau O.C., Professor Butterfield has maintained an active performing career for the past 30 years. He enjoys a diverse repertoire in opera, oratorio and song— both in live concert and on recordings—and has been fortunate enough to work with remarkable colleagues and organizations in some of the world’s most recognized and historic venues.


  • MUS 140–440: Individual tuition
  • MUS 245–545: Individual tuition: Performance
  • MUS 181–581: Chamber music: UVic Voice Ensemble
  • MUS 580H: Pacific Opera Victoria Chorus

Brief biography

Benjamin Butterfield studied voice with Selena James at the Victoria Conservatory of Music and at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. He later graduated from McGill University and was awarded grants from the Canada Council for the Arts to study in the USA, UK and Italy. He was recognized by the Sullivan Foundation and Oratorio Society of New York and was a participant at the Steans Vocal Institute at the Ravinia Festival, Chicago.

In conjunction with his tenure at UVic, Benjamin maintains an active singing career and is represented by Schwalbe & Partners in New York. Performance highlights include: Handel’s Tamerlano with the legendary stage director Jonathan Miller at Glimmerglass Opera; Montreal Jazz Festival with Dave Brubeck; Stravinsky’s Perséphone sharing the stage with film star Isabella Rossellini at the San Carlo in Naples and Epidaurus in Greece; filming Messiah for ZDF at the Handel Festspiele-Halle with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert; performing in Stankovych’s Kiddish Requiem with the Hamburg Philharmonic in Kyiv, Ukraine for the 75th anniversary of Babyn Yar. Other performances have included Rossini’s Barber of Seville with Welsh National Opera, Mozart’s Magic Flute at New York City Opera, Haydn’s Creation with the Orchestra of St. Lukes at Carnegie Hall; Puccini’s Messa di Gloria at the National Concert Hall in Taipei. Heard regularly on CBC Radio and nominated for several Juno Awards, Mr. Butterfield has also been featured in several episodes of This is my music.

Professor Butterfield previously served on faculty at York University in Toronto. He also has taught and performed at Opera Nuova Edmonton, Opera on the Avalon in Newfoundland, the Vancouver International Song Institute, the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy, the Victoria Conservatory Summer Vocal Academy, Orford Musique in Quebec, Institut Canadienne d’art Vocale in Montreal, Yellow Barn in Vermont and is Co-Director of the Ukrainian Art Song Program Summer Academy in Toronto.

Selected recordings

Selected performances

  • Rossini Barber of Seville (Desderi) – Théatre du Capitole, Toulouse, France.
  • Ravel L’enfant et les sortilèges (Slatkin) – National Symphony, Kennedy Centre, Washington.
  • Messiaen St. François d’Assise (Nagano) – Montreal Symphony.
  • Purcell Dido and Aeneas (Minkowski) – Les Musiciens du Louvre, BBC Proms, London.
  • Schönberg Gurrelieder (Saraste) – Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Roy Thomson Hall.
  • Orff Carmina Burana (Tovey) – Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl.
  • Dvorak Stabat Mater (Tausk) – Vancouver Symphony.
  • Ryan Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation (Minczuk) – Calgary Philharmonic.
  • Handel Messiah (McCreesh) – San Francisco Symphony
  • Bach St. Matthew Passion – ‘Evangelist’ cover (Ozawa) – Saito Kinen Festival, Japan
  • Puccini Messa di Gloria (Grossman) – Taipei National Concert Hall, Taiwan
  • Handel Jephtha (Creed) – RIAS Kammerchor, Berlin and Paris.
  • Mozart Requiem (Alsop) – Baltimore Symphony


Music samples