Even for someone with exceptional vocal skills, the road to success in the performance arts is never easy — and Bartley has faced extra hurdles as a person with a physical disability. “Being in a wheelchair has had many challenges, one of which has been finding work as a musician,” she says.
Bartley performs as a soloist, often with pianist Lauretta Altman, and in ensemble productions. She has also been a voice teacher at the Sheila Parkins Academy of Dance and Music since November 2016.
She always knew she wanted to be a singer. “I began singing at age five, when I was given a solo at my school’s spring concert; I sang Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ and have loved classical music ever since,” Bartley says.
“Throughout high school I sang in the choir as well as in several musical productions. I also played first clarinet in the senior wind ensemble.”
Bartley became interested in her Irish heritage and discovered her love of traditional Celtic music. “I competed and was a first- and second- place winner in the voice category of the Ottawa and Montreal Ville Marie Feis [traditional Gaelic arts and culture festival], where I sang in Irish Gaelic,” she says.
Bartley adds that her aunt, a professional singer, had a big influence on her decision to pursue a career as a classical singer.
Concordia music experience
Before starting her classes at Concordia, Bartley reached out to Leo Bissonnette, BA 74, MA 77, PhD 93, former coordinator for the university’s Access Centre for Students with Disabilities, and Maria-Teresa Zenteno, BA 94, who worked as an advisor at the centre for 25 years. She wanted to see what could be done to make her time at the school more accessible.
“Both of these individuals were instrumental in ramping the music department’s Refectory, allowing me to attend all of my classes, which otherwise would not have been possible,” Bartley reports. “This in turn paved the way for other students with motor impairments to be able to attend their classes in the Refectory of Loyola Campus.”
Bartley earned a BFA in music and graduate diploma in classical voice performance. At Concordia she won the Robert Daniel Ball Memorial Award and received the South Shore University Women’s Club bursary.