The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

Dream Aria

Ann Burstyn: vocals, lyrics, artwork

Ann Burstyn: vocals, lyrics, artwork

Garry Flynt: drums, bass, loops, engineer, producer

Garry Flynt: drums, bass, loops, engineer, producer

DREAM ARIA is a rare Canadian entry into the Neo-Prog cannon (there are only a few). The band began with composer, keyboardist, and producer Don Stagg. He had written some music, and was interested in adding drums. A friend suggested he get in touch with former associate Garry Flint. Flint had been a member of the Toronto band National Velvet, and the two had worked together in the past. They got together in 2004, and went to work.

At first, it was supposed to be more of a classical project, but the addition of drums changed the direction. At this point the decision to add vocals was made. The first thought was rock, but found two female singers who suggested opera. Don liked the idea, and let them write the lyrics and vocal melodies. This incarnation was named Odonata. The music is described as a blend of techno, world, classical, and rock. This didn’t last long. The singers decided to go on their own, and took the band name.

While looking for a new singer, Don came across an ad on the music classifieds website, placed by a female singer. Enter Ann Burstyn. Ann is the daughter of two musicians who played for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She says that she became obsessed with music at an early age. With this kind of background, it is no wonder that she was destined to be some sort of musician herself. She had done work in opera, and been in quite a few bands. She also sang back up for Shania Twain, and Phil Collins. Don contacted Ann, and played four songs for her. She liked what she heard, and even thought she could add to them. When they met, the songs (“Pacis,” “Spirit,” “He Touched My Soul,” and “Snapshot”) were already getting airplay. Ann was asked to sing as closely to to the previous vocals as possible. However, she couldn’t resist infusing her own style, and even changing the lyrics a bit. Luckily, Don and Garry liked it. Ann was also responsible for coming up with the new name. She says that the terms dreamy and operatic came to mind when thinking of the music. So, DREAM ARIA was the natural evolution.

The next step was the full album. To fill out the band, they brought in multi-instrumentalist Jozef Pilasanovic. His duties included guitar, bass, flute, and vocals. In 2005, “In the Wake” was released with many favorable reviews. They played their first live gig in December of that year, at Emergenza Festival. By May of 2006, Jozef was out, and Steve Agelakos became the new guitarist. The current lineup also includes Jon Casselman on bass.

Musically, this is not your typical bag of tricks. It has a strong world component, and the operatic qualities ring true. There is even a bit of techno. At the same time, this is definitely rock. The group has written and recorded more songs, and continues to play live. They latest news says that they are working on a follow up to “In the Wake.”


Since originally penning this biography, Dream Aria has indeed produced another album. In 2008 “Transcend” was released, and found more positive reviews. I look forward to lending my ear to this one as well.

Don Stagg: keyboards, lyrics, composer

Don Stagg: keyboards, lyrics, composer

Jon Casselman: bass, back-up vocals

Jon Casselman: bass, back-up vocals

Ross Stewart: guitar, back up vocals

Ross Stewart: guitar, back up vocals

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