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If you want to hear the future of Canadian singing, the annual Jeunesses Ambassadeurs Lyriques Gala featuring over 20 of Canada’s best young singers performing before a jury of International opera directors is a good place to start. This year’s 26th edition, held on Nov. 16 at the Gesù, was to this critic’s ears one of the best, especially the first half. Among the singers to watch are Quebec soprano Sasha Djihanian , who took home four awards/engagements totalling $6000, Ontario soprano Tamara Rusqué (two awards) and Ontario tenor Charles Sy (two awards totalling $6000). In all, over 21 awards/engagements were distributed to 10 Canadian singers. See for full list. Some of the winners could well be in the semi-finals of the 2015 Montreal International Musical Competition. WKC

One week later, Charles Sy took home the Canadian Opera Company’s Centre Stage Competition First Prize of $5000 and the Audience Prize; baritone Dmitri Katotakis won the Second Prize of $3000, and tenor Aaron Sheppard was Third with $1500. See for Joseph So’s review. WKC

The OSM Standard Life Competition has wrapped up its 75th anniversary edition, showcasing 24 finalists who vied for over $100,000 in prizes and grants. First prize in the Voice category and the overall OSM Standard Life Grand Prize went to Hugo Laporte. The 23-year-old baritone from Quebec takes home prizes and grants totalling over $20,000, along with a calendar full of upcoming concert engagements across the country. Laporte will also perform with the OSM this April under the direction of guest conductor Sir Roger Norrington. The event’s other big winner was 23-year-old flutist Lara Deutsch, who was awarded first prize in the woodwind category, a $10,000 prize, and the prize for the best performance of a Canadian work; the Stingray Music Audience Award, voted live online and at Maison symphonique during the finals; and the Paul Merkelo scholarship. The judges declined to award a first prize in the brass category but offered a second prize to Jarrett McCourt, a 23-year-old tuba player studying at the University of Michigan. Several additional artists were awarded grants covering tuition and lodging for advanced training at the Banff Centre and the Orford Arts Centre. Alongside the competition itself, members of the international jury, including soprano Miah Persson, flutist Vincent Lucas and trumpet soloist Jens Lindemann, offered a series of masterclasses.

Recorder player Vincent Lauzer is the new artistic director of the Festival International de Musique Baroque de Lamèque. The period instrument festival on the Acadian island, off the coast of northeastern New Brunswick, celebrates its 40th anniversary season this July.

Two new Concertmasters have taken up their first chairs at Canadian orchestras: Antoine Bareil at the the Orchestre symphonique de Laval, and Bénédicte Lauzière – a graduate of the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal, the Schulich School of Music of McGill University, as well as the Juilliard School – at the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

Volinist Ilana Waniuk is the 2014 recipient of the Orford String Quartet Award, given biennially to an emerging Canadian professional string chamber music player. A graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Ottawa, Waniuk is a founding member and co-artistic director of Toronto’s Thin Edge New Music Collective.

Janice Price has been appointed as the new President of The Banff Centre, effective March of next year. Price has been CEO of Toronto’s Luminato Festival since its inception, in 2006. She previously held two major positions in the US, as President and CEO of The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and as Vice President of Marketing and Communications and then Interim Executive Director at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Prior to that, she held senior positions at the Hummingbird Centre and The Corporation of Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall. Price’s new role includes the development of multidisciplinary artistic works, training innovative leaders and building creative capital in Alberta for Canada and the world.

The Montreal Opera will be inducting prop designer Philippe Pointard into the Canadian Opera Hall of Fame at its 2014 Le Gala event on December 14. Originally from France, Pointard immigrated to Canada in 1969, working for the Stratford Festival before settling in Quebec in 1974. Pointard’s work has since been seen prominently in major productions of the Montreal Opera, Theatre Nouveau Monde and Grands Ballets Canadiens. WKC

The Conseil québécois de la musique has unveiled its list of finalists for the Opus Prize, an award that recognizes the dynamism and diversity of Quebec’s musicians and artists in more than 20 categories. The award winners of this 18th edition will be announced at a Gala event on February 1 at Salle Bourgie, in Montreal. This year’s Prix Hommage will honour Johanne Goyette, president of the 20-year-old label ATMA Classique. A complete list of finalists can be found at:

The Fall 2014 nominees to the Order of Canada were announced on Nov. 19. In the Arts, in the category officer were actor Colm Feore, soprano Nancy Jane Hermiston, poet Patrick Lane, accordionist Joseph Macerollo, and conductor Bramwell Tovey. Members were jazz vocalist Eleanor Collins, pianist and saxophonist Phil Dwyer, broadcaster Sylvain Lafrance, museum curator Francine Lelièvre, jazz broadcaster Ross Porter, illustrator and author Barbara Reid, artistic director Albert Schultz, and pianist Robert Silverman. WKC

Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM+) has presented two awards in its Generation2014 competition, following the ninth and final concert in its Generation2014 tour featuring the work of four composers. Both the Generation Jury Prize (a $3,500 grant and an ECM+ commission) and the $1,500 Audience Choice Award went to Anthony Tan for his work Ksana II. The Alberta-born composer, who earned a PhD from McGill University following studies at the Université de Montréal, now resides in Germany, where he is studying at the Musikhochschule Dresden.

The second Toronto International Piano Competition, hosted by the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto every four years, awarded first prize to Yang Liu, a 23-year-old pianist from China. Twenty international candidates were invited to compete in Toronto, with the final round taking place with the Toronto Concert Orchestra and Maestro Kerry Stratton at Koerner Hall. The prizes for Liu include $15,000, and several solo and orchestral engagements, including an appearance in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Piano Extravaganza Festival this February.

The recipient of the CINARS Achievement Award is Barbara Scales, founder of the Montreal-based artist agency Latitude 45 Arts, in recognition of her contribution in raising the profile of the performing arts abroad. In accepting the award, Scales commented that the power of art also required a sense of responsibility, saying, “Our role in the arts is not just economic but that of enhancing the position of the artist’s work in the world and in relation to the public.” CINARS promotes and supports the export of the performing arts. Its Biennale – a meeting place for 1300 professionals hailing from 40 countries – takes place every two years in Montreal.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain, has been named one of the 50 most important people in Canada according to Maclean’s annual list, published on November 21. The maestro was cited for his influence and power of ideas, notably for his opposition to the possible closing of music conservatories in Quebec. WKC

Last September in Indianapolis, six Montreal bow and stringed instrument manufacturers received 11 awards at the prestigious Violin Society of America (VSA) conference and competition. Worth mentioning are Isabelle Wilbaux and Louis Gord, who won a Certificate of Merit for Workmanship (viola); Eric Gagné, winning two Certificates of Merit (viola and cello bows); Fabienne Gauchet with a Certificate of Merit for Workmanship (cello); and Emmanuel Bégin, who took home two gold medals for violin and bass bows and two Certificates of Merit for viola and cello bows. Marc Chénard

The group Le Vivier will move into Montreal’s Gesù Centre de Créativité in January thanks to $600,000 in funding from the Ministry of Culture and Communication. According to Pierrette Gingras, Vivier’s general manager, it’s a victory for the solidarity of the cultural world and the members of Le Vivier. This move will allow Le Vivier to have a performance centre and a permanent home in which to present the concerts of its members and ensembles or organizations representing the various branches of new music.

Dates limites/Deadlines :
• Programme Vivacité Montréal/arts et lettres. January 15
• Grants to Professional Choirs. Canada Council for the Arts. January 15
• Concours solistes et petits ensembles. Fédération des harmonies et orchestres symphoniques du Québec. January 15
• Subventions pour musique de concert. Fondation SOCAN. January 15
• Grants to Professional Orchestras. Canada Council for the Arts. February 1
• Professional Music Organizations Program. Canada Council for the Arts. February 15
• Subventions aux agents et aux gérants/arts de la scène. Conseil des arts du Canada. March 1
• Prix d’Europe 2015. Académie de musique du Québec. March 1
• Subventions aux musiciens professionnels. Conseil des arts du Canada. March 1 and November 1
• Festival-Concours de musique classique Pierre-De Saurel. March 15
Hassan Laghcha


About Author

Joseph K. So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, but his first love is music, which he studied as an undergraduate student at the State University of New York. Since seeing his first live opera – La Gioconda with Renata Tebaldi at the Met in 1967, the singing voice became his lifelong favourite instrument. In addition to his longtime contributions to La Scena Musicale and The Music Scene, he is Associate Editor of Opera Canada and a frequent contributor to Musical Toronto.

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