Wirth Vocal Prize 2016–17

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

The second annual Wirth Vocal Prize at McGill’s Schulich School of Music ­culminated in an evening of superior music-making by the three finalists: bass-baritone Jean-Philippe McClish, mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh, and baritone Igor Mostovoi. Made up of past and present McGill graduates, the jury of Michael McMahon ­(pianist), Joan Patenaude-Yarnell (soprano), Patrick Corrigan (Director General of the Opéra de Montréal), and chair Stéphane Lemelin (pianist and head of the Department of Performance) selected McIntosh for the top prize, which includes $25,000, artistic ­mentorship, and several performance opportunities, including a recital with the COC.

McIntosh, also the recent winner of the COC’s 2016 Studio Ensemble Competition, wowed the audience with her technical ­command of difficult art song, including ­excerpts from Berg’s Sieben frühe lieder and Poulenc’s Banalités, and charmed them in equal parts with her plucky Cherubino, witty Béatrice, and exultant Rosina. Each finalist had to prepare a 30-minute program with a minimum of three languages and at least one aria.

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The competition is named after businesswoman, philanthropist, and McGill alumna Elizabeth Wirth, who has made several large contributions to the school, including the $7.5 million donation in 2015 that created the prize fund. Wirth, who was in attendance, was so moved by the evening that she awarded the runners-up with $1,000 each.

“It was an electric evening,” says Chelsea Rus, who won the 2015–16 prize. “It took me until tonight when I was sitting in the audience to appreciate what I accomplished last year. It washed over me as I experienced the caliber of artistry from the three finalists.”

McIntosh, who called the evening “surreal” and “perhaps the craziest moment of my life,” is finishing the second year of her Master’s ­degree while auditioning for Young Artist ­Programs. She can be seen next as Prince Orlofsky in Opera McGill’s Die Fledermaus in January 2017.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

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Kiersten van Vliet was the Web Editor and an Editorial Assistant for La Scena Musicale from 2015–17.

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