Shining the spotlight on emerging Canadian female and female-identified composers and librettists who demonstrate extraordinary promise in opera creation, winners for the first-ever Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes have been announced in Montreal.
The $25,000 prize is awarded to five teams for proposals of compositions in English, French, and a Jewish work. The five operas will see performances in 2019, including a preview performance at Canadian Opera Company Four Seasons Centre as part of the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre Noon Concert Series on March 19, 2019. The prize includes a workshop in Montreal hosted by Opera McGill, and excerpts from the works will be presented on Sept. 22, 2018 at Opera: Changing Worlds, a national summit held by Opera.ca, Opera McGill and Opéra de Montréal.
Winners 2018-2019 Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes: (winner details on following page)
English Language (tie ):
Maria Atallah, composer (Ottawa) and Alice Abracen, librettist (Montreal)
Kendra Harder, composer (Saskatoon) and Michelle Telford, librettist (Saskatoon)
French Language (tie ):
Margareta Jeric, composer (Montreal) and Naima Phillips, librettist (Montreal)
Laurence Jobidon, composer (Quebec City) and Pascale St-Onge, librettist (Montreal)
Jewish Work :
Cecilia Livingston, composer (Toronto) and Monica Pearce, librettist (PEI)
Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes is the initiative of Montreal-based Musique 3 Femmes and Ensemble vocal Arts-Québec and supports the creation and development of operas written by women in Canada. The 2018-2019 jury was comprised of Chantal Lambert (Director, Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal), Matthias Maute (Conductor, Composer; Artistic Director, Ensemble Caprice), Michael Mori (Artistic Director, Tapestry Opera), and Luna Pearl Woolf (Composer; President, Oxingale Productions).
ABOUT MUSIQUE 3 FEMMES:
Musique 3 Femmes is an ensemble and nonprofit identifying and supporting future female leaders in opera and classical music. Founded by soprano Suzanne Rigden, mezzo-soprano Kristin Hoff and pianist Jennifer Szeto, the Musique 3 Femmes addresses the need for better representation of female creative voices. In March 2019, Musique 3 Femmes is a guest Ensemble-in-Residence at Queen’s University’s DAN School of Music and Drama.
ABOUT MÉCÉNAT MUSICA PRIX 3 FEMMES:
Launched in 2018, Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes is a biennial award fostering extraordinary emerging talent in operatic creation and to develop new works by female creative teams through workshops and performances across Canada.
Winners of the 2018-2019 Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes
English Language Work: The Chair by Maria Atallah and Alice Abracen. A girl returns to school after the tragic death of her best friend. The work explores grief in adolescence and how we choose to move on from those we’ve lost. Composer and pianist MARIA ATALLAH is a two-time First Prize recipient of the Godfrey Ridout Award at the SOCAN Foundation Young Composers Competition (2017 and 2018). Based in Ottawa, she completed a M.Mus in Composition at McGill University under the supervision of Jean Lesage, where she was Composer-in-Residence of the Schulich Singers – McGill’s premier chamber choir led by Jean-Sébastien Vallée. Last season, her thesis piece Mar Maroun, for chamber choir, flute, and two percussionists was taken on tour, including a performance at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Canadian Opera Company. ALICE ABRACEN is an award-winning playwright and graduate of Harvard University with a B.A. double major in English and Religion. She recently completed the Playwriting program at the National Theatre School of Canada. Her play Omission was featured in the Centennial Season of Alumnae Theatre and her play The Covenant won the 2017 Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition. Her play What Rough Beast makes its American premiere January 2019 in Boston with Underlings Theatre Company.
English Language Work: Book of Faces by Kendra Harder and Michelle Telford is an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek operatic take on the many faces of social media. KENDRA HARDER is a composer and guitarist with a B.Mus degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Her work Cat Fight (2018), commissioned by the Goodchild Grady Duo, saw its premiere at the Strata Festival of New Music and later at ClarinetFest in Ostend, Belgium. Her first opera Orpheus and Eurydice… ish, a collaboration with Michelle Telford, was performed at the 2017 Strata Festival of New Music in collaboration with Little Opera on the Prairie. MICHELLE TELFORD is a writer with a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Saskatchewan. She has created surtitles for 11 productions at Saskatoon Opera and for Opera Kelowna’s 2018 production of Carmen. She served as the librettist for Kendra Harder’s opera Orpheus and Eurydice… ish.
French Language Work: Suites d’une ville morte by Margareta Jeric and Naima Phillips. A woman returns to a place where she fell in love and finds a piano on a heap of rubble. The work explores of the anatomy of a piano as an instrument, while examining the interplay of loss and connection in a world where everything can change in a moment. Composer MARGARETA JERIC is a D.Mus candidate in composition at Université de Montréal. She has won top prizes with the Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal Competition, Swiss Ambassador’s Prize, and was a finalist at the 2015 Music Biennale Zagreb “5 Minute Opera” Competition. She has completed residencies at Banff Centre for the Arts, Montreal Contemporary Music Lab, Domaine Forget with the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM), and Composer’s Kitchen with Quatuor Bozzini. She has composed music for short films, including “Poison” produced by Bright Young Things. NAIMA KRISTEL PHILLIPS is a librettist, writer, and stage director with a M.F.A in Playwriting from Columbia University. She is currently directing High Z, an international collaboration between artists and scientists exploring the 2011 Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the universe’s accelerating expansion, with residencies this year at Princeton University and Boca del Lupo. Her plays have been produced at Nextfest, Dream Up Festival, and Columbia Stages. As a freelance writer, she recently collaborated with GSM Project on the Sally Hemings exhibit at Monticello.
French Language Work: L’hiver attend beaucoup de moi by Laurence Jobidon and Pascale St-Onge. Two women travel together towards the North under hostile conditions and the threat of an impending storm. Strangers to one another, they each carry a mysterious reason for making the harsh journey. Organist and composer LAURENCE JOBIDON studied at the Conservatoire de Musique de Québec in piano, organ, and composition with Yannick Plamondon, with further training in composition with Andrew MacDonald. She is a 2015 prize winner with l’Orchestre Nouvelle Génération for Le Harfang et le Loup for string orchestra, has received commissions from organist Louis Brouillette and flautist Annik Sévigny (for Société de musique contemporaine du Québec), organists Raphael Ashby, Robin Côté, and has an upcoming project with Choros Wind Quintet. Playwright PASCALE ST-ONGE is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada and has written and performed for Festival du Jamais Lu, ZH Festival, and Théatre aux Ecuries. She is co-creator, writer, performer and stage director for KINK, which plays at Espace Libre in October 2018. Since 2015, she has been the founder and coordinator for La Criée – an open-mic poetry collective based in Montreal.
Jewish Work: Singing Only Softly by Cecilia Livingston and Monica Pearce explores the complexities of Anne Frank with a libretto inspired by the redacted entries from her famous diary. Composer CECILIA LIVINGSTON is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in Music at King’s College London UK and was a Fellow at American Opera Projects in New York. With music described as “haunting” and “eerily beautiful” (Tapestry Opera), she is the winner of the Canadian Music Centre’s 2018 Toronto Emerging Composer Award. Her music has been performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Kingston Symphony, Thin Edge New Music Collective, and at Nuit Blanche, 21C Music Festival, and World Choir Games. Upcoming projects include Terror & Erebus, an opera with TorQ Percussion Quartet and Opera 5. P.E.I. native MONICA PEARCE is a composer, librettist, and arts administrator specializing in opera and chamber music. Based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, her compositions have been performed and toured across Canada and the US, and her works for toy piano are frequently played internationally. Her written works have been performed by LooseTEA Theatre, Bicycle Opera Project, Opera Nova Scotia, Vocalypse Productions, Caution Tape Sound Collective, and Toy Piano Composers.