Interviews with CMIM 2022 Laureates Simone McIntosh, Meredith Wohlgemuth and Other Competitors

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La Scena Musicale presents a series of interviews with the laureates, competitors, and the Jury President of the 2022 Concours musical international de Montreal (CMIM). Interviews conducted by Shirley Wu, filmed by Norman Woo of MCCRTV.

About Simone McIntosh (from her CMIM profile):

Canadian mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh takes full advantage of her place in the opera world. She is at home in pants roles like Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro and Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, in addition to roles such as Dorabella in Così fan tutte and the title role of La Cenerentola.

The Vancouver native is an alumna of both the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio and the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship Program. Last summer she appeared at the Festival Napa Valley, singing under eminent conductors James Conlon and Kent Nagano.

McIntosh won second prize in the OSM Competition in 2021, and first prize in the Ottawa Choral Society New Discoveries Competition in 2018, the Wirth Vocal Prize of the Schulich School of Music in 2016-2017 and the COC Ensemble Studio Competition in 2016.

Meredith Wohlgemuth, Art Song First Prize Winner

About Meredith Wohlgemuth (from her CMIM profile):

Brooklyn-based Meredith Wohlgemuth is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School and studies with teacher to the greats, Marlena Malas. She arrives at this year’s competition with a passion for contemporary as well as traditional art song.

The American soprano was a 2021 winner of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont National Council Auditions New York District, after winning an Encouragement Award the previous year.

Wohlgemuth can already claim some of opera’s most coveted soprano roles, like Gretel in Hänsel and Gretel, Despina in Così fan tutte, and Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The rising star sang vital roles in Opera Naples’ productions of La traviata and West Side Story.

Sarah Dufresne, Aria Second Prize Winner

About Sarah Dufresne (from her CMIM profile):

Raised in Niagara Falls, soprano Sarah Dufresne is a resident artist with the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, where highlights of her work include Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea. Known for her clear, agile voice and flair for innovation, Sarah Dufresne joined Against the Grain Theatre and The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity for the 2020 immersive murder-mystery opera, No One’s Safe.

A graduate of Wilfrid Laurier and McGill Universities, Dufresne was a recipient of the competitive Jacqueline Desmarais Grant for Young Canadian Opera Singers. She received an Encouragement Award at the 2019 Buffalo-Toronto district Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Valerie Eickhoff, Aria Third Prize Winner

About Valerie Eickhoff (from her CMIM profile):

Based in Düsseldorf, German mezzo-soprano Valerie Eickhoff is a competitor with a relatively fresh experience on the operatic stage. This season with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, she makes six role debuts, including beloved pants roles Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro and Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel. As a member of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein Studio, Eickhoff also sang Rosina in The Barber of Seville and Annina in La traviata. Last season, she made her debut at the Tyrolean Festival Erl, in Humperdinck’s Königskinder (King’s Children).

Valerie Eickhoff was a semifinalist at the 2019 Neue Stimmen competition and the 2020 Glyndebourne Opera Cup.

Vivian Yau, Art Song Competitor

About Vivian Yau (from her CMIM profile):

Hong Kong soprano Vivian Yau is claimed on the world’s major stages, from New York’s Carnegie Hall to the Cultural Centre in her native Hong Kong.

Yau sang the title role in the 2021 world premiere of Alice in Wonderland (Pierangelo Valtinoni) which production was co-commissioned by Zürich Opera and Yip’s Children’s Choir Hong Kong. She sings regularly with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

On top of her roles like Rosina in The Barber of Seville and the title role of Les mamelles de Tirésias, Yau has also done digital work. She sings in Michael Ching’s Zoom Speed Dating Tonight! and she created her own music video for her 2020 performance of George Crumb’s Apparition.

Zarin Mehta, CMIM Jury President

About Zarin Mehta (from his CMIM profile):

Zarin Mehta is among the world’s leading performing arts administrators and consultants with clients in the U.S., Canada, India, and China. Born in Mumbai, he was educated as a chartered accountant in London. Upon moving to Montreal in 1962, he joined the accounting firm of Coopers and Lybrand and was appointed to partnership in 1970.

After a successful business career, Zarin Mehta joined the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal Board of Directors, and in 1981 became Managing Director of the orchestra. Under his enlightened administration, the OSM experienced unprecedented financial stability and gained national and international recognition. After close to a decade, Mr. Mehta was named Executive Director of the Ravinia Festival, the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States, later becoming its President and CEO. Among other initiatives during his tenure, he created the star-studded Jazz at Ravinia series as well as the Rising Stars program which showcases emerging talent performing recitals and chamber music. In 2000, he was appointed Executive Director, and later President, of the New York Philharmonic.

Zarin Mehta has been awarded several academic distinctions including honorary doctorates. He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 1986 and in 2012 received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.


About Author

Canadian pianist grew up in Montreal, I believe the power of music, especially that of classical music can bring people together. Member of Ladies Musical Club of Seattle, Entrepreneur, Researcher, Educator.

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