CMIM Day 4 Art Song Semis – Brancy a Step Above, Final 4 Announced

Singing Valentines / Valentins chantants

All eight semifinalists of the CMIM Art Song division (in the afternoon and evening sessions) gave solid performances, demonstrating master musicianship yesterday (June 1, 2018). However, American baritone John Brancy took it to another level and stole the show.

  • Baritone Julien Van Mellaerts: When he started singing I found his voice smaller than the impression I had listening to him online in the first round. But his voice adjusted, and was able to fill the hall. La Scena’s Adrian Rodgriguez tweeted “flawless performance by Julien Van Mellaers. His Baryton martin voice was perfect for Phydilé.”
  • Soprano Irina Jae-Eun Park: I detected a bit of breathiness in Park’s voice at the beginning of her set, but after the second song, she was on her way, displaying the clear lovely tone I have admired since my prep for #CMIM2018 and her first round which I heard online. She has the ability to swell her high notes along with a true crescendo, which on occasion was a caressing wave combing my head. From Adrian: “What a beautiful voice does soprano Irina Jae-Eun has. I wish those spanish melismas were crisper.”
  • Soprano Axelle Fanyo projected well in Bourgie Hall, but I was distracted by her lack of legato. Adrian tweeted “Soprano Axelle Fanyo has a special touch for melodie. However her timber is compromised often by nasality.”
  • Mezzo Rihab Chaieb: Chaieb started her recital with an intimate performance of  Reynaldo Hahn’s L’heure exquise (Sept chansons grises); yes, she can sing softly. Adrian tweeted “Chaieb’s interpretation of l’heure exquise was exquisite. #Nopunintended.” But later, she still tended to over sing, ending over dramatic in Hugo Wolf’s “Mignon: Kennst du das Land? (Goethe-Lieder).”
  • Soprano Gemma Summerfield: Gemma Summerfield has a bright clear voice that is inviting. Her quiet passages are touching. Her vibrato is a bit quick and her fortissimo is effortful.
  • Baritone Tomi Punkeri: Punkeri shows a sensitive musician. I stand by my observation from the first round that Punkeri sounds like he sings with an egg in his throat (leaving allot of sound on the stage), and that if improves his technique, he will be a good tenor.
  • Baritone John Brancy: Brancy rode a tried and true collaboration with his pianist Peter Dugan expertly. Lots of style, and presence. I didn’t like his Erlkonig as much as most people (too much screaming), but the transition of his program from one song to the next was well thought out and done without pause. By the time he started Wolseley Charles’s “The Green-Eyed Dragon” he had the audience, myself included, in the palm of his hand.  
  • Mezzo Clara Osowski: On the other extreme, Osowski brought pure musicality and sensitivity rather than dramatics. I like the way she touched the high note in Claire de Lune. Adrian tweeted “Osowski’s voice is so pure. Like a cold breeze descending from the mountains.”

While we waited 30 minutes for the jury results, we decided to make our predictions of the 4 finalists: 


  • John Brancy
  • Clara Osowski
  • Julien Van Mellaerts
  • Rihab Chaieb

Wah Keung:

  • John Brancy
  • Clara Osowski
  • Rihab Chaieb
  • Irina Jae-Eun Park

The CBC Phantom Jury also put out their choices.

CBC Phantom Jury:

  • John Brancy,
  • Gemma Summerfield,
  • Clara Osowski
  • Julien Van Mellaerts.

REAL Jury:

After 10 PM, the jury announced the finalists in alphabetic order:

  • John Brancy
  • Clara Osowski
  • Gemma Summerfield
  • Julien Van Mellaerts.

Congratulations to the 4 finalists and to the CBC Phantom Jury for nailing it.

The Finals of the Art Song Division will be held on Sunday, June 3 at 3 PM in Bourgie Hall, Montreal. It can also be viewed live online.

Today (June 2) at 1 PM: Masterclass with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (free)


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