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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 12, No. 10 July 2007


July 31, 2007

New Direction for Chamberfest

Natasha Gauthier

Three months ago, most Ottawans had never heard of Tristan Lauber. While the Montreal pianist has performed here, most notably at a 2003 gala for the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, he doesn’t have strong ties to the city. So on April 13, when the Chamber Festival announced that Lauber would be its interim artistic director, it raised a few eyebrows. After all, this isn’t just any summer job.

To recap: Julian Armour, who founded the festival 14 years ago and grew it from a modest happening to the world’s biggest celebration of chamber music, resigned in early March over differences with the board. Organizers were scrambling to fill Armour’s shoes while dealing with a public relations nightmare and trying to finish planning this summer’s edition. Enter Lauber.

“Actually, I approached the Festival,” Lauber says. “I had played there before. I had been really impressed and I thought I could help out. It’s such an important event. I called André [Laplante, one of Lauber’s teachers and a friend] and suggested we do something together, because we both believe in the festival.”

Laplante acted as artistic advisor, along with Ottawa violinist Renée-Paule Gauthier and Montreal conductor/violist Jean-Philippe Tremblay. Although Armour had already booked most of this year’s headliners, the team completed the programming in a few short weeks.

The transition hasn’t been entirely smooth. The program has been criticized for the reduced number of concerts, the heavy emphasis on solo piano, and the elimination of the two-day new music marathon. After the lineup was announced, it took several weeks for any information to be posted on the website. Benefit concerts in June by Laplante, MSO principal trumpeter Paul Merkelo and the Petits Chanteurs de Monaco were not vigorously promoted and attendance suffered (the Laplante recital conflicted not only with Game 5 of the Ottawa-Anaheim Stanley Cup playoffs, but also with a NAC Orchestra concert).

Once this year’s edition wraps up, the board will start searching for a permanent artistic director in earnest. Board Chair Colin Cooke has said he wouldn’t rule out il ritorno di Julian, but only if both sides can reach an agreement, although that appears less likely as the months pass. Cooke has also indicated that the quest for a new director would include a review of the board and its governing structure.

As for Lauber, he says that while he’s enjoying his stint in the captain’s chair, he has no plans to stay on permanently. “I’m having a blast, and everyone has been great, but it’s a ton of work,” he says. “I really want to concentrate on my performing career, and I can’t do both. This was always intended to be a temporary thing.”

The 2007 Ottawa Chamber Music Festival runs July 21-August 4. Visit

www.chamberfest.com for all the details.

Nouvelles de Concours / Competition News

• Un médecin de la ville de Birmingham, en Alabama, a gagné le concours Van Cliburn Amateurs, qui se déroulait cette année à Fort Worth, au Texas. Après des études à la Manhattan School of Music et au Conservatoire de musique de Hanovre, en Allemagne, Drew Mays avait cessé de jouer pendant quinze ans pour pratiquer la médecine et ne s’est remis à la pratique du piano qu’en 2002. Il a livré une chaude lutte à 75 participants venus de sept pays. Toutes nos félicitations!

• Durant le mois d’avril, 120 chanteurs ont participé à la quatorzième séance d’auditions nationales des Jeunes ambassadeurs lyriques, organisées par le Théâtre Lyrichorégra 20. Cette année, 21 chanteurs ont été retenus par le jury pour participer à un gala de sélection finale, qui aura lieu le 17 novembre prochain et au cours duquel des bourses et prix supplémentaires seront accordés. Parmi les chanteurs en lice se trouvent les sopranos Marianne Lambert, Émily Duncan-Brown, Caroline Bleau, Leticia Brewer, Marie-Ève Munger, Amelia Watkins (toutes des Montréalaises), Laura Albino, Allison Cecilia Arends, Farah Hack, Yannick Muriel Noah, Joslin Romphf, Whitney-Leah Sloan, Sandra Tucker et Deanne Wells. Les mezzo-sopranos finalistes sont Krista de Silva, Mireille Lebel, Erin Lawson, Lauren Phillips, Liliana Piazza et Dionne Sellinger. Deux barytons ont été choisis cette année: Clarence Logan et Marc-Antoine d’Aragon.

• 17-year-old Rozalyn Chok brought home first prize ($4000) at last May’s Bösendorfer National Piano Concerto Competition for Canadian pianists between the ages of 16 and 23. The event was organized by the Toronto Symphony Volunteer committee.


2 juillet 1714 Christoph W. Gluck (d.1787)

7 juillet 1860 Gustav Mahler (d.1911)

24 juillet 1880 Ernest Bloch (d.1959)

26 juillet 1791 F. X. Mozart (d.1844)

4 août 1901 Louis Armstrong (d.1971)

13 août 1948 Kathleen Battle

15 août 1925 Oscar Peterson

21 août 1904 Count Basie (d.1984)

22 août 1862 Claude Debussy (d.1918)

26 août 1960 Branford Marsalis

29 août 1920 Charlie Parker (d.1955)

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