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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 13, No. 6


by Graham Lord / March 2, 2008

Vocal Competition Results

The latest results from the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques competition are in: the program offers opportunities for auditions, competitions, and engagements with professional companies, particularly in Europe. Among them were Canadian singers Yanick Muriel Noah, Marie-Eve Munger, Allison Cecilia Arends, Mireille Lebel, Marianne Lambert, Laura Albino, Maria Lambroula Pappas, Chinese singers Lian Liu, Zhengzhong Zhou, French soprano Maud Darizcuren, Korean baritone Changhan Lin, and Czech baritone Philip Banzak. One of the major components of the event was the 9th International Czech and Slovakian Montreal Music Competition, which saw Canada fare very well: taking first prize was Vancouver soprano Simone Osborne, while second went to Montreal soprano Leticia Brewer. Rounding out the top five prizewinners were Hungarian soprano Adrienne Miks (third), Chinese baritone Gang Song (fourth), and Slovakian baritone Daniel Capkovic (fifth). The jury for this competition was comprised of several directors from well-known opera companies throughout Europe and North America, providing excellent real-life experience for the young singers. The next round of auditions, which will be held in Montreal on April 11-12, Toronto on April 13-14, and Vancouver on April 15. Registration documents from applicants must be postmarked by March 24. Contact 514-684-7287 for more information.

It should also be noted that the competition’s winner, Simone Osborne, was recently selected as one of five winners of the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions on February 24. The 21-year-old soprano, currently studying at the University of British Columbia, won a $15,000 cash prize as well as a remarkable boost for her young career.

Canada Council for the Arts: New Initiatives

February saw the national arts council release their action plan for the upcoming three fiscal years, entitled Moving Forward - Strategic Plan 2008-11: Values and Directions. This comes in response to the federal government’s announcement of an ongoing $30-million increase, which brings the annual investment in the Council to over $180 million. Roughly $20 million of the new allocations will go to established arts organizations, the bulk of which will increase the budgets of operating grant programs. The council described “quality, stability, and resilience of arts organizations” as key considerations in this field. Also, nearly $5 million in new funding will go to individual artist grants. Equity funding for minority community artists was also seen as one of the key directions in the plan. Just over 80% of the total increase will go directly to grants, while the remaining $6 million will be allocated to the Council’s service and administration capacities. The CCA cites a vast increase in grant applications and a significant reduction in staff over the last decade or so, and hopes this increase will assist in “enhancing its capacities as an organization, increasing opportunities for staff to engage with the artistic community across Canada.”

Herbert von Karajan Centenary

2008 marks the centenary of Herbert von Karajan’s birth, which has spawned a great effort by major record labels (naturally, Deutsche Grammophon in particular) to release previously unheard recordings and re-release the more popular elements of his remarkable recording legacy in box set form. With almost 900 albums to his name, Karajan once accounted for 1/3 of DG’s entire source of revenue. From his unparalleled tenure with the Berlin Philharmonic (who made him their musical director for life), to his crucial role in developing the original compact disc format in the 1980s, to, of course, his remarkable career in concert and on recordings, he leaves a remarkable legacy in the classical music world. He was rightfully described by the New York Times as “probably the world’s best-known conductor and one of the most powerful figures in classical music” in his obituary. The rise of his career in Germany from 1933-1945, however, has raised some questions about his ties to the Nazi party. Some have argued that this connection was nothing more than tactics in an effort to advance his career, while others have suggested his motives were, in fact, political. Norman Lebrecht, in a recent LSM blog post, criticized his dislike of modern music, sameness across a variety of musical styles, and expressed his displeasure at the outpouring of major label releases that commemorate the centenary. Please check out www.scena.org/blog for this commentary, and remember: we’d like to hear from you on this issue; please feel free to comment.

March Birthdays

March 1, 1810 Frédéric Chopin (d. 1849)
March 2, 1824 Bedich Smetana (d. 1884)
March 3, 1944 Florence Quivar
March 4, 1678 Antonio Vivaldi (d. 1741)
March 5, 1887 Heitor Villa-Lobos (d. 1959)
March 6, 1944 Kiri Te Kanawa
March 7, 1875 Maurice Ravel (d. 1937)
March 8, 1714 Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (d. 1788)
March 9, 1910 Samuel Barber (d. 1981)
March 10, 1892 Arthur Honegger (d. 1955)
March 11, 1897 Henry Cowell (d. 1965)
March 12, 1710 Thomas Arne (d. 1778)
March 13, 1860 Hugo Wolf (d. 1903)
March 14, 1681 Georg Philipp Telemann (d. 1767)
March 15, 1835 Eduard Strauss (d. 1916)
March 16, 1924 Christa Ludwig
March 17, 1805 Manuel Garcia II (d. 1906)
March 18, 1844 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (d. 1908)
March 19, 1907 Elizabeth Maconchy (d. 1994)
March 20, 1890 Beniamino Gigli (d. 1957)
March 21, 1685 Johann Sebastian Bach (d. 1750)
March 22, 1842 Carl Rosa (d. 1889)
March 23, 1826 Léon Minkus (d. 1917)
March 24, 1808 Maria Malibran (d. 1836)
March 25, 1867 Arturo Toscanini (d. 1957)
March 26, 1925 Pierre Boulez
March 27, 1927 Mstislav Rostropovich (d. 2007)
March 28, 1942 Samuel Ramey
March 29, 1902 William Walton (d. 1983)
March 30, 1872 Sergei Vasilenko (d. 1956)
March 31, 1732 Franz Josef Haydn (d. 1809)
compiled by Susan Callaghan
visit http://blog.scena.org

LSM Intermezzo Club Contest

Congratulations to our latest contest winner, Ronald Flanagan! He has won a selection of CDs from the ATMA label featuring clarinetist André Moisan, LSM’s February cover artist. Congrats are also in order for other recent Intermezzo club winners Georges Kelly (a box set by pianist Radu Lupu, LSM’s December 2007 featured artist) and Kuniko Matsuo (season tickets to l’Opéra de Montréal). Next up is a double disc set from Naxos covering the violin works of Nikolay Medtner by this month’s featured artists, violinist Laurence Kayaleh and pianist Paul Stewart. LSM holds monthly draws for its subscribers; lucky club members will receive CDs, DVDs, tickets, and more! Subscribers also receive discounts for concerts (MSO, Opéra de Montréal, etc.), Archambault purchases, and selected theatre tickets. For more information on LSM subscriptions, call 514-948-2520.

(c) La Scena Musicale