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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 20, No. 6 April 2015

Industry News

by Shira Gilbert / April 1, 2015

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James Ehnes


Juno Awards in four Classical music categories were handed out on March 14 in Hamilton. In the Classical album of the year, solo or chamber ensemble category, Manitoba-born violinist James Ehnes collected his 10th Juno for his third volume of chamber works by Bartok on the Chandos label. The award for large ensemble or soloist went to pianist Angela Hewitt and the National Arts Centre Orchestra, conducted by Hannu Lintu, for their album, Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos, 22 & 24 on Hyperion – beating out impressive offerings from Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Orchestre Metropolitain and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and their star music directors. The top vocal or choral performance went to Gerald Finley and Julius Drake for their interpretation of Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise, also on Hyperion. Finally, Toronto-based composer Brian Current was awarded Classical composition of the year for his chamber opera Airline Icarus, recorded on the Naxos label.

One Canadian is among the 24 young competitors from 13 countries selected to participate in the first Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival taking place in June in Fort Worth, Texas. Tony Yike Yang, a 16-year-old from Toronto currently studying at the Juilliard School, has already won several major prizes, notably the 2014 Cooper International Piano Competition, which included a performance with the Cleveland Orchestra. There is also one Canadian, pianist John Kimura Parker, on the competition Jury. The young pianists, all between the ages of 13 and 17, will compete for the $10,000 first prize in addition to several other awards and scholarships.

The third biennial Christina and Louis Quilico Awards Vocal Competition took place in February in Toronto. The competition, open only to singers of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, awarded the $5,000 first prize to soprano Karine Boucher, from Quebec City, with second and third prizes going to bass-baritone Gordon Bintner and mezzo Charlotte Burrage, respectively. Canadian opera star Louis Quilico shared the stage with Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, José Carreras, Joan Sutherland and Renata Tebaldi. He died in 2000.

Conductors in the News

The Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra has announced that Eric Paetkau will be its next Music Director. The Juno-winning founder of the Toronto-based group of 27, Paetkau has conducted several other Canadian orchestras and held the position of Resident Conductor with the Violons du Roy. As a violist, Paetkau was a member of the Nuremburg Symphony in Germany, and has played with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, among others.

The Philadelphia Orchestra announced at the end of January that it had extended the contract of its Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin though the 2021-22 season.  This takes the Montreal star out of the running for the Music Director position at the New York Philharmonic, a role to be vacated by Alan Gilbert in 2017, as was announced last month. And in other major conductor news, Sir Simon Rattle will step up to the podium as the new Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra in 2017, following his departure from Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra where he has been since 2002.

Wonny Song will take on the position of Artistic Director of the Orford Arts Centre this summer and will lead the programming for the 2016 season. The Canadian pianist has given recitals around the world and has performed with such ensembles as the Cincinnati Symphony, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and Korea’s Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra, among numerous others. Jean-François Rivest remains at the helm of the 2015 edition of the Orford Festival and Academy.

The Orchestre de la Francophonie (OF) has announced the appointment of Daphne Bisson to the position of Executive Director. A graduate of HEC Montreal and the Schulich School of Music of McGill University, Dr. Bisson has previously worked with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada. The OF’s 2015 season features 80 musicians from over 30 countries of the Francophonie and the Americas.

In Memoriam

Joan Thelma Watson, principal horn of the Canadian Opera Company and a renowned soloist and pedagogue, died on March 12 at the age of 61 at her home in Owen Sound, Ontario.

Miklós Takács, a former director of the Chœur de l’Université du Québec à Montréal for almost 40 years, died in February at the age of 82. Born in Hungary, Takács was hired by UQÀM shortly after his arrival in Quebec in 1973 and was an associate professor in the music department. A fervent promoter of the Kodály method of musical instruction, Takács was the recipient of a Governor General’s award as well as the Pro Cultura Hungarica prize from his native country.

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