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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 4, No. 1

Les Notes

September 1, 1998

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  • Donna Phillips, formerly of the Manitoba Opera, is the new Executive Director of the Manitoba Choral Association.

  • Manitoba Opera's new Artistic Director is American Louis Salemno, former Music Director of the Portland, Oregon, Opera.

  • Spoleto Festival U.S.A. general director Nigel Redden, 47, is the new director of the Lincoln Center Festival in New York. He replaces John Rockwell, who recently rejoined the New York Times as editor of the newspaper's Arts and Leisure section.

  • Santa Fe Opera has chosen current SFO Artistic Administrator and Associate General Director Richard Gaddes to succeed John Crosby as General Director, effective September 30, 2000.

  • The Lysy-Lortie-Berick Trio has been dissolved, citing incompatible schedules. Pianist Louis Lortie lives in Berlin, Antonio Lysy in Ottawa.

  • Countertenor madness has seized the major labels. EMI has signed American divo David Daniels, who will star in the COC's Xerxes next January. EMI will release his first disc in October. Brian Asawa already belongs to BMG. Germany's Andreas Scholl was recently lured away from harmonia mundi by London/Decca.

  • Will Canadian tenor Jon Vickers finally get a long-overdue Governor General's Award this autumn ?

  • The 1998-99 roster of Canadian operatic company apprenticeship programs are / Les nouveaux stagiares des ateliers lyriques canadiennes pour la saison 1998-1999 sont: Canadian Opera Company Studio Ensemble: coach Kate Carver, tenor Michael Colvin, bass Alain Coulombe, mezzos Liesel Fedkenheuer & Krisztina Szabó, soprano Tamara Hummel, baritone Andrew Tees & conductor Judith Yan. L'Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal : sopranos Stephanie Brill, Melanie Esseltine & Marie-Annie Simoneau; mezzo Dina Martire; ténors Marc Hervieux & Éric Laport; baryton Sergei Stilmachenk; mise en scène Julie De Grandpré; répetiteur Claude Webster. Vancouver Opera Studio Ensemble: soprano Karen Wierzba, mezzo Marie-Ann Kowan, tenor John Tessier & baritone Gregory Dahl.

Competitions, Prizes, Awards, Auditions

  • The Miro String Quartet won the 6th Banff International String Quartet competition in August. Daniel Ching, (first violin) Sandy Yamamoto (second violin), John Largess (viola) and Joshua Gindele (cello) will split the $20,000 prize. The Miro Quartet also won a $2,000 prize for its outstanding interpretation of the 11-minute String Quartet No. 3 commissioned by the CBC from Chan Ka Nin. The Quatuor Castagneri [France], second-prize winner, takes home $12,000. The Belcea Quartet [London, UK] pockets $8,000 and the Avalon String Quartet [U.S.A.] won $5,000 as fourth prize. The finals will air on La Chaine culturelle on Radio-Canada in September. The 7th Banff International String Quartet Competition will take place August 27 to Sept 2, 2001.

  • The National Association of Teachers of Singing of America competition was held in Toronto in July. First prize went to soprano Debra Wilke, second prize to soprano Katarina Tchoubar, third prize to mezzo Perri Wagner. Also impressive was Michelle Areyzaga. Other winners included mezzo Tina Milhorn and soprano Sarah Pelletier.

  • Pianist Richard Raymond, 32, a New Brunswick native now living in Longueuil, Quebec, won second prize at the William Kapell International Piano Competition in Philadelphia. Raymond is artist in residence at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) this fall.

  • Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian made a surprise debut as Pamina in Mozart's Magic Flute and won the second annual Marilyn Horne Foundation Award at the Santa Barbara, California, Music Academy of the West in July. The Horne award includes a New York recital to be broadcast on New York's WQXR classical radio station. Bayrakdarian is expected to make her Montreal debut at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival in May, 1999.

  • Pianist Anton Kuerti and tenor Richard Verreau were named Officers of the Order of Canada. Conductor Georg Tintner, acclaimed for his recent recordings of Bruckner symphonies on the Naxos label , was named Member of the Order of Canada.


  • German baritone Hermann Prey, 69, on July 19 in Munich.

  • Italian conductor Lamberto Gardelli, 83, on July 24.

  • Henry Butler, 79, opera director and librettist for Martin Levy's opera of Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra.

  • Italian dramatic soprano Ilva Ligabue, 67, in Milan.

  • Wanda Toscanini Horowitz, daughter of conductor Arturo Toscanini and widow of pianist Vladimir Horowitz, 90, on Aug. 21, in New York.


  • The American Musicological Society (AMS) will hold their 64th annual meeting in Boston, October 28-November 1. Der Stein Der Weisen (The Philosopher's Stone), an opera partially attributed to Mozart, will be performed by the Boston Baroque in Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory of Music, October 30, 8 p.m. and November 1, 3 p.m. The URL for the meeting is: www.bu.edu/sfa/AMS98/

  • The Canadian Opera Company named Toronto-based architects A.J. Diamond, Donald Schmidtt and Company architects for their new 2100-seat opera house. The COC season opens in Toronto's Hummingbird Centre with Bellini's Norma on Sept. 24. With the participation of Altamira and EMI Classics, the COC has issued Operafare, a compilation of tracks from operas to be performed during their 98-99 season. The selections were chosen by COC Artistic Manager Phil Boswell from a list supplied by EMI. Altamira paid for the pressing. Proceeds from the $10 CD will benefit the Feed the Children foundation.

  • Since the Toronto-based entertainment company Livent was bought by Disney executive Mike Ovitz last spring, there has been nothing but bad news. Accountants investigating Livent's book-keeping have alleged "serious irregularities," warranting an audit going back several years. Meanwhile, Livent stock was frozen by major stock exchanges and Livent founder Garth Drabinsky was suspended. Livent leases North York's Ford Centre for the Performing Arts from the City of Toronto. In the Ford Centre's George Weston Recital Hall, Livent presents Canada's largest classical music season, with over 60 events. Their 1998-1999 season begins Sept. 24 with Catherine Malfitano, soprano. No word from the Ford Centre whether Livent's problems will affect classical music programming.

  • The J.-Armand-Bombardier Foundation will give the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal $ 200,000 for the 1998-1999 season. This will more than replace the funding lost when Pierre Péladeau died in December 1997. Péladeau was widely regarded as the saviour of the Orchestre Métropolitain and basked in his public image as a philanthropist and classical music lover. Since his death it has been revealed that his generosity amounted to little more than one rent-free office and complimentary printing of the orchestra's programs. Little cash exchanged hands, and Péladeau's tax-deductible, in-kind gift probably amounted to less than $100,000 per year. The Péladeau family controls Canada's largest printing empire, with gross revenues of $7 billion in 1997. Pierre Péladeau's heirs are not renewing their father's minimal support of the Orchestre Métropolitain.

  • The Toronto Symphony Orchestra made a killing on Bre-X shares last December when it sold a block of donated stock at $22 per share for a profit of $253,000. Six months later Bre-X went bankrupt and the shares became worthless.

  • Following the exchange of bitter press releases between the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the musicians' union in July, and two cancelled concerts, labour negotiations are still problematic. Despite the intervention of a mediator, the musicians may still strike before their first concert of the season on Sept. 18.

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