What’s not to like about a group of twenty-somethings performing the music of a twenty-something, for their fellow twenty-somethings? The Classical Music Consort got Toronto audiences buzzing last summer with its Underground /Opera production of Orlando Lunaire, and will be once again delivering the goods with its 2011 Second Annual Springtime Handel Festival.Alongside the Toronto premiere of 22-year-old Handel’s first oratorio will be a national singing competition for young Handelians under the age of 30. Six young singers have been carefully selected to take part in the festival’s final concert, competing for a $2,000 cash prize in front of an illustrious panel and a discerning audience.
You are invited to attend the competition tonight, Sunday May 8, at 8pm, Trinity College Chapel, University of Toronto. This should be a very exciting competition and performance, especially if the singers offer up some infrequently performed Handelian jewels. The competition will be adjudicated by a distinguished panel of Canadian artists, professors and artistic directors that includes Dr. Darryl Edwards Head of Vocal Studies, University of Toronto; Shannon Mercer Soprano; Stephen Ralls Artistic Director, Aldeburgh Connection; Wayne Strongman Managing Artistic Director, Tapestry New Opera; Ivars Taurins Director Tafelmusik Chamber Choir; Ashiq Aziz, conductor, Classical Music Consort.
Now for the singers, the six finalists represent Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, and are quite varied in their musical specialization and experience. Some are early music artists, concert singers, and opera singers. Most have received scholarships and endowments in the past. The six finalists include soprano Johane Ansell (ON); soprano Dawn Bailey (ON); Lesley Bouza (ON); soprano Hélène Brunet (QC); soprano Megan Chartrand(AB); baritone Keith Lam (ON). Follow this link to listen to a recent interview Ashiq Aziz, Conductor and Artistic Director of Classical Music Consort and Underground/Opera gave on CBC Radio 2’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera with Bill Richardson about the CMC Handel Festival.
Baritone Keith Lam’s most recent engagements include the production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito with Opera Atelier and Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra & Chamber Choir. Last summer, he appeared in the role of Schaunard (La Bohème) at Highlands Opera Studio. Among his other operatic roles, highlights have included the title role of John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, Dr. Falke (Die Fledermaus), Nireno (Giulio Cesare), Der Lautsprecher (Der Kaiser von Atlantis), and Dr. Dulcamara (L’Elisir d’Amore). As a concert soloist, he had appeared in Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Faure’s Requiem, and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs. Mr. Lam makes frequent appearances with the Opera Atelier, Aradia Ensemble, Opera in Concert, and Toronto Operetta Theatre. Also an active performer of Canadian music, his repertoire includes Blanchet in Charles Wilson’s Kamouraska, Phillip in the recent revival of Telgmann’s Leo, the Royal Cadet and John Estacio’s Frobisher. This coming summer, Mr. Lam is returning to the Banff Summer Arts Festival to perform the role of Sergei in Estacio’s newly written opera Lillian Alling. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Mr. Lam continues his vocal study with renounced Canadian baritone John Fanning. He is an alumnus of The Banff Centre’s Opera as Theatre program, Opera NUOVA, and Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute.
A native of Edmonton, Alberta, soprano Dawn Bailey currently resides in Montreal. She has appeared with many of Canada’s leading early music ensembles, including Tafelmusik, the Toronto Consort, Les Violons du Roy, the Theatre of Early Music, and le Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montreal. Last summer, she was the winner of the Prix de Publique at the Lameque International Baroque Music Festival competition in New Brunswick. Equally at ease on the concert and the operatic stage, Dawn’s recent roles have included Venere in Cavalli’s Doriclea and Elizabeth in Andrew Ager’s Frankenstein. Some highlights from the past season’s concert engagements include the Praetorius Christmas Vespers and the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers with the Toronto Consort, Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri with the Toronto Chamber Choir, and Handel’s cantata Il Delirio Amoroso with the Classical Music Consort. When she is not singing, Dawn teaches yoga and meditation.
Soprano Hélène Brunet has just completed a masters degree in early music at the University of Montreal, under the supervision of Suzie Leblanc, Alexander Weimann and Catherine Sévigny. She is currently studying with Daniel Taylor at the Music Conservatory of Montreal. Over the past few years, she has had the opportunity to study with highly reputed musicians on the early music scene, most notably with Luc Beauséjour, Charles Daniels, Emma Kirkby, Margaret Little and Max Van Egmond. In July 2010, she performed the role of Maddalena in Handel’s La Resurrezione conducted by American Bach Soloists’ Jeffrey Thomas in San Francisco. Last fall, she joined Montreal’s early music ensembles SMAM (Christopher Jackson) in Biber’s Vespers and Les Voix Baroques (Alexander Weimann) in Oratorios by Carissimi. Hélène sang in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Montreal Music Conservatory Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Raffi Armenian, and was also heard last March in Bach’s Easter Oratorio, conducted by Louis Lavigueur. In April, she was invited to sing Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at Paul Halley’s Kings at the Cathedral concert series in Nova Scotia. Hélène will also have the pleasure to perform Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate with Orchestre de la Francophonie at Palais Montcalm in Quebec city next July.
Lesley Bouza is a graduate of The University of Guelph where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in music as a saxophone major. During her time at Guelph Lesley discovered an interest in singing and chose to pursue her post‐graduate studies in voice at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, Wales, where she earned her Artist Diploma. Lesley is a versatile singer who is equally comfortable performing jazz, classical and opera. In the past few years her engagements have included touring Taiwan with the Swingle Singers, participating in Summer programs such as the Welsh National Opera’s youth production, Summer Opera Lyric Theatre in Toronto and the Tafelmusik Summer Baroque Institute. In January 2011 Lesley performed in the Canadian Premiere of Haydn’s opera, La fedeltà premiata, with Opera in Concert. She has appeared as a soloist with The Nathanial Dett Chorale, The Elora Festival Singers, The Grand River Chorus, The University of Guelph Choirs and Arcady.
One of Canada’s most exciting young sopranos, Johane Ansell is quickly establishing herself as a versatile performer of both opera and concert repertoire. This season Johane looks forward to appearing with the Choeur Polyphonique de Charlevoix, Québec as the solois t in their presentation of Die Schöpfung by Haydn. She will also be the feature soloist in the Canadian premiere of two magnificent works: Ēriks Ešenvalds’ contemporary oratorio Passion and Resurrection and Howard Goodall’s Eternal Light: a Requiem, both of which she will perform with the Orpheus Choir of Toronto, under the direction of Robert Cooper. This summer Ms. Ansell has been invited to join the Highlands Opera Studio Young Artist Program in Haliburton, Ontario where she will work with an exciting faculty including Valerie Kuinka and Richard Margison. With Highlands Opera she will be performing the role of Mrs Gobineau in Menotti’s opera The Medium as well as covering the role of Nanetta in Verdi’s Falstaff. Recent opera credits include the role of Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring, by Benjamin Britten, under the direction of Robert Herriot and Judith Yan at Opera on the Avalon, the title role in Handel’s Alcina with the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop, and Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, which she covered for Orchestra London with Timothy Nelson and Timothy Vernon. Other opera credits include Clorinda in Rossini’s Cenerentola, with Saskatoon Opera’s school tour, Nanetta in Verdi’s Falstaff with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre in Toronto, Laurie in Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land at Opera NUOVA, and Erste Knabe in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with Kitchener Opera. Originally from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Ms. Ansell completed a Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Toronto as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Saskatchewan. She recently won the Ann Owen (Nancy) Goodfellow Scholarship Competition and was awarded the Art Vogt Memorial Scholarship. Ms. Ansell also received the Richard Bradshaw Graduate Fellowship in Opera, Eleanor and Gerald Copeland graduate Fellowship, the Sister Boyle Award to the most outstanding competitor of the provincial festival, SK, and multiple grants from the Saskatchewan Arts Council. Currently she resides in Toronto where she studies with John Fanning.
Albertan soprano, Megan Chartrand’s love and enthusiasm for early music continues to grow with every passing year. As a soloist, she has sung with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, Pro Coro Canada, VoiceScapes and the U of A Madrigal Singers. She has participated in the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, the Victoria Conservatory Vocal Oratory Program, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and most recently, the Early Music Vancouver Baroque Vocal Programme. She graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance in 2010, studying with Jolaine Kerley and in September she will begin a Masters of Music at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.