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THE SCOOP | COC Names Seven Contestants For The 2019 Ensemble Studio Competition

By Michael Vincent on October 8, 2019

The dream of seven aspiring opera singers just got a little brighter. The Canadian Opera Company has announced the annual Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competition to take place on October 30, 2019, at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

The 2019 Ensemble Studio Competition finalists are:

  • soprano Kirsten LeBlanc (Moncton, NB)
  • soprano Midori Marsh (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • soprano Charlotte Siegel (Toronto, ON)
  • mezzo-soprano Sarah Bissonnette (Boucherville, QC)
  • tenor Marcel d’Entremont (Merigomish, NS)
  • bass-baritone Alex Halliday (St. John’s, NL)
  • bass Brenden Friesen (Langham, SK)

First launched in 2011, the competition has become an important springboard for young Canadian opera singers looking to further their careers.

Ben Heppner
Host Ben Heppner, Centre Stage 2017. (Photo: Michael Cooper)

Prizes include $10,000 (first place), $3,000 (second place), and $1,500 (third place). The audience will also participate by casting a vote for the Audience Choice Award ($1,500), and the CBC Music Young Artist Development Prize, which includes a recording session to be broadcast on CBC Music’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera. The first-place winner will also get the opportunity to perform at The Elora Festival, Ontario’s annual summer celebration of song.

The seven finalists were selected from a pool of 109 applicants, 72 of which were invited to participate at the preliminary live auditions held in Calgary, Montreal and Toronto. The final round will again be hosted by opera luminary Ben Heppner, and is open to the public. Each singer will be asked to perform a single aria for the judges, accompanied by the acclaimed COC Orchestra led by COC Music Director Johannes Debus.

“The Ensemble Studio Competition is always one of the most exciting events of the season — for both the judges and the audience,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “It’s a joy and a privilege to be part of a singer’s journey from the very beginning, which is why we open up this process to the wider community.”

Judges include Jeffrey Remedios, president and CEO of Universal Music Canada, COC Director of Artistic Planning Roberto Mauro; COC Director of Access and Training Nina Draganić; Head of the COC Ensemble Studio Liz Upchurch; and Canadian soprano and the Ensemble Studio’s Head Vocal Consultant Wendy Nielsen,

CBC Music Executive Producer, Alison Howard, will select the winner of the CBC Music Young Artist Development Prize.

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Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
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Follow me

Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
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Ludwig Van Toronto

THE SCOOP | Toronto Symphony Cancels Previously Announced 2020-21 Season

By Michael Vincent on July 6, 2020

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has announced the cancellation of all previously scheduled 2020/21 season events.
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THE SCOOP | Stratford Summer Music Is Open For Business In Surprise Season Announcement With Live Events

By Michael Vincent on July 3, 2020

While Canada’s music festival season is busy moving online, The Stratford Summer Music Festival has announced they will be presenting 30 live events on Stratford Ontario’s picturesque Avon River this July and August.
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WHO'S WHO | Toronto Concert Orchestra Announces All-Virtual 2020 Summer Season

By Member on June 15, 2020

The Toronto Concert Orchestra kicks off their 2020 Summer Virtual Season inspired by the late Maestro Kerry Stratton.
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