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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
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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. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years 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
Follow me
Michael Vincent
Follow me

Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years 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 | National Ballet Of Canada Basks In Operating Surplus For 10th Consecutive Season

By Anya Wassenberg on October 16, 2019

In contrast with many arts institutions in Toronto, and across Canada, the National Ballet of Canada recently announced that it had achieved an operating surplus for the 2018/19 season. This marks the 10th consecutive year when the organization's financial operations have landed firmly in the black.
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SCRUTINY | Splendid Voices Augur Well For New COC Season In Ensemble Studio Concert

By Joseph So on September 21, 2019

After a summer of slim pickings regarding opera in the GTA, the lyric season is once again upon us. As a starter, the COC is introducing its new edition of the Ensemble Studio in a noon hour concert at the opera house. In its nearly forty-year history, the Ensemble Studio has nurtured many a Canadian talent, with many going on to significant careers.
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PRIMER | Leipzig Coffee House Meets Toronto’s 1960s Yorkville Folk Scene In Tafelmusik’s Café Counterculture

By Hye Won Cecilia Lee on October 2, 2019

Tafelmusik Oboist Marco Cera, jazz musician/arranger Andrew Downing, and singer Alex Samaras talk about putting together Haus Musik: Café Counterculture
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