The usual suspects did not take home the honours at the 2023 JUNO Awards, given to the winners at the opening night of the awards weekend on March 12, underscoring the depth of talent in Canada’s classical music industry.
Here’s a look at the four classical music categories. The winners appear in bold.
Classical album of the year (solo artist)
- Winner of the 18th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition Warsaw 2021, Bruce Liu
- Prokofiev: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1, David Jalbert
- La Zingarella: Through Romany Songland, Isabel Bayrakdarian
- Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, James Ehnes
- Fables, Philip Chiu
Philip Chiu has worked his way towards becoming one of the country’s leading pianists. The Montreal-based performer is familiar to Toronto stages through his many appearances on various stages. He is as well known for his solo work as he is for his work with chamber ensembles, and other artists, including work with James Ehnes, Raphael Wallfisch, Patrice Fontanarosa, Regis Pasquier, and Matt Haimovitz, among others. Philip will be performing in this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival in multiple concerts.
Classical album of the year (large ensemble)
- Clara – Robert – Johannes: Lyrical Echoes, Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Shelley
- Handel: Messiah, HWV 56, Ensemble Caprice, Ensemble Vocal Arts-Quebec, conducted by Matthias Maute, featuring Karina Gauvin
- Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen – Arvo Pärt: Symphonie No. 4, ‘Los Angeles,’ I Musici de Montréal, conducted by Jean-Marie Unitize
- Viola Borealis, Orchestre de l’Agora, conducted by Nicolas Ellis, featuring Marina Thibeault
- Radiant Dawn: Music for Advent and Christmas, The Elora Singers, conducted by Mark Vuorinen
Led by rising star conductor Nicolas Ellis, l’Orchestre de l’Agora (OA) is an organization with a mission to use music as a means of social change — along with, naturally, innovative repertoire. Maestro Ellis founded the orchestra in 2013 to draw on rich classical music talent among young professionals in the Montreal area. OA recently won an Opus prize for Musical Event of the Year for their June 2022 concert of Mahler’s 3rd.
Violist Marina Thibeault is an ATMA Classique recording artist as well as a sought after soloist and concert artist. She has performed throughout Canada as well as internationally, and her recordings have been nominated for an Opus as well as ADISQ prizes in previous years.
Classical album of the year (small ensemble)
- Nagamo, Andrew Balfour and musica intima
- Hemsi: Chamber Works, ARC Ensemble
- Vagues et ombres, collectif9
- Early Italian Cello Concertos, Elinor Frey and Rosa Barocca, conducted by Claude Lapalme
- De la cour de Louis XIV à Shippagan! Chants traditionnels acadiens et airs de cour du XVIIe siècle, Suzie LeBlanc, Marie Nadeau-Tremblay, Vincent Lauzer, and Sylvain Bergeron
Cellist Elinor Frey holds degrees from McGill, Mannes, and Juilliard, and adds gambist and researcher to her CV. She has an extensive recording history on the Belgian label Passacaille as well as Analekta, produced in collaboration with leading artists and scholars.
Led by conductor Claude Laplame, Rosa Barocca is an Alberta-based orchestra devoted to historically-informed performance of Baroque music on period instruments.
Classical composition of the year
- An Overall Augmented Sense of Well-being, Anthony Tan
- Bestiary I & II, Bekah Simms
- The Black Fish, Keyan Emami
- Prayers for Ruins, Nicole Lizée
- Supervillain Études, Vincent Ho
Toronto-based composer Bekah Simms has produced work in a variety of media, including commissions for Esprit Orchestra, and Duo Concertante, among others. Her pieces have been performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and featured in the RCM’s 21C Festival.
Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.
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