News Releases - 2005
Isabel Bayrakdarian, Judy Kang, Michèle Losier and Peter McGillivray win Canada Council music prizes
Ottawa, June 22, 2005 – Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, violinist Judy Kang, mezzo-soprano Michèle Losier and baritone Peter McGillivray are the winners of three Canada Council for the Arts prizes for young Canadian musicians.
Isabel Bayrakdarian is the winner of the 2005 Virginia Parker Prize. The Virginia Parker Prize, worth $25,000, was established in 1982 by Virginia Parker Moore. Moved by her profound love of music and the recognition that talented young musicians need such a prize to help them take a leap forward in their careers, the late Mrs. Moore established the prize for young performers of classical music under the age of 32, who demonstrate outstanding talent and musicianship. Previous winners have included Jon Kimura Parker, Karina Gauvin, Martin Beaver, Michael Schade, James Ehnes, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Stewart Goodyear, Julie-Anne Derome and Jasper Wood.
Judy Kang and Michèle Losier are this year’s winners of the Sylva Gelber Foundation Award, established in 1981 by the late Sylva Gelber of Ottawa. The award is given to the most talented candidates under the age of 30 in the Council’s Grants to Professional Musicians competition, classical music category. Ms. Kang will receive $15,000, and Ms. Losier will receive $10,000. Judy Kang and Michèle Losier join the ranks of previous winners including David Jalbert, Jasper Wood, Jon Kimura Parker, Marc-André Hamelin, Stewart Goodyear, Jessica Linnebach, Alexandre Da Costa, Kaori Yamagami and Jocelyne Roy.
Peter McGillivray is the winner of the $5,000 Bernard Diamant Prize, which offers professional Canadian classical singers under the age of 35 an opportunity to pursue their career through further studies. The prize was created in 2001 with funds from a generous bequest to the Canada Council by the late Bernard Diamant, as well as through memorial gifts from a number of his friends, colleagues and former voice students. It is awarded in addition to a regular Canada Council grant to an outstanding young classical singer in the Council’s annual competition for Grants to Professional Musicians, classical music category. He is the third winner of the Bernard Diamant Prize; the others were Measha Brueggergosman and Shannon Mercer.
The four winners were selected by an independent peer assessment committee consisting of violinist and teacher Barbara McDougall (Victoria, BC); organist, harpsichordist and pianist Jeremy Spurgeon (Edmonton, AB); composer and conductor Gilles Bellemare (Trois-Rivières, QC); and mezzo-soprano Kimberley Barber (Kitchener, ON).
Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano
Admired as much for her stunning stage presence as for her uncommon musicality, soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian has followed a career path wholly her own. She holds an honours degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Toronto. She has successfully combined an international operatic career with a schedule that includes recitals, orchestral concerts and film projects. Ms. Bayrakdarian has performed recitals in New York’s Carnegie Hall and has appeared with the San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Minnesota symphony orchestras, and at home with Tafelmusik, Les Violons de Roy and with every major Canadian orchestra. Having moved to Canada as a teenager – she now lives in Toronto – Ms. Bayrakdarian is as proud of her Armenian heritage as she is of her Canadian nationality.
As a recording artist, Ms. Bayrakdarian can be heard on the soundtrack of the movie The Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers and the Canadian film Ararat. In June 2004, she performed and recorded Mahler’s Second Symphony with the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. Ms. Bayrakdarian has released three solo recordings, most recently the critically acclaimed collection of songs by singer/composer Pauline Viardot-Garcia, released in January 2005 by Analekta.
Isabel Bayrakdarian has been applauded in the opera houses of Salzburg, Paris, Chicago, Toronto, and elsewhere for her portrayals of such Mozart roles as Susanna (Nozze di Figaro), Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Pamina (Magic Flute) and is equally renowned for her work in some of the more remote corners of the repertory, like Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini and Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge – both at the Metropolitan Opera. She has also portrayed such heroines as Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), Romilda (Xerxes) and Emilia (Flavio) in Brussels, Paris and Dresden. Another signature part for Ms. Bayrakdarian is Rosina in Rossini’s Barber of Seville, a role she has recently sung at Chicago Lyric Opera and at the Canadian Opera Company.
Judy Kang, violinist
Judy Kang first gained attention at the age of 10 for her critically-acclaimed performance with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. The following year, she was accepted on full scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music and received a Bachelor’s degree when she was 17, one of the youngest graduates in the school’s history. She received her Master’s degree from Juilliard and became the first graduate of the Artist Diploma program at the Manhattan School of Music.
Ms. Kang has performed with major orchestras and ensembles in Canada and abroad, including the Toronto Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Sinfonia Toronto, l'Orchestre Métropolitain,Quebec Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Puchon Philharmonic, and the Euro-Asian Philharmonic. Ms. Kang made her debut in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall to critical acclaim. An avid chamber musician, she has been invited to festivals in Canada and around the world and has conducted master classes in Barbados and Canada. Ms. Kang has also worked with renowned composers Leon Kirchner, Alexander Goehr, Richard Danielpour, and Pierre Boulez.
Judy Kang has garnered numerous awards and honours, including top prizes at major competitions such as the CBC National Competition for young Performers, the Dong-A International Competition, Naumburg International Competition and the Kreisler International Violin Competition. In September 2003, she won the loan of the c. 1696 Palmason Januarius violin in the Canada Council’s Musical Instrument Bank competition. Ms. Kang has recorded two solo CDs which received wide acclaim and have been nominated for awards. She is frequently heard on national and international radio. In recognition of her outstanding achievements and contribution to the arts, Ms. Kang will be featured as an accomplished artist and inspiration in a book entitled Korea and Canada: A Shared History. Formerly of Edmonton, she currently lives in New York.
Michèle Losier, mezzo-soprano
Mezzo-soprano Michèle Losier, who grew up in St-Isidore, NB, and now lives in Montreal, made her European debut at l’Opéra d’Avignon in the role of Dorabella (Così fan tutte) in 2002. This role led to further engagements in France over the next two years including performances of Zerlina (Don Giovanni) at l’Opéra de Nancy in December 2003. Since 2003, Ms. Losier has been a member of the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, a two-year young artists program. She performed Cherubino for l’Opéra de Montréal’s main stage production Le Nozze di Figaro, as well as Hänsel in the Atelier lyrique’s production of Hänsel und Gretel, which toured the Atlantic provinces in the fall of 2003.
Ms. Losier has performed a repertoire ranging from early music to contemporary compositions in recitals in Britain, France and Italy, as well as in Quebec and New Brunswick. Her interest in modern music led her to perform with some of Montreal’s most renowned modern ensembles, including the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne with Lorraine Vaillancourt, the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal with Véronique Lacroix and the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble with Denys Bouliane.
She is a recipient of many scholarships and grants from McGill University, the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation, the Art Foundation of Laval, the Montreal Musicians’ Guild (Maureen Forrester Grant), the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts. In 2000, she won the first prize at the Journées de la musique française and was the winner of the Canadian Music Competition the following year. More recently, Ms. Losier won first prize in French songs and third prize in opera at the International Singing Competition in Marmande, France, and second prize at the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal competition. She recently sang with the Metropolitan Opera on the main stage during the Met Audition Final Concert and performed Mercedes in the main stage production of Carmen at l’Opéra de Montréal.
Michèle Losier will perform Cherubino during the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco for the summer. She will subsequently pursue her studies under Marlena Malas at the Juilliard Opera Center in New York City in the fall. In November 2005, she will be performing Lazuli in Chabrier’s L’Étoile with the Opéra de Montréal.
Peter McGillivray, baritone
Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and raised in Newmarket, Ontario, Peter McGillivray is an emerging Canadian star of both the concert and the operatic stage. Recently, he received the Second Grand Prix as well as the Jean Chalmers Award for Best Canadian Performance at the 2005 Montreal International Musical Competition. In 2003, Mr. McGillivray was awarded first prize in the vocal category as well as the People’s Choice award at the 32nd CBC National Competition for Young Performers in Calgary.
As a member of the Ensemble Studio of the Canadian Opera Company, Mr. McGillivray made his professional debut as Aeneas in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and as Schlendrian in a staged production of Bach’s Coffee Cantata in 2003. Performances this past season at the Canadian Opera Company include Sid and the Vicar in Britten’s Albert Herring, and Schaunard in Puccini's La Bohème. Last summer he was seen as Demetrius in a critically acclaimed production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Tanglewood Festival in Massachusetts. Highlights of this season included a recital tour of the Maritime provinces with Debut Atlantic; recitals in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Saskatoon and Ottawa; as well as engagements with Calgary Philharmonic and Regina Symphony Orchestras.
Peter McGillivray is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Opera Division where he was a student of soprano Lynn Blaser and mezzo-soprano Patricia Kern. He also holds an honours degree in Canadian History and Literature from the University of Toronto. Having previously performed at the Ravinia, Aldeburgh and Aspen Music Festivals, he has also been a finalist and prize winner at the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, at the Lotte Lenya Singing Competition and at the Robert Schumann International Competition in the composer's birthplace of Zwickau, Germany. He was also recently awarded a substantial bursary from the Jaqueline Desmarais Foundation for Young Opera Singers.
The Canada Council for the Arts, in addition to its principal role of promoting and fostering the arts in Canada, administers and awards nearly 100 prizes and fellowships in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering. Other noteworthy prizes administered by the Council are the Canada Council Molson Prizes, the Jules Léger Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts and the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.
For more information about these awards, including nomination procedures, contact Janet Riedel Pigott, Acting Director of Endowments and Prizes, at (613) 566-4414, or 1 800 263 5588, ext. 5041.
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