News Releases - 2006
Cellist Soo Bae, violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou take top honours in Musical Instrument Bank national competition
Ottawa, September 21, 2006 – The Canada Council for the Arts announced today that cellist Soo Bae and violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou are the first-place winners of a national competition for the loan of musical instruments with a total value of more than $18 million Canadian.
Created in 1985, the Musical Instrument Bank acquires through donations and loans fine stringed instruments to be loaned to gifted young Canadian musicians to help further their international solo or chamber music careers. Winners of this year’s competition were awarded the use of their instruments for a three-year period.
The winners will be presented with their instruments this evening by Robert Sirman, director of the Canada Council, at a concert and reception at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. This was the largest-ever competition in the Instrument Bank’s history, with 11 fine instruments and a fine cello bow being awarded.
As the top winner in the cello competition, Soo Bae, who was born in Korea and grew up in Toronto, was awarded the three-year loan of the ca. 1696 Bonjour Stradivari cello, the most valuable instrument in the Instrument Bank—valued at nearly $5 million Canadian. Second place in the cello competition went to Edmonton native Rachel Mercer, who was awarded the 1824 McConnell Nicolaus Gagliano cello. Montreal cellist Emmanuelle Beaulieu Bergeron was awarded the loan of the ca. 1850 Shaw Adam cello bow.
In the violin competition, first place went to Yi-Jia Susanne Hou for the second time: she was also the first-place winner of the Musical Instrument Bank’s last competition in 2003. She will retain the use of the 1729 ex-Heath Guarneri del Gesù violin. Second place went to Jessica Linnebach, a former Edmontonian now playing with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, who was awarded the loan of the ca. 1700 Taft Stradivari violin, and third place went to Judy Kang, also an Edmonton native, who now lives in New York. Ms. Kang was awarded the loan of the 1689 Baumgartner Stradivari violin.
The other violin winners were (in alphabetical order): Caroline Chéhadé (from Montreal, now living in New York), Marc Djokic (Halifax), Kerry DuWors (Brandon, MB), Pascale Giguère (Quebec City),Véronique Mathieu (born in Montreal, grew up in Quebec City), and Jean-Sébastien Roy (originally from St-Thomas-de-Joliette QC, now living in Montreal).
The winners were selected by a peer assessment committee consisting of Walter Homburger, a Toronto-based agent and former managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Isolde Lagacé, director of the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal; and internationally-acclaimed violinist Andrew Dawes.
The committee evaluated all applications – which included recordings of the applicants’ playing – and selected finalists who were invited to come to Glenn Gould Studio for auditions and interviews.
In a joint statement following this week’s auditions, the jury members said: “Serving on the jury for this competition was a wonderful experience. The artistic and technical level of young musicians is constantly rising, and we were very impressed with the way in which these performers approached both their music and their careers. Many of them expressed a desire to get their music out there, to reach out to the next generation, to play in smaller centres, to perform music by Canadian composers and to make an impact on their communities. This experience reminded us what great talent we have in this country, and the enormous potential for Canada’s musical future. Those who are receiving instruments were chosen on the basis of their technical and artistic mastery and how these instruments will assist them in moving to the next step in their careers. But in our view, they were all winners.”
Because of the number of valuable instruments awarded in this year’s competition, the winners had the option of choosing which instrument they would like to have on loan, in order of their placement in the competition.
Biographical notes and downloadable photographs of the winners and instruments are available on the Musical Instrument Bank home page.
ca. 1696 Bonjour Stradivari cello –
Awarded to Soo Bae
The Bonjour Stradivari cello, made by Antonio Stradivari ca. 1696, is named after an amateur 19th century Parisian cellist, Abel Bonjour, who owned it until his death sometime after 1885. The cello subsequently passed via Fridolin Hamma of Stuttgart to Dr. Hans Kühne of Cologne, who loaned the cello to the Stradivari Bicentennial exhibition in Cremona in 1937, and it is illustrated in the catalogue of the exhibition. For some years, the cello was owned by the Habisreutinger Foundation of St. Gallen, Switzerland; more recently, it was owned by Martin Lovett of the celebrated Amadeus Quartet. The present owner, the anonymous U.S. donor, acquired it in the fall of 1999. The cello is valued at just under $5 million.
1717 Windsor-Weinstein Stradivari violin –
Awarded to Jean-Sébastien Roy
This instrument, made in 1717 by Italian violinmaker Antonio Stradivari, has been in the possession of a number of collectors and noted violinists, most recently Leon Weinstein, who purchased it in 1961. In 1980, Mr. Weinstein donated the Stradivari to the Ontario Heritage Foundation in the hope of starting a collection of great musical instruments to be made available to outstanding Canadian musicians who would not otherwise have the opportunity to play such fine instruments. In 1988, the Ontario Heritage Foundation transferred the violin to the Canada Council for the Arts. The estimated value of the violin is $3.5 million.
1729 Guarneri del Gesù violin –
Awarded to Yi-Jia Susanne Hou
Made in Cremona, Italy in 1729 by the famed luthier Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, this fine violin was owned by Baron Heath of England in the 19th century. It is a characteristic example of this period of the maker’s work and has outstanding tonal quality. In 1986 Gordon Jeffrey, a great patron of music and scion of the family that founded London Life Insurance Company, bequeathed it to the University of Western Ontario. The anonymous donor purchased it in 1997. It has been on loan to the Canada Council since October 1998 and is valued at just over $3 million.
1689 Baumgartner Stradivari violin –
Awarded to Judy Kang
This early period Stradivari was acquired by Gordon Jeffrey from Robert Masters, the concertmaster of the Bath (England) Festival Orchestra during Yehudi Menuhin’s tenure as conductor. The instrument was used in many recordings made by the Orchestra under Menuhin’s direction. Étienne Périlhon of Paris owned it in the early 1950s, followed by P. Nicholson of Folkestone, England, in the early 1960s. In 1963, Mr. Fritz Baumgartner of Basel, Switzerland, acquired the violin. In 1986 Gordon Jeffrey, a great patron of music and scion of the family that founded London Life Insurance Company, bequeathed it to the University of Western Ontario, from which the anonymous donor purchased it in 1997. The Baumgartner has been on loan to the Canada Council since September 1997, when Judy Kang won it in that year’s competition, and is valued at an estimated $2.4 million.
1700 Taft Stradivari violin –
Awarded to Jessica Linnebach
This fine violin is a characteristic example of the early part of Antonio Stradivari’s “Golden Period”. It is traditionally said to have been in the possession of Albert Caressa, Paris, who passed it to Rudolf Wurlitzer in Cincinnati, Ohio. Around 1915, Mr. Wurlitzer sold the violin to Mrs. Charles Phelps Taft, one of the founders of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and wife of the Cincinnati philanthropist Charles P. Taft, brother of William Howard Taft, 37th President and 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Mrs. Taft presented the violin to Emil Heermann, the concertmaster of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, for his use. Following the death of Mr. Taft, the violin was sold to the private collector and amateur violinist Ernest Ruder of Cincinnati in 1940, where it remained until 1987, at which point it was sold by Jacques Français to another owner. The anonymous donor purchased the instrument, in May 2000 and lent it to the Canada Council in September 2003. It is valued at an estimated $2.4 million.
1715 Dominicus Montagnana violin –
Awarded to Véronique Mathieu
This fine violin was created by Dominicus Montagnana, one of the greatest Venetian violin-makers of the 18th century, and was donated to the Canada Council by the anonymous donor in 2006. The history of this violin is known from the latter half of the 19th century, and it passed through the hands of Hart & Son, Marconi (the radio pioneer and violin enthusiast), violin connoisseur R. A. Bower Esq., violin virtuoso Albert Sammons and Percival Hodgson, violin soloist, composer and professor. It is a rare and very noted example of this famous violin-maker’s work, and is valued at an estimated $830,000.
1820 Joannes Franciscus Pressenda violin –
Awarded to Marc Djokic
This violin is considered to be the first known instrument made by 19th century violinmaker Giovanni Francesco Pressenda of Turin, Italy. It is in a very fine state of preservation and is nearly as it was when it left the master’s hands more than 180 years ago. The instrument was for many years in the possession of Remo Bolignini, a pupil of Ysaÿe. It was purchased by the anonymous donor in 2000 and is valued at an estimated $300,000.
1747 Palmason Januarius Gagliano violin –
Awarded to Kerry DuWors
This fine violin was made by Januarius Gagliano in Naples in 1747. In 1895, W.E. Hill & Sons of London sold the violin to John A. Brown, Esq. In 1938, it was sold by Pierre Vidoudez to Jean Klein of Geneva. Pearl Palmason of Toronto purchased the instrument in 1960 when she was a member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and loaned it to the Canada Council in 2003. It is valued at an estimated $240,000.
1824 McConnell Nicolaus Gagliano cello –
Awarded to Rachel Mercer
The 1824 Nicolo Gagliano cello was donated to the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation in February 1999. The Gagliano family played an important part in the art of Italian violin making. Over 20 members of this family are known to have worked in Naples from the end of the 17th century to recent times. The cello is valued at an estimated $220,000.
1902 Enrico Rocca violin –
Awarded to Caroline Chéhadé
This violin was made by Enrico Rocca, who was born in Turin in 1847 and later lived and worked in Genoa. The violin was made in 1902, during the zenith of Rocca’s career. It was purchased in 2000 by the anonymous donor, who lent it to the Canada Council the same year. It is valued at an estimated $190,000.
ca. 1700 Bell Giovanni Tononi violin –
Awarded to Pascale Giguère
This fine violin was made in Bologna, Italy, around 1700. Giovanni Tononi was born in Bologna around 1640 and died in 1713. He studied under his father and master, Felice Tononi. Giovanni Tononi produced violins of very high quality both in workmanship and sound. His skill surpassed many of his contemporaries and equalled some of the finest makers of his era. Justice R.D. Bell of Ottawa, a music-lover and philanthropist, donated the violin to the Canada Council in December 2002. It is valued at an estimated $110,000.
ca. 1850 Shaw Adam cello bow –
Awarded to Emmanuelle Beaulieu Bergeron
Andrew R. Shaw of Toronto donated this fine cello bow to the Canada Council in 1999. Made in France by Jean-Dominique Adam ca. 1850, the bow is a fine example of Adam’s work. It is valued at an estimated $28,000. Formerly a professional cellist, Mr. Shaw was the president of Canada’s largest music publishing company for many years before becoming CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2002.
Presentation and concert
Media representatives are invited to attend this evening’s presentation, concert and reception, which will take place at: Glenn Gould Studio, Canadian Broadcasting Centre, 250 Front Street West, Toronto beginning at 7 p.m. The winners, jurors and Canada Council representatives will be available for interviews.
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 and humanities. Other music awards include the Sylva Gelber Foundation Award, the Virginia Parker Prize and the Bernard Diamant Prize. Other noteworthy prizes administered by the Council are the Canada Council Molson Prizes, the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts, the Killam Prizes and the Killam Research Fellowships. The Canada Council will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2007.