Last night saw the culminating concert of the IRCPA’s Encounter program. It wasn’t exactly a competition as the winner of the Career Blueprint Award had already been decided but not announced. Still, it had the air of a competition with ten singers each offering an aria accompanied by the ubiquitous Rachel Andrist. It was also being broadcast live on 96.3FM so we got the full on Zoomerplex treatment which is not far short of having flashing signs that say “Applaud Now!!” It’s the price one pays for getting young singers media exposure I guess.
If it had been a competition I would not have wanted to have to judge it. The standard was extremely high. That’s hardly a surprise when the line up includes two COC Ensemble Studio graduates, an alumnus and an alumna of Calgary’s YAP, a Dora winner and two Reebanks Fellows! Here’s the line up of what we heard:
- Brianna de Santis with Steal me, sweet thief from Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief
- J-P Lazure with Ev’ry Valley from Handel’s Messiah
- Valérie Bélanger with an aria I don’t know from Massenet’s Werther (she was a late replacement for Jacques Arsenault and so wasn’t in the program)
- Clarence Frazer with O, Du mein holder Abendstern from Wagner’s Tannhäuser
- Bradley Christensen with Kogda bi zhizn’ domashnim krugom from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin
- Asitha Tennekoon with Ich baue ganz deine Stärke from Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail
- David Diston with Or dove fuggo io mai… Ah! per sempre io ti perdei from Bellini’s I Puritani
- Vania Margani with Si, mi chiamano Mimi from Puccini’s La Bohème
- Andrey Andreychik with Vi tak pyechaini… Ya vas lyublu from Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades
- Beste Kalender with Parto parto from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito
So lots of Russian and German, even some Wagner! Much less Italian than one usually hears at these things. In fact there are some really quite bold choices there showing the maturity of the singers on show relative to the usual young singer competitions and student recitals. I’m not going to comment on each performance. The acoustic in Zoomer Hall is a bit weird, being designed for relatively close miked broadcast, and much of the time my line of sight and hearing was broken up by wandering cameramen. But let me repeat myself in saying the standard was very high and I would happily go hear any of these singers again.
Now the bit you have all been waiting for. Brett Polegato awarded the Career Blueprint Award to Clarence Frazer. He could, as he readily admitted, have bestowed it on pretty much anyone singing last night but Clarence got the nod!