June 28, 2019

National music competition sees almost 500 musicians and vocalists on campus

Winners will perform with Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; tickets available for public gala concert July 4
Lynette Israilian, winner of the 2018 CANIMEX Canadian Music Competition, performs with the Metropolitan Orchestra at the 2018 gala concert.

Lynette Israilian, winner of the 2018 competition, performs with the Metropolitan Orchestra in 2018.

Antoine Saito

If you’ve been around the Rozsa Centre this month, you may have been treated to the sounds of classical piano, violin, guitar and other instruments. Almost 500 musicians and vocalists have been on campus competing in two national competitions held for the first time in Calgary. The competitions will conclude with a public gala concert July 4 at 7 p.m.

Bruce Barton, director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), feels that events such as the CANIMEX Canadian Music Competition bring great benefits to Calgary, believing this type of competition inevitably raises the bar and provides deep inspiration for emerging artists. 

“Students at the SCPA join a vibrant community with multiple layers that extend outward from their discipline and the school into the professional and cultural networks in Calgary and beyond,” Barton says. “Partnerships with organizations like the CANIMEX Canadian Music Competition are a vital part of our vision and goals.”

Stepping Stone to international competition

The Stepping Stone competition is significant milestone for pre-professional musicians aspiring to compete internationally. Participants were pre-selected by a jury at regional auditions across Canada, and compete in Calgary before an international jury of renowned teachers and performers. Winners were announced June 12, including:

  • Pianist Nicole Linaksita of North Vancouver won this year’s Stepping Stone competition, earning the $10,000 Huguette-Dubois scholarship from CANIMEX Group
  • Cellist Matthew Christakos from Toronto won second prize of $5,000
  • Violinist Isabella Perron, who hails from Calgary but currently resides in Montréal, won third prize of $2,500

National Final showcases regional champions

The National Final of the CANIMEX Canadian Music Competition features candidates who stood out during regional auditions. Emerging musicians aged seven to 30 have been competing against their peers in categories that represent almost every musical instrument, including voice. The judging panel includes reputed musicians as Arnold Choi (cellist, Calgary), Michel Fournier (pianist, Montréal), Andrew Crust (conductor, Vancouver), Christina Haldane (soprano, Toronto), and flutist and UCalgary alumna Lucie Jones.

In addition to scholarship prizes, the winners of the National Final will perform with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra at the gala concert on July 4 at Eckhardt-Gramatté Concert Hall, Rozsa Centre.

“The CANIMEX Canadian Music Competition offers hundreds of emerging musicians an unparalleled opportunity to measure themselves against their peers and plays a key role in their musical development,” says Marie-Claude Matton, executive and artistic director of the competition. “Past CMC winners include internationally recognized Calgarians Jan Lisiecki, Tina Chong, Scott MacIsaac, Susan Hoeppner, Arnold Choi and Annalee Patipatanakoon, to name just a few.”

The number of Calgary-based competitors is a testament to the quality of music education in our city. Ninety-six of the 461 competitors in the National Final are Calgarians. Several of them have placed at the top of their classes, with marks exceeding 90 per cent.

July 4 gala concert showcases best of the best

The competitions build to a gala concert on July 4, recognizing the most accomplished emerging Canadian musicians and concluding the national events. The winner of the Stepping Stone competition and category winners of the National Final will have the rare opportunity to perform with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of conductor Karl Hirzer.

“Offering these young musicians the opportunity to play with a symphony orchestra, often for the first time, is at the heart of our mission and is a major component of the competition,” explains Matton.

Barton adds, “The performances will be first-rate, demonstrating a wide variety of approaches and genres.”