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Pianist Louise Bessette has carved out an enviable place as a performer of the greatest works of our time. An artist much in demand in Europe, America, and Asia, she premieres works specially written for her and is invited to perform at large international festivals. She has earned numerous distinctions, including First Prizes at the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, the Concours International de Musique Contemporaine in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and the International Gaudeamus Competition in Rotterdam. The Conseil québécois de la musique has also presented her with several Opus Awards, including ‘Performer of the Year’ and ‘Musical Event of the Year’ for Automne Messiaen 2008, and just recently, two more awards including ‘Concert of the year in Montréal’, for her 30-Year Career Celebration concert presented by the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec.
As a soloist, she has performed a variety of repertoire with numerous symphony orchestras such as Lyon, Radio-France, Hartford, Montréal, Québec, Kitchener-Waterloo, Victoria and the National Arts Centre. Renowned for her eclectic repertoire and impeccable delivery, she recorded works by Charles-Valentin Alkan and Grieg for the movie Hidden Diary by French Director Julie Lopes-Curval, featuring Catherine Deneuve and Marie-Josée Croze, which was presented in theatres around the world.
Louise Bessette has made over twenty recordings. Her CD Messiaen: Les oiseaux received eloquent review by Gramophone magazine, and her Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus on Atma Classique label is universally acclaimed and recognized as a reference recording.
Graduating with Premier Prix in piano and chamber music from the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, she then furthered her studies with Eugene List, Yvonne Loriod, Claude Helffer, Jay Gottlieb, and Dominique Merlet. She is a Member of the Order of Canada, an Officier of the Ordre national du Québec, and, since 1996, has been a Professor of piano at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal.
Born in Amsterdam, cellist Coenraad Bloemendal did his training at the Amsterdam Conservatory with Carel van Leeuwen Boomkamp. He did his postgraduate work with the legendary cellist Janos Starker at Indiana University in the US. After moving to Canada in 1971, he joined the Camerata Canada chamber ensemble and quickly established himself as one of the country’s most outstanding cellists.
As a soloist he has played the Dvořák, Schumann and Haydn concertos, and Beethoven Triple Concerto. In May 2006 he premiered a long forgotten romantic virtuoso concerto by Czech cellist and composer David Popper (1843-1913). With pianist Valerie Tryon, his duo partner of 25 years, Bloemendal has performed most of the repertoire for cello and piano both in concert and for CBC radio. He has played with Glenn Gould on CBC Television’s Music in Our Time which led to participation in other recording projects with the great pianist. He also has a long association with legendary jazz musician Don Thompson, who has written many compositions for him for recordings and concerts.
Coenraad Bloemendal has played with many chamber groups including the Canadian Chamber Ensemble, The Toronto Chamber Players and The Rembrandt Trio, and he founded in May 2010 the Trio Desirée with soprano Desirée Till and harpist Erica Goodman. He has played at numerous festivals such as the Stratford Festival, the Guelph Spring Festival, the Collingwood Festival, the Orford and the Shaw Festivals; toured North and South America, Europe and the United Kingdom; and recorded extensively for various labels such as Sony, Dorian, Crystal, CBC and Marquis Classics.
Mr. Bloemendal taught at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto for nearly twenty years, and was the head of the string department at York University from 1980-1984.
After graduating with a Premier prix in flute from the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal in 1986, Diane Caplette has pursued a career as a chamber musician and teacher. A permanent member of the Montréal Chamber Orchestra, she is regularly invited to join the Orchestre symphonique de Sherbrooke and the Sinfonia de Lanaudière. An accomplished chamber musician, she performs with Trio Ambiance and the Ensemble de flûtes Alizé and, with Alizé, collaborates regularly with the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal. Active in Montréal’s musical scene, she has performed with such renowned artists as Diane Dufresne, Michel Rivard, Bob Walsh, and Michel Louvain. A soughtafter teacher, Ms. Caplette is regularly invited to judge at various institutions and competitions. As well, she frequently gives master classes in high schools, at music camps, and for bands. Since 1991, she has been flute professor at Cégep de Saint-Laurent, where she has been conducting the wind ensemble since 2005.
Acclaimed for his “elegant poetry and virtuosic fire”, pianist Alan Chow was the First Prize winner of the Concert Artists Guild International New York Competition, the Palm Beach Invitational International Piano Competition and the UCLA International Piano Competition. Winner of the Silver Medal and Audience Favorite Prize at the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, he was also a prize winner in the William Kapell International Piano Competition. Mr. Chow has studied with Nelita True at the University of Maryland, Sascha Gorodnitzki at The Juilliard School, and Menahem Pressler at Indiana University. He also studied at the Mozarteum Sommerakademie with Carlo Zecchi.
A Steinway artist, Mr. Chow has performed to critical acclaim in 45 states, playing recitals and in concert in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Atlanta, Seattle, Washington, D.C., New Orleans as well as concerto performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony Orchestra, Oakland Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Tulsa Philharmonic, Omaha Symphony, Spokane Symphony, and the Chicago Civic Orchestra. His numerous tours of Asia have included recitals and master classes in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Chengdu, Xian, Wuhan), Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya), Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, and concerto appearances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Pan-Asia Symphony Orchestra.
An avid chamber musician, he has collaborated with the American, Pacifica and Miami String Quartets and has been guest artist at the Grand Canyon Chamber Music Festival, Juneau Jazz and Classics, San Juan Islands Chamber Music Festival, Kent Blossom Music Festival, Texas Music Festival and Music Mountain. In addition, he performs in the Cheng-Chow Trio with pianists Angela Cheng and his twin brother, Alvin Chow.
Formerly Artist-in-Residence at the University of Arkansas, Mr. Chow currently serves on the piano faculty at Northwestern University, near Chicago, Illinois.
A native of Shawinigan, Danielle Demers holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in music (voice), as well as a Bachelor’s in musical education from the Université Laval. She has also completed a Doctorate in performance (voice) at the Université de Montréal. She was a lecturer at Université Laval and a professor at the Conservatoire de musique de Québec for many years. She has been teaching for the last 30 years at the Cégep de Ste-Foy. Several of her students have gone on to make careers in music, including the renowned soprano Lyne Fortin. As a singer, Danielle Demers has made numerous tours with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada both in France and in Canada. She has sung with the Orchestre symphonique de Québec and at the Opéra de Québec, participated in several Radio-Canada radio and television shows, and premiered many contemporary pieces in Québec and in Ontario. Ms. Demers has produced more than 20 operettas and several musicals, helping hundreds of young singers realize their artistic potential on the lyric stage.
Praised by the critics, pianist Michel Fournier has toured extensively in Canada, Europe, and the United States, both as soloist and chamber musician. His repertoire covers a broad spectrum of piano music from different eras and styles. He has a special fondness for French music and has earned critical acclaim for the originality of his interpretation and his refined sound. He counts to his credit numerous recordings and contributed to the sound track of several movies. A student of Yvonne Hubert, Mr. Fournier completed a Master’s degree before continuing his studies in France and Austria. He also studied under Menahem Pressler at the University of Indiana. He earned a Doctorate in Music from the Université de Montréal. Highly appreciated as an educator, he was Professor at the École de musique of the Université de Sherbrooke from 1993 to 2002. A musician committed to his community, Mr. Fournier has provided guidance to thousands of musicians, teaching master classes, coaching, and adjudicating at competitions for young musicians across Canada and abroad, including the prestigious Hong Kong Schools Music Festival in the winter of 2012.
International concert performer, professor at the Université de Montréal, Laurence Kayaleh is frequently invited to give master classes at various eminent institutions and festivals. She has performed as guest soloist with many distinguished orchestras: the Zurich Tonhalle, the Russian National Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington), the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and the Cleveland Orchestra, under such world-renowned conductors as Slatkin, Pletnev, Dutoit, Kogan, Venzago, Nowak and Wakasugi. The celebrated Le Figaro critic Pierre Petit used the phrase l’Archet royal (the regal bow) to describe her golden tone. She performed at the Bolchoï and the Tchaïkovsky Halls (Moscow), Pleyel and Gaveau Halls (Paris), Suntory Hall (Tokyo), Verdi Hall (Milano) and at the John F. Kennedy Center (Washington). A guest of festivals in Lucerne, Blossom, Cervantino, Divonne, Ottawa, Parry Sound (Canada) and the Abbey Bach Festival in the USA, she has shared concerts with Viktor Pikayzen, Ida Haendel and Igor Oïstrakh. Laurence has recorded the complete works for violin and piano by composers Medtner and Honegger for NAXOS. She plays a 1742 Guarneri which belonged to the famous violinist and pedagogue, Carl Flesch.
Born in Saskatchewan, pianist Robert Kortgaard completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at The Juilliard School in New York. Winner of the 1979 Canadian Music Competition’s Stepping Stone, and of awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, he furthered his musical studies in Italy and England. Musician-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick from 1993 to 1998, he has given master classes at universities and festivals in Canada, Indonesia, and China. Mr. Kortgaard has performed as soloist with major Canadian orchestras and has given recitals throughout Canada and the United States, as well as in England, Finland, Portugal, Italy, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, China, and Japan. He is a favorite collaborator of many of the world’s finest instrumental soloists and vocalists, including Joshua Bell, Sumi Jo, Susan Hoeppner, and Measha Brueggergosman. His performances are frequently heard on Radio-Canada/CBC Radio, and he has made many recordings on various labels. Mr. Kortgaard is the Artistic Director of the Indian River Festival in Prince Edward Island (two nominations for the 2013 East Coast Music Awards), and the Leith Summer Music Festival in Ontario.
A native of Trois-Rivières, Guy Lavigne has led an active musical career as a musicologist, flutist, choir director, composer and educator for the past twenty years. Following studies in music history and literature and in flute at Université Laval, he went on to complete his master’s degree in musicology. After doing research in Paris, he pursued a doctorate in musicology at Université Laval.
Mr. Lavigne also undertook studies in choral conducting with Chantal Masson-Bourque before continuing his training with other conductors such as Elmer Iseler, Bernard Têtu, Michel Lasserre de Rozel, Fernando Eldoro, Paul Watkins and Tomàs Koutnik.
Since 1992, he has been conductor of the Chœur de l’Université Laval, and has directed the Chœur de chambre de Rimouski since 1995. Lavigne was artistic and musical director of the Orchestre symphonique de Lévis from 1997 to 2000 and gave voice coaching and choral singing courses from 1988 to 2004 at the Domaine Forget International Music Academy.
For a few years now, he has been teaching music literature, ear training, writing, analysis, choral singing and choral conducting at the Conservatoire de Rimouski and at the Cégep de Trois-Rivières. He has directed numerous concerts with soloists such as Marc Hervieux, Louis Quilico, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Karina Gauvin, Lyne Fortin, Daniel Taylor, Hélène Fortin, Hélène Guilmette, Jean-François Lapointe, Sonia Racine, Marie-Josée Lord, Richard Verreau and many others.
In 1998, he received the Opéra de Québec’s music performance award as part of the awards of excellence in arts and culture. In 2004, under his direction, the Chœur de chambre de Rimouski won the Galaxie Rising Star award at the CBC’s national choral singing competition.
For ten years, Lavigne has been collaborating with the Alliance des Chorales du Québec for a number of workshops. As a composer, arranger and harmonizer, he has produced some fifty works.
A native of Sherbrooke, Catherine Meunier is the first percussionist to win the prestigious Prix d’Europe. Her debut CD Night Chill was acclaimed by the critics. As a soloist and chamber musician, Catherine Meunier has given concerts in Canada, Mexico, the United States, Taiwan, and Japan. She has been a guest soloist with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional of Mexico, the Orchestre Symphonique de Sherbrooke, the Orchestre Symphonique de Longueuil, and Ensemble Prestissimo. She is an active performer of contemporary music, having premiered many works for marimba or percussion. She completed her Doctorate in music performance at the Université de Montréal. She also holds a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, a Master of Music in Performance from McGill University, and a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the Université de Sherbrooke. She has studied with numerous professors such as Robert van Sice, Mario Boivin, Serge Desgagnés, D'Arcy Gray, Andrei Malashenko, and Pierre Béluse. Ms. Meunier teaches percussion at the Crane School of Music of The State University of New York at Potsdam. She is an artist sponsored by the Pearl/Adams Corporation.
Conductor Daniel Myssyk is founder and artistic director of the Orchestre de chambre Appassionata. The ensemble has been delivering a series of diverse concert programs since 2000. Broadcast regularly on Radio-Canada/Espace musique, this orchestra features world-renowned soloists, participates in numerous international festivals and premieres a variety of contemporary Canadian works.
Daniel Myssyk obtained a Premier Prix in double bass by unanimous decision from the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal in 1992. He holds a Master’s degree in composition from the Université de Montréal, where he was guest professor. A scholarship recipient from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Orford Arts Centre and the John E. Guida Foundation, Daniel Myssyk studied conducting under the greatest masters, most notably David Zinman and Tomas Koutnik. He completed a second Master’s degree, in conducting, at the prestigious Rice University in Houston, under Larry Rachleff, and served as his assistant for two years, conducting the Shepherd School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, two orchestras that bring together some of the finest music students from the United States and abroad.
He has been guest conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain, the Richmond Symphony, the Virginia All-State Orchestra, the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, the Round Top Festival Orchestra, Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings and the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières. He has also appeared at the Lanaudière International Festival and been associate conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.
Myssyk has recorded with Appassionata on the Summit label (Magnum Opus, with American trumpet virtuoso Rex Richardson) and the Fidelio label (Idilya, nominated in 2010 for an Opus Prize for best recording of the year, and recently Czech Serenades).
Daniel Myssyk is Assistant Professor and Director of Orchestral Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.
A native of Alberta, Leslie Newman made her professional debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at the age of eighteen. Upon completion of her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto, she was awarded a Canada Council Grant to study with Thomas Nyfenger at Yale University, where she obtained a Master of Music degree, and moved to New York where she continued her studies with Julius Baker at the renowned Juilliard School. Ms. Newman’s performances have been broadcast by radio and television stations in Europe and North America. Her debut CD was described by Gramophone Magazine as an “…immensely worthwhile contribution to the catalogue.” As a soloist or as guest principal flautist, she has performed with orchestras throughout Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and Japan. She has also performed recitals from Montréal to Taipei, by way of New York, Washington, Chicago, and Bogotá. Leslie Newman currently holds the Principal Flute position with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and teaches flute at the University of Toronto and The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School.
Hailed for his “breathtaking virtuosity and an intelligent sense of precisely what brings music to life” (Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico), Swedish-American pianist Elias-Axel Pettersson is quickly establishing himself as a formidable soloist and chamber musician. He has garnered prizes on the national and international level and has been heard on national radio in the USA. Mr. Pettersson has collaborated with various artists, including Krzysztof Zimowski, David Felberg, Guillaume Tardif, Nune Melikyan, Henk Guittart, Emmanuelle Da Silva, Roland Arnassalon and Cantor Josh Perlman. He interpreted several works rarely presented, and participated in the premieres of numerous pieces of contemporary composers such as Arnaud Allary, Alan Belkin, Todd Coleman, Alvin Curran, Drea Pressley-Tischhauser, Ben Shemie, and Altin Volaj. A committed pedagogue, Mr. Pettersson has taught at the Université de Montréal, the University of Maryland, the Lambda School of Music and Fine Arts, and the École de Musique Crescendo, and given masterclasses throughout Canada and the USA. A student of Paul Stewart, Douglas Humpherys, Larissa Dedova, and Maribeth Gunning, he holds a Doctorate in Music from the Université de Montréal.
Born in France to Italian parents, Christophe Pratiffi began learning the guitar at the age of five with his guitarist father. A winner of several first prizes, Christophe Pratiffi studied with Argentinian guitarist Roberto Aussel in Nantes. After an inspiring encounter with guitarist Alvaro Pierri in 2005, he decided to move to Quebec to study with him, earning a master’s degree in performance from Université Laval in 2007. Much sought-after as a concertist, Mr. Pratiffi performs regularly in prestigious halls in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Canada. Very interested in chamber music, he has shared the concert stage with, among others, Marie-Josée Lord, Jacques Lacombe, the Violons du Roy, the Quatuor Arthur-Leblanc, Fernand Quattrocchi, Gaspar Hoyos, Claude Gagnon, François Leclerc, David Jacques, Denis Plante, and Yadong Guan. Mr. Pratiffi has been teaching classical guitar at the Cégep de Sainte-Foy in Québec City since 2008. He taught classical guitar during the summers of 2003-2007 at the Académie musicale de la Vallée de la Vologne in France.
Montréal native Christiane Riel is known for the sheer beauty of her voice and the generosity and poignancy of her interpretations. Her career has been fashioned from demanding soprano roles such as those found in Puccini or Verdi, or in the French romantic repertoire. After a triumphant debut with the Canadian Opera Company, Ms. Riel has enjoyed an international career with performances throughout Canada, the United States, and Australia. In a "heartbreakingly believable" Madama Butterfly, Ms. Riel has earned wide acclaim performing Cio-Cio-San in over 18 different productions world-wide. Since 1997, despite her professional engagements, she has devoted significant time to vocal instruction in her own studio while regularly giving master classes at several universities and conservatories and in opera companies’ young artists programs. She frequently serves on juries for music competitions, exams and grants, and summer programs have also requested her expertise as a member of their faculty, namely, the Opera Nuova and the Highlands Opera Studio. Ms. Riel is currently a member of the Voice Faculty at the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University.
Guillaume Tardif is Associate Professor of Violin and serves as Head of Strings and Chamber Music at the Department of Music, University of Alberta. His current research explores various aspects of the violin’s rich history and often features new or neglected works. He also has authored a number of violin arrangements, cadenzas, and pedagogical texts, besides counting to his credit several recordings. He has appeared widely as a violin soloist, and collaborated with ensembles and distinguished artists in Canada, Europe, Asia, and South America. A guest professor at many universities (including Innsbruck, Bergen, Zhejiang, Stockholm Royal College, Budapest Liszt Academy, and the Hong Kong Academy), he recently joined the faculties of summer programs at international music festivals in Völs am Schlern, Italy, and Beverly Hills, California. Mr. Tardif completed doctoral studies with Oleh Krysa at the Eastman School of Music. He also studied with Jean Angers at the Conservatoire de musique de Québec (Premier prix in violin). He has served on several adjudication panels and is currently President of the Alberta String Association.