LSM Newswire

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Edmonton Opera Announces Zoie Gardner Award Recipient

Edmonton Opera's opening night reception for Rigoletto October 24 included a special moment in the company's history. Long-time supporter, patron, and volunteer Mary McPhail received the Zoie Gardner Award, the company's annual prize for volunteerism. McPhail, now 87, earned the same award for a lifetime of service more than 18 years ago.

McPhail attended Edmonton Opera's first production in 1963, and she and her late husband, Dr. Bill McLean, were founding supporters of the company. Since then, she's been helping to feed the chorus at rehearsals and performances. Rigoletto's principal cast members Tracy Dahl and Theodore Baerg led a toast to McPhail's lifetime of generosity, raising silver-plated cups that commemorate the many premieres celebrated by a young Edmonton Opera in the 1960's.
Zoie Gardner was an active community member in Edmonton, after moving here from England in 1918 at the age of 10; she participated in church, the Opera Guild and the Orchid Society, as well as fostered dozens of abandoned and developmentally-disabled children. Recognized as one of Edmonton's most noteworthy citizens, the book Naming Edmonton: From Ada to Zoie featured her under the letter "Z". She was the recipient of the Order of Canada, Edmonton's Citizen of the Year, Woman of the Year, and received many other honours.

Edmonton Opera's Rigoletto continues at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium October 27 and 29, 7:30pm nightly. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster, call 780-451-8000 or visit www.ticketmaster.ca.

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