LSM Newswire

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mezzo Erica Iris Huang Wins 2011 Eckhardt Gramatte Competition


Brandon, MB - The Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition for the performance of Canadian and contemporary music is pleased to announce its 2011 prizewinners:

1st Prize – Erica Iris Huang

2nd Prize – Jana Miller

3rd Prize – Vanessa Lanch

City of Brandon Prize - Erica Iris Huang

Best Collaborative Pianist Prize - Emily Hamper

The annual E-Gré Competition, now in its 34rd year, took place in Lorne Watson Recital Hall at the Brandon University School of Music April 29 to May 1. This year’s competition was for voice. Nine semi-finalists performed public recitals on April 29 & 30, after which three were chosen to advance to the finals and perform completely different programs on May 1.

Focusing on Canadian and contemporary music and exceptional performance, the E-Gré Competition was created as a tribute to composer and pianist/violinist Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté. It is open only to Canadian musicians between the ages of 18 and 30 (35 for voice). The 2012 competition will be for strings.

First prize winner is mezzo-soprano Erica Iris Huang, an absolute vocal powerhouse from Scarborough, Ontario. The 1st Prize includes $5000, a Canadian recital tour (which provides up to $5,000 in performance fees), the ARIAS Canadian Opera Student Development Fund prize of $5000, an in-studio recording session courtesy of the CBC, and a three-week residency and recital with the Casalmaggiore International Festival in Italy.

Erica Iris also received the City of Brandon prize of $1000, which is awarded to the performer who, in the jury’s opinion, gave the best performance of the commissioned piece, Eckhardt Songs, by Montreal composer Michael Oesterle.

Erica Iris Huang says, “I am so thrilled to put my name out there and have other composers and performers know who I am and that I’m willing… to face the challenges of new music, and to be experimental. This competition was crucial for me. It wasn’t even about winning but really about having that national exposure and awareness.”

Erica Iris Huang was accompanied on the piano by Emily Hamper of Stratford, Ontario--an in-demand vocal coach and collaborative piano. Emily won the Best Collaborative Pianist prize of $500 for her outstanding performance of some truly demanding repertoire in the semi-final round of the competition.

The 2nd Prize of $3,000 was awarded to soprano Jana Miller, who hails from Truro, Nova Scotia, and is now completing her Master of Music at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Jana was accompanied by Jennifer Szeto who is pursuing a Master of Music in piano accompaniment at McGill University.

Soprano Vanessa Lanch of Toronto, Ontario, received the 3rd Prize of $2,000. After leaving Brandon, she will be heading straight to Belgium as a candidate for the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in May. Vanessa was accompanied by noted conductor, pianist, and vocal coach William Shookhoff of Toronto.

Saturday evening’s gala concert featured world-renowned soprano Valdine Anderson from Winnipeg, accompanied on the piano by Brandon’s own Megumi Masaki.

Patricia Green (mezzo-soprano, University of Western Ontario), Rosemarie van der Hooft (mezzo-soprano, University of Manitoba), and Manitoba-native Hugh Russell (baritone) served as jurors for the competition. The jury chair for 2011 was composer T. Patrick Carrabré of Brandon University.

CBC Radio Two will broadcast the gala concert and portions of the finals on The Signal with Laurie Brown on Saturday, May 7th. The Signal airs nightly, Monday to Saturday, at 10 pm on CBC Radio 2 (98.3 in Winnipeg, 92.7 in Brandon).

The jurors for the recorded preliminary round of the competition, which took place in the fall of 2010, were Stefano Algieri (tenor, McGill University), Sophie Bouffard (soprano, University of Regina), and Nancy Hermiston (soprano, University of British Columbia).

Past E-Gré Competition prizewinners of note include violinist James Ehnes, as well as Nancy Argenta, Ingrid Attrot, Louise Bessette, Angela Cheng, Douglas Finch, Ben Heppner, Desmond Hoebig, Gwen Hoebig, James Parker, Jon Kimura Parker, Annalee Patipatanakoon, Hugh Russell, and Heather Schmidt.

The E-Gré Competition gratefully acknowledges the support of Brandon University and the E-Gré Development Fund, ARIAS Canadian Opera Student Development Fund, the Manitoba Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, the SOCAN Foundation, the City of Brandon, CBC Radio-Canada, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Casalmaggiore International Festival, Trails West Inn, and many other corporate and private donors.

The 35th E-Gré Competition will be held May 4 to 6, 2012. It is open to violinists, violists, and cellists. For information, rules and/or an application form email eckhardt@brandonu.ca or call 204-728-8212.

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