Montreal Baroque has announced the results of the first Bruce Haynes International Competition for the rhetorical singing of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The selection committee has chosen soprano Odéi Bilodeau (Montreal, Que.), alto Elaine Williams (New York, N.Y.), tenor Philippe Gagné (Montreal, Que.) and bass Drew Santini (The Hague, Netherlands) as the winning quartet.
In addition to receiving a cash award of $3,000 each, these four singers will be featured in a program of sacred cantatas by J.S. Bach on June 21 at the Montreal Baroque Festival. The concert will also be performed in Germany on June 9 at the Tage Alter Musik Regensburg and recorded live by Bayerischer Rundfunk for broadcast throughout Europe via the European Broadcasting Union and in Canada on CBC Radio 2. In addition, a studio recording will be produced for release as part of Montreal Baroque's Bach Cantata series on ATMA Classique.
"What an amazing honour to listen to so many talented singers singing Bach!" says jury member Susie Napper. "Congratulations to this year’s winners — Odéi, Elaine, Philippe and Drew — and many thanks to all of the participants who each gave the best of their talents and showed such potential! We hope to hear you again soon and look forward to working with you another year. Thanks also to the audience for listening and encouraging us in this quest!"
Special congratulations to soprano Ye’ela Avital of Har Adar, Israel, who earned the most votes from the public in CBC Music's online survey. She will receive a CBC/Radio-Canada mobile recording shoulder bag, with a CD (Nouveaux «Brandebourgeois») and a book (The End of Early Music) by the late oboist and musicologist Bruce Haynes (1942-2011), whose pioneering spirit, provocative scholarship and legendary reputation is remembered and celebrated with this eponymous competition.
"Bruce would have been fascinated if he had been here," adds Napper, Haynes's wife and longtime musical partner. "His legacy is to inspire us all to look beyond beautiful voices and wonderful technique. He was an advocate of what he called rhetorical singing; expressive singing that brings the vocal texts alive with a panoply of dynamics and colours!"
The members of the selection committee were Susie Napper (artistic director, Montreal Baroque Festival), Eric Milnes (conductor, La Bande Montreal Baroque), Johanne Goyette (director and producer, ATMA Classique), Scott Tresham (producer, CBC Music) and Charles Daniels (tenor).
The 2014 Montreal Baroque Festival takes place June 19 to 22 on the campus of McGill University, presented in collaboration with the CBC/McGill Series.
Follow Scott Tresham on Twitter: @tresham
Listen to CBC Music's Baroque stream