Sara Schabas wins the 9th edition of the Wirth Vocal Prize

Singer standing in front of piano with arms out, pianist plays piano
Image by Dominic for Tam Photography.
Published: 26 March 2024

The Schulich School of Music is proud to announce soprano Sara Schabas as the winner of the 2023–2024 Wirth Vocal Prize! 

Almost a decade after its establishment by Montreal philanthropist Elizabeth Wirth, the prize is awarded annually to a Schulich School of Music voice student who demonstrates exceptional talent, and significant promise for an international career. The grand prize includes a 14-karat gold pin, a concert during the Schulich school year, a private consultation with Boulev’Art Artists’ Management and a $25,000 cash award. 

Praised for her “beautifully clear, light lyric soprano” (Ludwig Van), she is a current doctoral student working with Tracy Smith Bessette and Michael McMahon. An essential part of music-making for Sara is: “Collaboration with other musicians, the audience, the composer, the poet, myself, and all its sides and shades”.

Sara’s wonderful performance with pianist Alexey Shafirov captured the jury’s attention with her stirring interpretation of works by Handel, Boulanger, Rachmaninoff, Poulenc and Korngold.

Sara and Alexey will also perform at Canadian Centre for Architecture as part of the Schulich @ Bon-Pasteur series on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at 7:30 p.m

We would also like to recognize the immense talent displayed by all the performers heard in the semi-final and final rounds of the Wirth Vocal Prize. 

The Wirth Vocal Prize in vocal performance was established in 2015 through the extraordinary generosity of Elizabeth Wirth to the Schulich School of Music of McGill University, along with new Student Excellence Awards, and an innovative Student Initiatives Fund. Awarded yearly since its inception, the Wirth Vocal Prize recognizes a voice student who demonstrates exceptional talent and significant promise for an international career. 

The winner of this year’s Wirth Vocal Prize will receive a generous scholarship, valued this year at $25,000, as well as a smaller likeness of the Wirth Vocal Prize logo in the form of a 14-karat gold lapel pin. Runners-up in the final will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize. 

Previous winners include Chelsea Rus, Simone McIntosh, Anna-Sophie Neher, Marcel d’Entremont, Jenny Ivanovna, Emily Richter, Elisabeth Saint-Gelais, and Jingjing Xu.

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