2019-2020 Wirth Vocal Prize Finalists

Sarah DufresnePotrait of Sarah Dufresne

Why did you choose to study at the Schulich School of Music?

My time at McGill has been filled with opportunities to work with a supportive and knowledgeable faculty. I completed my Masters of Music in voice and Opera last spring and am currently studying with soprano Tracy Smith-Bessette in the Graduate Diploma in Performance program. My McGill experience has given me many skills and tools that I will utilize in my future as an opera singer.

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2. Where do you call home?

Coming from beautiful Niagara Falls, Canada I have loved my time at McGill and grown as a singer, as well as a person, in an encouraging environment that pushed and expanded my limits.

3. What is one unexpected talent or pastime that you have?

I have also had the chance to direct two one-act operas during my time at McGill which gave me a great perspective on what it is like to be on “the other side of the table.”

4. What went into choosing the repertoire for the finals of the 2019-20 Wirth Vocal Prize? Which piece(s) are you most excited to perform, and why?

I am honored to be competing in the Wirth Vocal Prize this year with repertoire that sums up the vast musical experience I have received through the guidance of McGill’s devoted faculty. My program reflects the joy and journey of refining my craft as an artist through a selection of my favourite things to sing. Thank you to Elizabeth Wirth and to McGill for this incredible opportunity, and good luck to the other finalists!


Jenny Ivanovna (winner)Portrait of Jenny Ivanovna

Why did you choose to study at the Schulich School of Music?

First, while finishing my undergraduate, I was looking to apply for graduate schools outside of the USA. I did my research in Canada and I was surprised to find McGill’s Schulich School of Music to be ranked as one of the best, if not the best music of school in Canada. Then, I was very inspired when I discovered the voice faculty team, especially my voice teacher Annamaria Popescu. When I discovered she had sung at La Scala and followed her career and knew she was a mezzo-soprano, I made my decision. I have been very fortunate to have worked with the most wonderful coaches and teachers here at McGill. They have inspired me and guided me to be the best of me.

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2. Where do you call home?

I am from Mexico; however, I have lived in Texas for almost ten years, and then Montreal for almost two years. Nonetheless, my home is where my dear husband Eric lives, San Jose California. Over there is where I am always happy no matter what the circumstances are, and I can always feel loved.

3. What is one unexpected talent or pastime that you have?

I am very passionate about cooking. My lovely mom taught me how to cook since before I can remember. When I was seven years old, I would make breakfast for my siblings and that included homemade flour tortillas. I love cooking for my friends, or family. I spend fifty percent of time cooking or thinking about cooking.

4. What went into choosing the repertoire for the finals of the 2020 Wirth Vocal Prize?

I wanted to choose repertoire that tells people who Jenny Ivanovna is. I love every single piece I am singing and I am very excited to perform them. In addition to that, I wanted to make sure I present different styles, colors, and moods. Each piece tells a different story, and I am very excited to tell those stories.

5. What does it mean to you to be one of the Wirth finalists?

It is such an honor and I am very humbled to be one of the three 2020 Wirth finalists. This is such an incredible opportunity to go and do what we singers love to do the most while having in mind that the voice faculty believed in us, and decided to have us here. Above all, this is the most rewarding prize.


Joé Lampron-DandonneauPortrait Lampron-Dandonneau

Why did you choose to study at the Schulich School of Music?

I decided to come study at the Schulich School of Music to work with my teacher, Dominique Labelle. I had met her before the auditions and knew right away that we would work well together. I was also aware that Opera McGill had decided to do Street Scene this year, and since it is one of my favorite operas, I had no choice but to audition. And now, I get to sing Sam Kaplan, one of the lead roles.

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2.  Where do you call home?

Officially, I call Richmond, in the Eastern Townships, home, but Montreal is where I live now.

3.  What is one unexpected talent or pastime that you have?

I am a fervent knitter. It calms my nerves like nothing else, and you end up with something nice to wear afterwards. Plus, it makes perfect gifts for Christmas!

4. What went into choosing the repertoire for the finals of the 2020 Wirth Vocal Prize?

I decided to pick pieces that, not only do I love, but are telling a story when all put together. It is a mixture of opera arias, art songs and musical theater, and it goes from the beginning of a new love to passion, then moves to conflict and separation.

5. What does it means to you to be one of the Wirth finalists?

For me, it means that my teachers and coaches do believe in me, and see the passion that I have for singing. It is an unbelievable honor to be able to show my talent and my art to the world. All I can do now is make them proud!

 

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