Artists (2015)

Carson Becke

PIANO and ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Photo - Carson Becke

Carson Becke (b. 1989) has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician, including performances in Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Latvia, and Trinidad and Tobago.  For the past five years he has been artist in residence and then artistic director of  Festival Pontiac Enchante, a concert series in Luskville, Quebec.

Carson was born in Ottawa, Canada, and began learning the piano at the age of five with his Great Grandmother, Mary Mackey.  In 2005, he moved to the UK in order to study at the Purcell School of Music, where he studied piano with Ilana Davids and composition with Jonathan Cole.  After graduating from the Purcell School, he studied on scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Tatiana Sarkissova.  He completed his Bachelors degree in June 2011.

Since moving to the UK, Carson has won a number of awards and prizes, including the top prize in the S.V. Rachmaninov International Piano Competition (2006, Russia), 1st Prize in the BBC young composers of the year competition (2007), and the Harold Craxton Chamber Music Competition, Francis Earle, and Dorothy Bryant awards at the Royal Academy of Music.  He was also the recipient of a BBC performing arts fund bursary scholarship in 2007.  Most recently, he won an award from the Royal Overseas League Competition for the best Canadian competitor.

As a composer, his composition “Three Nocturnes for Orchestra” has been performed by the Purcell Symphony Orchestra in the UK, and the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra in Canada, and has also been heard on BBC Radio Three.  A smaller composition, “John Keats: On Death” was recorded by members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and has been performed in the BBC Proms.

Currently, Carson is reading for his Master’s degree in Music Performance at the University of Oxford, with the generous support of the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation of Canada.

Whitney O’Hearn

MEZZO-SOPRANO

Photo - Isaac Chalk

Mezzo-soprano Whitney O’Hearn “has a warm and expressive voice and an amazing sense of line” (Ottawa Citizen). She is a Toronto based vocal artist pursuing a career in opera and contemporary music. A prolific performer, Whitney seeks to make music more accessible through collaborating with composers and singing in unusual venues in a broad range of traditional and unexpected ensembles. As a voice teacher, she eagerly shares her insights and philosophy with her students.

Whitney has principally studied with Sandra Graham and Daniel Taylor and is continuing her studies as a doctoral student under Wendy Nielsen at the University of Toronto.

Notable roles she has had the pleasure to sing include Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen, Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Mère Marie in Poulenc’s Les Dialogues des Carmélites, Maurya in Vaughn Williams’ Riders to the Sea, and The Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aneas. She has been a soloist with Coro Vivo Ottawa, the Ottawa New Music Creators, the Kanata Symphony Orchestra, the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, Whitney was invited as a guest artist to perform Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, Stony Brook NY, she received the Frederick-Karam Scholarship, and she was the winner of the University of Ottawa Concerto Competition, where she performed Gustav Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer. She has performed in the Ottawa International Chamber Festival, the Festival Pontiac Enchanté, and she appeared as Mercedes in the wildly successful Carmen on Tap over its five consecutive seasons. She reprised her role as The Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas) in January 2014 in a Toronto production in collaboration with Schola Cantorum, Theater of Early Music, and Tafelmusik.

In the summers of 2013 and 2014, Whitney participated as one of four young Canadian singers invited to the National Arts Center’s Summer Music Institute young artist program and she made her debut with the Stratford Music Festival and the Prince Edward County Music Festival. In the fall of 2014, she toured Western Québec and Southern Ontario with the Canadian Guitar Quartet, premiering Canadian composer John Armstrong’s “Of Glad Love.” In January 2015, she was a featured soloist with the Talisker Players in their Irving Berlin concerts entitled Puttin’ on the Ritz.

Cheng² Duo

PIANO and CELLO

Photo - Boson Mo

Canadian classical pianist and cellist Silvie and Bryan Cheng have been making music together for the past 12 years. In 2011, when they were called upon to replace an injured musician for a scheduled recital in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, they officially became known as Cheng² Duo, pronounced Cheng Squared Duo. The duo’s New York debut was met with an enthusiastic full-house audience, as well as critical acclaim. New York Concert Review wrote, “The New York recital debut of Bryan and Silvie Cheng was infused with a spirit of thoughtfulness and generosity. The obvious affection between the two siblings extends beyond the familial sphere into the audience, and most importantly, into the music itself". Following that concert, Cheng² Duo was invited back to Weill Hall for a return recital in April 2013, which included the world premiere of a pair of new Canadian works written by the Juno award-winning composer Alexina Louie to another full house.

The sibling duo is formed by 17-year-old cellist Bryan Cheng, a guest soloist with numerous orchestras since his debut at age 10 in Montreal with Yuli Turovsky, and pianist Silvie Cheng, a recent graduate from the Manhattan School of Music in New York with a Master’s Degree in Piano Performance, and the recipient of the Roy M. Rubinstein Award for “exceptional promise in piano performance”. As an ensemble, Cheng² Duo's wide-ranging repertoire for the cello and piano has brought them to present recitals and performances on three continents, in notable venues throughout North America (Canada and US), Europe (Belgium, Italy, Holland, the Czech Republic), and Asia (China and South Korea). They have performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Orford Music Festival, Ottawa Chamberfest, Festival of the Sound, and they have also been featured on CBC Radio. The duo's Toronto recital debut, recorded live and broadcast in March 2015 on CBC Radio Two’s “In Concert” program, received this praise: "The Cheng² Duo digs deep under the virtuoso fireworks to find the inner life of each work in their varied repertoire. While they certainly display impeccable technique, there's much more to good music than that and this pair of artists have a great gift for coaxing the music off the page and into vivid life.

In 2015-2016, Cheng² Duo will be returning to the Festival of the Sound and the Pro-Series Concerts at Fisk Farm, as well as making debut appearances at the CAMMAC Festival and Cecilian Concert Series, amongst others. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/Cheng2Duo.

Markus Kvint

PIANO

Photo - Markus Kvint

Since Markus Kvint began his musical studies he has had great success as a performer at concerts and festivals in Scandinavia, Austria and Germany. By expanding his repertoire to include also lied accompaniment and chamber music collaborations, Markus has established himself as a multifaceted and sought-after musician.

Markus is currently a student in the soloist class at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, where he will make his debut during the concert season 2016-17. His previous studies include Vadstena Folk High School's music program, KMH in Stockholm for Anders Kilström, Hochschule für Musik - Franz Liszt in Weimar, Germany, and the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen for Niklas Sivelöv.

In collaboration with actress Ayla Kabaca, Markus has created music theater, which will be performed on tour in 2015. Collaboration with contemporary composers has resulted in new music for Markus in an ongoing lied project.

Markus won awards at the Royal Academy of Music's scholarship competition in Stockholm and at DKDM scholarship contest in 2013. In 2014 Markus also received Sixten Gemzeusstiftelsens scholarship and Helge Ax:son scholarship. He has participated in master classes with Thomas Quasthoff and Justus Zeyen, Anne Sofie von Otter and Bengt Forsberg, Helmut Deutsch and Boris Berman among others.

Sara Swietlicki

SOPRANO

Photo - Sara Swietlicki

Sara was born in Lund in 1988 and began singing in the church choir when she was four years old. Ten years later Sara began her musical studies. In addition to vocal studies Sara also learned to play the piano and read music. Directly after high school Sara applied to Vadstena Folk High School's music program where her talent was recognized immediately. The two-year studies at the college were extended to three years when Sarah changed from mezzo-soprano to soprano.

2010 Sara continued her studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, and since 2013 she is a student at the Opera Academy at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen.

As part of her 2014-2015 internship at the Copenhagen Opera, Sara is performing one of the "Drei adelige Waisen" in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss.

Her operatic repertoire includes roles as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni by Mozart and Mimi in La Bohème by Puccini. Sara also has a passionate interest in literature. In her spare time, she writes children's books and blogs about reading and writing. In 2010 she won second prize in the competition ”Debutant”.

The jury’s rationale:
The 2015 Jenny Lind Scholarship is awarded to Sara Swietlicki for her warm, solid sound and obvious presence in the music making." Sara Swietlicki is the fiftieth singer to be awarded this scholarship.

Carson Becke

PIANO and ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Photo - Carson Becke

Carson Becke (b. 1989) has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician, including performances in Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Latvia, and Trinidad and Tobago.  For the past five years he has been artist in residence and then artistic director of  Festival Pontiac Enchante, a concert series in Luskville, Quebec.

Carson was born in Ottawa, Canada, and began learning the piano at the age of five with his Great Grandmother, Mary Mackey.  In 2005, he moved to the UK in order to study at the Purcell School of Music, where he studied piano with Ilana Davids and composition with Jonathan Cole.  After graduating from the Purcell School, he studied on scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Tatiana Sarkissova.  He completed his Bachelors degree in June 2011.

Since moving to the UK, Carson has won a number of awards and prizes, including the top prize in the S.V. Rachmaninov International Piano Competition (2006, Russia), 1st Prize in the BBC young composers of the year competition (2007), and the Harold Craxton Chamber Music Competition, Francis Earle, and Dorothy Bryant awards at the Royal Academy of Music.  He was also the recipient of a BBC performing arts fund bursary scholarship in 2007.  Most recently, he won an award from the Royal Overseas League Competition for the best Canadian competitor.

As a composer, his composition “Three Nocturnes for Orchestra” has been performed by the Purcell Symphony Orchestra in the UK, and the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra in Canada, and has also been heard on BBC Radio Three.  A smaller composition, “John Keats: On Death” was recorded by members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and has been performed in the BBC Proms.

Currently, Carson is reading for his Master’s degree in Music Performance at the University of Oxford, with the generous support of the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation of Canada.

Recent Reviews

Becke plays Bach
View the article at localsecrets.com…

Isaac Chalk

VIOLA

Photo - Isaac Chalk

Canadian violist Isaac Chalk has received a rich musical training. In addition to his education as an instrumentalist, Mr. Chalk also worked extensively as a choral singer and attended the Maîtrise des Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal in his earlier years. Mr. Chalk is a graduate of McGill University, where he was a recipient of many awards, including the Lloyd Carr-Harris String Scholarship and the prestigious Golden Violin Award, the largest privately funded music scholarship in Canada.

In February 2011, Mr. Chalk had his Koerner Hall debut performing Béla Bartók’s Viola Concerto with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra conducted by Julian Kuerti. Other recent highlights include a tribute concert for the late Italian double bassist and composer Stefano Scodanibbio, in the Solitär of the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In June 2013, he was named principal viola of Les Violons du Roy and since then has performed with the orchestra in their regular series in Quebec City and Montreal as well as at the Lanaudière Festival and on a tour in Europe. Mr. Chalk has been generously supported by the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Thomas Chartré

CELLO

Photo - Thomas Chartré

Thomas Chartré received a Master of Music degree with distinction from the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he studied with teachers Paul Katz, LIuis Claret  and Pieter Wispelwey. Previously he completed an undergraduate degree and Artist Diploma, with highest honours, working under Denis Brott at the Montreal Conservatory of Music. A recipient of Sylva Gelber Music Foundation Awards in 2013 and 2014, he has played with numerous symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles.

A scholarship student at a number of important academies, such as the Music Academy of the West at Santa Barbara and the Aspen Music Festival and School, Thomas Chartré has performed as a soloist and studied  with masters such as Laurence Lesser, Janos Starker, Maria Kliegel, and Raphael Wallfisch. In Germany, the young cellist was invited to the Kronberg Academy for its Cello festival.  In the summer of 2013, sponsored by the St-Lawrence Quartet, he performed with his string quartet at Stanford.

The many distinctions he has received include the  Marusia Yaworska, McAffey, and J.H. Picard awards, along with awards of excellence from the New England Conservatory. In the fall of 2014, he joined cellist Michel Strauss at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris.  
Thomas wishes to thank the team at the Banff Centre for the generous loan of the Forster cello and the Hill bow from the Centre’s Instrument Bank.

Mehdi Ghazi

PIANIST

Photo - Mehdi Ghazi

Solo finalist in the 2013 edition of the International Ferruccio Busoni Competition in Bolzano, Italy, and medalist in the 2014 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, Mehdi Ghazi has been described as a “sensitive pianist” (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times) and “a great pianist” with a power of “communicating emotions comparable to that of Wilhelm Kempff” (Claude Gingras, La Presse, Montreal).

As a soloist and chamber musician, Ghazi has performed in important venues around the world, such as UNESCO’s Great Hall in Paris, Koerner Hall in Toronto, the Chappelle historique in Montreal, and the Conservatorio Monteverdi hall in Bolzano, among others.

He has worked and collaborated with renowned conductors Daniel Barenboim, John Morris Russell, Pavel Baleff and Raffi Armenian. He has performed with celebrated musicians Conrad Tao, Valeryi Sokolov, Aleksey Shadrin and Julie Nasrallah and he was selected by The Glenn Gould Foundation to perform for the Governor General of Canada as part of a tribute to the late Glenn Gould.

After moving from Algeria to Canada in 2006, Ghazi was awarded several prizes and awards: The 2014 Sylva Gelber Award, First Prize at the “Festival de musique classique du Bas-Richelieu”, and First Prize at the Canadian Musical Competition, as well as school chamber and concerto competitions and special scholarships. He often appears on radio, television and in print, including CBC (2011), Classical 96.3 (2012), The Globe and Mail (2011), and Algerian Radio and Television (2006), among others.

Ghazi graduated with the highest distinction from the Montreal Conservatory and the Glenn Gould School, where he studied with pianists John Perry, André Laplante and Marc Durand. He has taken master classes with internationally acclaimed artists such as Daniel Barenboim, Leon Fleisher, Emanuel Ax, Menahem Pressler, Michel Beroff, Jean-phillippe Collard, Robert McDonald and John O’Conor.

Mehdi also holds an Algerian Science Baccalaureate and is currently completing a Master’s degree at the University of Montreal.

Wallis Giunta

MEZZO-SOPRANO

Photo - Wallis Giunta

Canadian mezzo, Wallis Giunta, has been praised by OPERA NEWS for her “delectably rich, silver-toned mezzo-soprano, with a beautiful sense of line and effortless, rapid runs,.” Her recent performance as Mozart’s Sesto for the Canadian Opera Company (COC) was celebrated as “a triumph...remarkable in its combination of intelligence and beauty”.

In the 2014/15 season, she returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Olga in a new production of The Merry Widow, to Opera Lyra Ottawa as Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, and to Opera Atelier as Bradamante in a new period-production of Alcina. Ms. Giunta also made a thrilling debut with Madison Opera, in concert, and performed Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. This fall, she joins the roster of Oper Leipzig, singing the title role in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, along with Siebel in Gounod’s Faust, and a reprise of her signature role, Cherubino. Next season she also debuts as Mercedes in Bizet’s Carmen for Oper Frankfurt, and makes her Italian debut at Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in John Adams’ rare opera I Was Looking at the Ceiling, and Then I Saw the Sky.

She began the 2013/14 season as Annio in La Clemenza di Tito for her debut with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra, followed by Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto at the Met, and Dorabella in Atom Egoyan’s new production of Cosí fan tutte at the Canadian Opera Company. In June 2014, she recorded her first album with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin (NAXOS), featuring a new work by American composer, William Perry. She also debuted with the Toronto and Saskatoon Symphony Orchestras, and with the 21C Music Festival, premiering Louis Andriessen’s one-woman-opera, Anaïs Nin. She performed concerts and recitals in Toronto, New York, and Regina, and brought her acclaimed program of Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins to Miami and Ottawa.

Miss Giunta had a whirlwind 2012/13 season: she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Rigoletto, debuted the role of Annio in La Clemenza di Tito with the Canadian Opera Company, performed her Sins recital for Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto and the Bruno Walter Auditorium in New York, and sang Dorabella in the Met + Juilliard production of Cosí fan tutte, to rave reviews. She also made debuts with L’Opéra de Montréal, Fort Worth Opera, Le Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris), the Edmonton, Seville and Nuremberg Symphonies, the Stuttgart Festivalorchester, and the National Arts Centre and Munich Radio Orchestras.

Ms. Giunta is a grateful recipient of a 2013 Novick Career Advancement Grant, a Sylva Gelber Music Foundation Award, and multiple grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. She is a 2013 graduate of both the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and The Juilliard School’s Artist Diploma in Opera Studies.

Boson Mo

VIOLIN

Photo - Boson Mo

Boson Mo discovered the violin at the age of seven and has since received numerous national and international distinctions.

Winner of Third Prize at the 2013 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, Boson was the recipient of the “Prix Joseph-Rouleau” at the 2010 Montreal International Violin Competition, and was a participant at the Queen Elizabeth International Violin Competition, the Menuhin International Violin Competition, and the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. Boson most recently won Canada’s prestigious Sylva Gelber Foundation Award, and has also received the Canadian Music Educators’ Association’s W. Harvey Award for the Best Small Ensemble Performance, Third Prize, at the OSM Standard Life Competition, and First Prize at the Canadian Music Competition.

As Young Artist in Residence of American Public Media’s “Performance Today,” Boson is currently being broadcast nationally in the U.S. via National Public Radio. In addition, his performances have been featured on Radio New Zealand and CBC Radio-Canada. Boson has performed as soloist with the Auckland Philharmonia (New Zealand), l’Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil (Canada), the CIM Orchestra, and the F.A.C.E. Symphony Orchestra; he has also been featured in recitals by the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival and School, Da Camera of Houston, Début Atlantic, and the Jeunesses Musicales du Canada.

A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, Boson is pursuing a Doctoral degree at the Shepherd School of Music under Paul Kantor. He enjoys regular collaborations with cellist Desmond Hoebig and Maestro Larry Rachleff, and has also performed in recital alongside Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, Paul Katz, and Roger Tapping, among others. Boson has attended the Perlman Music Program (New York), the Master classes and Chamber Music Residency at the Banff Centre, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival (Maine), Morningside Music Bridge (Calgary), and the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Boson currently performs on a violin by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (1871), graciously on loan from the Canada Council for the Arts.