Renowned for his vivid soundscapes and inventive texts, pianist and writer Pierre-André Doucet is a leading voice among Canada’s newest generation of artists.
He has been hailed for “the emotion of his playing and his impeccable control” (Audiophilia), and was named by CBC Radio 2 as being one of the best Canadian classical musicians under 30. Recently, he has performed in Canada, Europe, South Africa, and the United States, as well as across Asia, Europe and the South Pacific as one of the inaugural Lincoln Center Stage artists aboard Holland America Line ships. Several of his performances have been broadcast on Radio-Canada, CBC Radio and NPR.
Winner of the Knigge Piano Competition, as well as the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition (with soprano Alexandra Smither), Mr. Doucet has also been awarded top prizes for his performances of contemporary works, namely at the Prix d’Europe, and the Ibiza International Piano Competition. Mr. Doucet is also the prize-winning author of Des dick pics sous les étoiles (2020) and Sorta comme si on était déjà là (2012), both published by Éditions Prise de parole. Additional works have been published in Ancrages, Impossible Archetypes and Voix plurielles
Mr. Doucet holds a doctoral degree from l’Université de Montréal, where he studied with Maneli Pirzadeh, and where he has also been a visiting professor. Further, he has benefited from masterclasses at the Franz-Schubert-Institut, the Gijón International Piano Festival, Songfest, the Music Academy of the West, and the Tanglewood Music Center with such luminaries as Elly Ameling, Julius Drake, Margo Garrett, Marilyn Horne, Graham Johnson, Warren Jones, Kiri Te Kanawa, Martin Katz, Robert MacDonald, Dawn Upshaw and Roger Vignoles. This spring, he completed his term as Interim Executive Director of the Frye Festival, and he has been Co-Artistic Director of Barachois Summer Music since 2012.
Charles Richard-Hamelin stands out on the international music scene as a “highly sensitive” pianist (Gramophone), driven by “a great depth of feeling without the slightest condescension” (Le Devoir). He is recognized as “fluent, multifaceted and tonally seductive… a technician of exceptional elegance and sophistication” (BBC Music Magazine).
In 2015, he received the Silver Medal at the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw and the Krystian Zimerman Prize for the best performance of a sonata. He also won Second Prize at the Concours musical international de Montréal and Third Prize and the Special Prize for best performance of a Beethoven sonata at the Seoul International Music Competition, in South Korea.
Charles Richard-Hamelin is in great demand as a guest performer at the world’s greatest classical music festivals and orchestras. Charles Richard-Hamelin has recorded nine albums to this day, all published on the Analekta label. His most recent collaboration with Les Violons du Roy led to the release of a Mozart album (Piano Concertos Nos. 22 and 24) conducted by Jonathan Cohen. These nine albums received awards and enthusiastic reviews from the leading music critics. In 2021, the second volume of his complete Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano with Andrew Wan was released, as well as a new Chopin recital featuring the 24 Preludes, the Andante spianato and the Grande polonaise brillante.
Originally from Caraquet, Jacques Saint-Cyr holds a Master of Arts in flute performance from the University of Montreal, where he studied under the direction of Lise Daoust, and a Bachelor of Arts in music education from University of Quebec in Montreal. Twice a grant recipient of the French government, he perfected his skills in Paris with flautist Raymond Guiot and studied the baroque flute with Jean-Christophe Frish.
It was upon his return from France that he learned to dance. Quickly, the tango became a second passion. While pursuing his career as a classical musician, he studied tango with teachers from Montreal and Argentina. From 1996 to 2003 Jacques Saint-Cyr taught, danced and choreographed at the Tanguería in Montreal. With his wife Maria Castello, he has collaborated since 1994 in contemporary dance and Tango shows. In 1997, they created It Takes Three to Tango, a dance and music show inspired by the history of Argentine tango from its origins to today. They produced their show in several Canadian and American cities.
In September 2003, Jacques moved to Rockford, Illinois, where he pursued his career as a musician and dancer. He performs there as a soloist and chamber musician, as well as in jazz ensembles. Jacques has been first flute and soloist for the Rockford Wind Ensemble since 2012. He teaches flute at the Rockford Music Academy, and is a substitute professor at Rock Valley College and Rockford University.
An extremely versatile musician, Dominic Painchaud holds a Masters in Performance from McGill University's Schulich School of Music, as well as prizes from the Conservatoire de musique du Québec in cello and chamber music. He was a scholarship recipient at several performing arts centres, including Domaine Forget, the Conservatoire de Bordeaux Jacques Thibaud, the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Italy, the Toronto Summer Music Festival, and the Mozarteum in Austria. In addition to having studied with Pierre Morin, Leslie Sneider, Étienne Péclard and Matt Haimovitz, Dominic has also benefited from masterclasses from such renowned musicians as Walter Joachim, Timothy Eddy, Desmond Hoebig, Roland Pidoux, Philippe Muller and Antonio Meneses.
Hailed for his warm and expressive touch, he performs regularly as a soloist, chamber musician and in orchestras such as the Violons du Roy, the Orchestre symphonique de Québec and the Montreal Classical Orchestra. He has worked in concerts recorded by medici.tv and Radio-Canada, and has collaborated extensively with famed artists such as Nathalie Choquette, Gino Quilico, Alexandre Da Costa, Charles Richard-Hamelin, Marie-Josée Lord, etc. Winner of multiple Canadian awards, he was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Meeting of the Spirits, recorded with the Uccello ensemble that had been founded by his professor, Matt Haimovitz. Together, they have toured throughout the United States, including a performance at the prestigious SXSW Festival.
A virtuoso whose enthusiasm is genuinely contagious, Canadian pianist Julien LeBlanc is renowned for his great musical sensibility and his talent as a communicator. Based in Montreal, he is a well sought-after soloist, chamber player and accompanist.
In 2015, he launched his first solo album, “Mélancolies”, which is dedicated to works by Dutilleux, Franck and Poulenc. The album was extremely well received: “LeBlanc proved a more than able interpreter, playing with warmth, clarity and flowing lyricism, all with a natural rhythmic sense." (Rutland Herald). La Scena Musicale said that "he handles every twist and turn with brio, his phrasing is analytical, and his brilliant technique puts him in a class of his own…. His interpretation is always true, played with care, and packed with warmth." He has also recorded two albums as a member of Trio Arkaède, as well as a new album of French and Spanish art song with soprano Marianne Lambert, which was released in May 2020.
Since 2012, Julien has been Co-Artistic Director of Barachois Summer Music alongside Pierre-André Doucet. He has taken part in many concert tours across Canada for Jeunesses Musicales du Canada and Debut Atlantic. He is a part-time lecturer at the University of Ottawa, and has given masterclasses in several universities across Canada, in addition to his frequently being asked to sit on juries for music competitions.
Described as a "major vocal revelation" (Le Devoir), Canadian soprano Kirsten LeBlanc is quickly becoming known for her rich and powerful voice, as well as her engaging stage presence. Currently a member of Opéra de Montréal's Atelier lyrique, Kirsten also recently obtained her Doctorate in Performance at l’Université de Montréal, having already completed a Masters in Voice and Opera Performance at McGill University.
In the 2021-2022 season at Opéra de Montréal, she made her mainstage debut as Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte. Other recent credits include covering Tatyana (Eugene Onegin) and La femme (La voix humaine) at Opéra de Montréal, Contessa Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) with L’Atelier lyrique, Elettra (Idomeneo), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Helena (A Midsummer Night's Dream) and La bergère and L’écureuil (L’enfant et les sortilèges) at l’Université de Montréal, Nella (Gianni Schicchi) with the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute and Hanna Glawari (The Merry Widow) with McGill Savoy Society.
Gifted with a rich musical background, Kirsten’s work is distinguished by sophisticated craftsmanship that has enabled her to embark on a rapidly developing career. She works notably with l'Opéra de Montréal, l'Orchestre métropolitain, l'Orchestre de l'Agora, l’Orchestre symphonique de Laval, l’Orchestre symphonique de Drummondville, and has participated at the Highlands Opera Studio, at ICAV-CVAI, as well as at the Halifax Summer Opera Festival. She has been the recipient of both the Abbé Charles-Émile Gadbois and George-Cedric Ferguson scholarships and, in 2019, she was a finalist in the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio Competition.
Marie-Noëlle Choquette, flute | Charles Hobson, guitar
Duo Beija-Flor presents world-folk-inspired classical music with "superb playing, varied programs and infectious rhythms" (The Whole Note, Toronto). Composed of flautist Marie-Noëlle Choquette and guitarist Charles Hobson, the duo has performed in Canada, the United States, Argentina and Costa Rica.
After having self-produced two albums, the duo launched Costas, their third album, in the fall of 2018 with the American label Big Round Records/Naxos of America. They have been featured guest artists on various media for their unique brand of classical repertoire (Radio-Canada, CIBL, Global TV).
Recipients of several awards and grants, the duo was selected in 2021 to participate in the Evolution:Classical program at the Banff Center for the Arts under the direction of the Gryphon Trio, and were touring artists with Prairie Debut during the 2020-22 seasons. Forming an "incredibly dynamic and creative team" (The Flute View, San Francisco) the duo has arranged several works, including Portuguese fados and their a Roma version of Béla Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances. The duo also went to Buenos Aires to perfect their arrangements and interpretation of works by Astor Piazzolla.
Always in search of new repertoire, Duo Beija-Flor has collaborated with various Canadian composers to create new works, including Roddy Ellias, Carmen Braden and Sylvain Picard.
Elinor Frey is a leading Canadian-American cellist, gambist, and researcher. Her albums on the Belgian label Passacaille and Canadian label Analekta – many of which are world premiere recordings – are the result of long collaborations with artists such as Suzie LeBlanc, Marc Vanscheeuwijck, and Lorenzo Ghielmi, as well as with composers including Maxime McKinley, Linda Catlin Smith, and Lisa Streich. Elinor’s recording of cello sonatas by Giuseppe Clemente Dall’Abaco received a Diapason d’Or and her critical editions of Dall’Abaco’s cello music is published in collaboration with Walhall Editions.
Elinor is the artistic director of Accademia de’ Dissonanti and has performed throughout the Americas and in Europe in recital and with numerous chamber ensembles and orchestras (Constantinople, Les idées heureuses, Il Gardellino, Pallade Musica, Tafelmusik, etc.). The 2021-2022 season includes performing the CPE Bach A minor concerto with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, a recital at Amuz in Antwerp, and a research residency at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent. In April 2022, she welcomed the CD release of Early Italian Cello Concertos, a collaboration with Rosa Barocca orchestra.
Recipient of dozens of grants and prizes supporting performance and research, including the US-Italy Fulbright Fellowship (studying with Paolo Beschi in Como, Italy), Elinor holds degrees from McGill, Mannes, and Juilliard. She teaches early cello at Université de Montréal, lectures at McGill University, and is a Visiting Fellow in Music (2020–2023) at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. Frey was awarded Québec’s Opus Prize for “Performer of the Year” in 2021.
Praised as “darkly seductive” with a “smooth, rich tone,” mezzo-soprano Kristee Haney recently joined the roster of the
Metropolitan Opera for productions of Janáček’s Jenůfa and Massenet’s Werther.
Her adventurous and versatile repertoire encompasses everything from core baroque and romantic roles, and cutting edge contemporary operas, to jazz standards and musical theatre. She also performed with the New York City Opera
for North American and European tours of Bizet’s Carmen and in the American premiere of Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain as Mrs. Beers. The 21-22 season includes appearances with New York City opera in the world premiere of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Ricky Ian Gordon, as well as releasing her first solo album, Echos.
Past highlights on the operatic stage include the title role in Bizet’s Carmen with the New York City Opera, The Fox in Portman’s The Little Prince with Tulsa Opera, the title role in Massenet’s Cendrillon and Händel's Giulio Cesare at the Siena Musica Festival and Trentino Music Festival, respectively, and performances with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Flora in La Traviata, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, and Second Secretary to Mao in Nixon In China, among others. She has also appeared as Maddalena in Rigoletto with Union Avenue Opera, and as Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible with Rimrock Opera.
In addition to her extensive and versatile operatic engagements, Ms. Haney also enjoys a busy concert and crossover career. On the concert stage, she has made
Carnegie Hall appearances as the alto soloist in Mozart’s
Coronation Mass, Corigliano’s Fern Hill, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. As an oratorio soloist, she has appeared with the
New York City Chamber Orchestra, Boston Early Music Festival, Kansas City Baroque Consortium, the Spoleto Festival USA, and Orpheus Chamber Singers, among others.
Equally at home in musical theatre, Ms. Haney has made strong impressions on critics and audiences alike as Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd), Maria (The Sound of Music), and Countess Charlotte Malcolm (A Little Night Music). While a Vocal Fellow at the Music Academy of the West, she worked with legendary comedienne Carol Burnett, performing selections from Sondheim's Company.
Ms. Haney is an alumna of the Resident Artist Program with
Lyric Opera of Kansas City, where she performed in productions of The Rake’s Progress, Trouble in Tahiti, Norma, and Così fan tutte. She currently resides in New York City.
Soprano Nathalie Paulin has established herself in North America, Europe and the Far East as an interpretive artist of the very first rank. Winner of a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Opera Performance, she has collaborated with a host of internationally renowned conductors, including Kent Nagano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Bernard Labadie, and Mario Bernardi.
Critics have been lavish in their praise. From the Chicago Tribune, John van Rhein notes that “Paulin in particular is a real find; her rich, agile voice possesses great depth and allure, her manner radiates sensuous charm,” while Renaud Machart from Paris’s Le Monde writes: “Nathalie Paulin was impeccable in diction, musicality and style.” Charles T. Downey, in The Washington Post, observes: “Nathalie Paulin’s voice…has blossomed, retaining its beautiful qualities and gaining in power, a sense of authority coupled with a magnetic stage presence.”
Frequently heard on both the French and English CBC networks, Nathalie is a past winner of the Montreal Symphony Competition, and received prizes and recognitions from the George London Foundation, the Young Mozart Singers’ Competition and the Canadian Music Competition. An alumna of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, Nathalie has performed with many opera companies, including the Opéra de Montréal; the Canadian Opera Company; Vancouver Opera and The Dallas Opera, and with orchestras such as the National Arts Centre Orchestra; Tafelmusik; the Rotterdam Philharmonic; the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Toronto, Seattle, and Vancouver Symphonies.
Nathalie teaches at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto.
Phoebe Robertson is Assistant Professor of Flute at Arkansas Tech University. Her solo and orchestral performances have brought her to such venues as Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie as well as halls from coast to coast in North America. She has performed as soloist with ensembles including the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, and Symphony New Brunswick. Equally at home performing contemporary music as the standard repertoire, she has premiered numerous works for solo flute and flute with electronics, including a full recital of premieres by members of the Tesselat Composers Collective.
Phoebe has taught flute at the Manhattan School of Music, Mount Allison University, and the Gould Academy, and has given masterclasses at universities, conservatories, festivals, and arts programs throughout North America. She is likewise a sought-after writer of program notes for orchestras throughout the northeastern United States, helping to make concerts more accessible to audiences with a wide variety of musical backgrounds.
Raised in Sackville, New Brunswick, she earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Manhattan School of Music in New York, studying with Linda Chesis and Robert Langevin. She holds a Master of Music degree from Carnegie Mellon University, where she studied with Lorna McGhee, and a Bachelor of Music degree from her studies with Camille Churchfield at the University of Ottawa. Her studies have been generously supported by the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation, the O’Brien Foundation, the Charlotte Glencross Foundation, and the New Brunswick Arts Board.
Zac Pulak, percussions | Edana Higham, piano
“SHHH!!… a powerful utterance designed to draw attention forward… creating space and awareness… opening ears to something important.”
Percussionist Zac Pulak and pianist Edana Higham are the two members of SHHH!! Ensemble, a duo carving a space for themselves as compelling performers, collaborators, and commissioners of electrifying new Canadian music.
A keen taste for experimentation and discovery has guided their “avant-accessible” projects which they have workshopped at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance, and the Canadian Music Centre, resulting in feature performances at the Tuckamore Festival, Ottawa Chamberfest, and the National Arts Centre #CanadaPerforms series.
They have toured broadly across Canada, celebrating and performing new works by both leading and emerging composers, including Jocelyn Morlock, Kelly-Marie Murphy, John Beckwith, Monica Pearce, Daniel Mehdizadeh, and Mari Alice Conrad. Their 2020 Toronto debut for the Music Mondays series was broadcast on the CBC Radio 2 program “In Concert”.
In 2023, SHHH!! Ensemble will present the world premiere of Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Machines, Mannequins, and Monsters, written expressly for them, with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, followed by an appearance in Walter Boudreau’s SMCQ Biennial Celebration in Montreal. Additionally, as co-Artistic Directors of the Ottawa New Music Creators, Zac and Edana enjoy curating performances by leading Canadian and international artists in their home base of Ottawa, Ontario. They are excited to be releasing their debut CD, Meanwhile, on the Analekta label later this year.
When not woodshedding new music, the pair spends their free time in the forest hiking and skiing.
Mohammad, who came to Halifax, NS in 2017, is a musician and ethnomusicologist originally from Iran, where he graduated with a BA in Music and an MA in Ethnomusicology, as well as an accounting degree and an MBA. He is a multi-instrumentalist (Tar, Setar, Dotar, Daff and Robab) and his composition and performance are focused on the music of Middle East and Central Asia.
Mohammad has traveled internationally, researching the music of each country he has visited and collecting more than 60 different and unusual musical instruments. His aim is to establish Canada’s first music museum in Halifax, and he has taken the first step towards that goal with the World Music Museum, a registered non-profit with a board of seven well-known musicians and businessmen from the area.
Within just a few months of his arrival in Canada, Mohammad and his friends had formed Open Borders, a group of 30 international musicians. In the last two years he has organized three concerts with Open Borders, performing global music and as well as his own compositions. He also founded a second group, Tillit.
He and his bands have played in various venues including the Jazz Festival, Obey Festival, Upstream, Multicultural Festival, Feast Festival, and in the Iranian and Indian Festivals. He has also performed with the Rumi ensemble throughout Nova Scotia. And he has resurrected the idea of live music during silent movies, collaborating with both Dalhousie and Kings Universities.
In addition to performance, composition, and arranging, Mohammad also teaches and holds master classes and workshops about the music of various countries.
Zac Pulak, percussions | Edana Higham, piano
Principal clarinetist at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, Dominic Desautels enjoys a busy career as a soloist, chamber musician and pedagogue, at home as well as abroad.
He made his debut as a soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2003 at the age of 21, being invited the same season as acting principal clarinetist with the ensemble. He has since been a guest soloist with many orchestras, including Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais, Symphony Nova Scotia, Sinfonia Lanaudière, Orchestre de la Francophonie and Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal.
Dominic appears as a guest artist and faculty in several festivals, notably since 2013 at Scotia Festival of Music with its fine history of clarinet artists which initiated with Robert Marcellus in the 1980s. As co-artistic director of The Parcival Project chamber ensemble, he has toured across Canada and South America. Other recent tours include 40 recitals presented by Jeunesses Musicales of Canada.
Besides his duties at the Canadian Opera Company, he also holds the principal clarinet chair at the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Prior to these positions, he was principal clarinetist at the Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais in Brazil, and then at Symphony Nova Scotia in Halifax.
Dominic started playing the clarinet at age 15 and studied mainly with Jean-François Normand, Robert Riseling and Joaquin Valdepeñas, and more recently has received guidance from François Benda and James Campbell. After studies at several institutions such as the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal and Glenn Gould School, he graduated from the Université de Montréal in 2007.
The winner of several competitions, he was the first clarinetist to ever win a top prize, at the 33rd edition of the prestigious International Stepping Stone at the Canadian Music Competition. He is now in demand as an adjudicator at institutions such as the Glenn Gould School, University of Toronto, the Concours at the Conservatoires de Musique du Québec and the national finals of the Canadian Music Competition. He has taught at Dalhousie and Acadia Universities, and starting in the fall 2019 will be on faculty at the University of Toronto.
Dominic Desautels is a Backun Artist and plays on the MoBa cocobolo clarinets. He is also an Endorsing Artist for Légère European Cut Reeds and for Silverstein Works.