CENTRE STAGE:

ENSEMBLE STUDIO COMPETITION

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2022

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
5:30 - 9:00 p.m.

HOUSE PROGRAM


On Thursday, November 3, the COC community enjoyed an evening in the spotlight as Canada’s top voices competed to be the next opera star! 

Canadian soprano Karoline Podolak won First Prize, a $7,500 award, as well as the Audience Choice Award, which was matched on this night and increased to $2,000 by an audience member, inspired by the competition’s rising young artists.

Soprano Hannah Crawford of Toronto won the Second Prize of $5,000.

Tenor River Guard of Hamilton, Ontario and tenor Wesley Harrison of Windsor, Ontario shared the Third Prize of $3,000.

Read all about this incredible evening in our COC News article.

  • MEET THE FINALISTS

    Hannah Crawford started her vocal journey at just seven years-old, later participating in both high school and community performances to enrich her musical experiences. Crawford graduated last year from Wilfrid Laurier University in Voice Performance, after completing an Honours Diploma in Voice Performance at Cambrian College. This season, she is a part of The Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program. She also co-hosts a bi-weekly podcast, The Dreaming Divas, with her collaborator Simmie J. Patoka, as a way to educate and inspire her own generation of singers. 


    River Guard hails from Hamilton, Ontario. He received his master’s in opera from the University of Toronto in 2020, studying with Wendy Nielsen. Guard is a 2021 recipient of The Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance and Residency Program from The Glenn Gould School. Operatic roles include: Lensky in Eugene Onegin and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni (Highlands Opera Studio), Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia (The Glenn Gould School), Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi (Institut Canadien d'Art Vocal), Miles in Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up (Aspen Music Festival and School), and Don José in La tragédie de Carmen (l’Atelier d’opéra Université de Montréal). Guard currently lives in Montréal and studies with Canadian tenor Richard Margison.  


    Wesley Harrison is from Windsor, Ontario and currently based in Montreal, Quebec. Having completed his bachelors in voice performance at Wilfrid Laurier University and his master’s in opera and voice performance at McGill University, Harrison has been focused on exploring and refining his voice as well as his expressive abilities. He recently had the opportunity to perform as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and debut roles in collaboration with Montreal-based composers. Harrison is keen to continue sharing his passion for music and storytelling with the people around him. 


    Hailing from Ottawa, Matthew Li is currently a resident artist with the Atelier Lyrique at Opéra de Montréal. Favourite operatic highlights include singing the roles of Colline in La Bohème, Sarastro in The Magic Flute, and Masetto/Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni. This season, Li created the leading bass role of Xon Pon in the world premiere of Alice Ping Yee Ho’s Chinatown with City Opera Vancouver. Coming up, he will be making his mainstage debut at Opéra de Montréal as Il Commissario Imperiale in Madama Butterfly


    Laura Nielsen is delighted to perform in Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competition. Her 2021/2022 season included Second Prize at the NATS Artist Awards, District Winner for the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, and Semi-Finalist in the Concours OSM. Her past credits include Rosalba in Florencia en el Amazonas, Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief, Micaëla in Carmen, and Sœur Constance in Dialogues des Carmélites. Nielsen holds a Masters in Opera Performance from Yale University, and both an Artist Diploma in Vocal Performance and an Honors Bachelor of Music from Western University. 


    Karoline Podolak holds a master’s degree from the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Poland. Podolak won First Place at the 2021 Polish Academy of Music Tournament, declaring her the best soprano student in the country. She had her operatic debut at Silesian Opera House as Zuzia in Moniuszko’s Verbum Nobile, and Adele in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. She most recently sang Violetta in La Traviata at the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria. Last year, Podolak won the Toronto-Buffalo District at the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition and was a Region Final Encouragement Winner. 


    Named one of CBC Music’s “30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30” in 2021, baritone Korin Thomas-Smith is honoured to be supported by the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation. Thomas-Smith currently studies at Yale University in the Masters of Musical Arts program, and is a past participant of the Ravinia Steans Music Festival, the Music Academy of the West, the Rebanks Family Fellowship, and International Performance Residency. He has a master's of Music in Opera and a bachelor’s in voice performance from the University of Toronto. Korin is excited to be a finalist in this year's Ensemble Studio Competition! 
    CENTRE STAGE JUDGES
    Perryn Leech, COC General Director
    Roberto Mauro, COC Director of Artistic Planning
    Adrianne Pieczonka, internationally-celebrated Canadian soprano
    J’Nai Bridges, two-time Grammy Award-winning American mezzo-soprano
    CENTRE STAGE COMMITTEE
    Sadhisha Ambagahawita
    Keith Baguley
    Chris Bozek
    Gregg Brown
    Daniela Carcasole
    Caitlin Cheddie
    Jon de Porter
    Tory Ferguson
    Eudice Goldberg
    Megan Leahy
    Adrienne Miller
    Varqa Mirzaagha
    Kate Mostowyk
    Hanna Singer
    ABOUT THE ENSEMBLE STUDIO
    The COC Ensemble Studio is an innovative artist development program for emerging Canadian opera professionals.

    The company’s uniquely collaborative approach blends advanced study and practical experience through a multi-year program that’s individually tailored for each member. Artists receive intensive vocal coaching; language, movement and acting studies; as well as private masterclasses with renowned opera professionals. Ensemble singers perform and understudy mainstage roles, while Ensemble pianists participate in the preparation of the COC’s mainstage productions.

    Since 1980, nearly 230 young professional Canadian singers and pianists have acquired foundational opera experience through the Ensemble Studio. Former members include Ben Heppner, Krisztina Szabó, Emily D’Angelo, Claire de Sévigné, Gordon Bintner, Ambur Braid, Miriam Khalil, Wallis Giunta, and David Pomeroy.

    To learn more about the COC Ensemble Studio, click here.
  • Cocktail Reception in the Isadore & Rosalie Sharp City Room, Centre Stage 2018.  Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Cocktail Reception in the Isadore & Rosalie Sharp City Room, Centre Stage 2018.  Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Special Guest mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo performs, Centre Stage 2018.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Special Guest mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo performs, Centre Stage 2018.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Dining experience by Chef David Lee of Nota Bene restaurant, Centre Stage 2018.  Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Dining experience by Chef David Lee of Nota Bene restaurant, Centre Stage 2018.  Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Host Ben Heppner, Centre Stage 2017. Photo by Michael Cooper
    Host Ben Heppner, Centre Stage 2017. Photo by Michael Cooper
    Simone Osborne & Andrew Haji perform at the Centre Stage Gala, Centre Stage 2017.  Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Simone Osborne & Andrew Haji perform at the Centre Stage Gala, Centre Stage 2017.  Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Simona Genga wins First Prize and the Audience Choice Award, Centre Stage 2017.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Simona Genga wins First Prize and the Audience Choice Award, Centre Stage 2017.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Gala guests at Centre Stage 2017.  Photo by Ryan Emberley
    Gala guests at Centre Stage 2017.  Photo by Ryan Emberley
    Third Prize winner Anna-Sophie Neher performs, Centre Stage 2017.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Third Prize winner Anna-Sophie Neher performs, Centre Stage 2017.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Cocktail Reception in the Isadore & Rosalie Sharp City Room, Centre Stage 2016.  Photo by Ryan Emberley
    Cocktail Reception in the Isadore & Rosalie Sharp City Room, Centre Stage 2016.  Photo by Ryan Emberley
    Simone McIntosh wins First Prize, Centre Stage 2016.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Simone McIntosh wins First Prize, Centre Stage 2016.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Second Prize Winner Samuel Chan performs, Centre Stage 2016.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Second Prize Winner Samuel Chan performs, Centre Stage 2016.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Exterior of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Centre Stage 2015.  Photo by Ikonica
    Exterior of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Centre Stage 2015.  Photo by Ikonica
    Surprise Guest Jane Archibald performs, Centre Stage 2017.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Surprise Guest Jane Archibald performs, Centre Stage 2017.  Photo by Michael Cooper
    Ensemble Studio members perform at the Centre Stage Gala, Centre Stage 2018.  Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Ensemble Studio members perform at the Centre Stage Gala, Centre Stage 2018. Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Dining Experience Photo by Gaetz Photography
    Dining Experience Photo by Gaetz Photography

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