Mercer was awarded the Virginia Parker Prize and C$25,000. The award, established in 1982 for performers under age 32, will be presented to Mercer on August 5 at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival's closing gala concert. The Ottawa native began her career as a member of the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio Program and returned this past season to sing the role of Oscar in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera and Elvira in Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri. She made her Lincoln Center debut in November 2005 in an all-Mozart recital with soprano Barbara Bonney and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in Alice Tully Hall.
Jane Archibald of Nova Scotia and Darryl Friesen of Winnipeg won the Sylva Gelber Foundation Award, established in 1981; Archibald will receive C$15,000 and Friesen C$10,000. A graduate of the San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program, Archibald begins a two-year engagement at the Vienna State Opera this September. Her first season includes performances as the Queen of the Night, Susanna and Musetta. Friesen holds bachelor's and master's degrees in piano performance from the University of Manitoba and is currently pursuing his doctorate as a Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Christianne Rushton of Nova Scotia won the C$5,000 Bernard Diamant Prize, which was created in 2001 and offers professional Canadian classical singers under the age of 35 an opportunity for further study. Her recent performances have included an Alice Tully Hall debut and the title role in Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortilges with the Juilliard Opera Center.
The Canada Council for the Arts promotes the arts in Canada and awards prizes and fellowships to over 100 artists and scholars annually in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering.