Two Violinists, Cellist Win Use of Strads in Canada Council Competition

Classic Arts News   Two Violinists, Cellist Win Use of Strads in Canada Council Competition
The Canada Council for the Arts has loaned eleven young Canadian musicians rare and expensive string instruments worth more than C$18 million through its Musical Instrument Bank. The loans were made following a competition completed last week.

The Bank, which was founded in 1985, acquires fine stringed instruments through donations and loans; it then lends them to talented young Canadian musicians for a three-year period.

Cellist Soo Bae, who was born in Korea and grew up in Toronto, was awarded use of the 1696 "Bonjour" Stradivari cello, which is valued at nearly C$5 million and is the most valuable instrument in the collection. CBC News quoted her as saying, "It became my best friend, my voice, my method of expression."

Second place in the cello competition went to Edmonton native Rachel Mercer, who was awarded the 1824 "McConnell Nicolaus" Gagliano cello. Montreal cellist Emmanuelle Beaulieu Bergeron was awarded the loan of the 1850 Shaw Adam cello bow.

Violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou (who won the organization's last competition in 2003) will retain the use of the 1729 "ex-Heath" Guarneri del Ges‹ violin. The CBC quoted her as saying she "developed a very close bond with this violin."

Second place in the violin competition went to Jessica Linnebach, a former Edmontonian now playing with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, who was awarded the loan of the 1700 "Taft" Stradivari violin. Third place went to Edmonton native Judy Kang, who now lives in New York; she was awarded the loan of the 1689 "Baumgartner" Stradivari violin.

The other violin winners were Caroline Ch_had_ (from Montreal, now living in New York), Marc Djokic (Halifax), Kerry DuWors (Brandon, Manitoba), Pascale Gigure (Quebec City), V_ronique Mathieu (born in Montreal, grew up in Quebec City), and Jean-S_bastien Roy (originally from St-Thomas-de-Joliette, Quebec, now living in Montreal).

The winners were selected by a peer assessment committee consisting of Walter Homburger, a Toronto-based agent and former managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Isolde Lagac_, director of the Conservatoire de musique de Montr_al; and violinist Andrew Dawes.

"It's quite an amazing program because its objective is to give the career of a young artist a great boost — particularly someone who's embarking on an international solo or chamber career," Carol Bream of the Canada Council told CBC.

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