Nermis Mieses p

Nermir Mieses, oboe

Nermis Mieses is the Associate Professor of Oboe at Michigan State University and faculty at Sewanee Music Festival, where she previously attended as a student. Formerly, she taught at Bowling Green State University, performed as Principal Oboe of Michigan Opera Theatre, and served as Chair of the IDRS Gillet-Fox International Competition for Oboe. She is the winner of various prizes and awards such as the University of Michigan Paul Boylan Alumni Award, Barbirolli International Oboe Competition, First International Oboe Competition of FEMUSC and others. She frequently performs with the internationally renowned Sphinx and Chineke! orchestras and is an active recitalist throughout the American Continent and Europe. Her debut as a soloist came to her at the age of fifteen, in her native country, with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico. She obtained her BM from the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, and both, MM and DMA degrees from the University of Michigan.

Virginia Barron p

Virginia Barron, violine

Executive Director, Buffalo String Works; Radio Host, Classical 94.5 WNED.
Violist Virginia Barron is equally adept as a chamber player, orchestral musician and teacher. A native of Toronto, Canada, Virginia received her training at the University of Toronto and the Manhattan School of Music. Her major teachers include Lillian Fuchs, Kim Kashkashian and Paul Armin. As an orchestral player, Virginia has performed with the Chicago Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Lyric Opera Orchestra, Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and most recently the Toronto Symphony. Tours with the Chicago Symphony over the past 10 seasons include concerts in Berlin, South America, Lucerne, New York and Florida.
An ardent and experienced chamber musician, Virginia has been associated for many years with the Colorado College Summer Music Festival as performer, teacher and associate director.Other summer chamber music festivals include the Ravinia Festival, Grand Teton Music Festival, Algonquin Music Festival and the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival. She is also associate director of the Sweetwater Chamber Music Weekend in Owen Sound, Ontario and has recently performed with new music groups in Toronto such as New Music Concerts and Soundstreams. A dedicated teacher who has taught many pupils in her viola studio, she currently is on the faculties of the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto. Virginia lives in Buffalo, NY with cats Chuck and Percy and dog Zelda.

Olivier Maranda p

Olivier Maranda, percussion

Olivier Maranda earned Premiere Prix with great distinction and by unanimous decision of the jury in both percussion and chamber music at the Montréal Conservatory, and also received various scholarships for his work there. His artistic activities are divided into three main areas: the performance and study of classic twentieth-century repertoire, premiering new works, and improvisation and multidisciplinary art. Maranda is a founding member of the Chorum and Allogène ensembles, and also plays with ECM and Codes d’Accès. For the past year he has been working on a project called The Stick with choreographer Andrew Tay, who brings together improvisation with set structures. Critically acclaimed, Maranda has been called a, “courageous, high caliber percussionist” (Le Devoir) whose style has an expansive, “high-flying character.” (La Presse)

Lousie Bessette p

Louise Bessette, piano

Louise Bessette has been renowned over her 35 year career for the excellence of her performances and for her commitment to promoting contemporary music. Numerous organizations and international competitions have seen fit to reward her talent, and her reviews are constantly laudatory. She has recorded a wide variety of repertoire both as a soloist and with chamber ensembles, appearing the world over with distinguished orchestras and by invitation to many first-rate festivals. Many composers write especially for her. Beyond her exceptional performance career, Mrs. Bessette is a significant figure in the musical world, promoting contemporary music every chance she gets, and creating the opportunity for composers to showcase their talents alongside performers, in activities and collaborations that essentially enrich our cultural panorama.

Louise Bessette's musical career is a great arc, consistently demonstrating her deep engagement with the music of her time. She dedicated the year 2008 to the centenary of the birth of Olivier Messiaen. Her efforts and enthusiasm led to the organization of "Automne Messiaen", which featured more than 50 performers, ensembles and organizations celebrating Messiaen in Montreal. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and his Music Director Maestro Kent Nagano gave a stunning performance of the opera Saint-François d'Assisewhich received the Grand Prix 2008 from the Conseil des Arts de Montréal. Mrs. Bessette shone as a soloist of Messiaen's oeuvre over the course of wide-ranging concerts that brought together seasoned performers, including the SMCQ Ensemble, conducted by Walter Boudreau (Des canyons aux étoiles), l'Orchestre du Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, lead by Raffi Armenian and Louis Lavigueur (Sept Haïkaï, Trois petites liturgies de la présence divine), l'Ensemble Musique Avenir, led by Véronique Lacroix (Oiseaux exotiques), and an evening of poetry and music with the poet and narrator Pierre Morency. In order to perform the Quatuor pour la fin du temps, a seminal piece in Olivier Messiaen's oeuvre, Louise Bessette formed the Ensemble ARTefact with Simon Aldrich (clarinet), Yegor Dyachkov (cello) and Jonathan Crow (violin). This collaboration led her to launch the idea of an homage to the great French composer by commissioning the talented Canadian composer, Nicolas Gilbert, to write a piece for the same group of instruments. This resulted in the quartet "Le temps des impossibles", which was made possible thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. Then, on the 10 of December, 2008, the date of Messiaen's centenary, Louise Bessette performed the complete Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur in Montreal. This concert was greeted enthusiastically by the critic Christophe Huss, who rated it among the 10 best concerts of the year: "What started out a celebration became a ceremonial [...] the architectural grasp [...] mastery of time [...] primacy of form and content [...] Louise Bessette's Messiaen is as powerful as Kent Nagano's [... ]" (Le Devoir, December 11, 2008).

Louise Bessette officially celebrated her 30 year musical career on March 31, 2012, at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur in Montreal. This huge event was part of the 2011-2012 season of the SMCQ, and it consisted in a triple recital by the pianist. A solo and chamber music concert including four world premieres by Canadian composers Serge Arcuri, Michel Boivin, Michael Oesterle and Ana Sokolovic; a solo recital where we heard the pianist performing two major works from the twentieth century, the Suite no. 9 "Ttai" by Giacinto Scelsi and Les Planètes, a phenomenal work by Canadian composer Walter Boudreau; at the ending of this fantastic musical day, British pianist Peter Hill joined Louise Bessette in a stunning program: The rite of spring by Stravinsky (celebrating the centenary of this historical work) and the Visions de l'Amen by Olivier Messiaen.

As a pianist with an eclectic repertoire, and always eager to promote exchange with other art forms, Louise Bessette recorded the works of Charles-Valentin Alkan and Grieg for a film soundtrack in March 2009. "Hidden diary", by the French film director Julie Lopes-Curval and starring Catherine Deneuve and Marie-Josée Croze, was presented as world premiere at the Festival des Films du Monde in Montreal (2009), and then in movie theatres all over the world.

Mrs. Bessette regularly tours throughout America, Europe and Asia. She has been the soloist under the direction of renowned conductors such as Raffi Armenian, Linda Bouchard, Walter Boudreau, Nathan Brock, Charles Bruck, Edward Cumming, Marc David, Agnieszka Duczmal, Charles Dutoit, Mauricio Kagel, Bill Linwood, Diego Masson, Tania Miller, Daniel Myssyk, Kent Nagano, Pascal Rophé, Gerard Schwarz, Michel Swierczewski, Alain Trudel, Lorraine Vaillancourt and Pascal Verrot, performing in New York to Varsovie, and including Montréal, Ottawa, Victoria, Lyon, Strasbourg, Montpellier, Huddersfield, Aarhus and Mexico along the way.

Louise Bessette has recorded as a solo pianist, with orchestras and with chamber ensembles. Her recording Messiaen, Les oiseaux on Analekta label received a wonderful review in the Gramaphone magazine in December 2009. She has worked with the Canadian labels SNE, Les Disques SRC, Centrediscs, Doberman-Yppan, Analekta, Atma Classique, Riche Lieu, and Fonovox; in France with Disques Montaigne and Salabert/Actuels; and in the United States with Mode Records. Chamber music concerts and recordings gave her the opportunity to perform with great performers such as Simon Aldrich, Robert Cram, Jonathan Crow, Lise Daoust, Angèle Dubeau, Yegor Dyachkov, Mark Fewer, Marc-André Hamelin, Brian Manker, Douglas McNabney, Andrew Wan, the Quatuor Alcan, the Quatuor Molinari and London's Arditti Quartet.

Many composers have created works especially for her, including the Canadians Serge Arcuri, Lorraine Desmarais, François Dompierre, José Évangelista, Nicolas Gilbert, Michel Gonneville, Marc Hyland, Alain Lalonde, Maxime McKinley, Silvio Palmieri, Isabelle Panneton, Sean Pepperall, Serge Provost, Anthony Rozankovic, Raoul Sosa and André Villeneuve, and the French composers Claude Ballif, Bruno Ducol, Jacques Lejeune and Costin Miereanu. Gilbert Amy dedicated his Obliques III to her.

Louise Bessette has received unreserved acclaim from critics: "Messiaen has found in Louise Bessette his most inspired modern-day interpreter, undoubtedly for many years to come (Yves Allaz, Journal de Genève). "Her program was striking [...] the sight of the captivatingly elegant Louise Bessette rampaging happily through Cowell's Exultation and Tiger was nothing if not appealing, and she responded to the glittering splendours of Olivier Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus with playing of genuine grandeur. All this was delivered faultlessly from memory and with astonishing reserves of controlled, relaxed virtuosity." Malcolm Hayes, The Musical Times, London).

Always working to encourage the growth of music, Louise Bessette has participated in numerous juries for international competitions, and has given master classes in Europe as well as in Canada an Asia. She has been Professor of Piano at the Montreal Conservatory since 1996, where she was head of the keyboard department from 2005 to 2007.

During the 2013-2014 season, Louise Bessette undertook a daunting project. To celebrate the 25th musical season of the beloved cradle of so much of Montreal's innovative music, La Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur (Montreal), she offered a series of four piano recitals : 25 ans de musique québécoise avec Louise Bessette, to create an impressive overview of music from the period of La Chapelle's existence, 1988 to 2014. On the website Montrealistement, Normand Babin's review emphasized the enormity of this event which included 25 works by 25 different Quebec composers, one for each year, including a world premiere for 2014 : La femme forte ; Louise Bessette, la voix des compositeurs québécois ; 25 oeuvres, 25 compositeurs, 25 ans...UNE seule pianiste. This spectacular event has implanted itself as a milestone in Quebec's musical history.

Prizes and honours have accompanied Louise Bessette throughout her career. She took top honours in the Eckhardt-Gramatté Canadian Music Competition (1981), First Prize at the Concours International de Musique Contemporaine in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France (1986), both the First Prize and the Special Prize for Piano at the Rotterdam 1989 International Gaudeamus Competition for Contemporary Music, and the 1991 Flandre-Québec Award in recognition of her contribution to contemporary music. The Conseil Québécois de la Musique awarded her the Opus Prize 1996-1997 in the "conductor or soloist of the year" category, for her recital of Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus. In January 2010, she received two Opus Prizes : "Performer of the year", and "Musical event of the year" for Automne Messiaen 2008, and in January 2012, the Opus Prize "Record of the Year - Modern and Contemporary Music" for the CD Serge Arcuri - Migrations (ATMA Classique). In 2013, she won the Opus Prizes "Concert of the Year - Montreal" and "Concert of the Year - Modern and Contemporary Music" for the event Louise Bessette, 30 ans de carrière. In January 2015, Louise Bessette was listed as one of Canada's top 25 pianists by CBC Music. She also received, in 2015, the Opus Prize "Performer of the Year" for the concert series 25 ans de musique québécoise avec Louise Bessette. In February 2016, Louise Bessette received her eighth Opus Prize with the Molinari Quartet in the category "Record of the Year, Modern and Contemporary Music" for Sofia Gubaidulina - Chamber Music (ATMA Classique). The Montréal daily La Presse named Mrs. Bessette "Personality of the Week" in 1986, while in 1989 the Salon de la Femme de Montréal named her "Woman of the Year" in the Arts category. In October 2001, she was received as a Member of the Order of Canada and appointed, in June 2005, Officier of the Ordre national du Québec. In November 2009, she was named Ambassador of Canadian Music by the Canadian Music Centre.

Helmut Lipsky p

Helmut Lipsky, Cello

Born in Germany, Helmut Lipsky, grew up in Switzerland, where he studied violin with Concertmaster Abraham Comfort of the Winterthur Collegium Musicum Orchestra at the Zurich Conservatory in Switzerland, graduating with a bachelor and a concert diploma in performance and pedagogy. As a member of the Collegium Musicum Orchestra, he toured Switzerland and France, under the baton of, and accompanying the pianist Géza Anda. He then, at the age of 19, continued his studies in New York City, working for three years with Professor Ivan Galamian. Later he was a pupil of the international acclaimed violin soloist Itzhak Perlman at the Brooklyn Conservatory, where he obtained a Master’s Degree of Arts under his tutelage. He was awarded the Presidential Scholars Award from the Council of the City of New York for his merits as a violinist and his academic work. Shortly after he toured the US with chamber music ensembles (The New York Players, The Masterplayers), and performed as a soloist with orchestras in Switzerland and the United States.
Resident of Montreal, Canada since 1980, Helmut Lipsky established here his creative musical platform, the MELOSPHERE with a consortium of outstanding musicians, with which he still collaborates today on a multitude of projects for the stage, CD, television, radio, film, multimedia, theatre and dance productions.
Lipsky is very active on the national and international music scene as a violinist, composer, improviser and teacher in the realms of classical music, jazz, tango, world and contemporary music. He has taught at several universities and colleges – including Université de Montréal, McGill and Concordia University – and is now professor at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal for violin, chamber music and string improvisation. During the summer, he has taught, among other summer schools, at the Domaine Forget International Festival, the Camp musical des Laurentides, Camp musical de Lanaudière, the Thüringische Sommerakademie in Germany as well as the Interharmony – Sulzbach-Rosenberg International Music Festival and the Interharmony International Music Festival in Italy. In the summer of 2016, he cofounded the ground-breaking Clazz International Music Festival, where classical music, Jazz, crossover styles and improvisation are being taught side by side. Many of Lipsky’s former students have distinguished careers as performers and/or play in major Symphony Orchestras around the world, founded or are members of renowned ensembles in a variety of musical genres or participate in Cirque du Soleil productions.
As violinist and composer, Helmut Lipsky has recorded many radio and television programs and has participated with his own ensembles – mainly under the name MELOSPHERE – at numerous important festivals in North America, as well as touring regularly in Europe, where he performed with his group, among many other venues in Berlin, Bruxelles, Budapest, Zurich, Milan etc. and as part of the prestigious “New Jazz” Series at the Montreux International Jazz Festival. A regular participant at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, he opened with MELOSPHERE shows of artists like Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck (Lanaudière International Music Festival), Stéphane Grappelli (Québec International Music Festival) and Toots Thielemans (Royal Palace of Brussels). He has also written music for cinema, presented at and winning top prizes in Festivals around the world, the theatre, dance productions and multimedia exhibitions. Known for his eclecticism, he was asked to write original works for special events, like his Harbour Symphony for violin, ship sirens and church bells performed at Montreal Harbour or his Concerto for Violin and Chainsaw as the opening concert of the Third International Art Symposium in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Québec, Canada. In December of 2015, he collaborated with the Swiss composer Thomas Fortmann at writing the music, and performing for the Memorial Concert “Grafeneck 10654” for the Euthanasia victims of the Castle Grafeneck in Germany. These works were presented again in Montreal in November of 2017, sponsored by the General Consulate of Germany. His duets for two violins “Voyage à deux” Vol. 1 and 2 and various chamber orchestra works are very popular with students and professionals of any age group and are being played around the world.
Helmut Lipsky recorded many critically acclaimed CDs under his and his ensembles’ name and has collaborated with renowned artists like Andreas Vollenweider, David Darling, Angèle Dubeau and her ensemble La Pietà, Jeremy Cohen’s Quartet San Francisco, André-Gilles Duchemin, Gilles Vigneault, Claude Léveillé, Karen Young, Michel Donato, James Gelfand, Matt Herskowitz and François Richard on various projects. He has won several prestigious awards, among others the coveted Prix OPUS for his album Helmut Lipsky – MÉLOSPHÈRE – Tempi con Variazioni, featuring the distinguished soprano Suzie LeBlanc in 2011, and First Prize at the International competition of the worldwide community of French language radio stations. Proclaimed member of the “Ordre de la musique française”, he was three times nominated for Best Album at the Felix Awards, twice for Best Concert of the Year by Les Prix OPUS, Best Violinist by the National Music Awards and was invited several times as Performer-Presenter at the prestigious Idea City Conference of Moses Znaimer in Toronto. Helmut Lipsky has received several funds from the Canadian Arts Council and the Quebec Cultural Ministry.
Since the summer of 2017, he is now also a member of the popular ensemble Quartango, which has recorded many albums, has won several important prizes (among others a Juno Award and OPUS Prize for Best Album) and has toured internationally.

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