The Ottawa Choral Society Presents New Discoveries Auditions for Young Artists:

A World Class Platform for Emerging Vocal Artists

The Ottawa Choral Society’s New Discoveries Auditions are held in alternating years to provide emerging young vocal artists with a professional platform, broad audience exposure, and career development. The Choral Society is proud to have encouraged many of Canada’s most exciting young singers to find success. Many of our past laureates are now appearing on opera and concert stages across North America and Europe.

Candidates must be 33 years old and under, and Canadian citizens or landed immigrants. Typically, they hold post-graduate music degrees and are members of opera training programmes or advanced students studying with eminent teachers and collaborative pianists.  Now approaching its quarter-century anniversary, the New Discoveries Auditions are sustained by the Choral Society's Marian Pickering Memorial Trust.

Results of the 2016 New Discoveries Auditions:
Mezzo-soprano Marjorie Maltais, baritone Iain MacNeil, and soprano Myriam Leblanc take home top prizes

The Ottawa Choral Society's New Discoveries Auditions for Young Artists were held recently in Toronto and Montreal and attracted a roster of 100 gifted young concert artists who performed before a distinguished panel of judges for cash prizes, professional engagements, and a Showcase Recital.   

Marjorie Maltais, mezzo-soprano
First Prize winner, $1900

Mezzo-soprano Marjorie Maltais completed her Master of Music in Literature and Performance at University of Western Ontario in 2015, singing leading roles in Cosi fan TutteL’Heure Espagnole and La Cenerentola. She gained attention as a finalist at the Canadian Opera Company’s 2015 Centre Stage Competition for her dynamic stage presence and the “fireworks of her remarkable coloratura”.
A native of Clermont, Quebec, Marjorie was invited to participate in acclaimed mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne's Music Academy of The West summer music festival in Santa Barbara, California, where she performed excerpts from Handel’s Rinaldo under the baton of Baroque period specialist Nicholas McGegan.
Marjorie’s 2015/16 concert season featured performances in Mozart’s Requiem with the Boise Philharmonic and the Guelph Symphony, Messiah with Windsor Symphony, Chausson’s Poeme de l’amour et de la mer with London Community Orchestra, and Bach’s B Minor Mass with Orpheus Choir and Chorus Niagara. She also starred in Travelogue, premiering new operas with Toronto’s innovative Bicycle Opera Project, and was a featured guest soloist with Chamberfest Cleveland, performing works by Korngold, Wagner and Britten.
This season, Marjorie makes several soloist debuts: in Elijah with Toronto’s Pax Christi Chorale, Messiah with McGill Chamber Orchestra, and Bach's St. Matthew Passion with Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra.
In 2017, Marjorie debuts with Voicebox: Opera in Concert as Costanza in Haydn’s L’isola disabitata with Kevin Mallon and Aradia Ensemble.
Marjorie Maltais will make her debut with the Ottawa Choral Society in the Society's second 2016-17 subscription concert, Immortal Beloved, as soloist in Beethoven's Mass in C major and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, on Friday, March 24, 2017, under the baton of Jean-Sébastien Vallée. 

Iain MacNeil, bass-baritone
Second Prize Winner, $1300

Bass-baritone Iain MacNeil confessed in a recent interview with Canadian Opera Company's Parlando that “he didn’t find opera, opera found him, and he’s never looked back.” Born and raised in Brockville, Ontario, Iain intended to become a music teacher until his teachers at Dalhousie University recognized an extraordinary talent and opened his eyes (and ears) to a world of music that he hadn’t ever dreamed.  Musical Toronto hailed his May 2016 performance of John Greer’s Songs of Travel as having “uncommon beauty of tone and heartfelt expression,” as well as having a “virile and smooth baritone.”
Iain is a recipient of numerous scholarships and prizes, most recently the male prize recipient of the Emmerich Smola Förderpreis in Landau, Germany, the third prize in the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio Competition, the Elvira Gonnella Scholarship in voice, and the Georg Tintner Concerto Night prize. In May of 2015 he portrayed a “remarkable…totally convincing” (La Scena Musicale) Doctor Bartolo in the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio performance of the Barber of Seville where he was a member of the studio from 2014-2016 after studying at the University of Toronto Opera School with soprano Wendy Nielsen. In July 2016, Iain sang the role of Tarquinius (The Rape of Lucretia) with the Toronto Summer Musical Festival and Banff Open Space: Opera in the 21st Century.
The Ottawa Choral Society looks forward to introducing Iain to Ottawa audiences in the 2017-2018 concert season. 

Myriam Leblanc, soprano
Third Prize Winner, $800

Artist-in-residence of the Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal, coloratura soprano Myriam Leblanc is a graduate of McGill University and holder of a Master’s degree in choral direction from the University de Sherbrooke.  First Prize winner and People’s Choice Award winner in the Three Rivers Symphony Orchestra Competition, in 2014, Myriam was a Jeune Ambassadrice Lyrique, winning the Quebec-Bavaria Award, a $7000 internship grant, as well as the Belgian Operatic Prize, which brought an appearance at the 2016 Silly Musical Spring Festival. Also in 2014, she was noticed at the Prix d’Europe where she won the Anisia Campos and Rémus Tzincoca prize for the best opera excerpt.
Last season, Myriam was Juliette in Jeunesses Musicales Canada's Roméo et Juliette, soloist in Atelier lyrique's Trilogy of Seduction (McGill Chamber Orchestra), Daunais dans tous les tons (Société d’art vocal de Montréal), and Poets and Musicians (BAnQ).  On the concert stage, she also has been soloist in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, Bizet's Te Deum, Vivaldi's Magnificat and Gloria, and Mozart's Mass in C minor. She has appeared on the opera stage in works ranging from Handel to Puccini, Stravinsky, and Poulenc. Projects in the 2016-2017 season include her Montreal Opera debut as The High Priestess in Aida, Micaëla in Carmen (Longueil Symphony Orchestra), Videntes Stellam (Chœur de Laval), Librettists for an Evening (FIL) and Women and Opera (BanQ)
Myriam Leblanc will make her debut with the Ottawa Choral Society in the Society's second 2016-17 subscription concert Immortal Beloved, as soloist in Beethoven's Mass in C major and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, on Friday, March 24, 2017 under the baton of Jean-Sébastien Vallée. 

The Jury also awarded Distinguished Mentions to five other outstanding candidates:
Baritone Joel Allison;  tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure;  mezzo-soprano Simone Macintosh;  soprano Elizabeth Polese;  soprano Caitlin Wood.

 Joel Allison Jean-Philippe
Simone Macintosh Elizabeth Polese Caitlin Wood

Distinguished Jury

Artistic Director Chorus Niagara
Orpheus Choir of Toronto
Opera in Concert Chorus
Ontario Male Chorus

Celebrated Heldentenor
Host of CBC Radio's Saturday Afternoon at the Opera
Host of CBC Radio's Backstage with Ben Heppner 

Opera and Stage Director
Artistic Director, Against the Grain Theatre

Artistic Director, Ottawa Choral Society
Director of Choral Studies, McGill University Schulich School of Music
Conductor, Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, Montreal     

Supporting the New Discoveries Program:
The Marian Pickering Memorial Fund

With the passing of Marian Pickering in October 2005, Ottawa’s music community lost a respected and delightful friend. As a lasting gesture of our gratitude for the more than two decades that she was the Choral Society’s Choir Manager, and later the first General Manager of the Ottawa Symphony, Marian’s friends created a memorial fund that would reflect the pleasure Marian took in helping gifted young people to succeed in their careers. As it happened, an already existing program of the Choral Society, the OCS New Discoveries Auditions for Young Artists, was an ideal match. The Society is deeply grateful to the donors to the Marian Pickering Memorial Fund which sustains this important initiative for emerging Canadian concert artists.

We welcome donations to support the fund.

Please contact Maggie McCoy, New Discoveries Registrar, for additional details.

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