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Women Opera Creator Winners Announced for $50,000 Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes

The 2020-2021 winners for the second edition of the $50,000 Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes announced today in Montreal will create three new original Canadian operas to be premiered 2021, in a staged co-production with Toronto’s award-winning independent opera company Opera 5, Montreal’s Opera McGill, Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ), and Kingston’s Queen’s University Dan School of Music. Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes is awarded to teams of emerging Canadian women-identifying opera composers and librettists who demonstrate extraordinary promise in opera creation.

The prizes will be presented on Sept. 16, 2020, at the Mécénat Musica Gala, Chapelle historique du Bon Pasteur.

Winners 2020-2021 of Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes:

Anna Pidgorna, composer (New Westminster, BC) & Maria Reva, librettist (New Westminster, BC)

Pidgorna is a Ukrainian-Canadian composer, vocalist, and multi-media artist who combines sound, visual arts, writing, and carpentry to create works that are dramatic and picturesque. She works extensively with Ukrainian folk singing, incorporating elements of this style in her works. With an enduring love for the outdoors, Pidgorna draws inspiration from the nature, often imitating birds and animals. Her collaborators and commissioners include Toronto’s Soundstreams, 21C Festival, New Music Concerts, Gryphon Trio, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Michael Bridge, Rachel Mercer; Montreal’s Ensemble Paramirabo, Katelyn Clark, Marina Thibeault; Vancouver’s Standing Wave; Edmonton’s Now Hear This Festival, UltraViolet Ensemble; New York’s Sandbox Percussion, Ensemble Mise-En; Los Angeles’ Delirium Musicum, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra; Alaska’s Wild Shore Festival; Boston’s Ludovico Ensemble, Trio Klaritas; Gamin (Korea/NYC) and the Irish Language Art Song Project. She is a recipient of two SOCAN Foundation Awards and represented Canada at the ISCM World New Music Days in Vienna. Pidgorna holds a PhD from Princeton University, a MMus from University of Calgary, and a BA from Mount Allison University. She was born in Ukraine and immigrated to Canada at age 12, where she now makes her home in New Westminster, BC.

Reva writes fiction and libretti. Her linked story collection, Good Citizens Need Not Fear, is forthcoming in spring 2020 from Doubleday (US), Virago (UK), and Knopf Canada as part of its New Face of Fiction program. Maria’s stories have appeared in The Atlantic, McSweeney’s, Granta, The Journey Prize Stories, The Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. She won the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s RBC Bronwen Wallace Award in 2018 and a National Magazine Award in 2019. Her musical collaborations include an opera libretto for ERATO Ensemble, texts for Vancouver International Song Institute’s Art Song Lab, and a script for City Opera Vancouver. In 2017, musica intima vocal ensemble premiered Uta’s Escape, a commission by composer Jennifer Butler based on one of Maria’s stories. Current collaborations include a song cycle with composer Shelley Marwood about modern dating and an opera with composer Anna Pidgorna commissioned by Ad Astra Music Festival (Russell, Kansas). Maria was born in Ukraine and grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. She received her MFA in fiction and playwriting from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas.

Parisa Sabet, composer (Toronto) & Nika Khanjani, librettist (Montreal)

Sabet is an Iranian-Canadian composer praised by the Chicago Live Music Examiner as “a 21PstP century composer on the rise". She integrates unique elements of Eastern and Western musical languages to create a sonic world that is all at once rich, layered, lyrical, and accessible. Her works have been performed across North America, Europe, and Asia, with a repertory which includes works for solo instruments, orchestra, as well as sound design and original film scores. Parisa is a two-time recipient of the Theodoros Mirkopoulos Fellowship in Composition, and the Irene R. Miller and Anoush Khoshkish Fellowship in Music from University of Toronto where she completed her DMA in music composition under the supervision of Christos Hatzis. In 2019, she was awarded the 2019 Tecumesh Sherman Rogers Graduating Award, given to a graduating student deemed to have the greatest potential for making an important contribution to the field of music. 30Twww.parisasabet.com30T

Khanjani is an Iranian-Canadian librettist, multidisciplinary writer and storyteller, formally trained in filmmaking, and working in various platforms of text and performance. Her experience as an immigrant (from Iran to the US) and as an expat (from the US to Canada) informs her point of view from which to see and make connections, but it is her disposition as a humanist that drives her to find the interpersonal micro-moments that connect us to one another in an increasingly frenetic world. As a storyteller, she considers the form of each story to determine whether it would be best served as a written text, as moving image and sound, or a staged performance. Her inspiration comes from human resilience, our potential to heal from adversity, and the gorgeous ways in which people move forward to show love to one another. Her film credits include Free World Pens (2015), Iran to Texas (2011), Texas, My Brother, and Me (2009), Current (2007), Copyright (2006), and Montreal spring, shrouded in mist (2012). Khanjani studied English Literature at University of Texas and holds an MFA in Film Production from Concordia University.

Sonia Paço-Rocchia, composer (Laurentides QC) & Marie-Ève Bouchard, librettist (Saint-Jérôme QC)

Paço-Rocchia has a diverse practice ranging from composition to interactive kinetic sound installations through web art and improvisation. Visual and theatrical aspects are an integral part of her work, just as sound research is at its heart, perceived in her broadening of instruments' sound palettes, as well as in the use of unusual, discovered and invented instruments. Being herself a professional coder, she builds her own interfaces, software programs for real-time sound processing, and instruments. A talented improviser, she plays as a soloist and in small ensembles: non-conventional and invented instruments, the voice, bassoon, all in real-time processing. She is an improvising bassoonist with the London Improviser Orchestra and member of the duo VibraLib (multiple trumpets with electro-acoustics and real-time processing), as well as the duo ZzCc (robots, augmented piano and real-time processing). She particularly enjoys collaborations and has composed music for dance, theatre and visual art. Her works have been presented in hundreds of events across Europe, North America and Asia. In 2019, she participated in 7 residencies (Quebec, Meaford, South River, Laval, Val David, Finland, Yukon) and completed three commissions, including Ode au Métal for Quasar, which received 2 Opus Prizes in 2020. She is also carrying out an interactive sound installation project inside a van, which will be touring this summer 2020.

Bouchard composed her first poem while coming home from primary school in her suburb of Loretteville, Québec, and she hurried to write it down in her unicorn-shaped notebook. She then turned to the violin, while continuing to draw and to write often in her variously shaped notebooks. Later, being irresistibly lured toward music history, the silence and smell of libraries, she pursued studies in musicology (Laval University), all the while taking delicious detours into literary creation (poetry, songwriting). MEB has produced three recordings (Meb esp, Dehors and Spirits & Saints) and she published several zines before eventually publishing her first collection entitled Aria de Laine (Moult Editions). Every day she tries to create something that she shares at 30Twww.chezmeb.com30T. With what remains of her time, Meb teaches music history and songwriting at Cégep de Saint-Laurent and writes lyrics for Under Electric Light.

The prizes will be presented on Sept. 16Mécénat Musica th, 2020, 6:00 pm, at the Gala, Chapelle historique du Bon Pasteur.

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.
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