Stepping Stone 2018 / Adjudicators

Historical Information

The information contained on this page is related to an older edition of the competition. It is made available for archival purposes only. For the most current information, please go to Stepping Stone 2020.

Louise Bessette

[English translation not available]

Depuis trente-cinq années de carrière exceptionnelle, Louise Bessette s’est distinguée par l’excellence de ses performances sur scène. La critique se montre dithyrambique à son égard. Elle a enregistré des répertoires variés, autant comme soliste qu’en musique de chambre. Elle s’est produite sur la scène internationale avec des orchestres réputés et elle a été invitée à des festivals prestigieux. Plusieurs compositeurs écrivent spécialement pour elle. Madame Bessette est aussi une figure marquante du monde musical, créant des opportunités de spectacles qui profitent tant aux compositeurs qu’aux interprètes actuels, coordonnant des activités qui enrichissent notre panorama culturel.

En 2016, Louise Bessette fut honorée à la University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario) où on lui décerna un Doctorat en Musique, honoris causa, en reconnaissance de sa carrière internationale d’interprète, et son impact significatif dans le monde contemporain du piano classique.

Pianiste au répertoire éclectique, toujours soucieuse de diffuser la musique et d’échanger avec les différentes formes d’art, Louise Bessette a enregistré en 2009 des œuvres de Alkan et de Grieg pour le cinéma. «Mères et filles», film de la réalisatrice française Julie Lopes-Curval mettant en vedette Catherine Deneuve et Marie-Josée Croze fut présenté en première mondiale au Festival des Films du Monde à Montréal (2009), puis dans les salles du monde entier.

Récipiendaire d’un neuvième Prix Opus en 2018, elle est aussi nommée l’une des 25 meilleures pianistes canadiennes par CBC Music en 2015. Premier Prix aux Concours national Eckhardt-Gramatté (1981), Premier Prix au Concours International de Musique Contemporaine (Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 1986), Premier Prix au Concours International Gaudeamus (Rotterdam, 1989), Prix Québec-Flandre (1991), Membre de l’Ordre du Canada (2001), Officier de l’Ordre national du Québec (2005), Ambassadrice du Centre de Musique Canadienne (2009), Louise Bessette est aussi titulaire d’une classe de piano au Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal depuis 1996.

Andrew Dawes

Violinist, Andrew Dawas shas been acclaimed as recitalist, chamber musician and soloist throughout North and South America, Europe and the Orient, and been celebrated as “one of the most distinguished violinists Canada has ever produced” (Ottawa Citizen). After receiving the Prix de Virtuosité from the Conservatoire in Geneva, he became a founding member and first violinist of the Orford String Quartet for 26 years. He gave nearly 3,000 concerts on 6 continents and made more than 60 recordings. In 1992, he was appointed to the Faculty of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver to teach violin and chamber music. Previously he taught at the University of Toronto for over 20 years. In 1995-96, he took a leave of absence from UBC to perform as first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet playing on a Stradivarius violin that was made in 1727 and belonged to Nicolo Paganini.

Mr. Dawes has served as jury member for many prestigious competitions; has won many awards of distinction, including the Order of Canada, the Chalmers National Music Award, The Canada Council’s Molson Prize and 3 Juno Awards. In 2002 he was the recipient of the Dorothy Somerset Award for Excellence in Performance and Development awarded by the University of British Columbia and also the Jubilee Medal awarded by Queen Elizabeth II for exceptional qualities and service to Canada.

Mr. Dawes was involved in the last few years with a number of recording projects including all 10 Sonatas for Piano and Violin by Beethoven recorded with pianist Jane Coop, and all the works written for violin by Harry Somers. Andrew has also been involved in many summer festivals. He was appointed to McGill University as “Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Catherine Thornhill Steele Chair in Music”.

Andrew Dawes plays on a violin made by J.B. Guadagnini in Parma in 1770.

Alison Pybus

Born in Toronto, Canada, Alison earned both her Honors Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance and her Masters of Operatic Performance, from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, Alison received a Canada Council Grant to study in Vienna, Austria where she met with success performing as a soprano in many opera productions across Germany and Austria. Alison extended her operatic training at the Atelier lyrique de l ‘Opera de Montréal. A short operatic career followed before Alison discovered her real passion lay on the business side of the Opera world. Her unique, in-depth, hands-on experience quickly earned her a roster of leading singers. Within a year, she helped co-found the Classical Music agency, Dean Artists Management in Toronto. Her reputation grew and within 2 years, IMG Artists London hired Alison to not only manage senior level singers and conductors but also to discover, manage and promote promising new young artists. From London, Alison was promoted to Vice President of the Vocal Division of IMG New York.

In addition to being the current President and CEO of Dean Artists Management, Alison directs Lieder Alive, a concert series in San Francisco that works to preserve German Lieder in the US.

Anna Urrey

A versatile soloist, chamber music artist and orchestral musician, Finnish-American flutist Anna Urrey enjoys a wide variety of creative performance projects as a core member of the Exponential Ensemble and regular performer with Music from China, an ensemble that explores both traditional Chinese music and contemporary works written for Eastern and Western instruments.

Ms. Urrey has performed with orchestras in the United States, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, and Asia. She performs regularly as Principal Flute of the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra in NYC, and has performed with the New Jersey Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra, South Florida Symphony, Symphony in C, the Mark Morris Dance Company and NOVUS NY. She has participated in numerous orchestral and chamber music festivals including the New York String Orchestra Seminar, National Orchestral Institute, Banff Summer Music Festival, Riistavesi Festival, Moritzburg Academy, Les Concerts du Cloître and the Castleton Music Festival where for three seasons she played principal flute under the direction of Maestro Lorin Maazel.

A dedicated educator, Ms. Urrey is a New York Philharmonic Teaching Artist, a faculty member at the Marymount School of New York, and maintains a private studio in New York City. She holds the Master of Music degree and Performance Certificate from the Manhattan School of Music and Bachelor of Music degree from Rutgers University, where she graduated magna cum laude and was the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award in Performance. Principal teachers include Robert Langevin, Michael Parloff, Bart Feller and Kaoru Hinata.”

Sarah Wegener

Sarah Wegener enthrals listeners with the richness and warmth of her voice and approaches every role in a chamber musical way, whether it be contemporary, classical or romantic repertoire. She regularly works with Kent Nagano, Philippe Herreweghe, Heinz Holliger, Frieder Bernius and Michael Hofstetter. Concerts have taken her to the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Rheingau Music Festival, Konzerthaus Berlin, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Tonhalle Zurich, Wiener Konzerthaus, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and to the Bozar Brussels. Opera engagements have taken her to the Royal Opera House London, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Wiener Festwochen among others.

The British-German soprano studied singing with Prof. Jaeger-Böhm in Stuttgart and took part in masterclasses with Dame Gwyneth Jones and Renée Morloc.

Highly regarded as a performer of both classical and romantic repertoire, as well as contemporary compositions, Sarah Wegener sang Dvořak’s Stabat Mater and Haydn’s Sieben letzte Worte (Philippe Herreweghe, Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, Collegium Vocale Gent), and, in a sensational concert in Graz, Strauss‘ Vier letzte Lieder. The soprano has a close artistic relationship with the composer Georg Friedrich Haas, drawing on her unique ability to interpret microtonal music. She has premiered many of the composer’s works, including the opera Bluthaus, for which she received a “Singer of the Year” nomination from Opernwelt Magazine.

Her discography comprises recordings of arias by Justin Heinrich Knecht, Korngold’s Die stumme Serenade, Schubert’s Lazarus, Rossini’s Petite Messe solennelle and Mozart’s Mass in C minor. Her debut Lieder CD ‘Into the Deep Sea’ with pianist Götz Payer was released on CAvi-music to critical acclaim in autumn 2017.

Sarah Wegener kicked off the 2017/18 season with Kent Nagano and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performing Mahler’s 8th Symphony in Montréal. Following this she appeared in concerts with the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio under Jörg Widmann in Munich and the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna under Cornelius Meister at the Festival Wien Modern. She also worked with the Musikkollegium Winterthur, Klangforum Wien and performed at the SWR Schwetzinger Festival. Acclaimed for “her marvellously radiant voice, as powerful as it is rich in colour, and calm, perfectly balanced vibrato” (FAZ), she will continue her fruitful collaboration with Kent Nagano and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal on tour, culminating in her Salzburg debut.