Classical Juno winners of 2012 showcase cosmopolitan side of Canadian content

2012 Juno winner, soprano Jane Archibald, as Zerbinetta in a 2010 Paris Opéra production of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. She is now in Toronto to rehearse her title role in Handel's Semele for the Canadian Opera Company.

The Juno Awards for the four remaining classical-music categories were handed out last night, in advance of tonight’s televised pop-only-thanks affair.

The classical release of the year, solo or chamber ensemble, is pianist Marc André Hamelin’s Liszt Piano Sonata album on Hyperion.

The large-ensemble classical album of the year award went to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, not for one of its recordings made with music director Kent Nagano, but for Fire and Blood, a side project on the Acacia Classics label of music by contemporary American composer Michael Daugherty featuring Montreal violinist Alexandre Da Costa and Spanish conductor Pedro Halffter.

Soprano Jane Archibald, who arrived in Toronto this week to begin rehearsals for her title role in Handel’s Semele (opening May 9), was the focus of the album prize for vocal or choral performance, for her collection of arias from operas by Joseph Haydn, recorded with conductor Thomas Rösner and the Swiss Orchestre Symphonique Bienne on the ATMA Classique label.

Nova Scotia composer Derek Charke received the Juno for classical composition of the year for Sepia Fragments, part of the St. Lawrence Quartet’s 20th anniversary Sea to Sea album. (You can check out Charke’s work here.)

The peculiar combination of Canadian and international content on this list of winners (and most of the nominees) makes me wonder how we select classical albums based on their Canadianness when the contenders are all so cosmopolitan.

Yes, all the winners have an association with Canada, but the spirit is very much international in the combinations of artists and programming.

Hamelin, a Montreal native, hasn’t lived in Canada for a quarter century. Archibald, who hails from Truro, N.S., doesn’t live in this country any more and recorded her winning album with a Swiss orchestra.

The closest we get to full Canadian content is with Charke’s Sepia Fragments. But even here, it’s recorded by a Canadian ensemble that has been based for many years at Stanford University, in California.

Canadian classical musicians really are citizens of the world.


Here is Hamelin with a Liszt Petrarch Sonnet (which is not on the album):

John Terauds


One thought on “Classical Juno winners of 2012 showcase cosmopolitan side of Canadian content

  1. John, take a look a the contemporary jazz CD Juno winner – a remarkable concerto for big band and strings written by Phil Dwyer for Mark Fewer. Mark is a violinist with classical bona fides and and the work is – well – worthy of attention by anybody who loves music – whatever category you put it in! The album “Changing Seasons”, is on the Canadian label, ALMA.

    As for the cosmopolitanism of Canadians, it’s interesting to note that almost all of the “cosmopolitans” you mention, have left the country in order to become who they are and have a high-flying/international career.



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