2014 Baroque Performance Competition

    Baroque Performance Competition Finals

    Early Music America held its 2014 Baroque Performance Competition Friday, October 11 in association with University of Chicago Presents. The competition finals were held in the Performance Hall at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.

    Congratulations to EMA's Baroque Performance Competition prize recipients! The Grand Prize and Audience Prize were awarded to Infusion Baroque. The Presentation Prize was awarded to Trio Speranza.

    More news from the Competition and pictures are forthcoming.

    The purpose of the competition is to encourage the development of emerging artists in the performance of Baroque music. The finalists were selected from a pool of applicants by an independent panel of three judges. Click to view information about prizes.

    Click for information on how to qualify for the 2016 baroque competition.

    In Association With

    Following is the list of finalists who performed (in alphabetical order).

    Consort Laurentia

    Founded in 2012, Consort Laurentia is dedicated to the interpretation and promotion of early music. The Consort revives this music as authentically as possible in regard to its era of origin. By the exploration of new repertoires and deep research into original treatises and historical documents, Laurentia discovers new musical horizons. Mostly in small ensemble, Laurentia offers concerts of arias and instrumental music from the Baroque era imprinted of a moving sensitivity. The intimate and generous nature of staging allows close contact between artists and the public. Scholars of the prestigious Fondazione Marco Fodella, Peggy Bélanger (soprano) and Michel Angers (theorbo, lute and baroque guitar) have specialized in early music in Milan, Italy. The duo is very active on the international music scene, mainly in France and Italy, where their performances generate enthusiasm and public praise. Laurentia, bringing the musical sophistication at its highest level, provides musical performances characterized by a staging, an energy and gestures that go beyond the context of recital.

    Peggy Bélanger, soprano
    Michel Angers, theorbo, lute and baroque guitar
    Audio sample
    Web site

    Photo by Pierre LaRue  

    Elixir Baroque

    Elixir Baroque Ensemble was founded in 2010 by harpsichordist Sara-Anne Churchill, viola da gamba player Justin Haynes, and violinists Elyssa Lefergey-Smith and Valerie Gordon. Elixir gives new life to 17th and 18th century music by serving up intoxicating programs combining the lyrical with the virtuosic and the well-known with the newly discovered. Elixir’s innovative programming and bold performances have swiftly established the group as a major proponent of early music in the Greater Toronto area. Elixir has been a frequent guest on series at Toronto’s Metropolitan United Church, St. David’s Anglican Church (Musically Speaking Series), and at the University of Toronto as part of the Toronto Handel Festival. The group also has its own series based at Bellwoods Academy of Music where it is often joined by members of Tafelmusik. In April 2014, Elixir gave the world premier performance of “The Sad Life of Laure Beausejour,” composed specifically for Elixir by Frank Horvat.  Drawing on the group’s extensive experience performing in masterclasses for leading baroque violinists such as Stefano Montanari, Elizabeth Wallfisch, Manfredo Kraemer, and Stanly Ritchie, Elixir seeks to share its knowledge of baroque performance practice through community outreach and education of all ages. In 2011, during a brief residency at the University of Fredonia (SUNY), the group performed and gave masterclasses for the students of the faculty of music. In 2012, Elixir was invited to coach and solo with the Community Baroque Orchestra of Toronto. The collaboration proved so successful that Elixir was invited back to lead CBOT in a concert of Bach concertos in 2013. Elixir is also a regular guest of the Kingsway Conservatory of Music where the group teaches and performs alongside the Kingsway Chamber Strings, inspiring young minds with a curiosity for gut strings, pointy bows, and harpsichords. 

    Sara-Anne Churchill, harpsichord
    Valerie Gordon, violin
    Elyssa Lefurgey-Smith, violin
    Justin Haynes, viola da gamba
    Audio sample
    Web site
    Link to video on YouTube

    Photo by Colin Savage  

    Infusion Baroque

    Montreal-based ensemble Infusion Baroque seeks to draw a new audience to baroque music through integrating high-quality chamber music performance with other artistic media. Past projects include "The Art of Corelli," an evening of chamber music and visual art inspired by the composer's extensive collection of paintings; and "Who Killed Leclair?", an interactive murder mystery soirée based on the unsolved murder of the famous composer. Members of Infusion Baroque have appeared with Arion Baroque Orchestra, Ensemble Caprice, Les Voix Baroques, Theatre of Early Music, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Haymarket Opera, Ottawa Baroque Consort, American Baroque Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Infusion Baroque's upcoming season includes a baroque-inspired fashion show, an interactive games night based on the workings of the music business, and an evening of baroque music selections paired with artisanal beers.

    Alexa Raine-Wright, Baroque Flute, Recorder
    Sallynee Amawat, Baroque Violin
    Camille Paquette-Roy, Baroque Cello
    Rona Nadler, Harpsichord
    Audio sample
    Web site
    Links to video performances on YouTube

    Photo by Dagan Taylor 

    Les Ramoneurs

    Les Ramoneurs

    The harpsichord duo, Les Ramoneurs, was founded by John Walthausen and Lillian Gordis in 2014 in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of Jean-Philippe Rameau's death. These two young American keyboardists, both deeply involved in the historical performance practice movement from an early age, met while studying abroad at the Schola Cantorum in Basel. A mutual passion for French dramatic and chamber repertoire cultivated during sojourns in Paris and their interest in the dynamic possibilities of combining two harpsichords led them to experiment with arranging a variety of repertoires. Their particular interest in the music of Rameau, Jean-Marie Leclair, and their contemporaries motivated them to transcribe orchestral and chamber works of the mid-eighteenth century. Les Ramoneurs is the first harpsichord duo to arrange Leclair's 2ème Récréation de musique. Hailing from New York City and Berkeley, respectively, Walthausen (b.1991) and Gordis (b.1992) represent a new generation of American musicians who have completed specialized degrees both in the USA and abroad (Oberlin Conservatory, Conservatoire Nationale Supérieure de Musique de Paris, Schola Cantorum Basiliensis). Individually, both enjoy budding careers as soloists and continuo players. Coached and influenced by the harpsichord duo and trio performances of Skip Sempé, Olivier Fortin, and Pierre Hantaï, Les Ramoneurs combine virtuosic technical prowess with a deep musicality in repertoire that showcases the expressive possibilities of the harpsichord duo. Their creative passion for artistic collaboration and their desire to bring life and spectacle to harpsichord performances shine through their bold transcriptions.

    John Walthausen, harpsichord 
    Lillian Gordis, harpsichord 
    Audio sample 
    Web site

    Photo by Martin Chiang    

    Trio Speranza

    Trio SperanzaTrio Speranza is a dynamic new ensemble dedicated to presenting engaging and thought-provoking performances of both familiar and lesser-known repertoire from the Baroque era.  The group, comprising violinist Anna Griffis, cellist Cora Swenson Lee, and harpsichordist Jason Moy, made their debut in a Boston Early Music Festival Fringe Concert at the historic Trinity Church on Copley Square in the summer of 2013.  They reprised their program of French Baroque chamber music by Barriere, Francoeur, Leclair and Boismortier with two performances in Chicago in early 2014.  This upcoming season has Trio Speranza exploring music of Buxtehude and other masters of the German Baroque.

    Anna, Cora, and Jason are all prolific Early Music performers and have collaborated extensively before forming Trio Speranza in the summer of 2013. Collectively, they have attended the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute and Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, and frequently perform with respected Early Music ensembles around the country, including Boston Baroque, La Follia, Tempesta di Mare, the Newberry Consort, and New Trinity Baroque, among others.

    A graduate of McGill University, Jason serves on the faculty of the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, where he teaches harpsichord and baroque chamber music.  Equally at home on viola and violin, Anna holds degrees from Lawrence University and the Hartt School of Music, and is presently completing her Performance Diploma at Boston University.  Cora is a graduate of Boston University and the Eastman School of Music, and became a member of Les Sirenes for their 2012-13 season, which included a concert appearance as Finalists in Early Music America’s inaugural Baroque Performance Competition in New York City.

    Anna Griffis, violin
    Cora Swenson, cello
    Jason Moy, harpsichord
    Audio sample
    Web site

    Photos by Jess Beal, Norbrian Ronase and Jason Moy


    Prize winners will be selected immediately after the concert. A panel of 5 judges, selected by EMA, will judge the finalists’ competition in Chicago and select the winner with a celebratory reception following the announcement.

    Grand Prize
    1. A cash prize of $3,000
    2. Engagements with five major presenters of early music to perform a concert during the 2015-16 or 2016-17 season.
    3. A short feature article in a subsequent issue of Early Music America magazine.
    4. A feature on the early music radio program, Harmonia, as scheduled by the host, Angela Mariani.
    5. PR coaching from Shira Gilbert, PR & Artist Representative (http://www.shiragilbertpr.com/). Read Shira's reflections from the Baroque Competition and opportunity to coach Grand Prize Winner Infusion Baroque.
    6. Access to a business coaching mentor.
    7. Opportunity for broadcast on classical radio.
    Audience Prize

    The Audience Prize is voted on by the audience in attendance at the finals. This prize includes a $1,000 cash prize and will be awarded immediately after the finals.

    Presentation Prize

    The Presentation Prize winner, selected by the judges, receives $500 and is selected for presenting the most innovative concert experience combining inventive programming, compelling program notes, and undeniable stage presence.


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