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Michael McMahon, piano
Pianist and vocal coach Michael McMahon studied at McGill University with Charles Reiner. With the aid of the Canada Council for the Arts, he completed his studies in Vienna at the Franz Schubert Institute and the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst, and in Salzburg at the International Summer Academy held at the Mozarteum. During this time, he studied with such legendary artists as Erik Werba, Hans Hotter, Elly Ameling, Jörg Demus and Kim Borg. Michael McMahon maintains an active performing schedule. Learn more
Broadcaster, producer and lecturer, Kelly Rice is a passionate voice for music in Montreal. After a bachelor's degree in baroque music, he completed a master's degree in musicology at McGill University where he currently holds the position of Director of University Advancement at the Schulich School of Music. For over two decades, he was a producer and broadcaster at CBC. He continues to be very active in the arts community as a journalist and board member, and hosts pre-concert lectures at the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and other ensembles.
Speakers & Performers
Adam Cicchillitti, guitar
There were several media accolades in 2017 and 2018 for Montreal-born guitarist Adam Cicchillitti. The renowned American magazine Classical Guitar called him “a superb Canadian guitarist” and CBC Music included him on its list of Canada’s top thirty most promising young musicians in classical music, describing him as an “ardent ambassador for classical guitar.” His debut album Canciones, which was financed by the Canada Council for the Arts and MusicAction, was released in early 2018 under the Analekta label. In 2019, Adam commissioned 16 new works for two guitars with fellow McGill-graduate Steve Cowan, including five world-premiere recordings on the all-Canadian album Focus with Analekta. He has toured Canada with Jeunesses Musicales and Debut Atlantic and will tour the Canadian Prairies in 2020 with Prairie Debut. Currently completing a doctorate in music performance at McGill University supported by les Fonds de recherche de Québec, Adam is a specialist in child pedagogy and the founder of the guitar school at Ottawa Suzuki Strings.
Hank Knox, harpsichord
Hailed internationally for his “colorful, kinetic performances,” Hank Knox performs on harpsichord in concert halls, churches, museums, galleries and homes around the globe. A founding member of Montreal’s Arion Baroque Orchestra, with whom he has toured North and South America, Europe and Japan, Knox also regularly performs and tours with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Les Violons du Roy and l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, among other groups, ensembles and orchestras. He has released a number of acclaimed recordings on rare antique instruments as well as copies of historical instruments. He teaches in the Early Music program at McGill University where he conducts the McGill Baroque Orchestra. He has directed a great number of Baroque operas for Opera McGill, including Francesca Caccini’s La liberazione di Ruggiero, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Monteverdi’s Poppea and Handel’s Rodelinda, Agrippina, Giulio Cesare, Alcina and Rinaldo.
Aline Kutan, soprano
Canadian soprano Aline Kutan made her debut at age of 18 singing Flora in The Turn of the Screw with Vancouver Opera and then the toured Canada for two years in A.L.Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. After winning the George London award, the Joseph Rouleau and the Metropolitan Opera competitions, Kutan sang in houses such as Paris Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, La Scala di Milano, Festival des Chorégies d'Oranges, Opéra de Genève, Monte Carlo, San Carlo di Napoli, Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires), Opera de Santiago-Chile, Canadian Opera Company, NY City Opera, among others. Over 30 leading roles include Lakmé, Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Zauberflôte, Entfuhrung aus des Serail, Comte Ory, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, La Traviata, Falstaff, Russlan and Lyudmila, Anoush etc. She’s sung the world premiere of Philippe Fenelon’s Les Rois at Opéra de Bordeaux and the role of Semele in Salieri’s Europa Riconosciuta with Riccardo Muti. Concert highlights include the Canadian premiere of Messiaen's St. Francis of Assisi with the Montreal Symphony and Kent Nagano and L’Enfant et les Sortileges with the Rotterdam Symphony and Yannick Nézaet-Séguin. Kutan teaches at McGill University and the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal. She has recorded with ATMA, Analekta and BMG labels. www.alineutan.com
Suzie Le Blanc, soprano
Born in Acadia, Suzie LeBlanc discovered her passion for baroque music very early on. Now a star on the international scene, this charismatic soprano convincingly proves the popularity of early music while exploring French melody, lied, Acadian folklore and contemporary music. Suzie LeBlanc has participated in recordings that have won several prestigious awards, including a Grammy for Lully's Theseus with the Boston Early Music Festival, several Opus Awards and the East Coast Music Association's (ECMA) Best Classical Album Award for I Am in Need of Music.
Recipient of the Order of Canada, Suzie has received four honorary doctorates and a career scholarship from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. Suzie teaches at McGill University and is co-artistic director of the Nouvel Opéra in Montreal.
Michael McMahon, piano
See biography above, under “Concert Lead”.
Ilya Polataev, piano
Bio coming soon.
Axel Strauss, violin
In 1998 Axel Strauss became the first German artist to ever win the international Naumburg Violin Award in New York. Since then he has toured widely throughout the world as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. He has also served as guest concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Montreal Symphony. He has made numerous recordings, notably for the Naxos label. In 2012 Axel Strauss was appointed Professor of Violin at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal, where he also serves as Chair of the String Area. Prior to that he served as Professor of Violin at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Jacqueline Woodley, soprano
Canadian soprano Jacqueline Woodley has been praised for her fearless versatility, changing styles fluidly from early music to contemporary, from opera to art song. Sought after for her “exceptional talent” in performing modern works, Jacqueline created the role of Milice-Bride in the première of Ana Sokolovic’s opera, Svaba-Wedding, with Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, a production that toured Canada and Europe. She also starred in its American productions at Philadelphia Opera and San Francisco Opera.
Recent performances include her Montreal Symphony debut under Kent Nagano; the Forest Bird (Siegfried), Cherubino (Marriage of Figaro) and Papagena (Die Zauberflöte) for the Canadian Opera Company; Adele (Die Fledermaus) with Edmonton Opera; appearances at the Vancouver Early Music Festival and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival; the title role in Apollo e Dafne, La musique in Le Plaisir de Versailles; Handel’s Messiah for many orchestras including National Arts Centre Orchestra, Kitchener’s Grand Philharmonic Choir and in a staged version for Against the Grain Theatre. She has been featured in Tapestry New Opera’s M’dea Undone and Oksana G. and appears frequently with Toronto Masque Theatre, Edmonton Symphony, and Clavecins en Concert. Ms. Woodley holds a Master’s Degree in Opera from McGill University and is an alumna of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio.
Antonio Figueroa, Benoit Le Blanc, Phillipe Martel, Julien Patenaude
Four charming and charismatic singers founded the Quartom vocal quartet in 2008. After their love of music, friendship was the first motivation to create this group whose mission is also to bring to concerts audiences that do not yet know they might love classical music.
With time-honored music training, from childrens’ choirs to university, the quartet’s members perform a repertoire that revisits the world of classical music and sometimes includes popular music. Their insightful interpretations, obvious mutual affection, and contagious good humor have charmed audiences throughout Quebec and Canada, and also brought them to Europe, the United-State and Asia. Their adaptability is also key in their success. Their desire to reach audiences of all walks of life motivates them to work hard on their repertoire and presentation. That is probably why they are so much appreciated by public and presenters as well.
Quartom’s singers have four CDs in their discography. Their last one, Renaissance, reflects where they come from as singers. Having spent their youth in children’s choirs, sacred music has always been a big part of their musical training. Renaissance is a cd filled with introspection, serenity and the love of beautiful music.
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Thank you McGill University for their continued support and encouragement.
We respectfully acknowledge that McGill University is located on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. McGill honours and respects these nations as the traditional stewards of the lands and waters on which we meet today.