Concert Organizer


Laura Loewen, piano

Praised for expressivity, virtuosity, and committed playing, Winnipeg collaborative pianist Laura Loewen has appeared in concerts throughout North America and in Europe, Asia and South America. Dedicated to sharing her passion for ensemble playing and coaching, she is a professor of Collaborative Piano and the Vocal Coach at the University of Manitoba’s Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music. 
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Speakers & Performers

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Mel Braun, baritone

Baritone Mel Braun is a versatile performer, equally at home in oratorio, recital, and opera, always open to new collaborations. He is well-known to Canadian audiences for his many performances and broadcasts of Early Music with Tafelmusik and Opera Atelier, and for his frequent appearances across Canada in the Masterworks of Bach and Handel. These appearances include performances with the Calgary Bach Festival, Edmonton’s Pro Coro, Symphony Nova Scotia, Winnipeg’s Canzona, Guelph Chamber Choir, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

New Music, another of Mel’s interests, has seen him premiere works with the Banff Centre, Winnipeg’s Groundswell, Manitoba Opera, Winnipeg New Music Festival, Kitchener’s Sound in the Land Festival, Toronto’s New Music Gallery, and Saskatoon Symphony. As a recitalist, he is renowned for his creative approach to Song, whether it’s singing Schumann’s Liederkreis while on stage with the dancers of Winnipeg’s Q Dance, staging Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch, or tracing the life of Schubert among his friends as he completed his final work, Die Winterreise.

His ongoing duo partnership with pianist Laura Loewen is at the centre of many of these collaborations. When not performing as a soloist, he sings with the Emerado Trio, and with Il Primo, an all-baritone trio.

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Lara Ciekiewicz, soprano

Whether being hailed as “mesmerizing” (Classical Voice of North Carolina), “magnificently bell-toned” (Capital Critics Circle), or “a clear standout” (San Francisco Classical Voice), soprano Lara Ciekiewicz is making her mark as a dynamic singing-actress. The upcoming season sees Lara take on the title role in Janáček’s Jenůfa for Pacific Opera Victoria, directed by Atom Egoyan. She returns to Opera on the Avalon as Cinderella in Into the Woods. She makes her Virtuosi Concerts debut in a program for soprano, piano, and string quartet. Lara also makes her company and role debuts as Tatiana in Eugene Onegin for Calgary Opera. Finally, she is happy to be reunited with her Salute to Vienna!, Winnipeg Singers, and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra families for various concerts throughout the season.

Last season saw Lara debut as the Sound of Music’s irrepressible Maria for Opera on the Avalon. With a nod to her Polish heritage, she was part of a wonderful program of music for the Paderewski Music Society. The past season also brought Lara’s first major Verdi role - Amelia in Simon Boccanegra for Pacific Opera Victoria. She rejoined her Salute to Vienna! family for concerts in Los Angeles and San Diego, and made her Vancouver Opera debut as La Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro.

Further credits include: May (Ours); Liù (Turandot); Micaëla (Carmen); Musetta (La Bohème); Nellie Forbush (South Pacific); Sylva (The Gypsy Princess); Helga (Gisela in Her Bathtub); Mrs. Nordstrom (A Little Night Music); High Priestess (Aida); Lyudmila (Ruslan I Lyudmila); Fiordiligi (Così Fan Tutte); Pamina and Papagena (Die Zauberflöte); Alcina (Alcina); Anna (Anna Bolena); and Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi). Recent collaborators include the Boise Philharmonic, Manitoba Opera, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Flipside Opera, Dry Cold Productions, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Opera in Concert, l’Opéra de Montréal, and l’Orchestre symphonique de Sherbrooke.

Ms. Ciekiewicz holds a Master of Music in Opera from McGill University and a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Voice from the University of Winnipeg. She is an alumna of l'Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal, San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program, the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center, the Banff Centre, Opera NUOVA and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School (Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Musical Theatre).

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Tracy Dahl, soprano

Canadian coloratura soprano Tracy Dahl is grateful for the opportunity to perform with colleagues across the country in support of mental health awareness. Ms. Dahl has been performing internationally for over 30 years.

She has had international success in opera, concert and recital. She has sung at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Washington Opera, the Canadian opera Company to name but a few. Most recently she was heard as Adele in Die Fledermaus for Calgary opera, Madame Mao for Houston Grand Opera and Cunegonde for Vancouver and Regina Symphony orchestras. This past season she also rang in the new year with Maestro Bramwell Tovey and the Philadelphia orchestra in an evening of American music.

In addition to a busy performing career Ms Dahl is also a voice teacher at the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba and guest instructor for Calgary Opera's young artist program and many other North American programs. She was very humbled by her becoming a member of the Order of Canada this year.


Karly Epp, jazz vocal

Biography coming soon.


Darryl Friesen, piano

Biography coming soon.


Karl Kohut, bass

Biography coming soon.


Laura Loewen, piano

See biography above under “Concert organizer”.

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James McLennan, tenor

James McLennan has been celebrated for his “emotional intensity” (Opera News), "considerable charm," and "strong yet pure tenor," (Toronto Star) in a career encompassing over 25 roles on opera stages across Canada.

This season Jamie appears as Goro in Madama Butterfly at Manitoba Opera, Luther Billis in South Pacific for Calgary Opera, and Gastone in La Traviata for Manitoba Opera. He will also reprise the role of Jeune Bilodeau in Les Feluettes at Edmonton Opera, following the acclaimed world premiere at Montreal Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria last year. Past opera credits include Brighella in Ariadne auf Naxos (Pacific Opera Victoria), Bardolfo in Falstaff (Manitoba Opera), Caïus in Falstaff (Hamilton Opera, Montreal Opera), Almaviva in The Barber of Seville (Edmonton Opera), Goro in Madama Butterfly (Montreal Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria), Pang in Turandot (Edmonton Opera), Triquet in Eugene Onegin (Vancouver Opera, Edmonton Opera), Gastone in La Traviata (Calgary Opera, Vancouver Opera), and the title role in Candide (Toronto Operetta Theatre, Windsor Symphony).

On the concert stage, James has appeared with the Vancouver Bach Choir (Bach Mass in B Minor), the Amadeus Choir (Bach St. John Passion), the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (Haydn’s Creation, Tavener Requiem), Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Handel’s Israel in Egypt), the Grand Philharmonic Choir (Bach Magnificat), Toronto Classical Singers (Mozart Requiem), and Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings (Britten’s The Company of Heaven).

This fall James will join the University of Manitoba School of Music as a voice instructor. An alumnus of the Second City Training Centre in Toronto, he is also a certified French translator.



Coming soon.


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Thank you to the University of Manitoba for their continued support and encouragement. 

We respectfully acknowledge that this concert is being held in Treaty 1 territory and that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.