After a marathon concert on Wednesday, October 10, 2012, during which six emerging period-instrument ensembles presented their best music-making in 20- to 25-minute sets in Early Music America's first Baroque Performance Competition, a panel of judges drawn from the front ranks of the early music community awarded the Grand Prize – a cash award of $3,000 and bookings on four prestigious early music concert series – to Pallade Musica. The winning ensemble demonstrated its prowess, during the concert at Corpus Christi Church in New York City, in music by 17th-century Italian composers.
As the judges were deliberating, audience members voted on an Audience Prize of $1,000, which was awarded to The Sebastians for its performance of music by Corelli, F. Couperin and Vivaldi.
"There was an extraordinary amount of young talent on display this evening," remarked Gene Murrow, Executive Director of Gotham Early Music Scene (GEMS), the concert presenter, "and I was especially encouraged by the number of young people in tonight's audience."
Maria Coldwell, Executive Director of Early Music America (EMA), the competition sponsor, said, "It was a long and difficult deliberation; the winning groups are both outstanding, but that is true of all the finalists. This competition was not only an opportunity for six ensembles to compete for awards and play for a knowledgeable audience; it was also an opportunity for that audience to experience a taste of the future of early music in North America."
Cellist Elinor Frey, speaking for Pallade Musica, said, "The level of playing from all groups this evening was exceedingly high, so it is a privilege to be singled out for this honor. We always focus on trying out different textures and colors, seeking out and sharing the special moments in this music. We're also proud to have represented Canada's thriving early music scene at the competition."
Violinist Daniel Lee of The Sebastians said, "We are humbled and honored to be chosen to receive the Audience Prize. We would like to thank the members of the audience, and look forward to performing for them again in the future." Fellow group member and violinist Alexander Woods added, "It was a privilege to perform for such an enthusiastic and appreciative audience tonight."
Other ensembles participating in the competition were Agave Baroque, Ostraka, Les Sirènes and Zweikampf. The finalists were selected from a pool of applicants by an independent panel of three judges. The Grand Prize winner was selected by a panel of five judges, selected by EMA: Andrew Appel, harpsichord; Judith Malafronte, mezzo-soprano; Sandra Miller, Baroque flute; Michael McCraw, Baroque bassoon; and Rachel Barton Pine, violin.
The purpose of the competition is to promote the career development of new period-instrument ensembles. In addition to the cash award, the Grand Prize includes the opportunity to present concerts on the 2013-14 or 2014-15 series of four major presenters of early music: Early Music Guild (Seattle, WA); Early Music Now (Milwaukee, WI); Indianapolis Early Music Festival (Indianapolis, IN); and Renaissance & Baroque (Pittsburgh, PA).
About Pallade Musica: Tanya LePerrière, violin • Elinor Frey, violoncello • Esteban La Rotta, theorbo • Mylène Bélanger, harpsichord
Pallade Musica brings together four of Montreal's most promising early music performers, who have played together in past seasons in groups such as Ensemble Caprice, Arion, Proemio, and the Montreal Baroque Festival before launching their own Montreal series at the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours. This season the group will also perform Monteverdi madrigals with Viva Voce and soprano Shannon Mercer. Pallade Musica seeks to explore the repertoire for violin, cello, and continuo using the cello, theorbo, and harpsichord as instruments in a contrapuntal role, allowing for a diverse sound palette of various textures and colors. The members of Pallade Musica have diverse backgrounds, coming from Quebec, the USA, and Colombia, and have studied at McGill, ESMuC Barcelona, Civica Scuola di Milano, Scuola Cantorum Basiliensis, Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles and the Juilliard School.
About The Sebastians: Daniel S. Lee, violin • Alexander Woods, violin • Ezra Seltzer, cello • Avi Stein, harpsichord
The Sebastians specialize in music of the Baroque and Classical eras and newly commissioned works for period instruments. They were finalists in the 2011 York International Early Music Competition and the 2011 Early Music America/Naxos Recording Competition. For the tricentennial of the publication of Antonio Vivaldi's L'Estro Armonico, The Sebastians commissioned composer Robert Honstein to write a companion suite, which they premiered alongside Vivaldi's work in December 2011. In the 2011-2012 season they presented a series of thematic concerts as artists-in-residence at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Manchester, CT. They were recently named the resident ensemble at All Angels' Church in New York City. They have participated in the Carnegie Hall Professional Training Workshop with L'Arpeggiata and performed at Music Matters at LaGrua Center in Stonington, CT; Friends of Music at Pequot Library in Southport, CT; Juilliard in Aiken in Aiken, SC; and in the Twelfth Night Festival and Concerts@One at Trinity Wall Street in New York City.