Gordon Wallis Opera Competition
The next Opera Competition will be held February 24 & 25, 2018 (Riddell Theatre, University of Regina). Entries close January 19, 2018. Submit entries online at:
In July 1999, prior to his death, Gordon Wallis established an opera competition to encourage and assist young Saskatchewan singers in furthering their vocal studies in opera. Held every two years under the administration of the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association, its $5,000 first-place prize is one of a kind in Canada. In addition to the prize money, the winner may be featured as guest artist with the Regina and Saskatoon Symphony Orchestras.
Professor Wallis was a former Assistant Director of the University of Regina, Conservatory of Music and Dance. He was a valued member of the SMFA Syllabus Music Selection Committee and he adjudicated our festivals across the province and throughout Western Canada. Wallis was a consummate musician, musical director, performer, and acknowledged authority on opera. His extensive collection of opera material – complete operatic scores, recordings, libretti, books, documents, periodicals, and programs from every major opera house in the world – are housed in the Gordon C. Wallis Opera Resource Room in Darke Hall in Regina. These resources are open for use to all who have an interest in music and, in particular, opera.
The competition is open to any non-professional vocalist between the ages of 20 and 35 years. Competitors must perform one art song in any style, and two contrasting arias from the standard operatic repertoire, in two different languages, and from two different periods.
PAST OPERA COMPETITION WINNERS
2000 – Michael Harris, Saskatoon
2002 – Laurien Gibson, Saskatoon
2004 – Allison Arends, Regina
2006 – Sarah Vardy, Warman
2008 – Jordie Hughton, Saskatoon
2010 – Meara Conway, Regina
2012 – Chelsea Mahan, Saskatoon
2014 – Whitney Mather, Saskatoon
2016 – Allison Walmsley
SMFA Provincial Finals Competitions
June 1-3, 2018
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon
Education Building and Convocation Hall
Saskatchewan Music Festival Conference and SMFA AGM
October 27-28, 2017
FCMF Conference/AGM and National Music Festival Competitions
Shurniak Concerto Competition
The next Concerto Competition will be held February 2019. Entry forms will be available on or before December 1, 2018.
History of the Concerto Competition
In 1979 three Saskatchewan organizations marked their 70th Anniversaries: the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association (SMFA), the Regina Symphony Orchestra (RSO), and the Regina Cartage and Storage Co. Ltd. To celebrate this milestone, Kathleen Keple, then Executive Director of SMFA, initiated a Concerto Competition in partnership with the RSO, to be administered by SMFA and funded by Regina Cartage and Storage Co.
The three organizations held similar ideals of “enhancing lives through an appreciation for music”. SMFA has played a vital role in the cultural life of Saskatchewan by “providing young musicians with educational opportunities to compete and perform”. The Regina Cartage & Storage Co. President, Brian Keple, had long been supportive of community events throughout its history. The RSO, the oldest operating orchestra in Canada, also held a commitment to education in the province through the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra. The establishment of the Anniversary Concerto Competition was a broadening of this commitment. In addition to the monetary awards, the RSO provided the opportunity for the winner of the SMFA Concerto Competition to be featured as a guest artist in the upcoming season. In 2000 the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO), under conductor Earl Stafford, added their support by providing the winner with a performance opportunity with the SSO.
The first competition, in which several performers from across Saskatchewan competed, was held in Regina before a panel of three distinguished musicians: Isobel Moore, pianist of Edmonton; James Mendenhall, bassoonist of Brandon; and Gregory Millar, Music Director of the RSO.
During the ensuing years generous sponsorship was provided by the City of Regina Arts Commission, CKIT FM Radio, and the Sister Geraldine Boyle and Goodfellow Trust Funds. From 1992-2007 Yolande Hodges Fitzgerald, a former Saskatchewan teacher, was the major sponsor for the competition, followed by the Lorne & Evelyn Johnson Foundation in 2009. Mr. William Shurniak became the event sponsor in 2013.
SMFA continues to play a major role in the development of our province’s musicians. The SMFA Concerto Competition is a tangible result of Saskatchewan co-operation. SMFA is delighted that the Regina Symphony Orchestra and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra provide guest appearances for the winner of this event.
Since its inception in 1979, the annual Concerto Competition has gained momentum and recognition within the musical community of our province. It is with great pride that we list the winners of previous years’ competitions.
List to come.
William (Bill) Shurniak enjoyed a long and successful career in international banking and corporate business in Canada, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Australia, and the UK. Upon his retirement, he returned to his native Saskatchewan, and established the Shurniak Art Gallery in Assiniboia to showcase his extensive collection of international and Canadian art. Mr. Shurniak continues to work on several Boards of Directors, and supports educational and cultural organizations, including the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association.