Saturday, August 20, 2005

Montalbetti, Ko claim top prizes at competition

Montalbetti, Ko claim top prizes at competition
Jennifer Jacoby-Smith
The StarPhoenix
August 18, 2005

Musicians did Saskatchewan proud at the 2005 National Music Festival last weekend in Kamloops, B.C.

Two Saskatoon natives took top prizes in their fields. Soprano Ileana Montalbetti, formerly of Saskatoon and currently living in Manitoba, received first place honours in the voice competition; and violinist Raymond Ko placed first in the strings competition.

Montalbetti admitted her win came as a "big surprise."

The 22-year-old graduated earlier this year from University of Manitoba's music program.

She represented Manitoba at the national festival, but still comes back home to Saskatoon frequently.

Montalbetti appeared in Saskatoon Opera's production of Die Fledermaus earlier this summer. She will also return Oct. 29 to participate in the opera company's gala.

"I would love to make a living singing," said Montalbetti, "but I'll have to see if that's in the cards."

In the fall she will be off to University of Toronto to take their opera diploma.

Ko, 18, is a graduate of Walter Murray Collegiate. He performed Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 by Tchaikovsky and Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80 by Prokofiev.

In June, Ko received the Sister Boyle award at the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association's provincial competition in Moose Jaw, where he also earned the right to be Saskatchewan's representative in Kamloops.

The Sister Boyle award is given to a competitor who has demonstrated outstanding skill.

Eighteen-year old James Coghlin of Assiniboia placed second in the piano competition.

He played Etude Fantasy by Corigliano and Piano Concerto for the Left Hand by Ravel.

Sixty competitors, including nine from Saskatchewan, gathered in Kamloops to compete in various disciplines -- piano, strings, voice, woodwinds, brass, guitar and chamber groups. Entrants ranged in age from 14 to 28.

Bonnie Nicholson has assisted with local competitions for the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association in the past. She believes this may be the first time three Saskatchewan representatives have won in the same year.

"To win one of these competitions is very substantial," Nicholson explained.

To appear at the national level, competitors had to place first in local festivals held earlier this year.

National Music Festivals began in 1972 to allow young performers to test their skills against each other and be critiqued by renowned adjudicators.

The National Music Festivals are facilitated by the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals.
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2005