It’s that time of year when music students throughout the community are preparing for festival season.
In Vernon, the local branch of the registered music teachers association hold an annual festival for students of voice and piano, which culminates with a concert open to the public.
This weekend, voice students gathered at All Saints Anglican Church to perform for vocal adjudicator Maria Cristina Fantini.
Hailing from Toronto, soprano Fantini is a classically trained singer with an exotic and varied stylistic range.
She began studying voice at age 13 and attended high school at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, where she specialized in music theatre and sang with a number of local rock bands.
After graduation, her focus shifted more precisely to classical music and she completed a bachelors in music at York University. She then made the move to Vancouver, where was accepted into the masters of operatic performance program at the University of British Columbia.
Fantini performed several roles with the UBC ensemble including the First Lady in The Magic Flute and the title role in The Merry Widow.
She completed her masters of music in 2004 and has been active in the opera community since graduating performing in Opera Nuova’s 2004 production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio and in Vancouver Opera’s 2006 production of Gounod’s Faust.
In addition to her opera singing, Fantini has established her own music school (Blue River Music Studios) and produces events, workshops and recitals. She also fronts Canada’s foremost operatic bluegrass trio Fantini, Wood & Wells.
Piano students from Grade 1 to ARCT ( Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto) take over All Saints from Monday to Thursday to perform for adjudicator Sandra Joy Friesen.
In her final year of the doctor of music piano performance program at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Friesen has made the music and composers of Canada a focus in her career.
As part of her doctoral work, she is currently forming a pedagogical resource for piano technique and notation in Canadian repertoire, and presents lectures and workshops on Canadian music, including in Mexico and Brazil.
A former faculty member in the music department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Richmond, Friesen has also directed music ensembles and has performed throughout North America as a soloist and with cellist Mark Rudoff as well as with xIme (the Experimental Improv Music Ensemble) in Edmonton.
Friesen has also worked as a collaborative pianist at the Poetry and Performance program at the Franz-Schubert Institute in Austria and the international Morningside Music Bridge program at Mount Royal University in Calgary.
Awards to the students will be handed out at the gala concert on Sunday, March 4 at 2 p.m. at All Saints Anglican Church. Admission is by donation.