This recording presents first-prize winners Mezzosopranist Jane Irwin, violinist Francesco Manara and organist Alessio Corti.
These young artists won the 1993 contest with their performances by works of Handel, Mahler, Walton, Hindemith, Mozart and Burkhard.
1st Prize for Voice - Jane Irwin
Mezzosopranist Jane Irwin was born in Bromley (England) in 1968. She studied for five years with Barbara Robotham and graduated with honours from Lancaster University in 1990. She did postgraduate studies as a Peter Moores Foundation Scholar at the Royal Northern College of Music. Jane Irwin was the Decca "Kathleen Ferrier" Prizewinner in 1991 and the winner of the prestigious Frederic Cox Award for Singing in 1992. She is also recipient of the Clonter Opera Prize.
Before the Geneva competition Jane Irwin was already an experienced oratorio and opera singer. As a concert and recital singer Jane Irwin has appeared regularly in Britain, Europe and America since winning the CIEM-contest in 1993. In November 2002 she made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Mariss Jansons.
In January 2007 she sang the Ernest Chausson "Poème de L'amour et de la mer" for the American Symphony Orchestra under Leon Botstein in New York.
For the CIEM 1993 she performed excerpts from works by George Friederich Handel, Gustave Mahler and Willam Walton.
1st Prize for Violin - Francesco Manara
Violinist Francesco Manara was born in 1969 in Italy. He completed his main studies with honours at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Turin in 1990 under Massimo Marin. He furthemore attended master-classes with leading international violinists such as Franco Gulli, Stefan Gheorghiu, Ilja Grubert, Giuseppe Principe and Hermann Krebbers.
Before entering the CIEM contest Francesco Manara already won a number of other competitions, including the Vittorio Veneto Competition, the Béla Bartók Competition (in Rome) and the J.S. Bach Competition (in Paris). In 1992 he worked in the position of the first violinist with the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala di Milano under Riccardo Muti. Francesco Manara plays a Gofreddo Cappa violin dated 1668.
1st Prize for Organ - Alessio Corti
Alessio Corti born in Milan (Italy) in 1967, earned diplomas in piano, organ and harpischord. Thereafter he studied organ and improvisation with Lionel Rogg at the Geneva Conservatory, where he was awarded the first prize for virtuosity and the Otto Barblan Prize.
By the time of the CIEM contest Alessio Corti was titular organist at Santa Maria Segreta and the Christian Protestant Church in Milan. He already had performed in concert the complete works of Buxtehude and Bach in Milan.
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
The most internationally renowned of Swiss orchestras, The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande was founded in Geneva in 1918 by Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet (1883-1969). Ansermet remained the orchestra's chief for 50 years during which time he guided it to international eminence. Under his baton the orchestra earned widespread recognition especially for its performances of works by this century's most important composers including Debussy, Stravinsky and Ravel, as well as Swiss composers Frank Martin, and Arthur Honegger. Ernest Ansermet co-operated closely with the Geneva International Competition for Musical Performers from its inauguration in 1939.
Following his studies in piano, voice and orchestral conducting at the Geneva Conservatory, Laurent Gay founded the "Ensemble orchestral de Genève", which he has led in concerts in Switzerland, France, Italy and Spain. Laurent Gay is also a frequent guest conductor for the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
Bienne Symphony Orchestra
Founded by Swiss composer Jost Meier, who directed the orchestra until 1980, and Eduard Benz, its long-time managing director, the "Société d'Orchestre de Bienne" has established itself as one of Switzerland's leading ensembles. Meier was succeeded by Ivan Anguélov, Grzegorz Nowak and Marc Tardue. The orchestra gives about 30 concerts annually, besides performing in operas and operettas.
Born in the United States, Marc Tardue studied piano, harpischord and orchestral conducting at the Peabody Conservatory of Music (Baltimore), where he worked with Frederik Prausnity, Leo Muller, Leonard Pearlman and Alexandre Lipsky.
In 1982 he was named the principal guest conductor of the Iceland National Opera in Reykjavik. Tardue was the 3rd prize-winner at the 1984 Ernest Ansermet Conducting Competition (CIEM 1984). Then he also awarded the Swiss prize. He was appointed artistic director of the Grenoble Instrumental Ensemble in 1985 and was director of the Bienne Symphony Orchestra (from 1992-2002).
Since 1999 Marc Tardue has been principal conductor of the Portugese "Orquestra Nacional do Porto". In 2004 he was awarded the "Medalha de Mérito Cultural", Portugal's most prestigious cultutral nomination. Besides, since 1989, Marc Tardue is a "Chevalier des Art et Lettres" of France.
Background information on the Geneva CIEM
In 1939 Swiss composer Henri Gagnebin and Frédéric Liebstoeckl founded the International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva. After Second World war it soon became one of the world's most prestigious competitions. The inaugural competition included seven categories (bassoon, voice, clarinet, flute, oboe, piano and violin) and was carried through in two stages. The final concert was broadcast by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and by the National Broadcasting Corporation in New York.
The Geneva competition has contunially profited from a close co-operation with leading musicians and orchestras. Eminent Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet (along with the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande) was an ardent advocate of the competition, often appearing on the rostrum himself to accompany young performers.
The collaboration with outstanding musicians also extends to the jury. Over fifty highly respected specialists are involved in the evaluation process each year. They make a major contribution to the outstanding international reputation of the CIEM.
The promotion of Swiss music has also always been one of the primary goals of the Geneva competition. The set selection of pieces from which candidates choose always includes music by Swiss composers (specially commissioned in co-operation with the Swiss Musician's Association). Over 150 new works have been composed specifically for the competition (including Frank Martin, Heinz holliger, Willy Burkhard etc.).
The city and canton of Geneva and the Swiss Federal government have supported the Geneva competition since its inception. Additional support of eminence was provided by major companies.
Victoria Hall and its new organ
Geneva's Victoria Hall served from the very beginning as battleground for the CIEM contests. On 16 September, 1984 a devastating fire destroyed the podium, organ and much of the auditorium's ornamentation. The decision to restore the hall and to build a new organ was not long in coming, and a committee of experts soon took up the planning.
The new organ, inaugurated on 14 February, 1993, is a splendid instrument both musically and architecturally. The "amphitheatre" console consists of four manuals and pedals and employs the traditional tracker action to activate the thousands of pipes which make up the 71 stops.
1993 International Competition for Musical Performers (1994). Musica Helvetica MH CD 79.2. Produced by Patrick Linder.