4 UdeM graduates win scholarships to create operas

From left to right: Analia Llugdar, Alejandra Odgers, Nicole O'Bomsawin and Danaë Ménard-Bélanger.

From left to right: Analia Llugdar, Alejandra Odgers, Nicole O’Bomsawin and Danaë Ménard-Bélanger.

Credits: Music 3 women

In 5 seconds

Four UdeM graduates are winners of the prestigious Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes award, which will enable them to create an opera.

On September 14, Musique 3 Femmes de Montréal and the Ensemble of Vocal Arts-Québec awarded the Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes 2022 to Canadian teams of composers and librettists. This prestigious award aims to encourage the next generation.

The winners in three of the four categories are graduates of the University of Montreal: composer Analia Llugdar (Faculty of Music) in the category Work in French; composer Alejandra Odgers (Faculty of Music) and librettist Nicole O’Bomsawin (Department of Anthropology) in the Indigenous Work category; and Danaë Ménard-Bélanger (Faculty of Music), Lecturer in Composition at the Faculty, in the category Work in French – Incentive Award.

Winners receive a $50,000 scholarship and benefit from the musical and playwriting mentorship of renowned composer and playwright Luna Pearl Woolf. Their works will be presented in 2024.

Award for Encouraging Female Composers

“I was the only woman in music composition classes in Mexico. Sometimes there were two of us. When I came to study at the University of Montreal in the early 2000s, there were also very few women. Fortunately, things are changing: the Orchester métropolitain de Montréal has put women composers in the spotlight, the UdeM has hired musicians like the composer Ana Sokolović, and awards like this help promote creativity among women,” says Alejandra Odgers.

Evolution: this is confirmed by the young lecturer of music composition at the Faculty of Music of the University of Danaë Ménard-Bélanger. Recently hired at the UdeM and a graduate of her master’s degree in music, she remembers that her classes were mostly attended by men: “A huge difference compared to the opera singing classes, which are mostly female.”

The derivative works are mostly those written by men. “In France, where I currently live, for a concert with six pieces on the program, five will be composed by men. And often women’s creations are the most successful, because these musicians had to fight to get their works performed. An award like this offers an opportunity to hear more composers,” says Analia Llugdar.

Assemble the opera with several hands

During her studies at the University of Montreal, Alejandra Odgers met Abenaki anthropologist Nicole O’Bomsawin. The latter shared with her the Abenaki legends and songs that the student set to music as part of her Ph.D. The result was a piece born from the first prize in the composition competition of the Orchester de l’Université de Montréal and which will be performed again, this time at the Maison symphonique de Montréal. Together, a doctoral student and an anthropologist will research three legends in order to create an opera. One of them, the creation story, tells how the world was created through music.

Danaë Ménard-Bélanger will compose the opera with her sister Maïa. She will take care of the music and her sister will write the lyrics. “Our way of working is quite organic. We move a lot between text and music,” she notes.

As for Analija Llugdar, she will set the poetic text to music fig dance, by Emné Nasereddine, which evokes the bonds broken by the war in Lebanon between three generations of women. “Every word is a gem. Every word has its own power. I won’t change any of them. In order to translate this text into a chamber opera while respecting the narrative framework, I will work hand in hand with the author,” she says.

About Analia Llugdar

Analia Llugdar is a Canadian-Argentinian composer currently living in France. His catalog includes about 60 pieces for voice, orchestra, chamber music, solo instrument, ballet, opera and mixed music. Creations that suggest roughness, roughness and finesse. his ballet Juana was created as part of the Monaco Dance Forum.

Among her honors are the Victor-Martyn-Lynch-Staunton Award from the Canada Council for the Arts; the Opus Award for Composer of the Year 2008-2009, from the Conseil québécois de la musique; and the 2008 Jules-Léger Award.

About Alejandra Odgers and Nicole O’Bomsawin

Mexican-Canadian composer Alejandra Odgers studied in Mexico and Canada. This journey gave him the tools to create expressive and direct music that draws its inspiration from different sources. Alejandra Odgers composed more than fifty works that were performed by various ensembles and a dozen orchestras. In particular, the Orchester métropolitain de Montréal commissioned the work from him as part 375.e Montreal’s anniversary and another for the opening of Espace 67. The latter was created under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Alejandra Odgers won first prizes in composition competitions in Mexico and Quebec.

Abenaki anthropologist Nicole O’Bomsawin studied anthropology at the University of Montreal. For almost 50 years, he has been working to promote the wealth of his traditional culture. First through dance, while she traveled with her troupe across Canada, the United States and Europe, and then through stories and legends. She is the recipient of several awards and recognitions for her commitment to the promotion of First Nations cultures.

About Danae Menard-Bélanger

Danaë Ménard-Bélanger is a Quebec composer who draws inspiration from the symbolic universe of narrative and visual art. His works depict rich emotional universes through games of timbre, time and grand musical gestures. The master’s degree he will soon complete explores silence, stasis and lack. His early career was marked by his passion for the human voice. His fascination with paralanguage is the source of his academic research and his compositions. Since 2022, she has been the assistant director of the vocal ensemble Kô, and this fall she will start her PhD on lullabies at the Université de Montréal.

About the music of 3 women

Founded in 2018, Musique 3 Femmes (M3F) is a non-profit organization encouraging the next generation of Canadian and non-binary female creators. Under the direction of artists Kristin Hoff and Jennifer Szeto, M3F will present two operas in their Canadian world premieres this month in Berlin with ufaFabrik (operas by Anne Pidgorne and Laurence Jobidon), as well as the first full-length opera of 2023, a co-production by Keiko Devaux and Ensemble Paramirabo (June finalist in 2020).

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