Steven Mazey

Ottawa Citizen
April 1 2008

Star Armenian-Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian will open the 2008
Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival July 25, performing music
from her recent album Tango Notturno, the festival has announced.

It will mark Bayrakdarian's first Ottawa performance since she sang
in the outdoor opera concert at LeBreton Flats last summer with the
Canadian Opera Company.

Performing with Bayrakdarian will be pianist Serouj Kradjian, bassist
Roberto Occhipinti, clarinettist Shalom Bard, Argentine bandoneon
player Fabian Carbone and cellist Roman Borys, who is programming this
year's festival with his colleagues from the Gryphon Trio. Borys was
one of the musicians on Bayrakdarian's CBC Records disc.

"Isabel Bayrakdarian is an astonishing talent and the passion,
romance and sheer beauty of this music will knock everyone's socks
off," Borys said in a statement.

The CD includes pieces by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla and by
other composers from around the world, including Jacob Gade, Anselmo
Aieta, Farid El Atrache and Arno Babajanian. Bayrakdarian, who was
born in Armenia, moved to Toronto with her family as a teenager. She
performs regularly at the Metropolitan Opera, has sung with orchestras
around the world and was featured on the soundtrack of the film The
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Running July 25 to Aug. 9, the 15th annual festival will include more
than 110 concerts and other events. More details will be announced in
coming weeks, but Borys said the festival will include collaborations
with multimedia, dance and choral components.

Passes will be available in early May.

Returning performers will include the Shanghai and St Lawrence string
quartets, pianist Andre Laplante and violinist Mayumi Seiler.

First-time performers at the event will include the Keller Quartet,
violinist Alfred Gamil and Canadian cellist Shauna Rolston.

In celebration of the Banff Centre's 75th anniversary, the festival
will include two days of performances by alumni of the artistic
training centre. The festival is collaborating with Calgary's Honens
International Piano Competition, to present performances by the most
recent laureates, from 2006. The competition is held every three years.

Organizers also announced the festival will include music by R.

Murray Schafer, Claude Vivier, Olivier Messiaen and "many other
contemporary composers."

Citizen music critic Richard Todd criticized a decision by the
programmers of last year's festival to eliminate former Chamber
Society artistic director Julian Armour's tradition of programming
two full days of contemporary music during the festival, on top of
performances of new music throughout the event.

As reported in the Citizen Friday, one star musician who will not
play the Chamber Festival will be Ottawa pianist Angela Hewitt.

Before Armour resigned last year over differences with the
organization's board, he had booked Hewitt to present Bach's
Well-Tempered Clavier at this year's festival. Borys informed Hewitt's
agent last fall that he had decided not to present the Well-Tempered
Clavier at the festival, though he said he would consider her if she
would present a recital of French music instead.

Hewitt is presenting Well-Tempered Clavier at more than 40 cities
around the world this season.

Armour stepped in to present Hewitt's performance of the Well-Tempered
Clavier May 10 and 13 as part of the Celebridee program of the Canadian
Tulip Festival. Armour is director of Celebridee, the festival of
ideas, humanities and culture that will be part of the festival,
May 2 to 19.

In an e-mail to the Citizen last week, Borys said Hewitt is "a
wonderful artist," but he described the Well-Tempered Clavier as
"a huge stand-alone project, and we were not certain that it would
have been served well within a festival format."

In fact, the festival has a long history of presenting ambitious
projects on the scale of the Well-Tempered Clavier and larger.

At the 2005 festival, the Borodin Quartet presented the complete
quartets of Shostakovich, over five concerts. That project attracted
music lovers from around the world, and many festivalgoers described
the performances as among the musical highlights of their lives.