Steven Mazey

Ottawa Citizen
March 31 2008

Star Armenian-Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian will open the 2008
Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival July 25, peforming 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 concerts
with multimedia, dance and choral components.

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

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 in addition to the performances
of new music Armour presented throughout the festival.