We had the first session of the quarter finals yesterday evening and a taste of the quality we may be sorting out over the coming two days as we examine thoroughly the 24 candidates who have made it to Montréal. And already I feel there may be something special. But we have another ten this afternoon and evening and the balance on Wednesday. Far too early to get too excited!
These "quarter final" sessions offer the singers the chance to show their paces in Opera, Oratorio, and Song. So it is a really tough challenge which requires a lengthy preparation given that each has also to be prepared for full, but different, programmes of around 25 minutes for the semi-final round (there will be twelve of these 24 chosen for that) and the final (six pass through).
The auditions are in the Bourgie Hall of Montréal's Museum of Fine Arts, a really excellent small concert hall of around 450 seats. It is a fine new addition to the concert facilitates in this beautiful city. And we are looking forward to finals next week at the other new concert hall, home to the Montreal Symphony who will be playing for the final sessions and the closing concert. More about that all in good time. Meanwhile we are enjoying ourselves in the coming days with a wide range of programmes extending from Lieder and French mélodie, as well as other song (we had Walton, Vaughan Williams and Rachmaninov for example yesterday evening), through some oratorio and of course a lot of opera. We will get a very good idea indeed of the versatility of these young people!
The jury are housed in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, opposite the Bourgie Hall. So I am happy to be able to have an early morning swim every day. The generous sponsorship of this competition is amazing.
I know that we are in for an interesting ten days.