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Top acts take the stage in dazzling new season at The Isabel

Bader Overton Virtuosi Festival
The Bader and Overton Virtuosi Festival will feature a number of top international acts including, clockwise from top left: Branford Marsalis; Measha Brueggergosman; Stewart Goodyear; and Jan Lisiecki.

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts recently announced its 2019-20 season which is highlighted by the introduction of a new virtuosi festival, a national cello competition, a competition for Kingston’s emerging musicians, and the Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival.

The season includes top emerging and established artists performing in the Isabel’s Soloist, Ensemble, Kingston Connection, Jazz, Baroque + Beyond, Kingston Children’s Corner, and Global Series.

MA in Arts Leadership
The Isabel is the co-creator of the MA in Arts Leadership program with the DAN School of Drama and Music to develop the next generation of arts leaders for the country. The 2019-20 year has the program’s third cohort participating in academic work as well as in practicum placements in arts organizations across Canada.

“In 2019-20, we will nurture the inquiring spirit with a diversity of world-class established and emerging artists,” says says Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel. “At the Isabel, we all witness artistic excellence first-hand with artists who, through genius, inspiration, and hard work, shoot for the stars and take us beyond. This season we look forward to the Isabel debuts by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, pianists Jonathan Biss and Yefim Bronfman, jazz virtuoso Branford Marsalis, emerging star violinist Blake Pouliot, VOCES8, Akamus, OKAN, the Celtic juggernauts Braebach and Gaelic Storm, and more.”

SpiderWebShow’s foldA - Festival of Live Digital Arts will be presented in collaboration with the Isabel, the National Arts Centre, DAN School of Drama and Music, and the Department of Film and Media, and theatres and artists across Canada.

Bader and Overton Virtuosi Festival

  • Orchestral Virtuosity - Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with pianist Jan Lisiecki (Oct. 16)
  • Prodigious Virtuosity – Kingston’s Leonid Nediak, piano (Oct. 29)
  • Chamber Music Virtuosity - Fine Arts Quartet and Stewart Goodyear, piano (Nov. 7)
  • Soul Virtuosity - Measha Brueggergosman (Nov. 12)
  • Virtuosic Tour de Force - The united performance of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and European Union Youth Orchestra (Nov. 13)
  • Virtuoso Pianist - Yefim Bronfman (Nov. 23)
  • Virtuoso Jazz - Branford Marsalis Quartet (March 6, 2020)

The Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival

The Isabel presents its 2020 Human Rights Arts Festival with inspiring artists on the forefront of social and political change for a just world.

“The role of the arts is especially important in interpreting the contemporary politics of identity that are fuel for the political right and left throughout the world. We don’t want a passive experience with the arts, as we don’t want passive citizens,” says Baldwin. “We need fully engaged and informed citizens with vision, imagination, and the urgency to act. As Jungian analyst Beverley Zabriskie states, ‘Imagination is a laboratory, not a fantasy, a flight, avoidance, or defense, but … a way station between what is and could be.’”

Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival events include:

  • Imagining Peace, Inspiring Action with Andy Rush, Artistic Director, Salil Subedi, Coco Love Alcorn, Brasswerks, Trillers A Capella, Kingston Youth Choir, and the Frontenac Skies Community Drummers (Nov. 11)
  • Safe Haven by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, a powerful multimedia exploration of the influence of refugee populations on music creation in the baroque era (Jan. 29, 2020)
  • All We Are Saying – a concert of protest music with the Art of Time Ensemble and Ralston String Quartet (Feb. 4, 2020)
  • The Mush Hole by Santee Smith - The Mush Hole acknowledges the lives and spirits of Mohawk Institute residential school survivors. It is about survival, resilience, and is an embodied way to say: “Enskwakhwahshón:rien” — we will feed your hunger, “kwè:iahre” — we remember you, and “kwanorónhkhwa” — we love you. (March 9, 2020)
  • Beautiful Scars by award-winning singer/songwriter Tom Wilson who will perform with the Kingston Symphony. The National Arts Centre originally commissioned this work. “My truth was hidden from me … and finally I’m becoming a Mohawk man,” Tom Wilson states. (April 8, 2020)
  • The premiere of H’art Centre’s Notice the Small Things with 50 remarkable Kingston artists of different abilities. (April 17 and 18, 2020)
  • Human rights film festival (February and March 2020), and Queen’s student initiatives.

YGK Emerging Kingston Musician Competition

The Isabel partners with Claire Bouvier and Aaron Holmberg in the creation of the biennial YGK Emerging Musicians Competition. This competition seeks to inspire and support Kingston’s rising musical talent, and provide excellent tools for a musical career launch.

Who can apply? Kingston’s emerging musicians who are Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada who reside in the City of Kingston or within 25 kilometres of Kingston’s borders, and who aspire to a professional concert career. Aspiring musicians of all cultural and music genre backgrounds are both welcome and encouraged to apply. This competition is for artists with one to five musicians in their band/ensemble. Finalists will be able to create a professional recording and film of a work of their choice at the Isabel to boost their online profile, and will have a professional media kit created for them.

Bader and Overton Canadian Cello Competition

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts’ mandate is to support the development of outstanding young talent. The Isabel created the Bader and Overton Canadian Cello Competition to inspire excellence and to provide performance experience and career development opportunities for Canada’s top cellists 18 to 29 years old. This Competition will inspire and assist excellent Canadian cellists who aspire to a concert career on the national and international stage. The grand prize includes a $20,000 award with an opportunity to perform a concerto with the Kingston Symphony, as well as a recital at the Isabel recorded and broadcast coast-to-coast by CBC Music. The Isabel has commissioned a new work by Marjan Mozetich for the competition, and the Isabel Quartet will participate in the chamber music portion of the competition. This triennial competition follows the inaugural 2017 Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition.

To see the full 2019-20 schedule, visit The Isabel’s website.