Our upcoming performance of Handel's MESSIAH
will take place on Saturday, December 17, 2022
Click HERE to purchase tickets
Hugh Van Pelt | Conductor
HUGH VAN PELT is the founding artistic director of Choral Connection with experience encompassing both choral and orchestral conducting. Prior to his current involvement with Choral Connection, Mr. Van Pelt directed the St. Thomas Youth Choir. Throughout his tenure with this organization he prepared five European Tours spanning nine countries. He has conducted choirs in many of Europe’s most famous cathedrals including Westminster Abby, St Paul’s Cathedral, Cologne Cathedral and Coventry Cathedral. Highlights of these tours include conducting at the International Shrewsbury festival, the Rastaat Festival in Baden, Germany and the Bray Jazz Festival in Ireland. Hugh also collaborated with other choirs including the Trelawnd Male Choir in Rhyl, Wales and the Chor des Theodor-Heuss-Gymnasium, Germany.
Reviewing LESLIE FAGAN's New York appearances, Opera News names her performance of the Poulenc Gloria as “ one of the most memorable performances of the season,” and the New York Times noted the soprano's “transcendent moments” in Handel's Messiah at Carnegie Hall. In demand for concert appearances from North America to Europe and Asia, Ms. Fagan's engagements include Mahler's Symphony No. 2 under the direction of Hans Graf; a Stravinsky and Debussy concert with The Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine in France; Bach's Das Weinachtsoratorium BWV 248 in Stuttgart, Germany; Handel's Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall in England and with Tafelmusik Orchestra and Choir in Canada; and an engagement as guest soloist at the International Choral Festival in The Netherlands. She has performed with conductors Sir David Willcocks, Boris Brott, Jukke-Pekke Saraste, Elmer Iseler, Kent Tritle and Daniel Lipton with orchestras such as the National Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic and the Toronto Symphony, as well as the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Her recent engagements include concerts in New York, Spain, Japan and in the United Arab Emirates.
Leslie is co-founder of the Canadian Art Song Project, whose mandate is to champion the legacy of Canadian song. The first two CD’s in the series, “Thread of Winter” and “Halibut Cheeks and other Love Songs” have been received with rave reviews. www.canadianartsong.ca
When not on the world stages, Leslie is an Assistant Professor who teaches aspiring singers at Wilfrid Laurier University. Recently, Leslie received the honour of being appointed to The Order of Ontario. www.lesliefagan.com
Leslie Fagan | Soprano
CARMEN SPECHT is a mezzo-soprano from the small town of Lacombe, AB, where she could have only dreamed of becoming an opera singer. She is currently in her final year of the Doctorate of Musical Arts program at Western University, under the tutelage of Dr. Sophie Louise Roland and Maestro Simone Luti. Carmen has also had the privilege of studying with Christiane Riel, Elizabeth Turnbull, Dr. Blaine Hendsbee, and Dr. Anthony Radford. Her most recent operatic roles have included Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with Windsor Symphony, as well as the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica with Western University’s Opera Workshop. She has also had the privilege of performing as an Alto Soloist with Fanshawe Chorus London, London Pro Musica, Chor Amica and Choral Connection. She has performed at festivals around the world, including AEDO (Accademia Europea dell’ Opera), UWO Opera Workshop, St. Andrew’s By the Sea Opera Workshop, COAA (Canadian Operatic Arts Academy), Opera NUOVA, the Franz Schubert Institute, and University of Lethbridge Opera Workshop. Carmen enjoys the interaction with her audience and colleagues, and lives for the beauty of music.
Carmen is thrilled to be back performing with the wonderful people at Choral Connection for Handel’s Messiah. She is also happy to return back to Ontario in March 2023, as a guest soloist at Western University, performing Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn.
Carmen Specht | Alto
Marcel d'Entremont | Tenor
Tenor MARCEL D'ENTREMONT is becoming recognized across Canada for both his powerful voice and sincere stage presence. A former first prize winner of the Atlantic Young Artist Competition, Marcel also placed first in the vocal division of the National Music Festival of Canada and claimed the Grand Award for overall best performer. In November of 2018, he was named the winner of the Wirth Vocal Prize at McGill University, which resulted in solo recitals at La Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur in Montreal and the Richard Bradshaw Theatre of the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto.
Marcel has a keen interest in many styles of singing and was a featured soloist for six years with the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, performing alongside musicians from around the world for audiences in the tens of thousands. He was also invited to perform at the inauguration ceremony of The Honourable Arthur J. LeBlanc, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. His passion for creating community through music is the result of over a decade of volunteer work in long-term care homes, hospice, and hospitals across the county. Marcel has been a resident artist at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance, the National Arts Center’s Young Artist Program, the Art of Song Institute with the Toronto Summer Music, and was a Yulanda M. Farris Young Artist with the Vancouver Opera. In 2021, he was an Equilibrium Young Artist, working with soprano Barbara Hannigan.
Marcel’s role performances include Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Opera McGill, Il Podesta in La Finta Giardiniera and Luiz in The Gondoliers with Opera Nova Scotia, Rodolfo in La bohème with Opera Saskatoon, and two tours with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada as the title role in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette as well as Alfredo in La Traviata. In concert, he has performed Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with the PEI Symphony Orchestra, and appeared as the tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Orchestre classique de Montréal. In 2016 Marcel made his international opera debut as Don Ottavio with Opéra de Rouen in Rouen, France and at the Château de Versailles, as a laureate of the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques. In 2020, Marcel was named one of the Top 30 Under 30 classical musicians in Canada by CBC Music. Most recently, Marcel performed the role of Rodolfo over 20 times in a cross-Canada tour of La bohème with Against the Grain Theatre. He is currently working eight Canadian composers on a project entitled Atlantic Arias, which aims to combine classical art song with the folk and popular music of the Maritimes, which has been generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Bradley Christensen | Baritone
New Zealand-born baritone BRADLEY CHRISTENSEN has continued to earn praise for his “most well-rounded instrument ... focused, rich, and sympathetically communicative” (Natasha Gauthier, Ottawa Citizen).
Bradley enjoys a busy schedule on both concert and operatic stages. Performance highlights during this past pandemic-affected year include solo appearances with: Toronto Operetta Theatre, Confluence Concerts, Hamilton Civic Choir (New Zealand), Auckland Choral Society, Toronto Children’s Chorus, Upper Canada Choristers, Ager Productions, the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, N.S., as well a performance in Auckland, New Zealand of Brahms’ song cycle, Die schöne Magelone, staged by Aria Umezawa.
Bradley earned his Master of Music degree from the University of Toronto in 2015, receiving the Faculty of Music Vocal Performance and Pedagogy Graduate Award. In 2016, he was invited by The Royal Conservatory of Toronto to hold one of seven positions in its prestigious Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program. He has also furthered his development as a young artist with Opera on the Avalon, Highlands Opera Studio, and Opera North.
Bradley is the recipient of the Sondra Radvanovsky scholarship, awarded by the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists as one of 10 ‘Singing Stars: The Next Generation’; the Pears-Britten singing scholarship (University of Auckland); the Marie D’Albini scholarship in singing (University of Auckland); and a travelling scholarship to study in Italy in 2007 (University of Auckland). Bradley has also been a top 10 finalist in the New Zealand Aria Competition, the LEXUS Song Quest and the Rochester International Voice Competition.