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Kirsch and Kayler win E-Gré

Soprano Sarah Kirsch, with her pianist Christopher Kayler, have won this year's prestigious Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition.

The E-Gré, which began in 1976, is held annually at the Brandon University school of music and is an annual event focusing on the exceptional performance of contemporary music by Canada's top emerging artists.

The competition rotates through voice, strings and piano competition, with this year's event focused on voice.

Eight of Canada’s best emerging singers and their collaborative pianists gathered at BU from Friday through Sunday, with three finalists chosen to perform in the final round of public recitals on Sunday.

Each semifinal and final recital were required to include at least 50 per cent Canadian music as well as this year’s commissioned work "Execution Songs" by Andrew Staniland.

First place winner, Sarah Kirsch, received an almost $17,000 award including a cash prize of $10,000, a three-week residency and debut recital in Italy at the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival, and a 10-15 city cross-Canada winner’s tour in November.

"Chris and I are honoured to have been a part of the competition," Kirsch said. "We were thrilled to be invited to the semifinals and it was a wonderful surprise to be invited to the finals. We are grateful to be among the gifted visionaries in contemporary music. It is very humbling."

Second prize winner Andréanne Paquin, received a cash prize of $5,000 and third prize winner, Alexandra Smither received a cash prize of $3,000. The city of Brandon prize of $1,000 for the best performance of the 2014 commissioned piece was awarded to mezzo soprano Catherine Anne Daniel.

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