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Nominated Red Deer musicians are off to the Junos Awards this weekend

Claude Lapalme and Janet Kuschak are dressing for the red carpet
Music director Claude Lapalme and his cellist wife Janet Kuschak say they are thrilled their album ‘Early Italian Cello Concertos’ with solo cellist Elinor Frey and other members of Rosa Barocca — an Alberta period instrument ensemble with other Central Alberta musicians — is nominated for a classical music Juno Award. (Contributed photo)

What does a conductor wear to the Junos? Why a tux, of course.

Juno Award-nominated Red Deerian Claude Lapalme is ditching his conductor’s tails for a new tuxedo rental when he goes to the ceremony in Edmonton on Saturday.

Clothing-wise, his wife and fellow nominee, Janet Kuschak, is also “very well stocked,” planning to sport a black pantsuit, scarf and accessories, said Lapalme, with a chuckle.

The two local musicians are excited to be among those who performed with their baroque ensemble Rosa Barocca on solo cellist Elinor Frey’s Juno-nominated album, Early Italian Cello Concertos.

The album is in the running in the classical recording, small ensemble category. Besides Lapalme acting as the group’s conductor and artistic director, Rosa Barocca also includes a few more Central Albertans: Kuschak on cello, Naomi Delafield on violin, and Wendy Markosky on organ/harpsichord.

If the album win, it should be Frey who gives a thank-you speech, as the project’s instigator, said Lapalme.


-Juno Award nomination for album involving Red Deer-area musicians

But he isn’t sure whether the acclaimed cellist will make the ceremony as she’s wrapping up an Australian tour.

The chances of a six-year-old Alberta group “that came out of nowhere” winning a Juno is fairly slim, he said, when better known contenders from Montreal, “the mecca of early music,” are nominated in the same category.

But just in case the odds tip towards their album’s favour, and Frey isn’t there to make a thank-you speech, Lapalme said he’s ready to wing it— just as he does when addressing the audience at his other gig, as music director of the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra.

“I’ve never written a speech in my life, confessed the conductor, who feels his witticisms are best delivered off the cuff.

It turns out just getting a Juno nomination has already been “huge,” and Lapalme remains grateful Frey, a Montreal-based cellist, wanted Rosa Barocca to accompany her when she could have chosen a more established ensemble.

“No question it’s a big thing… it’s almost as good as a Juno itself.”

Lapalme believes the nomination is yielding better recognition for Rosa Barocca — and for Frey, who came to the attention of an Australian baroque ensemble and was asked to guest solo on the group’s cross-country tour. “They are treating her like a rock star,” he added.

Of course, getting the Juno treatment is none too shabby either.

With the award ceremony looming, Lapalme is getting more excited. He noted he and Kuschak accepted a Juno dinner invitation and, as nominees, are getting a discounted stay at the Hotel MacDonald.

“We are being treated like royalty,” he added, for what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Meanwhile, Red Deerians have a chance to hear Rosa Barocca perform live when the ensemble is featured at the April 29 Baroque Delights concert by the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra.

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