Claude Lapalme says he was in disbelief as he walked to the stage to accept a statuette at the Juno Awards.
The Red Deer man and his wife Janet Kuschak performed with their baroque ensemble Rosa Barocca on solo cellist Elinor Frey’s album Early Italian Concertos, which won Classical Album of the Year: Small Ensemble at the opening night of the 2023 Juno Awards in Edmonton on Saturday.
“It was a bit surreal,” Lapalme said Monday.
“I’m still experiencing a fair amount of disbelief here. I’m very proud we were able to win and I’m very proud we were able to help her get her first Juno – she’s been nominated once before. She truly deserves it and we feel honoured she chose us, Rosa Barocca and I, out of all the people she could’ve chosen to be her companions in this adventure.
“In a nutshell that’s the experience: a little bit of shock and also a great deal of joy, especially for a joy that’s been in existence for six years.”
Lapalme serves as Rosa Barocca’s conductor and artistic director and Kuschak plays the cello. A pair of other Albertans are also part of the group: Naomi Delafield on violin and Wendy Markosky on organ/harpsichord.
Frey was coming back from a tour in Australia when the album won the Juno, so Lapalme was the one to accept the award at the ceremony.
“I was there to receive the award on the project that she instigated,” he said.
“We were just honoured to be chosen to be part of that adventure with her. When the record got called out as the winner I think I walked all the way to the stage with my mouth open in disbelief. I collected myself very quickly and did my speech.”
When the album was recorded in September 2021, many of the Rosa Barocca musicians believed it was worthy of a Juno nomination, Lapalme noted.
“But it still came as a surprise when we were nominated, even though it was a confirmation of what we thought. But we certainly never thought we would win. It’s a pretty competitive field,” he said.
“Some people feel classical music can be niche, but it’s not. We knew some of the other people on the nomination list – one of them had been nominated four times already … and had never won before.”
Forty awards were handed out on the opening night. Some major awards, such as Album of the Year, were to be announced Monday evening during the Juno Awards main ceremony at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
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