Dramatic tenor Ben Heppner to lead master class Jan. 15

Ben Heppner – regarded as one of the world's finest dramatic tenors -- will lead a master class with the Okanagan’s up-and-coming vocal talents in a unique presentation at the Rotary Centre for the Arts at 12:30 p.m., Monday, January 15, as part of UBC Okanagan's Minds and Music series of matinee events.

"The master class offers a rare opportunity to see one of the world's masters guiding voice students," said Dr. Manuela Ungureanu, organizer of the Minds and Music series. "This will be an engaging and exciting event for active participants, passive participants and the audience alike."

In November, voice students from throughout the Okanagan region were invited to audition for the special opportunity to study for an afternoon with the world-renowned tenor. Ten people submitted recordings of their vocal work, and a panel of eight judges selected the final five for the January 15 master class.

As the first master class ever organized by UBC Okanagan, this event will test the appetite for such events in Kelowna and the Okanagan region. "If this first experiment succeeds, we may organize such events regularly – possibly for piano or violin, not just voice," said Ungureanu.

Heppner's visit to the Okanagan was made possible by the Kelowna Community Concert Association. He is performing the third concert of the association's 2006-2007 season on Tuesday, January 16. "We are very grateful to Yvonne Topf and the Kelowna Community Concert Association for bringing Mr. Heppner to our community," said Ungureanu.

"The extraordinary opportunity to hold the master class would not have been possible without Mr. Heppner's generosity as well," she said. "Not only is he sharing his time with us during his visit to Kelowna; it was his interest in visiting UBC’s new Kelowna campus while in town that got us thinking about organizing a master class."

The 1988 winner of the Metropolitan Opera auditions, Heppner grew up in Dawson Creek, B.C., and began his musical studies at the UBC School of Music. He has won a Grammy Award and several Juno Awards, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. Heppner performs frequently with the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, and with many of the world's leading orchestras.

While most Minds and Music matinee concerts are free to attend, the Heppner Master Class is a fund-raising event -- tickets are $15 from the Rotary Centre for the Arts box office at 421 Cawston Ave., Kelowna (call 250-717-5304). Proceeds from ticket sales will go toward the purchase of a baby grand piano for UBC Okanagan.

More information about the January 15 Ben Heppner Master Class and several upcoming free concerts at the UBC Okanagan campus can be found on the web: www.ubc.ca/okanagan/publicaffairs/mindsandmusic

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