Through the Choir and Music Ministry Fund, thanks to the generosity of parishioners and friends, the Ascension of Our Lord parish has hired four McGill Voice students to act as section heads to support its volunteer choir thus enhancing the very special quality of our liturgical services.

Emma Battel is a soprano born in Sault Ste. Marie and raised in Kingston, Ontario. She is completing her Master’s of Music in Opera and Voice at McGill University. Emma received her Bachelor of Music at Western University in 2021 and upon graduating she was awarded the University of Western Gold Medal in Music for Honours Performance Voice. Her performed roles include Cendrillon (Cendrillon), Elvira (Don Giovanni), and Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi). She can also be heard alongside her sister Sophia Battel as part of their soprano/cello sister duo The Battels. This is Emma’s second year as the soprano section lead at Ascension. She is grateful to Joel Peters and Ascension choir for welcoming her to Montréal with their generosity and wit.

Kathryn Riopel is a soprano (sometimes alto) from Chicago, IL. After studying voice performance and dance at Northwestern University, she came to McGill University to further her vocal studies. She is in her second year of the Master’s of Music, studying with soprano Dominique Labelle. Kathryn performs a wide array of repertoire, including musical theater, opera, and art song. Outside of singing, Kathryn enjoys teaching and performing dance styles such as ballet, modern, and burlesque.

“Ascension has been a wonderful experience with the welcoming and supportive attitudes of the choir members!”

Daniel Ginga is a Moldovan American tenor born in Wisconsin, raised in Washington D.C. and educated in Canada. He completed his Bachelor’s of Music at McGill University under the tutelage of Stefano Algieri and now looks to continue his musical education.

Yiran Xing (tenor) is a Graduate Performance Diploma student at Schulich School of Music at McGill University, studying with Prof. Stefano Algieri. Xing’s stage credits include Le Chevalier (Cleveland Opera Theater), Le Prince in Massenet’s Cendrillon (COT), Alfredo in La Traviata (COT), Fenton in Falstaff (COT). Xing also received Recognizing outstanding vocal artistry at the Cleveland Institute of Music where he completed his Master of Music in Opera and Vocal Art degree. 

“I’m thoroughly enjoying my time at Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church. Alongside my talented colleagues, we have delved into a wild range of repertoire that has expanded my musical horizons. It is a privilege for me to sing in such a magnificent church.”

Yiran Xing unfortunately had to return to China, however he was singing with the choir all year. Daniel Ginga graciously agreed to replace Yiran for the remainder of the season.

Praised for his “excellent baritone” (Le Devoir), Acadian baritone Nicholas Murphy was thrilled to be competing in the Wirth Vocal Prize for a second year. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Prince Edward Island and his Master’s degree from McGill University where he will complete his Graduate diploma this spring. Nicholas has been seen in the roles of Pandolfe (Cendrillon), Don Magnifico (Cenerentola), Papageno (Die Zauberflote), Leporello (Don Giovanni), Ariodate (Serse), and Doctor Grenvil (La Traviata). Other notable performances include Fauré Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah as Bass soloist, an evening of Baroque arias with TafelMusik and Opera McGill, as well as competing as a finalist in Opera de Montreal’s Talent Gala competition for the Atelier Lyrique this past fall and Somnus in Opera McGill’s production of Semele.

The parish intends to continue to support McGill voice students and indeed, to expand its collaboration with McGill University the Schulich School of Music Organ Program, coordinated by Professor Isabelle Demers.