In 1989, The University of Lethbridge Alumni Association established their Alumnus of the Year Award to recognize those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and earned an international reputation in their chosen field.
This year’s recipient of the prestigious award is Wendy Nielsen, an alumna who is widely acclaimed for her performances in opera, concert and recital, and for dazzling audiences with her remarkable talent.
Ms. Nielsen graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 1984 with a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice. She then continued her studies at the University of British Columbia, graduating in 1987 with a Master’s Degree in Opera.
Born and raised in New Brunswick, Ms. Nielsen grew up in a musical family and, at an early age, developed an appreciation for music. As a child, she performed in local music festivals. However, it was not until high school and her experiences in plays such as My Fair Lady, that she learned to enjoy the acting/singing combination and realized that her voice was particularly suited to classical music.
She began her formal voice training one year prior to entering university. While studying voice in New Brunswick, she met George Evelyn, a music professor with The University of Lethbridge, who was then teaching at Mount Allison. When he received a job with The University of Lethbridge, Nielsen moved west to pursue voice training with her mentor.
Ms. Nielsen’s list of past and upcoming performances is extremely impressive. In December of this year, she will debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the role of Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, followed by concerts scheduled with the Milwaukee Symphony. She will perform Messiah at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and present recitals in Washington, D.C. and St. Louis.
She has also performed at the Canadian Opera, with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, at the Minnesota and Tulsa Operas, and presented recitals in Chicago, Calgary, and Winnipeg.
Ms. Nielsen made her debut at the New York City Opera during the 1994/95 season as Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro. She appeared with the Edmonton Opera as Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) and performed with the Minnesota Orchestra in a special “Viennese Sommerfest.” She has also performed with the Winnipeg Symphony, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Louisville Bach Society, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and at the Banff Festival and Toronto International Choral Festival.
Ms. Nielsen has contributed much to the cultural development of classical music. The University of Lethbridge Alumni Association is honoured today to present this year’s award to this truly remarkable alumna.