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Engineers who are musicians at heart

Lucky duo to sing in celebration of U of T’s engineering society

BY ELAINE SMITH | NOV 09 2009

Two alumnae of the University of Toronto’s engineering science program have each won the honour of singing a classical duet with renowned soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, an opera star and fellow engineering science graduate.

Anne Bornath (’91) and Joseph Likuski (’82) were the winners of Skule Idol, a singing competition staged in early October as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the university’s engineering science program. (Skule is the trademarked name of the University of Toronto Engineering Society.)

The two amateur singers will perform their duets with Ms. Bayrakdarian at a concert at the university’s Hart House Theatre on Dec. 17. They’ll be backed up by the Skule Orchestra, conducted by Boston Symphony Orchestra assistant conductor Julian Kuerti, also a U of T engineering science graduate.

Ms. Bayrakdarian came up with the idea of the competition and concert, says Sarah Steed, external relations manager for engineering science. “She has been gung-ho to do this for years but she’s never had time because she’s usually touring.”

The birth of her first child encouraged Ms. Bayrakdarian to stay closer to home this year and provided the necessary breaks in her schedule to take part in such a competition. So, Skule Idol and the December concert quickly moved from the drawing board to reality.

The competition, modelled on the popular American Idol and Canadian Idol television series, was open to all students, faculty, staff and alumni of the faculty of applied science and engineering. Contestants were asked to sing a piece of their choice in front of four judges, including Ms. Bayrakdarian.

“This project – Skule Idol and the concert – is, in a way, a showcase of all the engineers who are musicians at heart,” says Ms. Bayrakdarian. “There’s truly no feeling like being on stage and I wanted to give that chance to another engineer, for them to taste the exhilaration of performing with an orchestra and to experience the sweet fusion of the left brain and the right brain.

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