Blake Pouliot

Canada Council Awards Priceless Instruments to 17 Students and Alumni

Seventeen alumni of The Royal Conservatory have just won prizes that will be of incalculable value to their musical development. These gifted musicians, all winners of the 2018 Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank Competition, have earned the privilege to borrow, for three years, a priceless item from the Canada Council’s collection of rare instruments. 

Eighty percent of the winners have a connection to the Conservatory. They include Rebanks Fellow Emily Kruspe as well several students and alumni of The Phil and Eli Performance Academy for Young Artists. Almost of all of the winners studied music through The Royal Conservatory Certificate Program, our internationally acclaimed system of music study and assessment.

Winners selected instruments based on their overall placement in the competition. The 24 items available included violins and cellos as well as a cello bow, all created between 1689 and 1902. 

The 2018 edition of the triennial competition attracted talented musicians from across Canada. Applicants underwent what the Canada Council describes as a “rigorous – and often stressful – assessment process”. Finalists participated in interviews and auditions, which took place September 16–21 at The Royal Conservatory. 

Winners are often overjoyed to have the opportunity to play on one of the Canada Council’s exquisite instruments because of their impact on these artists’ musical growth.

“The way that these instruments affect our development is huge,” noted alumna and past winner Rachel Mercer, who was interviewed about the competition by Ludwig Van Toronto. “Such [an] instrument opens a whole new world of possibilities that then becomes a part of your expressive palette.”

Fellow alum Cameron Crozman related his elation at being able to play the Bonjour Stradivari after winning the competition for the first time in 2015. “You can only imagine how thrilled I was…I think it was one of the most exciting moments of my life up to that point.”

Crozman adds that the experience was also incredibly affirming for a musician at the beginning of his career. “I was about to finish my Master’s in Paris, and the jury deciding that [I] was ready to play on a $12 million Strad, the instrument par excellence of the concert soloist, was an incredible confidence booster. It’s hard to describe how much it means to have people believe in you like that.”

Student and Alumni Winners of the 2018 Canada Council Music Instrument Bank Competition

Eva Aronian: ca. 1700 Bell Giovanni Tononi violin
Heemin Choi: 1768 Miller Januarius Gagliano violin
Ji Soo Choi: c.1830-1850 Eckhardt-Gramatte Joachim Georges Chanot I violin
Timothy Chooi: 1717 Windsor-Weinstein Stradivarius violin
Cameron Crozman: A Spanish cello attributed to Joannes Guillami of Barcelona, Spain and bearing a label dated ca. 1769
Amy Hillis: 1902 Enrico Rocca violin
Bora Kim: 1747 Palmason Januarius Gagliano violin
Carissa Klopoushak: 1851 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin 
Emily Kruspe: 1900 Stefano Scarampella violin
Jasmine Mengjia Li: 1871 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin 
Emma Meinrenken: 1689 Baumgartner Stradivari violin
Se-Doo Park: 1730 Newland Joannes Franciscus Celoniatus cello
Blake Pouliot: 1729 Guarneri del Gesù violin
Albert Seo: 1702 Giovanni Grancino cello
Emanuel Vukovich: ca. 1798 Gagliano violin bearing a label of ‘Joseph and Antonius Gagliano’
Lucy Wang: 1715 Dominicus Montagnana violin
Christopher Whitley: ca. 1700 Taft Stradivarius violin

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Applications for The Glenn Gould School and Taylor Academy open in October and January, respectively.