Career Development Award

The Canada Council’s 2019 Virginia Parker Prize has been awarded to cellist prodigy, Stéphane Tétreault. Among his numerous awards and honours was the second prize at the 10th anniversary WMCT Career Development Award competition.

The Parker Prize is given to “a musician…under the age of 32 who demonstrates outstanding… artistic excellence and who makes a valuable contribution to artistic life in Canada and internationally.” In 2018 the Parker Prize went to violinist Blake Pouliot, our current CDA winner!

Ludwig van Montréal reports that the WMCT 2015 CDA winner has been honoured twice by the Quebec industry association ADISQ, for his Analekta recordings of the Chopin Piano Concertos with the OSM and Kent Nagano, and for his album of Beethoven Piano Sonatas 6, 7, and 8 with violinist Andrew Wan.

A few months after receiving the 10th WMCT Career Development Award, Charles was the silver medalist and winner of the Krystian Zimerman award for the best sonata, at the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2015. He has just issued a CD of Chopin concertos, with Kent Nagano and the OSM.

The CD received immediate attention in the UK. Classic FM, the most important classical radio station in London, has chosen it as its Album of the week! Starting April 15, tracks from the album will be played every day on the station which has 5.3 million listeners tuning in every week. 

From the April 2019 review by Alex Baran in Wholenote Magazine:

“Charles Richard-Hamelin’s recent recording Chopin: Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 (Analekta, AN 2 9146) is an exhilarating encounter with these two items of standard repertoire. There is a freshness in this performance that owes everything to its collaborators. Kent Nagano and the OSM are deeply aware of how much Chopin has vested in the piano’s role. Their ability to morph into something purely ethereal for the slow movement of Concerto No.2 is magical. The balance and unity across the ensemble, in this and similar passages, support the piano exquisitely. So much of the piano part in this movement is in simple octaves, albeit often very ornamented and fast. Richard-Hamelin performs it with absolute fluidity, as if it were an extended keyboard recitative. The time signature seems to dissolve, leaving only a hint of anything resembling a beat as the soloist and orchestra flow toward some distant ending.

The essence of dance that is inherent in Chopin’s writing saves the pianist from a conflictual role with the orchestra. The two are instead a pair of dancers elevating the solo instrument above the ensemble…. Hamelin and Nagano have delivered such a transcendent experience that [any] criticism seems somehow lost if not irrelevant in the overwhelming beauty of this performance.”

Blake (WMCT CDA 2018) and Charles (CDA 2015) are among the nominees for solo/chamber album of the year.
Complete JUNO 2019 list.

See the RCM listings for February 3, Sunday afternoon performances, by Blake at 1pm and Charles at 3pm.


Blake Pouliot, 2018 WMCT Career Development Award winner, has been awarded the Canada Council’s Virginia Parker Prize.  This $25,000 Prize is awarded to a musician, under the age of 32 who demonstrates outstanding talent, musicianship and artistic excellence and who makes a valuable contribution to artistic life in Canada and internationally.  

Several WMCT CDA winners have been awarded this prize in earlier years: Shannon Mercer (2006), James Ehnes (1997), and Karina Gauvin (1995).

In 2015, Blake was given the use for three years of the 1729 Guarneri del Gesu violin from the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank.  This loan has now been renewed until 2021.

The Toronto Summer Music Academy has announced its program for 2019. Two winners of the WMCT CDA will be mentors in its Chamber Music Institute:  Yegor Dyachkov (cello, 2000) and Charles Richard-Hamelin (piano, 2015).  They will coach ensembles and also perform with their students in reGENERATION concerts.

Diane Martello, WMCT president, with Blake Pouliot and his new official t-shirt.  After a week of concerts in Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Toronto, the 2018 Career Development Winner paused on April 16 before flying off to Ottawa to performances with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, for a lunch with some WMCT and WMCTF Board members, and the CDA Committee.




Here is Blake with Annette Sanger, CDA Committtee Chair, CBC Producer Alison Howard, and the cupcakes.  Blake wrote to Annette he is “beyond humbled to get the opportunity to join…an incredible and laudable group”.  Blake will be performing in Music in the Afternoon‘s 122nd Season, 2019-20.  Follow his performances until then on his website.

Yes, the cupcakes!  Individual stunners, made by Kathy Halliday, each with a spun-sugar musical motif, including “CDA” of course, a mini-instrument for Blake (complete with pegs), and the notation of the opening solo violin line in the second movement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

Kathy Halliday, far right, Blake’s parents Les and Christine Pouliot, far left, and the rest of the lucky cupcake eaters.

Shannon Mercer, soprano, 2006 winner of the WMCT Career Development Award, regularly maintains a busy and challenging performance calendar of opera, concert, and recital engagements.

On May 3, in CelloDrama! she will sing, accompanied by WMCT Artistic Director Simon Fryer and seven other cellists, Heitor Villa-Lobos’s best-known work, Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5, his homage to Bach, and to the rhythms and folk melodies of his own country.

Then on May 15, Shannon will appear with Esprit Orchestra in the world première of a work by Montrealer Chris Paul Harman.

Stéphane Tétreault, cellist, second place winner in the live Career Development Award contest in 2015, toured Europe in late 2017 with the Orchestre metropolitaine under its artistic director and principal conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.  One of the concerts, performed at the Cité de la musique in Paris, will be broadcast on CBC Radio 2 In Concert, on Sunday April 15, 11 am-3 pm. Stéphane will be heard in the Elgar Cello concerto.