Career Development Award

The WMCT’s Career Development Award (CDA) is presented every three years to an exceptional young Canadian musician (or small ensemble) embarking on a professional performing career. The award includes a $25,000 cash prize as well as the opportunity to give a recital in the Music in the Afternoon concert series. The CDA is a project of the WMCT in partnership with CBC Radio Music and Espace musique de Radio-Canada, and it is funded by the WMCT Foundation.

2021 Career Development Award | Finalists announced

The WMCT is delighted to announce the candidates and the jurors for its 2021 Career Development Award. The nine finalists are all exceptionally talented young musicians embarking on careers performing classical music. They were selected by CBC producers from across Canada. Each candidate has submitted audio-visual and written materials for review by a five-person jury and the announcement of the winner will be made at the Music in the Afternoon concert on March 4, 2021. The award is worth $25,000 and includes a performance in the WMCT’s concert series in 2022-23.

The Candidates

Kevin Ahfat, piano (Toronto, ON)

Michael Bridge, accordion (Calgary, AB)  

Matthew Cairns, tenor (St. Catharine’s, ON)

Marcel D’Entremont, tenor (Merigomish, NS)

Simona Genga, mezzo-soprano (Woodbridge, ON)

“Meagan & Amy” – Amy Hillis, violin, and Meagan Milatz, piano (Regina, SK)

Jaden Izik-Dzurko, piano (Salmon Arm, BC)

Alice Lee, violin (Victoria, BC)

Anna-Sophie Neher, soprano (Gatineau, PQ)

The Jury

Each year the jury includes two CBC producers, Alison Howard (Toronto) and Guylaine Picard (Montreal), who is also the jury chair. Special thanks also to Alison Howard for collating all the candidates’ materials and sending them out to the jurors. Three other jurors were selected for the 2021 award based on their musical/instrument expertise, experience with adjudication and representation from across Canada. They are:

Mark Fewer: violinist, chamber musician, new music promoter, Artistic/Festival Director, Professor at the University of Toronto.

Naomi Woo: conductor (opera & orchestra) pianist, opera coach, musicologist, Professor at the University of Manitoba. 

Christina Haldane: soprano, international performer and educator. Professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Many thanks to all the candidates, the jurors, the CDA committee (Tamar Nelson, Holde Gerlach, Kathy Halliday and Alison Howard) as well as our very generous donors who have all contributed to making this significant and impactful award possible.

Annette Sanger, CDA Committee Chair

The winner of the WMCT’s 2018 Career Development Award was 23-year-old Blake Pouliot.   Mr Pouliot was selected from ten candidates by a jury of five esteemed musicians, music educators and music producers from across Canada – Jane Coop, Adrian Fung, Gordon Gerrard, Alison Howard and Guylaine Picard.

Already in demand as a soloist, during the 2017-18 season Mr Pouliot appeared with symphony orchestras in Toronto (April 14 & 15), Edmonton, Ottawa, Pasadena and Newfoundland, as well as in recital at the Banff Centre, Fête de la Musique Mont Tremblant, Orford Arts Centre and Pasadena’s Boston Court. Indeed, since his solo orchestral debut at the age of 11 with the Toronto Trinity Chamber Orchestra, Mr Pouliot has performed with orchestras in Europe and across North and South America.

Currently a Professional Studies Certificate candidate at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, Mr Pouliot began his violin studies in Toronto with Marie Berard and Erica Raum, and completed his training as an associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music. He plays a 1729 Guarneri del Gesù, on loan from the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank.

Blake Pouliot was the Grand Prize winner of the 2016 Orchestre symphonique de Montréal Manulife Competition and received the Canada Council for the Arts Michael Measures Prize in 2013. The multi-talented Mr Pouliot won first prize at the 2010 Canadian Contemporary Music Festival with his piano composition Starlight on Water.  And, just one day after the announcement of the CDA, on March 9, 2018, Mr Pouliot’s debut CD, featuring the Debussy and Ravel sonatas, was released on the Analekta label.

Career Development Award Winners:

  • 2018 – Blake Pouliot, violin
  • 2015 – Charles Richard-Hamelin, piano
    • with second prize to cellist, Stéphane Tétreault, and third prize to pianist, Pierre André Doucet
  • 2012 – Vincent Lauzer, recorder
  • 2009 – Darrett Zusko, piano
  • 2006 – Shannon Mercer, soprano
  • 2003 – Sonia Chan, piano
  • 2000 – Yegor Dyachkov, cello
  • 1997 – Jeanie Chung, piano
  • 1994 – Karina Gauvin, soprano
  • 1992 – James Ehnes, violin
  • 1990 – Francine Kay, piano