OTTAWA – More than 10,000 of the country’s most outstanding young musicians from every corner of Canada are on their way to Ottawa for the 44th annual MusicFest Canada, North America's largest festival dedicated to developing musical talent.   

The MusicFest Nationals will bring together Canada's finest young musicians aged 12-19 in 300 ensembles who will perform for national recognition.

Events during the Nationals take place from May 9-13 at Algonquin College, the National Arts Centre, at Dominion-Chalmers United Church, Cedarview Alliance Church and the Centrepointe Theatre. For more detailed schedule information, please visit http://www.musicfest.ca/ottawa/.

Ensembles from elementary to high school levels are invited to attend MusicFest Canada Nationals after securing top adjudications at the regional level in concert band, orchestra, choral, vocal jazz or instrumental jazz categories.

In honour of the 44th anniversary, MusicFest Canada has put together some incredible special concerts featuring jazz greats from home and abroad (please see the detailed concert listing below).

MusicFest Canada and its sponsors will be giving out approximately $100,000 in scholarships and awards at the festival, including two NAC Awards at $1,000 each for the best brass and string musicians, an Award from the Friends of the NAC Orchestra for the best woodwind player at $1,000, and a Phil Nimmons/ National Arts Centre – Outstanding Jazz Performer Award ($4,000) .



The objectives of MusicFest Canada are:

  • To provide an opportunity for students and educators from across Canada and elsewhere to meet and to demonstrate and to share their musical achievements and creativity.
  • To evaluate and reflect on musical achievement and creativity in a constructive and educationally focused way.
  • To encourage the study and performance of music written and arranged by Canadian composers.
  • To complement and enhance the teaching, learning and growing process.
  • To foster and promote a lifelong interest in music as a basic human experience.


Staged in a major Canadian city each year, MusicFest Canada is the ultimate experience in combining music and education and is a moving force in the cultural life of Canada's youth. These young musicians perform in hundreds of ensembles and attend showcase concerts, clinics, feature cabarets and workshops for an intense, non-stop five days.



The NAC is a proud partner and sponsor of MusicFest Canada. The NAC holds “youth and education” as a key priority of the NAC’s strategic vision, and reaches out to young people across the country in order to help strengthen arts education, support young artists and build young audiences. Programs like MusicFest are made possible in part by the NAC’s National Youth and Education Trust. The Trust is supported by Lead Partner CIBC, supports and patrons of the annual NAC Gala and donors of the NAC Foundation Corporate and Donors’ Circles. 




7:00 p.m.: The Nepean All-City Jazz Band directed by Neil Yorke-Slader with guest soloist Pat LaBarbera (sponsored by Humber College) with a guest appearance by drummer Will Kennedy (sponsored by Pearl Drums). Cedarview Alliance Church, 2784 Cedarview Rd, Nepean,Ottawa



8:00 p.m.: The Humber Experience  (sponsored by Humber College Faculty of Music) directed by  Denny Christianson, featuring The Groove Merchants, The Humber Strings, The Humber Vocal Jazz Ensemble, the Groove Merchants and the Humber A Band with guest appearance by Pearl drummer Will Kennedy  from the Yellowjackets. Southam Hall, National Arts Centre/Centre nationale des Arts, 53 Elgin St, Ottawa.



8:00 p.m.: The New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble directed by Dr. Charles Peltz with Guest Soloist Pearl/Adams Percussionist Feza Zweifel. Southam Hall, National Arts Centre/Centre nationale des Arts, 53 Elgin St, Ottawa.

7:00 p.m.: The Quintessential Vocal Ensemble directed by Susan Quinn. Dominion-Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper St, Ottawa



6:00 and 8:00 p.m.: The Western Michigan University Gold Company (sponsored by Air Canada). Dominion-Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper St, Ottawa

3:00 pm. Thomastik-Infeld Canadian String Orchestra directed by Maestro Michael Gilbert. Dominion-Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper St, Ottawa

8:00 pm. Vanier College Presents “A Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie”, directed by former Dizzy Gillespie Drummer Nasyr Abdul-Alybbar Cedarview Alliance Church,  2784 Cedarview Rd, Nepean,Ottawa



1:00 p.m The Annual Awards Presentation, hosted by Musicfest’s Associate Director Neil Yorke-Slader, will take place prior to the Honour Ensemble Concerts for Friday. The Presentation will be at 1:00PM Centrepointe Theatre. 101 Centrepointe Dr, Nepean

2:00 p.m. The National Youth Jazz Combo directed by 2015 Juno Award Winner Kirk MacDonald (sponsored by Humber College). Centrepointe Theatre. 101 Centrepointe Dr, Nepean

3:30 p.m. The Ellison Canadian Honour Choir directed by Scott Leithead. Dominion-Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper St, Ottawa

5:00 p.m. The Conn-Selmer Centerstage Jazz Band directed by Alex Dean.(sponsored by Humber College), featuring Pearl Drummer Will Kennedy. Centrepointe Theatre. 101 Centrepointe Dr, Nepean

5:00 p.m. The National Youth Jazz Combo. Main Lobby, National Arts Centre/Centre nationale des Arts, 53 Elgin St, Ottawa.

8:00 p.m. The Denis Wick Canadian Wind Orchestra, directed by Dr. Mark Hopkins and Dr. Gillian MacKay. Featuring Denis Wick trombonist Alain Trudel. CentrePointe Theatre, 101 Centrepointe Dr, Nepean.