More than $20,000 awarded to young musicians from the Ottawa – Gatineau region at the 2017 National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary Competition

OTTAWA — On May 14, at 2:00 p.m. music students aged 16-24 from the National Capital Region competed for a chance to win prizes worth more than $20,000 in the 37th annual  National Arts Centre Orchestra’s 2017 Bursary Competition.

This year’s winners are:

2017 NAC Orchestra Bursary ($7,000) –Nicolas Richard, bassoon
Crabtree Foundation Award ($5,000) –  Heather Jonasson, flute
Friends of the NAC Orchestra Award ($3,000) – Emilia Segura, clarinet

The NAC Orchestra Vic Pomer Award ($2,000) – Rachel Domingue, oboe
The Sturdevant Orchestral Excerpts Prize ($1,500) – Rachel Domingue, oboe
The Piccolo Prix ($1,000) – Alec Joly Pavelich, percussion

Honourable mentions ($250 each) –

  • Peter Perez, clarinet
  • Renz Eulrich Adame, oboe
  • Eric Prodger, bass trombone

“My experience at the National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary Competition was instrumental in my development as a musician. The demanding audition environment, with its emphasis on orchestral excerpts and solo repertoire, has helped me learn a tremendous amount about how I approach musical preparation and my experience in the competition will undoubtedly serve as an important foundation for my future endeavours, says 2017 bursary winner Nicolas Richard.

“I am forever grateful to the Committee of the competition, the jury, the donors, the patrons, the volunteers, and the musical community in Ottawa for making this opportunity possible and to my family, colleagues, friends and teacher, Christopher Millard, for their unwavering support throughout my musical studies. I hope to use the funds from the National Arts Centre Bursary to aid in the purchasing of a new professional instrument and to continue my studies at the University of Ottawa,” he adds.

Roderick Bell, Chairman of the NAC Orchestra Bursary Committee, has this to say: "Over more than three decades the competition has provided support and encouragement to talented music students of the National Capital Region at a critical time in their professional development.  It is heartening to see past prize winners now occupying prominent positions in Canada’s orchestras and as teachers of the next generation of orchestral musicians. The competition is a gem in the NAC’s music education program and makes a real contribution to the future of orchestral performance in Canada.”   

Winners were chosen based on their skill at performing short orchestral excerpts and movements from a concerto or sonata for their instrument.

The 2017 Bursary competition was open to students of winds, brass and percussion instruments alternating years with strings and harp.  

Students were selected by a jury from closed preliminary auditions held on May 12th and 13st at the National Arts Centre.

The jury comprised of Chair Roderick Bell (non-voting), five NAC Orchestra musicians, Ross Francis of the Friends of the NAC Orchestra (non-voting) and two special guest jurors André Massicotte, former Radio-Canada producer and Andrew Tunis, Head of the piano program at the University of Ottawa deliberated to select this year’s award winners.

The Friends of the NAC Orchestra supports the Young Musician Performance Award of $500 that is presented to the Bursary Prize winner at the annual Bursary Benefit concert the following year. 



The National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary Competition was first held in 1981. The prime objective of the competition is to encourage the pursuit of excellence on the part of young instrumentalists aspiring to orchestral careers. Each year, a jury identifies deserving recipients through audition and competition.

The Bursary was created in 1979 by members of the NAC Orchestra as a gesture of appreciation to the audiences who had been so supportive of it during its first decade. It is meant to provide recognition and financial support to help further the development of young musicians who have connections to the National Capital Region (NCR). Funding for the award came originally from two sources: the NAC Orchestra Bursary Fund created in 1979 by the members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the NAC Orchestra Trust (originally the Capital Trust founded in 1932 to benefit the Ottawa Philharmonic Society which on its demise in 1970 transferred the income to the NAC). It is now known as the NAC Orchestra Trust Fund.

In 1981, one prize of $1,000 – the NAC Orchestra Bursary – was awarded. In subsequent years, thanks to the growth of the Fund as well as the generosity of private organizations and individuals, prizes now total more than $20,000.


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Andrea Ruttan

Communications Officer, NAC Orchestra
Tel: (613) 947-7000, ext. 335

Cell: 613 220-5487 (mobile)