Bobby Thompson winner of 2022 NAC Orchestra Bursary competition

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Bobby Thompson © Fred Cattroll

Bobby Thompson, bassoon, takes home $7,000 grand prize

It was a competitive weekend for music students from around the National Capital Region who congregated at the National Arts Centre (NAC) and on the University of Ottawa campus for the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO)’s Annual Bursary Competition. Taking place from April 30th to May 3rd, the competition returned to an in-person format this year, welcoming 20 students, including four flautists, five oboists, two clarinetists, two bassoonists, two trumpetists, three French horn players, and two trombonists.

A jury comprised of NACO musicians Leah Roseman, Leah Wyber, Don Renshaw and Kimball Sykes; invited guest pianist Andrew Tunis, Professor Emeritus, University of Ottawa School of Music; and Laurence Ewashko, Professor, University of Ottawa School of Music; and non-voting members of the NACO Bursary Committee, outgoing Chair Roderick Bell, incoming Chair Jane Clark, and Friends of the NAC Orchestra representative Christine McLaughlin, selected eight finalists to compete at Freiman Hall at the University of Ottawa on May 3rd. After an intense competition and challenging deliberations, the jury crowned the grand prize winner: Bobby Thompson, bassoon who took home the $7,000 grand prize as well as the Sturdevant orchestral excerpts prize of $1,500.

Bobby Thompson is a bassoonist from the small town of Carp outside of Ottawa. He studied with mentor Joann Simpson for seven years through the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy. He spent his first three years of high school at Canterbury High School and went to Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan for his senior year. He is currently in his second year at the Juilliard School studying with New York Philharmonic Associate Bassoonist, Kim Laskowski and will be attending NYO Canada this summer. An especially memorable musical experience with the NACO was in May of 2018, when the Ottawa Youth Orchestra played a side-by-side concert with NACO musicians. 

A total remaining amount of $13,200 was awarded to the other finalists: Peter Perez, clarinet (Crabtree Award); Eric Prodger, bass trombone (Friends of NACO Award); Luca Ortolani, oboe (Vic Pomer Award); Glenda Lindgren, oboe (FNACO Evelyn Greenberg Award); Kira Shiner, oboe (Piccolo Prix); and two honourable mentions Annie Noël-de-Tilly and Nadia Ingalls, bassoon.

The next edition of the NAC Orchestra Bursary competition will be held in 2023, with applications for strings and harp opening early in the new year.

About the Bursary

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 $21,000.

Thank you to our donors
The National Arts Centre Foundation wishes to acknowledge the leadership support of Mark Motors Group, Official Car of the NAC Orchestra, and Official Rail Partner, Via Rail. The NAC Orchestra Music Director role is supported by Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LLD (hc).  Special thanks to the Janice and Earle O’Born Fund for Excellence in the Performing Arts.

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