21 up-and-coming Canadian string players have been loaned fine instruments for three years


The winners of the 2023 Musical Instrument Bank competition with their instruments © Donna Santos

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The Canada Council for the Arts has announced the winners of the 2023 Musical Instrument Bank competition. A total of 21 musicians, comprising six cellists and 15 violinists, have been selected to borrow an instrument after a series of auditions in Toronto from 30 July to 5 August.

The auditions give emerging Canadian classical musicians the chance to borrow one of the Musical Instrument Bank’s precious instruments for three years.

At this year’s competition, 23 violins and cellos made between the late 17th century and the early 20th century by makers such as Stradivari, Gagliano and Pressenda were available. 

The 2023 Musical Instrument Bank competition winners are:

  • Alice Lee - 1689 ’Baumgartner’ Stradivari violin
  • Andrea Stewart - 1824 ’McConnell’ Nicolò Gagliano II cello
  • Astrid Nakamura - c.1830-1850 ’Eckhardt-Gramatte, Joachim’ Georges Chanot I violin
  • Bryan Cheng - c.1696 ’Bonjour’ Stradivari cello
  • Cameron Crozman - c.1750 Gennaro Gagliano cello
  • Christopher Hwang - 1929 Carlo Giuseppe Oddone cello
  • Christopher Whitley - 1900 Stefano Scarampella violin
  • Daniel Dastoor - 1700 ‘Taft’ Stradivari violin
  • Daniel Hass - 1730 ’Newland’ Giovanni Francisco Celoniato cello
  • David Baik - 1871 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin
  • Emma Meinrenken - 1717 ’Windsor-Weinstein’ Stradivari violin
  • Eva Aronian - 1715 Domenico Montagnana violin
  • Gregory Lewis - 1768 ’Miller’ Gennaro Gagliano violin
  • Julia Mirzoev - 1747 ’Palmason’ Gennaro Gagliano violin
  • Kumiko Sakamoto - 1820 Giovanni Francisco Pressenda violin
  • Leland Ko - A Spanish cello attributed to Joannes Guillami of Barcelona, Spain dated c.1769; c.1830 Shaw Adam cello bow
  • Lucy Wang - c,1700 ’Bell’ Giovanni Tononi violin
  • Shannon Lee - 1902 Enrico Rocca violin
  • Tiffany Yeung - 1869 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin (with Vuillaume model bow)
  • Vivian Kukiel - 1851 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin
  • Yu Kai Sun - 1757 Carlo Tononi violin

Before obtaining an instrument, the musicians took part in a rigorous assessment process. Musicians wishing to borrow an instrument submitted an application, outlining their musical achievements and how an instrument loan would influence their career. From the applications it received, the Canada Council invited 32 finalists to audition. The auditionees had the opportunity to perform two pieces to a selection jury and answered questions on their goals, ambitions and future projects.

Once the final instrument recipients had been decided, each musician chose an instrument that they would play for the next three years, in order of priority determined by the selection jury.

The Musical Instrument Bank was established with a $100,000 bequest from the Barwick family and the fundraising efforts of the late William Turner, a businessman, and Denis Brott, a cellist, both from Montreal.

Since then, individuals and foundations have donated or loaned violins, cellos, and bows created by such makers as Stradivari, Guarneri, and Gagliano and made generous bequests for the Canada Council to purchase additional instruments.

The Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank has supported many notable classical musicians from Canada including Lara St. John, Alexandre Da Costa, Martin Beaver, Judy Kang, Denise Djokic, Marc Djokic and Roman Borys.

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