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30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30, 2014 edition

Editorial Staff

By Michael Morreale

The future of classical music is in good hands.

In the list below you'll meet 30 outstanding Canadian classical musicians, each under the age of 30. Their accomplishments, ranging from winning high-profile international competitions to performances at prestigious venues, are an inspiring reminder of the power of hard work and dedication. Many of these musicians practice for upwards of seven hours each day and travel far from home to study with top teachers.

This year's list was compiled with advice from conservatories, music competitions and professional training programs from coast to coast. The musicians come from all areas of the country and range in age from 8 to 28. You'll be impressed by the accomplishments of each musician, and want to watch for when they perform in your town, so you can proudly boast that you, "saw them when…"

1. Timothy Chooi (violin)

Age: 20
From: Victoria, B.C.
Hot because: Since winning first prize at the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal Standard Life Competition at age 16, Chooi has had an impressive few years. He has performed with the OSM twice since then and at the 2012 Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank Competition he won the use of a 1729 Guarneri del Gesu violin. Chooi studies at the Curtis Institute of Music during the year and with Pinchas Zukerman at the National Arts Centre's Summer Music Institute.

Timothy Chooi

2. Simone Osborne (soprano)

Age: 27
From: Vancouver, B.C.
Hot because: Osborne has been quite busy since appearing on last year's list. She appeared in two Canadian Opera Company productions last season, including playing Musetta in Puccini's La bohème. Earlier this year she did double-duty with Vancouver Symphony as soloist in both Beethoven's Ninth and a selection of Strauss lieders. This season she's back at the Four Seasons Centre to sing Nanetta in Verdi’s Falstaff, then will make her debut at the newly built Philharmonie de Paris.

Simone Osborne

3. Lucy Wang (violin)

Age: 17
From: Surrey, B.C.
Hot because: Wang was the Future of Excellence winner at the VSO School of Music Competition 2014 this past May. She will perform with the Vancouver Symphony this season, which marks her fourth solo appearance with the orchestra to date. This fall she will study at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, under respected violinist Martin Beaver. She is currently a student of the VSO School of Music studying with Carla Birston.

Lucy Wang

4. Jan Lisiecki (piano)

Age: 19
From: Calgary, Alta.
Hot because: Lisiecki's playing is captivating. He performs with the elegance and maturity that you'd expect from the world's top veteran artists. He has released two recordings on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label and was given the 2013 Gramophone Award for young artist of the year. Lisiecki sold out three performances at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan this year and has appeared with top orchestras around the world. Throughout all this, Lisiecki pairs his talent with genuine modesty. Canada couldn't ask for a better musical ambassador.

Jan Lisiecki

5. Keith Hamm (viola)

Age: 26
From: Rosebud, Alta.
Hot because: A 2013 CBC Music's Next! artist, Hamm wears two hats. He is principal violist in the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and artistic director at the Rosebud Chamber Music Festival in his hometown.

Keith Hamm

6. Gordon Bintner (bass-baritone)

Age: 26
From: Regina, Sask.
Hot because: Bintner is entering his second season as a member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio. Since winning first prize and audience choice prize at the 2012 COC Ensemble Studio Competition, he has appeared with Saskatoon Opera, Opéra de Montréal, Angers Nantes Opéra and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

Gordon Bintner

7. Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure (tenor)

Age: 25
From: Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont./Montreal, Que.
Hot because: Renowned Canadian opera singer Joseph Rouleau has chosen Fortier-Lazure as his protegé under the 2014 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Mentorship Program. This means that the young tenor — who recently joined the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio and took home second prize at the COC's Ensemble Studio Competition — will receive valuable career advice and mentorship opportunities on his path toward becoming a mature artist.

Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure

8. Rachel Mahon (organ)

Age: 24
Toronto, Ont.
Hot because: 
Mahon is about to begin her appointment as organ scholar at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. She is the first female to hold the prestigious position and among the very few Canadians. Mahon is a graduate of the University of Toronto.

Rachel Mahon

9. Coco Ma (piano)

Age: 13
From: Toronto, Ont.
Hot because: Ma was recently chosen as one of only 12 students to participate in Lang Lang's inaugural music camp in Munich.

Coco Ma

10. Steven Woomert (trumpet)

Age: 25
From: Toronto, Ont.
Hot because: Woomert is the newest member of the Toronto Symphony. Trumpet playing runs in the family. He takes the associate principal trumpet seat this fall, which was made vacant by the retirement of his own father, Bart Woomert.

Steven Woomert

11. Luri Lee (violin) 

Age: 27
From: Seoul, South Korea/Toronto, Ont.
Hot because: Lee has just completed a year as a prestigious Rebanks Family Fellow at the Glenn Gould School, during which she performed Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra conducted by Julian Kuerti. This year she will perform the concerto with the Edmonton Symphony and will play first violin in the Nyx Quartet, as quartet-in-residence at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. Lee made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2011 and is a 2013 CBC Music Next! artist.

Luri Lee

12. Anastasia Rizikov (piano)

Age: 15
From: Toronto, Ont.
Hot because: Rizikov is a pianist to watch. In the past year she has performed across eastern Canada on a Debut Atlantic tour, performed with Symphony Nova Scotia and won the Giuliano Pecar International Piano Competition in Italy. This year she performs several solo recitals and concertos with orchestras including Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #3 with Laval Symphony orchestra. She will also appear with Sinfonia Toronto, Toronto Symphony, and Orchestra London.

Anastasia Rizikov

13. Emma Meinrenken (violin)

Age: 15
From: Toronto, Ont.
Hot because: Since making her Toronto Symphony debut at age 10, Meinrenken has won first place at the Canadian Music Competition four years in a row. Last month she made her debut with the Utah Symphony, which she earned by placing first in her division at the 2013 Stradivarius International Violin Competition. After the performance, one reviewer praised her "level of maturity well beyond her years."

Emma Meinrenken

14. Hugo Lee (oboe)

Age: 20
From: North York, Ont.
Hot because: Lee is this year's principal oboe in the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and is also the recipient of its annual award of excellence. As a student at the Juilliard School in New York, he got to play under the baton of James Levine this year, an experience he calls, "life changing."

Hugo Lee

15. Harmony Zhu (piano)

Age: 8
From: Richmond Hill, Ont.
Hot because: Zhu has performed at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York… twice! She's the youngest student ever to be accepted into the Royal Conservatory's Taylor Academy. She recently took home first prize at the Canadian Music Competition, for the third year in a row. Zhu is also a world chess champion, having represented Canada and taken home the top prize for her age group late last year in the United Arab Emirates.

Harmony Zhu

16. Harrison Jarvis (piano)

Age: 16
From: Aurora, Ont.
Hot because: Jarvis won gold at the 2014 National Young Musicians Showcase Competition in New Jersey. The prize was a performance at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall this past April. He has studied at the Curtis Institute of Music Summer Music Program, where he just took home grand prize at their concerto competition. He is currently a student of the Royal Conservatory School.

Harrison Jarvis

17. Kerson Leong (violin)

Age: 17
From: Ottawa, Ont.
Hot because: Since appearing on last year's list, Leong has been named a Révélation Radio-Canada 2014-15 artist and won first prize at the 2013 OSM Standard Life Competition. Leong has appeared as soloist with the Oslo Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, Montreal's Orchestre Métropolitain and the National Arts Centre Orchestra, all on his 1705 Guarnerius violin.

Kerson Leong

18. Anita Pari (piano/cello/composition)

Age: 16
From: Ottawa, Ont.
Hot because: Pari is a triple threat: the brilliant young artist plays piano, cello and composes. By age 12, she had earned her ARCT in piano from the Royal Conservatory, the highest level awarded, and two years later she earned the same level for the cello. She has performed concertos with the National Academy Orchestra in Hamilton and the McGill Chamber Orchestra in Montréal. As a composer, she has written music for piano, string quartet chamber ensemble and choir.

Anita Pari

19. Philippe Sly (bass-baritone)

Age: 25
From: Ottawa, Ont.
Hot because: Last year we told you about Sly winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (which came with a cool $15,000 prize) and the Montreal International Musical Competition (that's another $55,000 in winnings). Since then, he's released his third recording on the Analekta label, a lush collection of songs from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Philippe Sly

20. Wallis Giunta (mezzo-soprano)

Age: 28
From: Ottawa, Ont.
Hot because: Giunta made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera last year and is back this season singing the role of Olga in Lehár's Merry Widow. Here in Canada, she'll be appearing with Opera Lyra, Opera Atelier and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. With a voice praised by one reviewer as, "delectably rich [and] silver-toned," we're excited to see Giunta's career continue to rocket upward.

Wallis Giunta

21. Antoine Malette-Chénier (harp)

Age: 23
From: Gatineau, Que.
Hot because: Malette-Chénier is the recipient of this year's Canada Council Michael Measures Prize. This remarkable musician holds degrees from University of Montréal and Yale, and will use his $25,000 prize winnings to study baroque harp in Lyon, France this year.

Antoine Malette-Chénier

22. Stéphane Tétreault (cello)

Age: 21
From: Montreal, Que.
Hot because: Since appearing on last year's list, Tétreault's career and reputation have continued to grow. This season, he is the first ever soloist-in-residence with Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, and will perform twice with the orchestra on his priceless 1707 "Countess of Stainlein, Ex-Paganini" Stradivarius. A review in Gramophone magazine puts it simply: "his is a name to watch."

Stéphane Tétreault

23. Yolanda Bruno (violin) 

Age: 24
From: Montreal, Que.
Hot because: She's already performed with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Bruno is the grand prize winner of the 2013 OSM Standard Life Competition, which included a $20,000 award. She is a 2014 CBC Music Next! artist and recently completed a tour of the Caribbean as concertmaster for the Youth Orchestra of the Americas.

Yolanda Bruno

24. Sasha Djihanian (soprano)

Age: 28
From: Montreal, Que.
Hot because: Fresh out of the COC Ensemble Studio, Djihanian will sing the role of Zerlina in this year’s production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. In the past, she has starred in four COC productions — including a last-minute role in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito — and represented Canada at the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.

Sasha Djihanian

25. Isaac Chalk (viola)

Age: 25
From: Montreal, Que.
Hot because: Chalk won McGill's Schulich School of Music's prestigious $20,000 Golden Violin Award in his last year of study and is a 2014 CBC Music Next! artist. He just completed a Master's degree at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and is now the principal viola of Les Violons du Roy.

Isaac Chalk

26. Charles Richard-Hamelin (piano)

Age: 25
From: Joliette, Que.
Hot because: He wowed both the audience and jury earlier this year at the Montreal International Musical Competition, and went home with the second prize and $20,000. Richard-Hamelin studied at both McGill and Yale on full scholarships and is certainly a pianist to watch.

Charles Richard-Hamelin

27. Karine Boucher (soprano)

Age: 25
From: Québec City, Que.
Hot because: Boucher won first prize and audience choice at this past year's COC Ensemble Studio Competition. She joins the Ensemble Studio this fall, after performing a variety of roles with Opéra de Montréal and touring with Jeunesses Musicales’ recent production of Puccini's La Bohème.

Karine Boucher

28. Owen McCausland (tenor)

Age: 24
From: Saint John, N.B.
Hot because: McCausland has appeared in no fewer than 10 Canadian Opera Company productions since joining the Ensemble Studio in 2012, including filling in for an ill Michael Schade for four mainstage performances as Tito in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito last year. The critics were impressed.

Owen McCausland

29. Pierre-André Doucet (piano)

Age: 26
From: Moncton, N.B.
Hot because: The 2014 CBC Music Next! artist is currently a doctoral candidate at the Université de Montréal, and is becoming a highly sought-after collaborative pianist. He runs his own music series in New Brunswick and is also an author, currently working on his first novel.

Pierre-André Doucet

30. Lucas Porter (piano)

Age: 23
From: Port Williams, N.S.
Hot because: Porter has performed with Symphony Nova Scotia and done a 21-concert tour since appearing on last year's list. The pianist (and composer) hits the road again this winter with a solo tour of Atlantic Canada with Debut Atlantic.

Lucas Porter

More to explore:

30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30, 2013 edition
30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30, 2015 edition
30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30, 2016 edition