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2018: the year Canadians won big at international music competitions

The stars aligned in 2018 for Canadians taking part in international classical music competitions.
Mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo won first prize at Placido Domingo's Operalia, the World Opera Competition. (Michael Cooper)

Written and compiled by Michael Morreale and Robert Rowat.

In any given year, Canada is well represented at the world's most prestigious classical music and opera venues. Artists like Angela Hewitt, Jan Lisiecki and Yannick Nézet-Séguin give regular sold-out performances with top ensembles around the globe. But in 2018, it was Canada's emerging classical music talents that made the most headlines by winning an extraordinary number of international music competitions.

To be blunt: Canadians cleaned up on the classical competition circuit this year. We couldn't be prouder of this young talent.

Below are this year's winners.


Emrik Revermann, violinist

In May 2018, Emrik Revermann won the grand prize at the Kocian International Violin Competition in the Czech Republic. (Christina Gapic)

Kocian International Violin Competition (Ústí nad Orlicí, Czech Republic).

  • Absolute laureate.
  • Vladimir Cech Award for winner of category 1.

Total winnings: cash prize, concerto performance, recording opportunity.


Vivian Kukiel, violinist

Ilona Fehér International Violin Competition (Budapest, Hungary).

  • First prize, senior division.

Total winnings: $1,500.

Note: Canadian violinist Ruth Kim won third prize at this competition.


Emily d'Angelo, mezzo-soprano

Emily d'Angelo performs in the final of the 2018 Montreal International Music Competition. (Tam Lan Truong)

1. Operalia, the World Opera Competition (Lisbon, Portugal).
  • First prize.
  • Audience prize.
  • Birgit Nilsson Prize.
  • Pepita Embil Prize of Zarzuela.

Total winnings: $55,000 US and a Rolex watch.

Note: Canada's Rihab Chaieb, mezzo-soprano, won the $10,000 US third prize at Operalia.

2. Montreal International Music Competition (Montreal).

  • Second prize.
  • Audience prize.
  • Prize for top Canadian contestant.

Total winnings: $21,000.


JJ Bui, pianist

Hanoi International Piano Competition (Vietnam).

  • First prize B category.
  • Best concerto player.
  • Best Yamaha piano player.

Total winnings: $8,300 US.


Josh Lovell, tenor

52nd International Vocal Competition 's-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands).

  • Grand prize.
  • Opera prize.

Total winnings: €15,000.

Watch Lovell's prize-winning performance in the competition's final at 2:16:10 in the video below:


Alice Lee, violinist

International Fritz Kreisler Competition (Vienna, Austria).

  • Second prize.

Total winnings: €12,000.

Watch Lee's prize-winning performance of Glazunov's Violin Concerto in A Minor at 1:01:00 in the video below:


Timothy Chooi, violinist

1. Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition (Hanover, Germany).

  • First prize.

Total winnings: €50,000, recording opportunity, three-year loan of Guadagnini violin.

2. Schadt String Competition (Allentown, PA).

  • First prize.

Total winnings: $8,000 US, concerto performance.

Note: Cellist Hannah Cho, from Hamilton, Ont., won third prize in this competition.

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