2019 Recipients of Hnatyshyn Foundation Developing Artist Grants and Fellowship in Conducting


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OTTAWA, October 8, 2019 — Eight young performing arts students will receive grants this year from The Hnatyshyn Foundation, supporting their studies for the 2019–20 academic year. This brings the amount invested in post-secondary grants for performing artists to more than $1 million since the Foundation began programming in 2005.

The awards include seven $10,000 grants for Developing Artists, and one $15,000 fellowship for a Young Conductor, presented in partnership with the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal.

Announcing the winners in Ottawa today, Gerda Hnatyshyn, C.C., President of The Hnatyshyn Foundation, said, “The Hnatyshyn Foundation is pleased to celebrate the accomplishments and promise of these extraordinary young performers. By providing this financial support we are, at the most fundamental level, investing in the development of the world-class artists of tomorrow. We are also proud of our association with the Schulich School of Music and the Decker family towards helping remarkable young talents pursue their studies at one of the world’s finest educational institutions.”

Through these programs, The Hnatyshyn Foundation continues to extend its support to exceptionally talented young Canadian students in the performing arts. We are very grateful to The Hnatyshyn Foundation for partnering with us in supporting training of the next generation of Canadian conductors,” said Professor Stéphane Lemelin, Chair of the Department of Performance at the Schulich School of Music.

All of the winners were selected by expert juries from across Canada. The Hnatyshyn Foundation sincerely thanks all the jurors for their generous assistance.

Recipients of 2019 Developing Artist Grants

Yu Kai Sun of Montreal received this year’s award for Classical Music — Orchestral Instrument. Yu Kai is entering her final year in the Bachelor of Music (Honours) Program at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, under the tutelage of Professor Victor Danchenko. She has recently appeared as a soloist with the Mississauga Symphony, the York Symphony, and the Oakville Chamber and North York Concert Orchestras.

“I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to receive The Hnatyshyn Foundation Developing Artist Grant. This prize will serve as important financial support in the development of my musical career. It will help me with expenses related to national and international competitions, as well as my upcoming graduate school applications to music schools in Canada, the U.S. and European countries.”

Zhan Hong Xiao of Montreal received the award in Classical Music — Piano. Born in China, he discovered music at the Maîtrise des Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal when he was nine years old. In 2014, he began classes with Richard Raymond at the the Montreal Conservatory of Music.

“I would like to sincerely thank the Hnatyshyn Foundation for believing in me, and for presenting me with this generous award for studies in classical piano. This grant is particularly helpful as I begin my career, and I will always be deeply grateful. It warms my heart to know that there are organizations like this which support and encourage artistic development.”

Evan Gratham of North Vancouver is the winner of the Oscar Peterson Grant for Jazz Performance. A bassist, composer and arranger, Evan has just begun his fourth year in the Bachelor of Jazz Performance program at the University of Toronto. He has been the recipient of numerous music awards, and is especially proud of the ones named in honour of some of Canada’s jazz pioneers: the Fraser McPherson Scholarship, the Phil Nimmons Outstanding Jazz Performer Award, and now the Oscar Peterson Developing Artist Grant.

“At its best, jazz is a model of what our society can aspire to. Everyone brings their own experiences, ideas, and preferences, and we have no choice but to work towards the outcome together. When we interact, negotiate, and create music together, we end up with something far greater than the sum of its parts, a melding of ideas that we have all played a role in steering towards. This is the kind of music I strive to make, as I continue to learn how my role as a bassist fits into these interactions.”

Sara Schabas of Toronto is the recipient of the grant for Classical Vocal Performance. Sara has degrees from the University of Toronto and Roosevelt University in Chicago, and has performed with numerous festivals and opera companies in North America. She is currently continuing her studies in Vienna, Austria, under the tutelage of Michael Schade.

“I am continuously awestruck by the power of the unamplified voice to transfix audiences with its visceral, vulnerable and transcendent expression of words and emotions. By studying in Vienna with Michael Schade and other world-class musicians, immersed in a different language and culture, I am developing my own toolkit to express myself with style, nuance and, hopefully, humanity.”


Marie-Maxime Ross of Rimouski, Quebec has received the grant for Contemporary Dance. The 20-year-old performer is about to begin her third and final year at the École de danse contemporaine de Montréal.

“For me, the most important thing is to be able, through dance, to help people rediscover and recentre themselves, because it is dance that truly brought me to life. Dancing is a great discipline, allowing us to learn more about ourselves, and often accessing parts of ourselves that we thought were lost. We are at our most vulnerable when we pour all that we are into the thing we are most passionate about.”

Ivy Charles of Winnipeg and Vancouver has received the award for Acting — English Theatre. Ivy returns this fall to complete her acting studies at Studio 58 in Vancouver.

“I want young girls who look like me to feel represented in this field — an opportunity I did not have. This grant allows me to pursue this goal and share my passion.

Laurence Gagné-Frégeau of Quebec City has received the award for Acting — French Theatre. She is starting her final year in performance at the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Québec. Before even starting school, she had already become known for her appearances in several short films. Her artistic journey has also involved her participation in a wide range of artistic projects, as well as the Festival OFF FEQ.

“I am extremely grateful to have fallen in love with theatre at a very young age, and to have been able to further develop the pleasure I take in performing. Early on, I was fortunate enough to connect with my feelings, my passion, and my willingness to take a leap into the unknown. I want people to be moved by my work, to be affected somehow. I want them to be worried, take action, ask questions, become interested in something, be curious, run towards one another, encounter one another, interact, and reflect.”

Recipient of the 2019 Christa and Franz-Paul Decker Fellowship in Conducting

Francis Choinière of Montreal is the second recipient of The Hnatyshyn Foundation and Christa and Franz-Paul Decker Fellowship in Conducting. Francis is a promising young conductor, as well as a versatile musician, who is active as a choral and orchestral conductor, concert producer, pianist, composer, and baritone. In addition, he is the co-founder of the Orchestre Philharmonique et Choeur des Mélomanes (OPCM) with Elie Boissinot, Artistic Director of L’Ensemble Vocal Trame Sonore, Conductor of the Choeur Fernand Lindsay for the Festival de Lanaudière, and chorus master for several concerts at the Bell Centre featuring, among others: Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, Hans Zimmer and Ramin Djawadi. Highly engaged in Montreal’s music scene, Francis is also the co-founder and President of GFN Productions, a production company presenting high-calibre concerts at Montreal’s finest venues.

“My passion for the choral and orchestral repertoire is what has always driven me to become a conductor. Receiving The Hnatyshyn Foundation Conductor’s Fellowship is a great honour, and allows me to dedicate my time to meaningful projects that help advance my career.”

About The Hnatyshyn Foundation

The Hnatyshyn Foundation is a private charity established by the late Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn, Canada’s twenty-fourth Governor General. The Foundation assists emerging and established artists, in all disciplines, with training and professional development, and promotes the importance of the arts in Canadian society. Its programs are funded by donations from government, other foundations, corporations and individuals. Since it began programming in 2005, The Foundation has provided more than $3.5 million in support of Canadian performing artists, visual artists, and curators.

Jurors of the 2019 Hnatyshyn Foundation Developing Artist Grants


  • Jessica Linnebach (Ottawa), Violinist, Associate Concertmaster, National Arts Centre Orchestra
  • Dr. Oleg Pokhanovski (Winnipeg), Violinist, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba
  • Suzanne Snizek (Victoria BC), Flutist, Associate Professor, University of Victoria



  • Ireneus Zuk (Kingston ON), Pianist, Associate Director, Dan School of Drama and Music, Queen’s University
  • Arthur Row (Victoria BC), Pianist, Professor, University of Victoria
  • Christina Petrowska Quilico (Toronto), Pianist, Professor, Piano Performance and Musicology, York University



  • Joshua Rager (Montreal), Pianist, arranger, composer and teacher
  • Patrick Feely (Brantford ON), Guitarist, chamber musician, Artistic Director of the Guitar Society of Brantford
  • Petr Cancura (Ottawa), Saxophonist and Programming Director of the Ottawa International Jazz Festival



  • Alan Corbishley (Kamloops BC), Baritone, voice teacher, Executive and Artistic Director of BC Living Arts
  • James Wright (Ottawa), Supervisor of Performance Studies, School for Studies in Art and Culture — Music Department, Carleton University
  • Deantha Edmunds-Ramsay (Rothesay NB), Classical singer and composer, recipient of The Hnatyshyn Foundation Indigenous Art Award



  • Parise Mongrain (Montreal), Director of Quebec Office, Dancer Transition Resource Centre
  • Brenda Gorlick (Winnipeg), Choreographer, performer, instructor, Associate Artistic Director of Winnipeg Studio Theatre
  • Judith Garay (Vancouver), Associate Professor, Contemporary Dance, Simon Fraser University



  • Nicola Cavendish (Toronto), Canadian theatre and film actor
  • Eric Coats (Ottawa), Artistic Director, Great Canadian Theatre Company
  • Kim Selody (North Vancouver), Artistic Director, Presentation House Theatre
  • Bob White (Stratford ON), Director of New Plays, Stratford Festival, and Member of the Order of Canada



  • Anne-Marie Olivier (Quebec City), Playwright, storyteller and actor, Artistic Director and Co-General Manager, Le Théâtre du Trident
  • Marilyn Castonguay (Montreal), Actor
  • Danielle Le Saux-Farmer (Ottawa), Actor, director, Artistic Director of Théâtre la Catapulte

For more information: www.rjhf.com

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