OSM Manulife Competition
By Olivier Gentil
Young violinist Blake Pouliot continues to make waves on the Canadian classical music scene. In 2015 he won the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank competition, and he is already appearing as a soloist with renowned orchestras including the Aspen Philharmonic, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Hamilton Philharmonic and the Jefferson Symphony. He captured Montreal’s attention in February this year with a virtuoso rendition of the Violin Concerto by Korngold with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vasily Petrenko. In November 2016 he won the prestigious OSM Manulife Competition. “The truth is that some of the musicians that I was competing with are some of the best of this country and some of them the top musicians of the world stage!”
Following studies at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Pouliot moved to the United States to continue his training, a decision that proved significant. “I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and I really want to make sure that I’m doing the best that I can. I left Canada to study in the U.S. and I really wanted to make sure that when I came back to Canada I was presenting myself at my best.”
As usual, the Manulife Competition welcomed the world’s most promising young soloists. Pouliot admits feeling nervous about entering, and says he put much energy and work into his preparation. The prize and the sense of accomplishment were well worth it: “No-one can express how much it actually takes to get there, but if you work really hard at it, it pays off, and it’s extremely rewarding.”
The key to his career is his dedication to music. Talking to him, you sense his enthusiasm and his desire to communicate. “I’m just here to have fun, I’m making other people enjoy themselves and to me [it’s important] to enjoy the music and to remember why you do this.”
He is currently working on an album of Ravel and Debussy, produced by the Analekta label. It is due out next year.