Awards Program

The Sylva Gelber Music Foundation Awards support young musicians (Canadians and permanent residents) who are pursuing or about to embark on a professional career in the performance of classical music. The supported disciplines include voice, piano, guitar, and the complete range of orchestral instruments. Awards are intended for those in the earliest stages of their professional career, rather than those who are already established. They are intended to support programs of further study or other projects that prepare the applicant for a successful performing career.

Nomination and Application Procedure

Each year, the Foundation invites a select number of conductors, directors and senior teaching staff of leading music schools in North America and Europe to nominate their top students, from among the Canadians enrolled in their institutions, for our consideration. Students cannot apply to us directly, but must first be nominated by the institution or individual with whom they are studying. Those nominated are then directed to fill out an application form with the details of their request.

While we expect the majority of applicants will be students currently enrolled in one of the participating schools, nominators may, in exceptional circumstances, recommend a highly talented individual who happens to be working or studying outside this context, such as a former student who otherwise meets the standards and eligibility criteria of the Foundation.


To be eligible, candidates must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Once nominated, they are requested to complete the application form, available on this website, and submit it via email to Upon receipt of a completed form, the Foundation will communicate directly with the applicant.

In the application form, applicants are required to submit the details and budget of their proposed program and the names of two music professionals acquainted with their work, abilities and character. These references may be contacted directly by the Foundation.

For purposes of our pre-selection process, applicants must also submit digital or online recorded material of a maximum of 45 minutes’ duration, featuring their solo performance of three contrasting works. The recorded material should be of the highest technical quality possible and should clearly demonstrate the performer’s range and abilities.

Applications from individuals who have not first been nominated by one of the participating institutions cannot be considered.

Application Form and Deadlines

The timetable for 2016 is:

Nominations due: February 29, 2016
Postmark deadline for applications and supporting materials: March 18, 2016
Pre-selection: April
Auditions: May 16–18, 2016 in Ottawa

To apply, download our MS Word (.doc) application form. You can complete the form using MS Word (or another compatible program). Your entered information will be saved when you save the document. When complete, email the completed form, along with your recorded performances and other documents, as an attachment to

Adjudication and Selection Criteria

Decisions will be made on the basis of a pre-selection process and, for those successful in pre-selection, an audition in Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto before a jury of distinguished musicians. During the pre-selection phase in April, a panel of musicians will screen the material submitted. Selected candidates will be invited to a live audition in mid-May or early June. The Foundation will help defray the candidates’ cost of travel to the auditions.

Selection criteria
Awards are based on the merit of the candidates and their projects. The jury’s concern is to ensure it maintains the highest standards of excellence. Awards go to those applicants who demonstrate outstanding ability and accomplishment in a highly competitive process and whose projects are considered appropriate to their needs and professional goals.

In exceptional circumstances, the Foundation will consider renewing its support for up to a maximum of three years. Award recipients who wish to be considered for renewals will be judged on the basis of

  • their progress to date (all award recipients have a duty to report on the use of their grant)
  • a further audition.

Announcement of winners
Award winners will be announced shortly following the auditions.

Value of Awards

There is no fixed amount for the awards, but they will be sufficient to fund substantial projects over a period of up to 12 months. As a general rule, the Foundation will provide $2000 a month for living expenses, with some adjustment for particular venues when this appears warranted and can be justified by the applicant.

Eligible expenses
Eligible expenses include tuition fees and travel by the most economical means available. Production of CDs, videotapes or other career development costs will also be considered.

The Foundation will not cover music commissions, recording projects, group projects, performance tours, instrument purchase or other capital costs, nor will it contribute toward projects already completed or fully funded from other sources.

Awards are intended to contribute towards the cost of undertaking projects which will be completed before the end of the following year. Awards cannot be deferred to subsequent years.

Awards will be dispensed in installments. The first installment will be provided on receipt of a confirmation of the recipient’s program; subsequent installments will be released on submission of a written report on activities.