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THE SCOOP | University Of Toronto Grad Luca Ortolani Wins 2024 NAC Orchestra Bursary

By Anya Wassenberg on April 11, 2024

Oboist Luca Ortolani (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Oboist Luca Ortolani (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Oboist and University of Toronto graduate Luca Ortolani has won the 2024 NAC Orchestra Bursary. He takes home the grand prize bursary of $8,000.

From 16 candidates who passed the auditions, 8 finalists were chosen for the last stage of the competition. The judges awarded prizes totalling more than $24,000 in the 43rd version of the annual National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary Competition.

About the Award

The jury for this year was: Bursary Committee Chair Christina Cameron (non-voting); four NAC Orchestra musicians (Leah Roseman, upper strings; Marc-André Riberdy, lower strings; Stephanie Morin, winds; Steven van Gulik, brass and percussion); and two external judges (Jo Ann Simpson, bassoonist, and Doug Burden, retired NACO trombonist).

The 2024 competition was open to musicians between the ages of 16 and 26 years of age as of the application closing date in the categories of winds, brass, percussion, and timpani. Applicants have to have a connection to the National Capital Region, including living or studying in the area, and must currently be following a recognized professional level music study program.

Other winners included:

  • The Crabtree Foundation Award ($5,000) – Annie Noël-de-Tilly, flute
  • The Friends of the NAC Orchestra Award ($3,500) – Nadia Ingalls, bassoon
  • The NAC Orchestra Vic Pomer Award ($2,000) – Xudong (Ray) Zheng, flute
  • Friends of the NAC Orchestra Evelyn Greenberg Award ($2,000) – Dylan Pinette, oboe
  • The Sturdevant Prize for Orchestra Excerpts ($1,500) – Luca Ortolani, oboe
  • Piccolo Prix ($1,000) – Shaw Nicholson, trumpet
  • Don Renshaw Memorial Award for Brass ($500) – Constance Prost, trombone
  • Honourable mentions of $350 each were awarded to Nabeel Ansari, oboe and Constance Prost, trombone.

Luca Ortolani plays Poem for Oboe and Piano (1953) by Marina Dranishnikova with Frédéric Lacroix, piano, at the finals on April 7:

Winner Luca Ortolani

Luca commented in a media release,

“I’m so thrilled to have been awarded this year’s NAC Orchestra Bursary. This award is very meaningful to me because I grew up attending NACO concerts. The orchestra is the reason I fell in love with classical music and remains a constant source of inspiration. It’s especially moving for me to have also been awarded the Sturdevant Orchestral Excerpts Prize as it was Pace Sturdevant himself who, early on, encouraged me to pursue a life in music. Thank you to the judges and organizers who made this wonderful competition possible. Also, much gratitude to my teachers throughout the years — Titus Underwood, Sarah Jeffrey, Anna Petersen and Angela Casagrande, as well as my family and friends for many years of support.”

Luca completed his undergrad studies at the University of Toronto, and then went on to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

The young oboist has performed with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and the Kentucky Symphony, among others, and worked with conductors such as Uri Mayer and Christopher Larkin. He has contributed to several recordings, including Borealis (2022)and Ichmouratov; Overtures/Symphony (2020) and Aurora (2023).

In the fall of 2024, he’ll be returning to Toronto to pursue an Artist’s Diploma at The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music, studying with Sarah Jeffrey.

Congratulations to Luca, and we’ll look forward to hearing him perform in Toronto soon.

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