Virtuosi Young Artists Program

“The Virtuosi Concerts Young Artist Program has become Winnipeg‘s most unique performing experience for senior music students. Our program marries two exceptional opportunities: performing for our attentive and enthusiastic Virtuosi Concerts patrons; and, interacting and sharing the stage with Virtuosi’s acclaimed international musicians,” says Madeline Hildebrand, VCI Interim Artistic Advisor and Young Artist Program Coordinator.

If you would like more information on the Young Artist Program contact:
Madeline Hildebrand, Young Artist Program Coordinator at


In March 2014, former VCI Artistic Director Harry Strub read a Winnipeg Free Press feature article on 14-year-old cellist David Liam Roberts. David Liam had just won the Winnipeg Music Festival's Aikins Memorial Trophy for top instrumentalist. Harry had recently heard David Liam in a cello masterclass and was quick to invite him to perform at the upcoming Virtuosi Concert. The next year, a similar invitation was extended to the 2015 Aikin's winner, violinist Gregory Lewis.

VCI Executive Director Andrew Thomson, saw the audiences' enthusiastic response to David Liam's and Gregory's Virtuosi performances and realized the potential for making these periodic events a regular feature of every Virtuosi Concert. Together, he and Harry enlisted Winnipeg pianist and newly recruited VCI board member, Madeline Hildebrand, to help develop what is now the Virtuosi Young Artist Program. Launched during Virtuosi's 25th Anniversary season, the Young Artist Program's mandate is to provide exceptional senior music students a true performance experience on a professional concert series. Each Virtuosi Young Artist receives an honorarium, concert tickets, program and social media profile, and an interview on Classic 107 FM.

Since 2016, the Young Artist Program has developed structure and greater rigour. Juried auditions are held annually in Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, Virtuosi Concerts performing home. Prior to COIVD-19, thanks to the generous support the Virtuosi audience, scholarships were provided to the top three audition performances. We hope to resume this practice for the 2022-2023 Virtuosi season.

In 2017, Virtuosi Concerts recognized the origins of the Young Artist Program by presenting an annual prize of a performance at the opening of a Virtuosi concert to the winner of the Winnipeg Music Festival's Aikins Memorial Trophy.

During the 2019-2020 season, the Young Artist Program presented a concert solely featuring Virtuosi Young Artists. An innovative selection process, suggested by former Winnipeg soprano and board member, Sarah Jo Kirsch was employed. Virtuosi Young Artists past and present were invited to submit a 20-minute programme of music on the theme [R]Evolution. Each artist was asked to include an essay discussing a moment of shift in a musical landscape, while maintaining a personal connection to their repertoire. Ten proposals were received. An independent outside jury selected the four performers. Noted Manitoba soprano Lara Ciekiewicz and juror commented, "This is a wonderful way to highlight young artists within the season, on top of all the support Virtuosi already extends to our next generation of performers. I think it will also be a great way for the Virtuosi audience to witness the growth in these artists since their last appearances."