Young Toronto violinist awarded Michael Measures Prize

Blake Pouliot

Ottawa, July 29, 2013 – The Canada Council Michael Measures Prize has been awarded to 19-year-old Blake Pouliot, an exceptionally talented violinist who started playing at the age of six and made his concert debut at the age of 11. Launched in September 2010 through a partnership with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYOC), the prize will provide Mr. Pouliot with $15,000 to help continue to build his musical career, already off to a promising start.

Download an image of Mr. Pouliot.

As a young musician, Blake Pouliot played in a pop group and performed a private recital for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. While in grade school he also worked as an actor, starring in two award-winning movies and making numerous television appearances. Now 19, he has been a soloist and concert master of numerous orchestras and has studied with internationally renowned musicians including Pinchas Zukerman, Yo Yo Ma and James Ehnes.

“Blake Pouliot is studying with the best and is poised for a brilliant career,” said Robert Sirman, Canada Council Director and CEO. “The Council is delighted to be able to celebrate such prodigious and versatile Canadian talent.”

The Michael Measures Prize is made possible through a $1-million bequest from Michael Measures, a music enthusiast and long-time volunteer in the Ottawa arts community. It was his particular wish to provide opportunities for young classical musicians to improve their skills and to encourage public recognition of their achievements. 

The NYOC co-ordinates and supervises the administration of the competition and selection of the annual winner of the Michael Measures Prize. The recipient, between the ages of 16-22, is chosen from those who have successfully completed the NYOC’s annual summer training program.

“Blake Pouliot is a huge talent and the selection committee was unanimous in its decision to award him the 2013 Michael Measures Prize,” said Barbara Smith, Executive Director of the NYOC. “Blake is from Toronto and we are pleased that his prize will be presented to him at the NYOC concert in his native city.”

The prize presentation will take place during a concert of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada at Koerner Hall in Toronto on Monday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m.

Blake Pouliot

The first sign of Blake’s extraordinary musical abilities was exhibited at age three. After hearing a song on the radio, he could correct anyone who would sing or play it in a different key. At age six, Blake began piano and violin lessons. After receiving many awards and scholarships, at age 11 Blake made his concert debut with the Toronto Trinity Chamber Orchestra. Since then he has been a soloist with many orchestras, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Jefferson City Colorado Symphony.

In the summer of 2011, he was invited to be part of a symposium under the auspices of ltzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. That same month his piano composition Starlight On Water won first prize at the Canadian Contemporary Music Festival. Upon returning home, he journeyed to Nova Scotia where he won both the national first prize for Strings as well as the interdisciplinary Grand Prize at the Canadian National Music Festival. During high school he was concertmaster of several orchestras, including the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the New Music Festival Orchestra at the University of Toronto, and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. Having completed the Young Artist Performing Academy program at the Royal Conservatory of Music he is now in his first year of a degree in music at the Colburn Conservatory School in Los Angeles.

National Youth Orchestra of Canada

The National Youth Orchestra of Canada is Canada’s advanced orchestral training institute for musicians aged 16 to 28. Its mission is to educate, elevate and empower Canada’s most gifted young orchestral musicians. Internationally recognized as one of the finest orchestral programs in the world, the NYOC provides the most in-depth comprehensive training anywhere. More than 500 aspiring high school and university-level student musicians audition for the 80 to 100 spots in the NYOC each year. Since its inception in 1960, more than 2,700 of Canada’s finest young musicians have received orchestral training. Its alumni form the core of major Canadian orchestras while others have gone on to become members of prominent international orchestras.

General information

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s national arts funder. Its grants to artists and arts organizations contribute to a vibrant arts scene in Canada. Its awards celebrate creativity by recognizing exceptional Canadians in the arts, humanities and sciences. The Canada Council Art Bank is a national collection of over 17,000 Canadian contemporary artworks – all accessible to the public through rental, loan and outreach programs. The Canadian Commission for UNESCO operates under the general authority of the Canada Council.


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