1. Funding
  2. Prizes
  3. Musical Instrument Bank
  4. Guidelines: Musical Instrument Bank

Musical Instrument Bank

Competition for Fine Violins, Cellos and a Cello Bow


The Canada Council is committed to equity and inclusion, and encourages applications and nominations from individuals, groups and organizations from culturally diverse, Deaf, disability and official language minority communities. The Canada Council recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Indigenous peoples of this land and encourages applications and nominations from First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, groups, and organizations in all its programs. Measures are in place in all programs to support these commitments.

The Canada Council for the Arts created its Musical Instrument Bank to acquire exceptional stringed instruments. The intent is to lend the instruments to established professional Canadian classical musicians or, emerging professional Canadian classical musicians about to embark on or at the beginning of an international solo or chamber music career. The musicians who receive these instruments play them throughout the loan period in concerts around the world and in recordings.

The Musical Instrument Bank was established in 1985 through a $100,000 legacy from the Barwick family of Ottawa. Since then, through a series of generous donations and loans, it has grown to include over 20 instruments, valued at over $41 million. These violins, cellos and bows are among some of the most legendary instruments of the world, made by celebrated luthiers such as Stradivari, Gagliano and Pressenda.

Visit the Musical Instrument Bank website for additional information.

Deadline – 1 December 2022

Your completed application form must be submitted by email on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (local time). Incomplete or late applications will not be assessed.

Application limits

Applicants may receive a maximum of 3 Musical Instrument Bank loans of 3 years each.

Your application to the Musical Instrument Bank competition does not count toward the Canada Council’s granting programs’ application limits.

Notification of results

You will be notified whether you have been selected as a finalist, by email, in April 2023.

The results of the live auditions will be announced to all finalists at the end of the auditions.

Description of Instruments and Bows

The following instruments are expected to be included in the 2022 competition*:

  • 1689 Baumgartner Stradivarius violin
  • 1696 Bonjour Stradivarius cello
  • 1700 Bell Giovanni Tononi violin
  • 1700 Taft Stradivarius violin
  • 1702 Giovanni Grancino cello
  • 1715 Dominicus Montagnana violin
  • 1717 Windsor-Weinstein Stradivarius violin
  • 1730 Newland Joannes Franciscus Celoniatus cello
  • 1747 Palmason Januarius Gagliano violin
  • 1768 Miller Januarius Gagliano violin
  • 1768 Antonio Gragnani violin
  • A Spanish cello attributed to Joannes Guillami of Barcelona, Spain and bearing a label dated ca. 1769
  • 1798 Gagliano violin bearing a label of ‘Joseph and Antonius Gagliano’
  • 1820 Joannes Franciscus Pressenda violin
  • 1824 McConnell Nicolaus Gagliano II cello
  • 1830 Shaw Adam cello bow
  • 1830 Eckhardt-Gramatte Joachim George Chanot I violin
  • 1851 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin
  • 1869 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin (with a Vuillaume model bow)
  • 1871 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin
  • 1900 Stefano Scarampella violin
  • 1902 Enrico Rocca violin
  • 1920 Carlo Giuseppe Oddone Cello

*Please note that available instruments are subject to change.

Eligibility – Who can apply?

Eligible professional Canadian classical musicians are:

  • talented emerging musicians of great potential, who have begun or are about to embark on an international solo or chamber music career
  • mid-career or established musicians who already have an international solo or chamber music career, and who are in a key period with regard to career development.

All applicants must demonstrate that having a fine stringed instrument or bow at this point in their development will provide a major boost to their career and/or enable them to move to the next level in their career.              

Applicants must:

  • be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada, as defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They do not need to be living in Canada when they apply
  • agree to maintain Canadian Citizenship or permanent resident status for the term of the loan, unless the Canada Council agrees otherwise
  • have completed their basic training in music (university graduation or the equivalent in specialized training)
  • have a history of public presentation of their work
  • be recognized as professional musicians by their peers

Activities – What can I apply for?

You can apply for the following:

  • The loan of an instrument for a period of 3 years with the conditions outlined in a legal agreement (bailment agreement) that you must review and sign if successful.

You can’t apply for activities that occur before the deadline date, those that receive funding from another Canada Council program or those on the general list of ineligible activities.

Application Assistance and Access Support

Application/Nomination Assistance contributes to costs for services to help with a prize application or nomination for individuals who self-identify as: 

  • Deaf, hard of hearing, having a disability or living with a mental illness
  • First Nations, Inuit or Métis facing language, geographic and/or cultural barriers.

To submit a request, contact the Prizes officer 1 to 4 weeks prior to the deadline.

Access Support funds individual applicants who self-identify as Deaf, having disabilities or living with a mental illness, as well as groups and organizations that dedicate the majority of their resources towards supporting these communities. This supplementary grant provides a contribution towards costs for specific services and supports required to carry out a project funded through a Canada Council program.

Assessment – How are decisions made?

Peer evaluation is fundamental to the Canada Council’s decision-making process. A peer assessment committee, composed of experienced professionals selected for their expertise in their field of practice, will assess the eligible applications. Committee members will also be selected with consideration to fair representation of artistic specializations, Canada’s 2 official languages, First Nations, Inuit and Metis people, Deaf and disability communities, gender, age and the cultural and regional diversity of Canada. The committee may include an international expert.

The committee evaluates applications and selects finalists, who will be invited to a live audition and interview scheduled for July 30th to August 5th, 2023, in Toronto. Finalists will be selected based on the artistic quality of their recorded performance and on the rest of their support material (see the application form). Finalists must be prepared to discuss their career plans during the audition, describing how having an exceptional instrument or bow from the Musical Instrument Bank at this point in their career would help them achieve their goals and/or bring their career to the next level. Further information will be provided to finalists.

The repertoire categories for the live auditions will be the same as those for the pre-selection, but finalists may choose new pieces. Finalists will play solo works or solo works with piano accompaniment at the auditions.

All peer assessment committee decisions are final.

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria below will be used to assess your application as well as your interview during the live audition process.

Merit (60%)

  • the artistic quality of your work
  • your accomplishments to date

Impact (30%)

Impact of the loan on your career

The potential of the loan to:

  • generate future opportunities for professional growth
  • advance your artistic practice

Your impact on the milieu

  • your contribution towards a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive artistic ecosystem

Feasibility (10%)

  • your capacity to take full advantage of Canadian and international professional engagements during the loan period

Travel Costs for Finalists

The live auditions are scheduled to be held in Toronto from July 30 to August 5, 2023. Finalists will receive up to $2,500 from the Canada Council, depending on where they live, to help them travel to the auditions.

Finalists who are Deaf or have disabilities will have an opportunity to identify services and support that are required to attend the audition. The Canada Council may contribute toward specific access-related expenses.

Finalists will otherwise be responsible for covering any additional travel and accommodation costs and for making their own arrangements. The Canada Council will send finalists information on travel and available funding.

Required information and support material – What you need to apply

Please refer to the application form for detailed instructions.

  • A description of the instrument you currently play (and the bow you use, if you are a cellist)
  • An up-to-date CV (3 pages maximum)
  • A biography (150 words maximum)
  • A list of your current repertoire
  • The name of your current manager or agent (if applicable)
  • A written statement (2 pages maximum)
  • Recordings of 3 solo works (30 minutes maximum)
  • A detailed description of the recordings

Application preparation

  • The Canada Council will make decisions about your eligibility based on the information you provide.
  • You are responsible for providing all the information and support material requested.
  • Submit only the material requested. Extra material will not be shown to the peer assessment committee.
  • Carefully choose your support material as committee members have limited time in which to review each application.
  • In addition to filling out your contact information in the application form, please ensure that the information is up to date on the Canada Council’s portal, if you have an account.

Personal information

Personal information collected in this application shall be used for purposes related directly to the program, service or activity of the Canada Council.

The Canada Council may share personal information from applications and nominations for awards with officials in other arts and cultural industry funding agencies and government institutions on a confidential basis. Shared information is limited to your name, contact information, field of practice and project description, and is provided to assist with research, reporting, program planning and evaluation, to present networking or economic opportunities, or to respond to federal reviews. For more information on how your personal information is protected, see our Privacy Notice.

For this program, the Canada Council requests that you indicate your year of birth on the identification form. The personal information that is provided by you on this identification form will not be used to assess your application and will not be passed on to the peer assessors.

Prize terms and conditions

If your application is successful, the terms and conditions will be outlined in a notification letter.

Overdue final reports

Recipients cannot receive an instrument loan until all overdue annual and final reports for Canada Council grants and prizes have been submitted and approved.

Bailment agreement

Recipients of an instrument must sign a legal agreement (a bailment agreement) governing all conditions of the loan. A sample bailment agreement is available on request from the Canada Council. This agreement is required to have been reviewed by all finalists and their legal counsel before the live auditions take place.

Instrument care and maintenance

All recipients will be required to attend a workshop on instrument care and policies on use of the loaned instruments in Toronto.

Recipients must take their awarded instrument to Geo. Heinl & Co. Limited in Toronto each year for an inspection. The instrument must not be altered in any way. All costs of insurance, major repairs/restoration not due to negligence and the luthier’s fees for annual inspection will be the responsibility of the Canada Council. Recipients must pay for routine care and any travel costs related to the annual evaluation and repair of the instrument. They must send the Canada Council a written report from the inspector on the condition of the instrument. The complete terms will be outlined in the bailment agreement.

Participation in promotional activities

Recipients must agree to make themselves available for a reasonable number of publicity and promotional activities during the loan period. They must allow photographs, videos and public information about themselves to be used for promotion of the Musical Instrument Bank and in other Canada Council promotional initiatives. They must also agree to participate fully in all award activities, including media events, ceremonies and receptions.

Recipients are expected to perform in professional concerts or recitals in Canada, and internationally, during each of the three years of the loan. These concerts must be organized by the recipient (and/or his or her manager or agent) and will not be the responsibility of the Canada Council. Applicants must be prepared to present their plans and/or confirmed engagements for the first year of the loan, prior to the beginning of the loan. Firm commitments for subsequent years’ concerts will be required by the annual anniversary date of the bailment agreement.


If successful, you must agree to keep the results of the competition confidential until the Canada Council makes its official announcement.

Changes to required activities

If recipients cannot use the instrument, for any reason, or if they decide not to carry out the required activities, they must notify the Canada Council immediately.

Acknowledgement of Canada Council support

You must acknowledge the support of the Canada Council in all promotional material associated with the loan. Details will be included in your bailment agreement.

Annual and final reports

You will be required to report yearly to the Canada Council on the progress of your career during the term of the loan. You will also be required to submit a final report by the date identified in your bailment agreement.

Previous winners

Visit the Musical Instrument Bank web page to download a list of past winners.

Instructions – How to submit an application

Send your completed application form, required documents and support material as 1 email on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (local time) to instrumentbank@canadacouncil.ca. The maximum file size including attachments is 25 MB. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 3 business days, please contact us.

Contact information

Sarah Brown

Program Officer, Prizes


1-800-263-5588 (toll-free) or 613-566-4414, ext. 6004