Student News and Accomplishments

Our students keep themselves busy year-round, and their innovation shows tremendous results. Watch this page to see what's happening!

 Christina Thanisch-Smith and Ben Kroeker


Thank you to all the finalists and collaborative pianists for their outstanding performances in the final round of the 2017 Zita Bernstein Competition for the Performance of German Lieder. The evening was a huge success!

Congratulations to Christina Thanisch-Smith (first prize) and Ben Kroeker (second prize).


Paul Williamson playing pianoCongratulations to Paul Williamson on his outstanding performance in the 2017 Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Association Competition! After competing in the final round, Paul was awarded First Prize in the Competition!

Paul also won three special prizes in the semi-final round:

Dorothy Buckley Prize: for the best performance of a Canadian composition.

Marek Jablonski Prize: for the best performance of a Chopin composition.

Willard Schultz Prize: to the performer whose reading of Baroque music best communicates the intentions of the composer in the opinion of the adjudicator panel. Bravo!!!

Congratulations to Emma Johnson, winner of the Rose Bowl and Sarah Luby, winner of the Tudor Bowl at the 2017 Winnipeg Music Festival. 

Gregory Lewis (violin) and Caroline Bucher (percussion) both successfully auditioned for the National Academy Orchestra of Canada. The NAO "provides an extraordinary opportunity for emerging young Canadian professional musicians to work as apprentice musicians alongside established professionals from some of Canada’s finest orchestras". Gregory and Caroline will both be graduating from the University of Manitoba in May 2017 before joining the orchestra in June. 

John Sellick (viola) and Daniel Preun (bassoon) both successfully auditioned for the 2017 National Youth Orchestra of Canada. John and Daniel will join UMSO alumni Geena Salway (viola), Kristy Tucker (bassoon), and Miles Thomsen (trumpet) on the roster. These accomplished musicians will spend the summer training in Waterloo, Ontario before embarking on a cross-Canada tour. Bravo!

Thank you to all the finalists who performed in the 2017 Lawrence Genser Competition - it was a wonderful evening of music! Congratulations to Kira Fondse (first place) and John Sellick (second place).

Zita Bernstein WinnersCongratulations to the following Desautels Faculty of Music Students who successfully auditioned for national music organizations:

Miles Thomsen, trumpet & John Sellick, viola:  National Youth Orchestra of Canada - The NYoC tours July 26 - August 13, 2016 with stops in Elora and Toronto, ON; Montreal, PQ; and for the first time in over a decade - Europe (Lisbon, Portugal).  The Orchestra will perform under the baton of the rapidly-ascending Maestro Ward Stare, Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Of the 20 Manitoba students who were successful in being accepted to the 2016 National Youth Band program, 12 are Desautels Faculty of Music Students.  The NYB is based out of the University of Saskatchewan from May 8-14, 2016, under conductor Jason Caslor, who himself holds a Master of Music from the U of Manitoba (2004).

Congratulations to:  Emma Ridd (flute), Daniel Preun (bassoon), Kieran Labossiere (clarinet), Cole Knutson (saxophone), Justine Auger (trumpet), Caralie Heinrichs (French horn), Andrea Dicks (French horn), Liam Watson-Barber (French horn), Cullen Yeates (trombone), Paul Klassen (percussion), Tomaz Marques (clarinet) and Zach Dark (French horn).

April 2016:  Congratulations to Adam Sperry and McKenzie Warriner who placed first and second in the 2016 Zita Bernstein Competition.

April 2015:  Congratulations are extended to Geneva Halverson (1st prize) and Justin Odwak (2nd prize), as winners of the annual Zita Bernstein Competition for the performance of German Lieder.  The finals of the competition were held Wednesday, April 8. 

Thank you to all of the singers and their collaborative pianists for an outstanding evening.  Special thanks to adjudicators Tamara Bernstein, Henry Engbrecht and Henriette Schellenberg

April 2014:  zita winnersCongratulations to Daniel Thielmann (1st prize) and Andrea Lett (2nd prize) winners of the Zita Bernstein German Lieder competition. Pictured with Mark Bernstein. Photo by Simeon Rusnak.

Congratulations are extended to Music students who successfully auditioned for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, 2014:

Greg Lewis, violin, first year
Geena Salway, viola, second year
Kristy Tucker, bassoon, third year (performance)

National Youth Orchestra begins June 22 and runs until mid-August.Lett Rose Bowl

March 2014:  Congratulations to 4th year student Andrea Lett for taking home the top vocal honour at the  Winnipeg Music Festival! Read about Andrea's Rose Bowl win here


Congratulations to the following U of M students selected for the 2014 National Youth Band:

Emma Ridd, flute Matthew Meunier, trumpet
Miles Thomsen, trumpet Matthew Guidry, trombone

The National Youth Band will take place May 3 - 10, 2014 in Calgary, Alberta.

December 2013:  The Faculty congratulates all those students who participated in the Annual Concerto Competition, and extends our thanks to both the preliminary and final round judging panels.  Winner of the Wind Ensemble competition is:  Kristy Tucker (bassoon).  Winners of the Orchestra Competition are Gregory Lewis  (violin) and Yufei Liu (violin).  Each of the winners will have the opportunity to perform a solo piece with the specified ensemble.

July 2013:  Congratulations to our University Singers who received second prize in the 2013 National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs!   A treasured Canadian choral tradition, the ACCC National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs inspires choirs to strive for excellence, provides visibility for amateur choirs of all types and traditions, and encourages the creation and performance of Canadian works. The Competition is open to all Canadian amateur choirs and attracts diverse participants from coast to coast. The 2013 Competition winners were selected by a national jury. 
Each choir that enters the Competition must perform an original Canadian piece.

2013 rose bowlCongrats to Masters student Anne-Marie MacIntosh for taking home the top vocal honour at the  Winnipeg Music Festival! Read about Anne-Marie's Rose Bowl win here.






Congratulations to the following U of M students selected for the 2013 National Youth Band:

Ruth Denton, oboe Stewart Nadurak, french horn
Miles Thomsen, trumpet Noah Slusky, percussion
Matthew Meunier, trumpet Daniel Lehmann, trumpet
The National Youth Band will take place April 27 to May 5, 2013 at Mount Allison University.


Congratulations to all those students who participated in the Lawrence Genser Competition, and thank you to both the preliminary and final round judging panels.  First place winner is Andrea Lett (soprano), receiving  scholarship of $1,500.00; second place winner is Lisa Nazarenko (cello), receiving a scholarship of $900.00.


The Faculty congratulates all those students who participated in the Annual Concerto Competition, and extends our thanks to both the preliminary and final round judging panels.  Winners of the Wind Ensemble competition are (L-R):  Miles Thomsen (trumpet) and Heather Jonasson (flute/piccolo).  Winners of the Orchestra Competition are Lisa Nazarenko (cello), Bronwen Garand-Sheridan (oboe) and Jeremy Buzash (violin).  Each of the winners will have the opportunity to perform a solo piece with the specified ensemble.
concerto winners

The Faculty congratulates the winners of the Annual Zita Bernstein Competition for the performance of German Lieder.  The preliminary round was held on October 20, with six finalists chosen to compete in the final round held November 21, 2012.  Victoria Marshall placed first and Andrea Lett placed second in the competition.  Both students are in third year in the performance stream, and will receive a cash prize.
Zita Bernstein German Lieder Competition
Victoria Marshall and Andrea Lett

Congratulations David Storen.
Dave is a fourth year composition student in the B.Mus. and first place winner of the Emerging Composers Competition, sponsored by GroundSwell in conjunction with Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival.  In addition to the $1000. prize, David receives a commission to compose a new work for Montreal's Ensemble Paramirabo, which will be premiered at the Cluster Festival March 9-16, 2013 in Winnipeg.

Many auditioned, but only eight aspiring young musical theatre actresses remain in the competition for the role of Dorothy on CBC-TV's new series Over the Rainbow - and Faculty of Music student Colleen Furlan is one of them! Colleen was the recipient of the Rainbow Stage Trophy/Scholarship in the 2012 Winnipeg Music Festival. She is the only Manitoban to proceed to the finals - and we're cheering for her!


Be sure to watch CBC’s Over the Rainbow every Sunday evening, and the results show every Monday evening.  

Be sure to vote for Colleen each week to help her avoid the bottom two!

You can follow Colleen on Twitter:                @colleenosaurus3              and join her Facebook Fan Page at:       

Show info at 


The Women's Musical Club McLellan competition took place April 20, 2012, with an unusual result: the two finalists who were able to compete shared the top prize! All three finalists, plus guest soprano Sarah Kirsch and accompanist Chris Kayler, are graduates of the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music!

Pianist Madeline Hildebrand and soprano Jessica Strong shared the $16,000 award. Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Sproule was a finalist, but was forced to withdraw at the last minute due to illness.

A second-place prize of $4,000 was split equally between Jennifer Sproule and Sarah Kirsch.


Congrats to fourth year student Jan Nato for taking home the top vocal honour at the  Winnipeg Music Festival! Read about Jan's Rose Bowl win here

Our Faculty of Music students won or placed in 97 Music Festival classes! The full festival results can be downloaded here: Week One; Week Two.

Special note to students Ainsley Wray, Andrea Lett, Jessica Kos-Whicher, Marlise Ritchie, Lauren Zerkee, Victoria Marshall, Carly Rae Berthon & Allison Phipps, the Bison Men's Chorus, Lynn Hornby, Heather Jonasson, Colleen Furlan, and again Jan Nato, for their trophy and scholarship wins!

Jan Nato with the Rose Bowl at Westminster United Church

    • Trophy Recipients: Carly Rae Berthon & Allison Phipps
    • Trophy Recipient: Bison Men’s Chorus
    • Winner: Tony Zhou
    • Runners-Up: James Graham, Alan Nagelberg and Lynn Hornby
    • Trophy Recipient: Heather Jonasson
    • Winner: Colleen Furlan
    • Recipient: Ainsley Wray
    • Recipient: Jan Nato
    • Recipient: Jan Nato
    • Recipient: Andrea Lett
    • Recipient: Jan Nato
    • Runner-Up: Jessica Kos-Whicher
    • Recipient: Marlise Ritchie
    • Runner-Up: Lauren Zerkee
  • M. WINNIFRED SIM BURSARY – Victoria Marshall

trioIn addition, our Guitar Trio (Bobby Knott, Alex Tyborowski and Thomas McKibbin)  received the Lieutenant Governor's trophy. The Honorable Errick F. Willis donated the Lieutenant Governor's Trophy to the Winnipeg Music Festival in 1963. At times referred to in the past as the Errick F. Willis trophy, the Lieutenant Governor's trophy is awarded annually for the most outstanding solo or group performance during the Festival.


 Faculty of Music students and alums made a great showing in the Doris McLellan Competition for Solo Performance this year! On Saturday, March 17th, semi-finalists competed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Muriel Richardson Auditorium, for a share of 3 prizes totalling $20,000. Students and alumni semi-finalists from our faculty included:

  • Andrew Erickson, B.Mus/B.Ed 2010
  • Jari Piper, B. Mus. (current)
  • Catherine Daniel, B.Mus/B.Ed 2007
  • Madeline Hildebrand, B.Mus 2008 & Post-Bacc 2010
  • Sarah Kirsch, M.Mus (current)
  • Jessica Strong, B.Mus 2008 & Post-Bacc 2009
  • Sean Taubner, B.Mus 2006

The winners of the Lawrence Genser Music Scholarship were announced at the final competition on Tuesday, February 28, 2012. Katy Thurmeier, flute, won first prize and a scholarship of $1,500, and Natalie Dawe, cello, took second place and a scholarship of $900.

Five finalists, who were selected in the preliminary round on February 4 from approximately 20 competitors, treated the audience to an outstanding evening of music. The adjudication panel of Allen Harrington, Vincent Ho, and Harold Lugsdin heard performances from the two winners as well as the other finalists: Bronwen Garand-Sheridan, oboe; James Kollar, classical guitar; and Viktoriia Grynenko, violin.

 Third year classical guitar student Bobby Knott (B. Mus/B. Ed) was the 2011 recipient

bobby knott

of the Women's Committee of the Winnipeg Music Festival. After graduation, Bobby plans to teach music at the local school in his home community of Wasagamack. This past summer, Bobby also competed in the Provincial Finals and represented Manitoba at the FCMF National Music Festival in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. 

Other students who excelled at the Provincial Music Finals include:

  • Colleen Furlan (Yr 1) - Vocal (Intermediate), 1st place
  • Jessica Kos-Whicher (Yr 3 Performance) - Vocal (Advanced), 1st place
  • Jane Fingler (Yr 2) - Canadian Composers (Advanced), 1st place
  • Rachel Stephens (B.Mus. 2011) - W.A. Mozart (Senior), 1st place
  • Faye Klassen (B.Mus. 2010 and current M.Mus. student) - Piano (Senior), runner-up
  • Matthew Packer (Yr 3 Performance) - Woodwinds, recommended to National Music Festival where he was awarded top prize


Amber Epp (B.Jazz Studies '09, currently completing Post-Bacc in Jazz Piano) and her group Trio Bembe took home a Western Canadian Music Award for World Recording of the Year! The ceremonies took place in the Yukon, and Manitobans took home many of the awards. Read more about it on Trio Bembe's blog!


Matthew Packer took the top prize for woodwinds at the Canadian National Music Festival, held in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in August 2011. A third year saxophone/piano major, Matthew was also the top instrumentalist at the Winnipeg Music Festival this year, winning the Aikens Memorial Trophy and several other awards.

Congratulations to Kimberly Dyck, winner of the MRMTA Manitoba Piano Competition! Kimberly represented Manitoba at the CFMTA Piano Competition in Regina on July 8-9, 2011.

The 2011 MRMTA Scholarship Series awarded several Faculty of Music students this year: in piano, Faye Klassen, and in voice, Alexandria Gray, Jessica Nickel, Rachel Stephens, Sarah Kirsch, Amanda Poole and Aran Matsuda. Adjudicators for the Scholarship Series included Faculty members Valdine Anderson (voice) and Oleg Pokhanovski (violin)

The Women's Musical Club of Winnipeg (WMC) announced their 2011 Scholarship Winners, and our students took the top two prizes:

Sarah Kirsch, soprano (M. Mus. pending 2011) won the WMC First Place Scholarship ($2,500) and Jari Piper, cello (undergraduate student) won the WMC Second Place Scholarship ($2,000). All of the winners will perform in a special recital on Thursday, December 29, 2011.

Soprano Sarah Kirsch (M. Mus. pending 2011) made quite an impression at a concert with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra in May 2011.

    Full article

During a gala concert event celebrating conductor Les Dala's final performance, Sarah was lauded as having an "outstanding voice", which "drew comments during intermission... Those having experienced performances in the grand opera houses of Vienna, Milan and New York - acknowledged that her talent equalled any they had heard."

Sarah returns to finish her Masters degree in the fall, after returning from the Schubert Institute in Austria, where she and pianist Chris Kayler are both headed for the summer. Sarah also recently won the Women's Musical Club Competition, which comes with a $2500 prize, was a semi-finalist for the 34th Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, and won the MRMTA Scholarship competition in February 2011.

Bravo Sarah! 

The Winnipeg Soloists Choir, comprised of members of the University Singers, received wonderful comments in the review of a concert on April 13 (with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra). "The choir was responsive and expressive, enunciating with precision... The singers were impressivly involved, showing true enjoyment... the ladies singing delicate harmonies that unfolded like flowers."

Click here for the Winnipeg Free Press full review.

grahamCongratulations to students Graham Isaak (Double Bass) and Emily Lair (French Horn) who successfully auditioned for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada 2011. They will be participating in an intensive "orchestral boot camp" residency between June and August, including a concert tour of Eastern Canada.
Graham Isaak (Double Bass) with David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet


Congratusarahlations also to student Sarah Kirsch (Master of Music, pending 2011) and graduate Laurelle Froese (Post-baccalaureate Diploma - Advanced Opera Studies, '10, and Bachelor of Music, '09). Sarah and Laurelle were both semi-finalists in the 34th Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition. Also known as the E-Gré Competition, this annual event focuses on contemporary music and exceptional performance.

Sarah Kirsch


Winnipeg Music Festival 2011


  • The Rose Bowl (for top vocalist at the Festival) was won by Aaron Hutton (4th year voice performance major); runner-up Amanda Poole (3rd year voice performance major). Aaron Hutton also won the Doris (Mills) Lewis Memorial Trophy, the Reg Hugo Memorial Trophy, the M. Winnifred Sim Bursary, and a Music Festival Scholarship.
Read the Winnipeg Free Press story about Aaron
  • Aikens Trophy (for top instrumentalist at the Festival) was won by Matthew Packer (2nd year Saxophone & Piano major). Matthew also won the Adam N. Leckie Memorial Trophy, the Ann Lugsdin Memorial Bursary, and the Wednesday Morning Musicale Bursary.
  • The Tudor Bowl was won by voice student Jessica Kos-Whicher, and Simeon Rusnak was runner-up. Jessica also won the Richard W. Cooke Trophy, and the Richard and Constance Cooke Memorial Scholarship.
  • Alumni Carrie Hall (B.Mus.Perf. '09 and PBD Perf. '10) won the Audrey Belyea Scholarhship.
  • Other winners from the Faculty of Music:
    • Chantal Kuegle, voice (runner-up for the Anlma Wynne Memorial Trophy)
    • Geneva Halverson, voice (Gilbert & Sullivan Society Scholarship and Trophy, Alice F. "Lal" Mills Memorial Trophy
    • Nelson Bettencourt, voice (Rainbow Stage Scholarship and Rainbow Stage Trophy);
    • Voice students Andrea Bellhouse, Nicki Kirton, Darren Martens and Michael Dueck all won Winnipeg Music Festival Scholarships.
  • See all of the 2011 Music Festival results


Are you a current Music student? Have something exciting to share? Let us know! Send an email, or drop by the office.

News Archives


Luke Nickel, co-director of Cluster Festival