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WMC Scholarship Winners 2023

Congratulations to WMC's Scholarship Winners, who rocked their performances for a large and appreciative audience on Dec. 29. We wish you all the very best in your studies and career paths, and we look forward to hearing you again!

WMC Scholarship $3000: Christina Thanisch-Smith is an alumna of the University of Manitoba (B.Mus./studio of Monica Huisman) and McGill University’s Schulich School of Music (M.Mus.). Praised for her “shimmering vocals with pitch perfect intonation” and “ringing high notes” (Opera Canada), Christina s quickly gaining praise in the Canadian music scene. She is currently a first year McPhee Artist with Calgary Opera, where she will make her main-stage debut as Giannetta in L’elisir d’amore, and sing Beauty in Giannini’s Beauty & The Beast.

WMC Scholarship $2500: Ari Hooker is currently in his second year as a student of David Moroz at the University of Manitoba. He has garnered local awards, both for his virtuosic piano playing and for his engaging compositions. Ari has already written and performed his first Piano Concerto, and he will premiere his monumental Sonata Epica for cello and piano at the Winnipeg Chamber Music Society in March 2024. Much of his output is available to enjoy and to purchase through his website ( including a recently released set of miniatures for cello and piano, titled 24 Aperitifs

Madeleine Gauvin Scholarship $2000: Alice Macgregor graduated in May 2023 with a B.Mus. with distinction in Voice Performance from the University of Manitoba, where she studied with Tracy Dahl. Recent recognitions at the Winnipeg Music Festival include the Doris (Mills) Lewis Memorial Trophy, the Alice F. “Lal” Mills Memorial Trophy, the G&S Society Trophy, and the Tudor Bowl.  In 2023, Alice soloed in Grieg’s Peer Gynt with the WSO, and debuted as Meg in the premiere of The Mansplaining Division (Manitoba Underground Opera), where she also played Dorabella in their August 2023 children’s opera tour of The Bremen Town Musicians.

Holtby Scholarship $1500: Angela Suet Kee Ng is in second-year at the University of Toronto as a recipient of the Alice and Armen Matheson Entrance Scholarship, studying with Jamie Parker. A Grand Prize winner in the Canadian Music Competition in 2017, she made her orchestral debut with the Orchestre de la Francophonie. She is a recipient of many trophies with the Winnipeg Music Festival, including the Aikins Memorial Trophy in 2021.  Angela has performed in Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall as part of the first prize winner ceremony for the American Protégé International Music Talent Competition (2017). 

Phyllis Ilavsky Scholarship $1500: Sam Ferguson is a student at Fort Richmond Collegiate, where he performs with his school’s senior ensembles. He also plays solo cornet with the Rupertsland Brass Band and principal trumpet with the Winnipeg Youth Orchestra and the Mennonite Community Orchestra. Sam has won numerous classes at the Winnipeg Music Festival, and shared the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the most outstanding instrumental performance in 2023. Sam won the Ryan Anthony Memorial Youth Competition at the 2021 ITG conference, and recently soloed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in their Up Close and Orchestral Tour. 

Berythe Birse Scholarship $1000: River Sawchyn attends the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He was featured in CBC Music’s 2023 Top 30 Hot Classical Musicians under 30. River is a passionate student of chamber music, working with members of the Cavani, Emerson and Ehnes string quartets and enjoys performing chamber music throughout the year. Also busy writing music, River is studying composition at the Townsend School of Music with Christopher Schmitz, where he records and performs original works regularly. When he isn't playing classical, River collaborates with a variety of folk ensembles, choral and instrumental groups as a skilled fiddle player.


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