MusicFest Canada bringing 8,000 young musicians to Ottawa

The Denis Wick Canadian Wind Orchestra from London, Ontario competed in MusicFest in 2018. Photo: Marissa Magneson Photography

More than 8,000 young musicians from cross the country will descend on the capital next week to participate in the 47th annual MusicFest Canada. 

Billed as North America’s largest festival dedicated to developing musical talent, the event will feature young performers aged nine to 19 in some 300 different ensembles.  

The event will take place from May 13-18 at the National Arts Centre, the Bronson Centre, Knox Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church and the University of Ottawa. For more detailed schedule information, please visit

Students from the elementary to high school get invited to these Nationals after winning competitions at a regional level in the following forms: concert band, orchestra, choral, vocal jazz or instrumental jazz categories.

MusicFest Canada and its sponsors will hand out up to $100,000 in scholarships and awards at the festival, including two NAC Awards at $1,000 each for the best brass and string musicians and another $1,000 from the Friends of the NAC Orchestra for the outstanding woodwind player of the festival.

The event has been held in Ottawa before several times, the last time was in 2016. Ottawa also hosted MusicFest’s 40th anniversary event in 2012.

Many adjudicated concerts are open to the public including:

Concert Bands, Orchestras: May 13-18 at the National Arts Centre Babs Asper Theatre

Instrumental Jazz, Jazz Combos: May 13-17 at the Bronson Centre (211 Bronson Ave.)

Choirs, Contemporary/Vocal Jazz: May 15-17 at Knox Presbyterian Church (120 Lisgar St.)

Jazz Combo Mini Concerts: May 13-16 at the NAC Glass and Thorsteinson Staircase

In a media release, MusicFest Canada’s objectives were outlined. The organiztion wants:

• To provide an opportunity for students and educators from across Canada and elsewhere to meet, demonstrate and share musical achievements and creativity.

• To “evaluate and reflect on musical achievement and creativity in a constructive and educationally focused way.”

• To encourage the study and performance of music written and arranged by Canadians.

• To complement and enhance teaching, learning and growing.

• To foster and promote a lifelong interest in music.

MusicFest Canada is held in a different Canadian city each year.

Over a very intense six days, the young musicians will be involved in a performances, at showcase concerts, clinics, cabarets and workshops.

Here are the Ottawa area schools taking part:

Nepean High School
Hillcrest High School
Turnbull School
Longfields-Davidson Heights SS
J.H. Putman Elementary School
John McCrae SS
Osgoode Township SS
Nepean All-City Lab Band
Nepean All-City Jazz Band
Ashbury College
Holy Trinity High School
Opeongo DHS
Ecole Beatrice-Desloges
Gloucester High School
Ottawa Youth Percussion Ensemble
Bell High School
Earl of March SS (Intermediate Division)
Henry Larsen ES
Broadview Avenue PS
AY Jackson SS
big baNG (North Grenville DHS)
Arnprior DHS

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.