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Martin MacDonald receives 2013 Heinz Unger Award

Toronto, November 28, 2013 – Orchestra conductor Martin MacDonald is this year’s recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s Heinz Unger Award. This national award is presented biennially to an emerging professional Canadian conductor and recognizes talent and promise, musicianship, and commitment to Canadian repertoire and Canadian musicians.

The $8,000 award will be presented by Symphony Nova Scotia (SNS) CEO Chris Wilkinson on Friday, November 29th at Halifax’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, where Martin will be conducting SNS’ Symphonic Christmas Spectacular.

Martin MacDonald


  • Martin MacDonald is Associate Conductor of Symphony Nova Scotia for the 2013–14 season.  From 2008–11, he was the symphony’s Resident Conductor, conducting over 100 performances of classical, ballet, pops/crossover and educational programming. Prior to this, he was Associate Conductor of the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, where he continues to guest conduct and serve as a mentor.
  • Born in Cape Breton, Martin began his musical training at the age of six. He holds music degrees from McGill University and Memorial University, and has performed as a cellist with several orchestras across Canada.
  • Martin is a recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Jean-Marie Beaudet Award in Orchestra Conducting. His first commercial recording, The Barra MacNeils with Symphony Nova Scotia (Live), won a Music Nova Scotia Award. Several of his performances have been broadcast on CBC Radio.
  • In addition to standard orchestral repertoire, Martin regularly conducts performances that bring together Canadian orchestras and popular musicians such as Joel Plaskett, Owen Pallett, Basia Bulat, Rose Cousins and a range of Celtic artists.
  • Martin has guest conducted for several orchestras across Canada, including the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra.


  • The jury unanimously selected Martin MacDonald for this year’s award. “Martin shows the same dedication to excellent music-making that Heinz Unger did,” they noted. “He is very committed to Canadian music, to his audience and to his musicians. His career is on an upward trajectory.”


  • The Heinz Unger Award, administered by the Ontario Arts Council, was established in 1967 by the York Concert Society. It honours Dr. Heinz Unger, one of the society’s founders and a prominent member of Canada’s music community following a distinguished career in Europe. Learn more about Dr. Unger.
  • This year’s jury consisted of Boris Brott (Hamilton, Ontario), James Mark (Sackville, Nova Scotia) and Michelle Mourre (Winnipeg, Manitoba).
  • Previous winners include Nathan Brock (2011), Michelle Mourre (2009), Alain Trudel (2007), and Kenneth Hsieh (2005). See the full list of previous laureates.


Shoshana Wasser, Communications Coordinator, Ontario Arts Council
416-969-7434 | 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7434 |  

Heidi MacPhee, Director of Communications and Marketing, Symphony Nova Scotia
902-421-1300, ext. 226 |