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Shoshana Wasser

Associate Director of Public Affairs and Communications
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Nicolas Ellis receives 2015 Heinz Unger Award

October 22, 2015

Montreal orchestral conductor Nicolas Ellis is this year’s recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s Heinz Unger Award. This national award, presented biennially to an emerging professional Canadian conductor, recognizes talent and promise, musicianship, and commitment to Canadian repertoire and Canadian musicians.

The $8,000 award will be presented on Thursday, October 29 at a performance by l’Orchestre symphonique de l’Agora titled Poésie musicale. Nicolas, the orchestra’s artistic director, will receive the award from board chair Xavier Roy.

About Nicolas Ellis

  • Nicolas is the assistant resident conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Québec, where he will have his debut in 2015-16. This season also marks his debut with the North Czech Philharmonic Teplice.
  • Nicolas founded the Orchestre symphonique de l’Agora in 2012 to present concerts that benefit social and environmental causes. This year, the orchestra will feature distinguished guest soloists including Andrew Wan, Charles Richard-Hamelin, Sarah Halmarson and Andréanne Brisson Paquin.
  • Nicolas has participated in the prestigious Aspen Music Festival and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, working with conductors such as Robert Spano, Leonard Slatkin, Hugh Wolff, Johannes Debus and Gianluigi Gelmetti.
  • He studied conducting at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music under Alexis Hauser, and piano at the University of Montreal under Jean Saulnier.
  • Nicolas is passionate about sharing classical music with younger audiences. He presented a talk at TEDxYouth@Montreal titled “Beethoven, the Heavy Metal of the Early 19th Century!” and was a member of symphonic metal group Cellos on Fire.



“Nicolas is a dynamic leader who has accomplished so much in such a short time,” remarked the jury. “He has a fresh, authentic way of communicating his vision to orchestras and audiences. Nicolas’ approach makes us optimistic about the future of orchestral music.”

About The Heinz Unger Award

  • 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 his distinguished career in Europe.
  • This year’s jury for the award consisted of David Briskin, Nathan Brock and Renaud Lapierre.
  • Previous winners include Martin MacDonald (2013), Nathan Brock (2011) and Michelle Mourre (2009). See the full list of previous laureates.