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Shoshana Wasser

Associate Director of Public Affairs and Communications
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058

Earl Lee honoured with 50th anniversary Heinz Unger Award

April 12, 2018

Earl Lee, of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, is this year’s recipient of the Ontario Arts Council Heinz Unger Award.

This award is presented biennially to Canada’s most promising emerging conductor. It recognizes excellence in conducting, dedication to Canadian repertoire and musicians, and commitment to fostering appreciation of orchestral music.

The $8,000 award will be presented on Tuesday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m., at the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra Spring Concert, which will feature Earl as conductor.

Earl Lee

About Earl Lee

  • Earl is the RBC Resident Conductor at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. He appears as a guest conductor internationally, most recently with the Gangnam Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, South Korea.
  • As a cellist, Earl has toured with Chick Corea and Gary Burton as a guest member of the Harlem Quartet, as well as Musicians from Marlboro. He has also appeared at many prestigious summer festivals and is currently a cellist with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra.
  • A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School, Earl holds a Masters in Conducting from the Manhattan School of Music. He has also trained at the New England Conservatory.
  • Earl has been selected for many prestigious training opportunities, including the Haitink Masterclass at the Lucerne Easter Festival and the Fifth International Conducting Masterclass in Zurich. He has also been recognized with the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Scholarship, supporting studies in Leipzig with Kurt Masur, and the American Austrian Foundation’s Ansbacher Conducting Fellowship.
  • Earl is a firm believer in music’s ability to nourish, inspire and heal, and is committed to sharing it with audiences outside the concert hall. He programs school concerts that serve thousands of students annually, and also performs in retirement homes and rehabilitation centres.


The jury was unanimous in its choice, stating: “We are impressed by Earl’s insightful conducting, excellent technique and expressive style. We applaud his strong commitment to education and outreach, as well as his dedication to Canadian repertoire and artists.”


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 Kenneth Hsieh (Vancouver), Jean-François Rivest (Mont Saint-Hilaire) and Jerome Summers (London).
  • Previous winners include Nicolas Ellis (2015), Martin MacDonald (2013) and Nathan Brock (2011). See the full list of previous laureates.

For further information

Shoshana Wasser
Communications Coordinator
416-969-7434 | toll-free in Ontario 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7434