More than $24,000 awarded to young musicians at the 2024 NAC Orchestra Bursary Competition

24-year-old oboist Luca Ortolani wins the Grand Prize

April 8, 2024 – OTTAWA – On Sunday, April 7, a talented group of music students aged 16 to 26, each with ties to the National Capital Region, competed for a chance to win prizes worth more than $24,000 in the 43rd annual National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary Competition.

This year’s Bursary winners are:

  • 2024 NAC Orchestra Bursary ($8,000) – Luca Ortolani, oboe 
  • The Crabtree Foundation Award ($5,000) – Annie Noël-de-Tilly, flute 
  • The Friends of the NAC Orchestra Award ($3,500) – Nadia Ingalls, bassoon 
  • The NAC Orchestra Vic Pomer Award ($2,000) – Xudong (Ray) Zheng, flute 
  • Friends of the NAC Orchestra Evelyn Greenberg Award ($2,000) – Dylan Pinette, oboe 
  • The Sturdevant Prize for Orchestra Excerpts ($1,500) – Luca Ortolani, oboe 
  • Piccolo Prix ($1,000) – Shaw Nicholson, trumpet 
  • Don Renshaw Memorial Award for Brass ($500) – Constance Prost, trombone 
  • Honourable mentions of $350 each were awarded to Nabeel Ansari, oboe and Constance Prost, trombone.

Visit for the history and description of each award.

Winners were evaluated on their performance of short orchestral excerpts and movements from a concerto or sonata written for their instrument. The 2024 Bursary competition was open to emerging young players of wind instruments (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon), brass (horn, trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, tuba), percussion and timpani.

Grand Prize-winner Luca Ortolani was delighted with the win: “I’m so thrilled to have been awarded this year’s NAC Orchestra Bursary. This award is very meaningful to me because I grew up attending NACO concerts. The orchestra is the reason I fell in love with classical music and remains a constant source of inspiration. It’s especially moving for me to have also been awarded the Sturdevant Orchestral Excerpts Prize as it was Pace Sturdevant himself who, early on, encouraged me to pursue a life in music. Thank you to the judges and organizers who made this wonderful competition possible. Also, much gratitude to my teachers throughout the years — Titus Underwood, Sarah Jeffrey, Anna Petersen and Angela Casagrande, as well as my family and friends for many years of support.”

Luca Ortolani completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto. He is currently concluding a Master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Titus Underwood. In Fall 2024, he will be returning to Toronto to pursue an Artist’s Diploma at The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music, under the tutelage of Sarah Jeffrey.

New this year, the Don Renshaw Memorial Award for Brass was presented to Constance Prost. In memory of Don Renshaw, the NAC Orchestra’s principal trombonist from 1986 to 2022, this new prize is awarded to a brass player who exhibits a flair for style, sound, and emotion as a future professional orchestral musician.

The jury to select this year’s award winners comprised of Bursary Committee Chair Christina Cameron (non-voting); four NAC Orchestra musicians (Leah Roseman, upper strings; Marc-André Riberdy, lower strings; Stephanie Morin, winds; Steven van Gulik, brass and percussion); and two external judges (Jo Ann Simpson, bassoonist, and Doug Burden, retired NACO trombonist).

Past recipients of the NAC Orchestra Bursary Award include Justin Saulnier (violin, 2023); Bryan Cheng (cello, 2016), Kerson Leong (violin, 2013), and current NAC Orchestra members Leah Roseman (violin, 1990); Steven van Gulik (trumpet, 1993); and Darren Hicks (bassoon, 2012). 


The NAC Orchestra Bursary Competition was first held in 1981. The prime objective of the competition is to encourage the pursuit of excellence on the part of young instrumentalists aspiring to orchestral careers. Each year, a jury identifies deserving recipients through audition and competition.

The Bursary was created in 1979 by members of the NAC Orchestra as a gesture of appreciation to the audiences who supported the Orchestra during its first decade. The bursary is meant to provide recognition and financial support that helps further the development of young musicians who have connections to the National Capital Region (NCR). Funding for the award originally came from two sources: the NAC Orchestra Bursary Fund, created in 1979 by the members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and from the NAC Orchestra Trust (originally the Capital Trust, founded in 1932 to benefit the Ottawa Philharmonic Society which, on its demise in 1970, transferred the income to the NAC). The fund is now known as the NAC Orchestra Trust Fund.

In 1981, one prize of $1,000 – the NAC Orchestra Bursary – was awarded. In subsequent years, thanks to the growth of the Fund, as well as the generosity of private organizations and individuals, prizes now total more than $24,000.

In 2025, the competition will be open to students of stringed instruments and the harp. 


Since its debut in 1969, the National Arts Centre (NAC) Orchestra has been praised for the passion and clarity of its performances, its visionary educational programs, and its prominent role in nurturing Canadian creativity. Under the leadership of Music Director Alexander Shelley the NAC Orchestra reflects the fabric and values of Canada, reaching and representing the diverse communities we live in with daring programming, powerful storytelling, inspiring artistry, and innovative partnerships.

Since its inception, the NAC Orchestra has recorded for radio and more than 40 commercial recordings many of the 80+ new works it has commissioned, primarily from Canadian composers. These include:

  • Angela Hewitt’s 2015 JUNO Award-winning album of Mozart Piano Concertos.   
  • The ground-breaking Life Reflected, which includes My Name is Amanda Todd by the late Jocelyn Morlock (winner of the 2018 JUNO for Classical Composition of the Year). 
  • Ana Sokolović’s Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes, 2019 JUNO Winner for Classical Composition of the Year (from the 2019 JUNO-nominated New Worlds). 
  • The 2020 JUNO-nominated The Bounds of Our Dreams, featuring pianist Alain Lefèvre. 
  • Clara - Robert - Johannes: A multi-year, multi-album exploration of the music of Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms, featuring pianists Angela Hewitt, Stewart Goodyear, and Gabriela Montero. 
  • The 2024 album Truth in Our Time, including the premiere recording of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 13. 


The National Arts Centre is Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the performing arts. The NAC presents, creates, produces, and co-produces performing arts programming in various streams — the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, and Popular Music and Variety — and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada. The NAC is located in the National Capital Region on the unceded territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation. 



Greggory Clark  
Communication Strategist
National Arts Centre Orchestra

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