Pre-eminent classical musicians from Canada compete for the opportunity to borrow and perform with an exceptional instrument from the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank for three years. The Musical Instrument Bank comprises more than 20 exceptional instruments crafted by world renowned luthiers, including Stradivari, Gagliano and Pressenda.
Introducing the 2023 Musical Instrument Bank competition winners
History of the Musical Instrument Bank
The MIB was established with a $100,000 bequest from the Barwick family and the fundraising efforts of the late William Turner, a businessman, and Denis Brott, a cellist, both from Montréal.
Since then, individuals and foundations have donated or loaned violins, cellos, and bows created by such master craftsmen as Stradivari, Guarneri, and Gagliano and made generous bequests for the Canada Council to purchase additional instruments.
The Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank has supported many notable classical musicians from Canada—including Lara St. John, Alexandre Da Costa, Martin Beaver, Judy Kang, Denise Djokic, Marc Djokic and Roman Borys. See the cumulative list of winners.
Backstage with the Musical Instrument Bank
The Power of a Donation
The Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank consists of exceptional instruments donated or loaned by both individuals and foundations. These contributions empower the next generation of Canada’s major classical musicians to further their creative development and reach a new level in their careers, while also giving audiences around the world the opportunity to hear remarkable instruments at play.
“Winning the Canada Council Instrument Bank competition to play on the historic Bonjour Stradivarius cello was one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences I’ve had as a musician. The Bonjour Strad allowed me to stretch, explore and deepen my expression as a musician, all the while opening many different doors for my musical career.”
— Soo Bae: winner from 2006 to 2009
“During those three years, I played, recorded and connected to new musical partners more than ever before. The cello gave me the confidence to reach out and surpass any boundaries I had previously had. I am forever grateful to the Instrument Bank and the donor of the 1696 Bonjour Stradivarius.”
— Rachel Mercer: winner from 2006 to 2009, from 2012 to 2015 and from 2015 to 2018
“Having the opportunity to perform on this extraordinary violin had a huge impact on both me and my career. The wonderful qualities of the violin allowed me to explore my playing and take it to new heights and greater depths. The instrument’s notoriety also helped open doors for my career, as it brought outside attention and validation to me as an artist.”
— Renée-Paule Gauthier: winner from 2009 to 2012