OAF News

Anita La Selva Awarded 2019 Gina’s Prize for Emerging Female Directors

Toronto  – March 10, 2019 – The Gina Wilkinson Prize Committee is pleased to announce that Anita La Selva  of Toronto, Ontario is the recipient of the eighth annual Gina Wilkinson Prize for an Emerging Female Director.  This annual prize of $ 5,000 honours female theatre artists transitioning to directing.

About Anita La Selva
Anita La Selva is a director, dramaturg, actor and teacher. She recently created and directed Stones, an inter-disciplinary inter-cultural theatre odyssey about women and violence (Stones Project/Aluna Theatre).  Previously, she directed Perdida (Danceworks/Co-works), The Mill on The Floss (Sheridan College/UofT Mississauga), an all female Glengarry Glen Ross (Jet Girls Productions) and Memento Mori (Soulo Theatre). Anita was nominated for the Pauline McGibbon Award for Emerging Director and her production of Look Back In Anger (Fevergraph Theatre) won awards for Best Independent/Regional Director and Best Production (My Entertainment World Awards). She holds an MFA in Directing from York University and has directed/dramaturged dozens of workshops for new plays. In May she will direct Bella Donna, a dark comedy about the Borgias.

"Gina Wilkinson was more than just a female director. She was a visionary who had a fierce desire to forge a new path for herself as an artist in this country," says Anita La Selva. " Sometimes, when we choose to – or rather are driven by that unseen creative force inside us – to explore new terrain, the path can be daunting. And yet we persevere. This prize is a beautiful acknowledgement of women theatre artists who are passionate and committed to creating a new path for themselves. I am so deeply honoured to be the recipient of this year’s prize and in the company of my predecessors. For me, it is an affirmation that I do have a place in this community, that I am supported and encouraged; which in turn deepens my desire to carry this forward through my own support of future generations of women artists. With immense gratitude. Thank you, Gina, for creating the portal.”

Shortlisted Nominees
Ms. La Selva was selected from a short list that includes Erin Brandenburg, (Toronto), Courtney Ch'ng Lancaster, (Toronto) and Janelle Cooper (Calgary). Each shortlisted nominee will receive $1,000.

Erin Brandenburg  is a director for theatre and performance projects and a playwright originally from Essex County, Ontario. Based in Toronto, she often works with a collective of artists under the name Kitchenband. She is a graduate of the directing program at the Soulpepper Academy, a winner of the Enbridge Emerging Playwrights Award, participant of the Stratford Festival Playwright Retreat, The Banff Playwright Lab, the VR workshop with Spiderweb show and the University of Waterloo Games Institute and an upcoming Artist in Residence with the Toronto Public Library. http://www.kitchenband.org/

Courtney Ch'ng Lancaster  is an actor and director from Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Her recent directing credits include The Wolves (Howland/Crows), Cannibal (Scrap Paper/Next Stage), 52 Pick-Up (Howland) and Gray (Inamorata). Courtney has performed in seven seasons with Soulpepper Theatre, mostly recently in Idomeneus and Innocence Lost. Other acting credits include roles with Public Recordings, Canadian Stage, Citadel Theatre, Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, Cahoots Theatre, Tarragon Theatre and the 2019 Shaw Festival season. She is currently an instructor with the Paprika Festival and a mentor with the AMY project.

Janelle Cooper is a Storyteller who passionately shares her call to creation through service as an Actor, Director, Writer, Educator. She is a vessel for the ones who came before, unearthing and delivering the stories of her people by uniquely employing multiple storytelling conventions to a single narrative. Janelle most recently directed Once On This Island at Lower Ossington Theatre in Toronto, and wrote/directed UNGANISHA for Woezo Africa Theatre in Calgary. Janelle is the AD of Afrocentric theatre company Ellipsis Tree Collective, a 2015/2016 NAC Ensemble Member, an honoured recipient of the Making Black Calgary Award, and multi-award-winning Actor.

Nominations and Selection Committee
The Committee received nominations from across the country and was thrilled by the calibre of the artists vying for the Prize. The nominations spoke to an incredibly diverse, intelligent and passionate group of artists who, as emerging directors, are clearly dedicated to creating not only a lively, rigorous and positive environment for theatre-making but also to providing audiences in their communities with theatre experiences of the highest order.

The Gina Wilkinson Prize was established through the generous support of Gina's colleagues and admirers from across the country. The Committee (Micheline Chevrier, Bonnie Green, Krista Jackson, Tom Rooney and Bob White) extends its heartfelt thanks to all those supporters. Through their incredible generosity, the spirit of Gina lives on.

About the Award
Gina's Prize honours a Canadian female theatre artist who is transitioning from one theatre discipline (acting, stage managing, playwriting, administration, etc.) to that of directing. The Prize pays tribute to actor/playwright/director Gina Wilkinson, who passed away in 2010, and whose dedication, vision and indomitable spirit imbued her work and her life. An actor for over twenty years, Ms Wilkinson began turning her attention to both writing and directing and, in the last few years of her too-short life, established herself as a daring, strong, inventive director and collaborator in the Canadian theatre. In the spirit of Ms Wilkinson's appetite for life, the Prize of $5,000 is a gift to be used in any way the recipient chooses.

The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the endowment that funds the Gina Wilkinson Prize.  Anyone wishing to donate may do so at www.oafdn.ca.

Past recipients of Gina's Prize include Tanja Jacobs (2018), Kimberley Rampersad (2017), and Kelli Fox (2016).  See full list of previous recipients


For information, please contact: 

Tom Rooney
Gina's Prize Committee

Alan Walker, Executive Director
Ontario Arts Foundation
Tel: (416) 969-7413, awalker@oafdn.ca


Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2017-2018, the OAF paid over $3.35 million in endowment income and $260,000 in awards and scholarships.

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Winners of the 2019 Christina and Louis Quilico Awards vocal competition

Toronto, February 12 2019 – On Monday, February 11th, the rising stars of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals, competed in the fifth biennial Christina and Louis Quilico Awards, with Anna-Sophie Neher claiming the first prize of $8,000.  Joel Allison won the second prize of $4,000,  and Simona Genga won the third prize of $3,000.  The event took place at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

(l-r) COC General Director Alexander Neef, Ontario Arts Foundation Board Member Judith Gelber, Second Prize Winner Joel Allison, Third Prize Winner Simona Genga, First Prize Winner Anna-Sophie Neher, Russell Braun, Christina Quilico and Tracy Dahl. Photo: Chris Hutcheson

The competition was adjudicated by a panel composed of Alexander Neef, General Director of the Canadian Opera Company, Tracy Dahl, Canadian coloratura soprano, and Russell Braun, Canadian  baritone.  The young artists featured in the Feburary 11th competition sang one aria of their choice and one aria selected by the panel.

About Anna-Sophie Neher
Gatineau, Quebec native Anna-Sophie Neher recently completed her Master of Music degree at McGill University where she won the prestigious Wirth Vocal Prize. She has also studied at Bard College and the Montreal Conservatory. Winner of First Prize at the 2017 OSM Manulife Competition, her operatic credits include Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites (Opera McGill); Adele in Die Fledermaus (Opera McGill); Pamina in The Magic Flute (Bard College); Belinda in Dido and Aeneas (Montreal Conservatory of Music); and Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro (Orford Music Festival). Three-time winner of the Jacqueline Demarais Scholarship, she has also appeared as a soloist with Clavecin en Concert, Montreal Bach Festival, Orchestre Symphonique de Gatineau, Festival Schubert de Montréal and Festival Lanaudière. With the COC this season, she sings the roles of Lavia in Hadrian and Chloe in WOW Factor: A Cinderella Story (Opera for Young Audiences).


About the COC Ensemble Studio
The COC Ensemble Studio is Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals. Since the inception of the program in 1980, over 220 young professional Canadian singers, opera coaches, stage directors and conductors have acquired their first major professional operatic experience through the Ensemble Studio. Former members include Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, John Fanning, Wendy Nielsen, Joseph Kaiser, David Pomeroy, Allyson McHardy, and Krisztina Szabó.

The members of the Ensemble Studio are the COC’s resident artists and important ambassadors for the company. They receive a blend of advanced study and practical experience through an individually tailored, multi-year program, involving understudying and performing mainstage roles, intensive vocal coaching, language and acting studies, and career skills development, as well as participation in masterclasses with internationally renowned opera professionals


About the Christina and Louis Quilico Awards
Christina Petrowska-Quilico established the Christina and Louis Quilico Fund in 2000 to honour her late husband, renowned baritone, Louis Quilico, and to recognize outstanding young singers, pianists and composers for voice. During his 45 years on the stage, Louis Quilico shared performing credits with Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, José Carreras, Joan Sutherland and Renata Tebaldi. He was instrumental in furthering the careers of many young singers through his teaching and master classes. The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the endowment that funds the Christina and Louis Quilico Awards.

This year’s competition is generously supported by Burgundy Asset Management, Gluskin Sheff and Associates and Turtle Creek Asset Management.

The COC Academy is underwritten by The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, with additional support by Keith Ambachtsheer & Virginia Atkin.

The Ensemble Studio is underwritten in part by Anne & Tony Arrell, Peter M. Deeb, Marjorie & Roy Linden, Sheila K. Piercey, RBC Foundation, Slaight Family Foundation, Government of Canada, Hal Jackman Foundation, with additional support by: ARIAS: Canadian Opera Student Development Fund, David & Kristin Ferguson, Ethel Harris & the late Milton E. Harris, Peter & Hélène Hunt, Patrick and Barbara Keenan Foundation, Joy Levine, Patricia & Frank Mills, Roger D. Moore, June Shaw, The Stratton Trust, Janet Stubbs, Toronto Wagner Society, Ruth Watts-Gransden, Brian Wilks, Nora Wilson.


For information, please contact: 

Alan Walker
Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation
Tel: (416) 969-7413

Kristin McKinnon
Publicist and Content Producer, Canadian Opera Company
Tel: (416) 306-2383


Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2017-2018, the OAF paid over $3.35 million in endowment income and $260,000 in awards and scholarships.

Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The COC enjoys a loyal audience support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America. Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world’s attention. The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. For more information on the COC, visit coc.ca. 

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Jazz Pianist and Composer Hilario Durán Awarded the Louis Applebaum Composers Award

Toronto, February 6, 2019 - Cuban born Hilario Durán is this year’s recipient of the Louis Applebaum Composers Award. This year’s $15,000 award recognizes excellence in a body of work by an artist in the field of jazz, and will be presented on Saturday, February 9 at 8:00 p.m., at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s concert featuring Hilario Durán and his Latin Jazz Big Band at Koerner Hall.

About Hilario Durán 
Hilario Durán has been based in Toronto for the past two decades, but his musical heart and soul have remained closely connected to the land of his birth. Durán grew up in Havana in a musical family surrounded by a variety of diverse musical influences. He began working as a professional musician in Cuba’s Los Papa Cun-Cun Ensemble and was Chucho Valdés’ chosen successor in Cuba's most modern big band, ‘Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna’. In the nineties, as part of the Arturo Sandoval band, Durán toured worldwide and had the opportunity to perform with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Michel Legrand, among many others.

Since arriving in Canada, Durán has established himself in his own name. He is a multi Juno Award winner and nominee; a Grammy nominee; a multi-Canadian National Jazz Award winner & nominee; and recipient of the 2007 Chico O’Farrill Lifetime Achievement Award from Latin Jazz USA for his outstanding contributions to Afro Cuban Jazz and Latin Jazz. Durán is a fixture on the Toronto music scene and was named ‘One of the 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians’ in 2009, Best Artist of the Year 2013 by the Toronto Musicians’ Association and the 2014 Best Vision Award Winner (Premio a la Trayectoria) for his work as entrepreneur leading his company ES MI MUSICA PRODUCTIONS.

Durán is an adjunct piano professor and ensemble director in the jazz faculty at Humber College.  

 Listen to:
“Ontario's Memories” composed by Hilario Durán
Momvement from the Suite to celebrate Canada's 150th Anniversary

Jury Comments
“Durán’s compositions are sonically complex and lush. His music is both lyrical and melodic, with beautiful harmonies and passionate results. His contribution to the art form and his artistic voice are so critical today, both in Canada and around the world. His music is rooted in tradition but he is continually pushing himself forward. Durán’s compositions don’t just warm your mind but also your soul.”

This year’s jury consisted of Alexis Baro, musician (Toronto), Kellylee Evans, singer (Ottawa), and Allan Walsh, musician, educator and festival programmer (Sudbury).

About the Award
The Louis Applebaum Composers Fund was established at the Ontario Arts Foundation in 1998 by Louis Applebaum to recognize excellence in music composition. The award is made biennially in the following alternating genres: film and television; theatre, music theatre, dance or opera; jazz; and composition for young people.

The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the endowment that funds the award. The award winner is chosen through a nominating and adjudication process managed by the Ontario Arts Council.

Previous recipients include Alice Ping Yee Ho (2016), Mychael Danna (2014), and Dean Burry (2011). See the full list of previous recipients.


For more information, please contact:
Alan Walker, Executive Director
Ontario Arts Foundation
Tel: (416) 969-7413  awalker@oafdn.ca

Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2017-2018, the OAF paid over $3.35 million in endowment income and $260,000 in awards and scholarships.

For more than 50 years, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2017-2018 the Ontario Arts Council invested $58.7 million in 231 communities across Ontario through 2,294 grants to individual artists and 1,474 grants to organizations. 

 Ce document existe ègalement en français.


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