Music Prof Wins Prestigious Choral Conducting Award

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Recognized for his talents as a gifted, emerging choral conductor, Professor Mark Vuorinen was awarded the prestigious Leslie Bell Prize on December 11, 2016. Vuorinen is Assistant Professor of Music at Conrad Grebel University College and the University of Waterloo, where he oversees the choral program, conducts the University of Waterloo Chamber Choir, and teaches courses in conducting. He is also artistic director of Kitchener-Waterloo’s Grand Philharmonic Choir, with whom he has conducted great choral-orchestral masterpieces, including Britten’s War Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem, and the Bach Passions.Mark Vuorinen

The jury was unanimous in their decision, praising Vuorinen as “an impressive musical communicator.” They noted that he is “a strong leader supporting two very different choirs with excellent results,” and that he has “enhanced the presence of choral repertoire in Kitchener-Waterloo, both inside and outside of the concert hall.”

“I can't imagine anyone more deserving of this award than Mark Vuorinen,” reflected Music Department Chair, Laura Gray. “Not only does Mark conduct with natural talent and great skill, leading his choirs to an impressive level of excellence, but he does so with such integrity, trust, and humility that his singers will happily follow where he leads. He is a truly inspiring person to his students, singers, colleagues and to the whole community.”

Beloved by his students and singers, Vuorinen encourages and challenges them. “I am inspired by Mark's talent and look up to him as a conductor, a teacher, and a friend,” remarked student Marie Koechl. "Mark is one of the best. His natural talent and hard work are evident in the way he so eloquently and effectively conducts, getting only the finest sounds from his choristers. I am always amazed at his humble confidence and vulnerable trust in his singers.”

After singing in the University of Waterloo Chamber Choir for several terms under Vuorinen, student Alex Wharton commented that “Mark always brings a degree of excellence, encouragement, and enthusiasm that enriches the lives of students with his way of conducting that combines both conviction and subtlety.”

“Conducting is by no means a solitary effort,” explained Vuorinen in his acceptance speech. “While there is a lot of time spent alone in preparation and learning, the act of making music is a shared one.  Without the musicians with whom I am fortunate to regularly work, this recognition would certainly not be possible.  To all of the singers of the Grand Philharmonic Choir, with whom I work each week, thank you for the hundreds of hours each season you volunteer to be part of this organization.  And to all of my students at Conrad Grebel University College, I thank you for your integral part in my having received this award.”

Vuorinen holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Toronto, along with degrees from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music and Wilfrid Laurier University. This year he was also awarded the Choral Canada Award for Outstanding Thesis or Dissertation for his doctoral research.

 Ontario Arts CouncilThe Leslie Bell Singers Alumnae and friends of the late Dr. Leslie Richard Bell established the Leslie Bell Scholarship Fund in 1971 as a lasting tribute to their late conductor. Managed by the Ontario Arts Council and distributed biennially, the award supports choral conductors in furthering their professional careers and enhancing their choral conducting abilities.

Photo: Mark Vuorinen with Jessica Deljouravesh, Music Officer, Ontario Arts Council.
Credit: Carolyn Gloude: Ontario Arts Council.

Read more about Mark Vuorinen and the Leslie Bell Prize

Ontario Arts Council Announcement

The Record: Local Choral conductor receives Leslie Bell award

The Whole Note: Mark Vuorinen receives the Ontario Arts Council Leslie Bell Award

Mark Vuorinen's Academic Profile

Information on the University of Waterloo Chamber Choir's new recording, A New Song.

2016 UW Chamber Choir

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