Tomorrow night, the HPO is proud to welcome two young musical virtuosi to the stage for Brilliance: Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

Our fourth Music Director Candidate is 33-year-old Maestro Stilian Kirov and our youngest candidate in the running, but he has done some remarkable work in his short career. He was one of only four people who received a scholarship from Juilliard for their graduate-conducting program and is currently the Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

Remarkable still is the 20-year-old Canadian virtuoso Blake Pouliot who is set to shine alongside the HPO in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. He made his concerto debut at age 11 and has since performed with orchestras all over North America. He completed his training as an Associate Of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and is now in his third year at The Colburn Conservatory School in L.A.

He has been concertmaster for several orchestras, including the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the New Music Festival orchestra at the University of Toronto, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Colburn School Orchestra.

Since Blake has done so much in his brief time as a professional musician, we thought we’d get to know this Canadian wunderkind a bit better:

1) It’s difficult to make it as a professional musician in this day and age. Why then pursue a career as professional violinist?

For me, pursuing a career as a classical violinist is something I almost feel I didn’t choose. The instrument took hold of me at about age five.

My parents took me to the symphony and on the way home in the car I apparently announced, “The violin is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.”

I started on piano shortly after that, but kept after my parents about a violin. They soon bought me one. Since then I have always found it an incredible way of expressing how I feel, to share parts of myself I simply can’t do in speech.

2) What other career ideas may you tackle in the future or will it always be music?

For now, I’m hoping to just pursue a musical career. I want to feel I have given my all to that before I start considering other directions.

3) You were in the television series Flashpoint as well as other TV shows/movies. Have you left the screen for good or is this something you’ll come back to later in life?

I don’t have any plans for film or TV work in the immediate future. But these things have a tendency to come along out of the blue. A cameo in an episode of The Simpsons might be cool.

4) The lifestyle of a professional musician can be hard with the constant travelling. How do you manage a chaotic schedule while you’re constantly influx?

The most important thing when dealing with a hectic schedule of traveling is organization and balance. I try to organize things as meticulously as possible. It’s so easy to forget some small item or detail that ends up creating a huge headache for everyone. I also try to balance a healthy mindset and lifestyle. It’s not always possible to find healthy food and time for physical exercise when traveling, but I try.

Blake sitting witht he violin5) What parts are the best and/or worst of being a professional musician?

The best part is performing and expressing one’s emotions through sound. The worst part is arguing with the airlines about taking my violin on board.

6) Do you have a memorable or humorous story from the road that you’d like to share?

Well, there was something that happened, not when I was traveling, but when I was about 13 and played a side-by-side with the Toronto Symphony. For some reason I forgot my pants and I had to borrow a pair from one of the adult players. When I came out, I looked like Dopey from The Seven Dwarfs.

7) Describe your experience performing for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. How did that opportunity come about?

This was a number of years ago. One night the Prime Minister and his entourage were visiting some neighbors across the street from my parents. I’m not sure why they were there. Anyway, I guess they told him about me and he said that he would like to hear me play sometime. So the neighbors said, “How about now?” They came over and asked me, so I went and played for a few minutes in their living room. It was all very casual and friendly. Mister Harper plays piano. He told me he would have liked to learn guitar but never got around to it.

8) What was it like taking a master class with Yo-Yo Ma, the world’s favourite cellist?

He is very easy going, friendly, and encouraging. It was all very relaxed. Relaxed, but precise.

9) Although you’re balancing a very busy schedule, what do you do for in you spare time?

What spare time?

10) If you could talk to any composer or musician from any point in history, who would it be and what would you say?

I’d ask Sibelius, “Hey man, why so many octaves?”

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