2015-2016 Wirth Vocal Prize Finalists

Nicholas Burns

Why did you come to the Schulich School of Music?

I came to the Schulich School of Music because it's a place where you can explore almost any facet of music imaginable with people who are true authorities in their given expertise. Be it opera, art song, early music, or choir, the amount you can learn from the faculty here is unquantifiable!  

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Where do you call home?

Burnaby, British Columbia.

Other than practicing or on stage, where might someone find you?

You'd probably find me day dreaming of hiking or skiing in my native province of BC!! (Mt Royal is not a 'real' mountain!!).

What is one unexpected talent or pastime that you have?

I won the World Pipe Band Championships in 2012. 

What would it mean to you to be named the winner of the Wirth Vocal Prize?

To be named the winner of the Wirth Voice Prize would mean a whole lot to me because I truly admire and look up to all my friends who I have the pleasure of singing and learning with here at the Schulich School of Music!


Bruno Roy

Why did you come to the Schulich School of Music?

I first came to the Schulich School in the summer after high school; I needed to get my theory and musicianship abilities up to par with the requirements of my CEGEP music program. I continued to make my way to the Schulich School during my CEGEP degree since I received voice lessons from Winston Purdy who was also my teacher during my undergraduate and master's degrees.

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Where do you call home?

I hail from Carignan, a small town on Montreal’s South Shore, nestled between the bustle of the city and the quaintness of the country. It was a quiet community to grow up and its proximity to the city has allowed me to feel connected to my home and family throughout my post high school studies.

Other than on stage or practicing, where might someone find you?

I am a huge foodie so you could easily find me at a good restaurant or cafe. I have irresistible urge to always try new places, switch it up and perhaps be able to answer the eternal mystery: which Montreal cafe has the best espresso?

What is one unexpected talent or pastime that you have?

During this past holiday season I discovered an interesting pastime, woodworking. I decided to make a coffee table for a loved one from scratch. My father helped me design and chose the materials, and I worked hours on end filling holes and crevices, finishing, sanding and staining this piece of furniture. I took great care in these finishing touches and found myself very satisfied and proud of the work had I done.

What would it mean to you to be named the winner of the Wirth Vocal Prize?

I have a deep respect for the opportunities and instruction that I received during my undergraduate and graduate studies at the Schulich School. I am proud of the work that I have accomplished with the help of my instructors and colleagues during my time at McGill, and to be recognized in such a way would be an immense honour.


Chelsea Rus (winner)

Why did you come to the Schulich School of Music?

The Schulich School of Music was my first choice to complete my Master’s degree in Opera Performance. My teacher at the University of British Columbia recommended that I study with Joanne Kolomyjec. After talking to Joanne, and doing some reading of her biography and listening to her recordings, I decided that this was going to be a great fit (and I was right!). When I finally came out to do my audition for McGill, I went to see Opera McGills production of Britten’s Midsummer Nights Dream. It was beautifully designed, full of colour, cleverly staged and had an excellent calibre of singers. I was immediately attracted to the attention to detail put in by the cast, crew and director. After having seen that production, I was determined to come to McGill the following year.

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Where do you call home?

I consider my heart to always be where my Dad is, and for now he is still living in my hometown of Abbotsford, British Columbia. That is where I grew up and learned to love music. I also lived in Vancouver for three years, and loved it there. That being said, Montreal is the first place where I feel like I’ve built my own independent home. To me, Montreal is a perfect mixture of a big city with European charm. Being so close to both Toronto and New York via train is also a big pull since these three cities are where the majority of my auditions are happening these days. I’ve also made so many wonderful friends and colleagues here that I can’t imagine leaving anytime soon. In fact, the way things are looking I may set roots here for the next little while.

Other than on stage or practicing, where might someone find you?


When the weather permits, I love to go running or spend time in the beautiful parks here in Montreal. I am also learning to love to cook, and really enjoy cooking with friends. When I’m back home visiting B.C, you can find me outside hiking, camping or fishing!

What is one unexpected talent or pastime you have?


I am the household foosball champion, and very proud of it. Any takers?

What would it mean to you to be named the winner of the Wirth Vocal Prize?


First of all I am grateful to be a finalist, and to win would such a substantial and meaningful award would be an incredible honour.

Since I am graduating this year, I am stepping in to the big wide world without having the security of school. I feel like as singers, we juggle a lot of different financial burdens: coachings, lessons, headshots, travel cost, proper apparel, applications fees, audition fees, pianists. Not to mention the basic things such as rent, food, and transportation. I am not going to lie, it can all be very daunting and stressful. Winning this competition would mean that I could make more opportunity for myself, and ultimately worry less. I could take also take further steps to sing internationally by taking auditions in Europe.

My primary job after graduation is to keep seeking more contracts and opportunity. For me, the lifting of financial burden would mean that I could go to New York to take that audition, and not have the immediate worry or feel guilty that I may not make my visa payment this month. I could travel to Europe to do an audition tour, and have a few lessons with a teacher I know in Düsseldorf. Winning this competition would free me up to actively create more opportunity for myself without the worry of taking two steps back finically. I would consider this scholarship an incredible investment in my future as a singer, and would use the money to further pursue a career in Opera.



Lauren Woods

Why did you come to the Schulich School of Music?

I came to McGill to study with Aline Kutan, and Michael MacMahon, among other fantastic teachers and coaches. 

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Where do you call home?

Calgary, Alberta.

Other than on stage or practicing, where might someone find you?

On a pair of skis or a mountain bike in the Rocky Mountains.

What is one unexpected talent or pastime that you have?

Don't let my height fool you, I was the MVP of my high school Rugby Team.

What would it mean to you to be named the winner of the Wirth Vocal Prize?

People often find that transitioning from school to the professional world can be very difficult. I think this is in part due to a lack of confidence when spreading ones wings, as well as financial constraints.  Winning the Wirth Vocal Prize would be a meaningful encouragement to minimize both of these difficulties upon graduating.