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Canada Council's Virginia Parker Prize Awarded to First Female Conductor

Naomi Woo is the fourth conductor to receive the prize since its inception in 1984


The Canada Council's Virginia Parker Prize, with an endowment of $25,000, is awarded annually to a musician, instrumentalist, or classical music conductor under the age of 32 who demonstrates outstanding talent, musicianship, and artistic excellence, and who makes a valuable contribution to artistic life in Canada and internationally.

Previous recipients of the prize include Yannick Nezet-Seguin, James Ehnes, and Marc-Andre Hamelin. This year's winner, Naomi Woo, is only the fourth conductor — and the first female conductor — to receive the prize since its inception in 1984.

"It's a great honour to be awarded this prize from the Canada Council, and I'm so grateful for the support the Council has provided me and countless other Canadian artists over the years," Woo told The Violin Channel. "It's extra special to receive an award previously given to so many artists that inspire me and who have been influential mentors and role models in my life: like Jon Kimura Parker and Yannick Nezet-Seguin."

Woo is currently Assistant Conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and a member of Tapestry Opera’s Women in Musical Leadership program and the Orchestre Metropolitain Montreal’s inaugural conducting academy.

Following debuts with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, Regina Symphony Orchestra, and Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra in 2021-22, this season sees her debuts with the Calgary Philharmonic, Orchestra NOW (New York), the Ann Arbor Symphony, and at LSO St. Luke’s with the ensemble Tangram Sound.

On the opera stage, she conducts the Canadian premiere of Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angel’s Bone” in Vancouver, Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s The Night Falls in New York City, and assists at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

Naomi holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She has also studied mathematics, philosophy, and music at Yale College, the Yale School of Music, and Université de Montréal.

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