Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting

Congratulations to Kitchener-Waterloo’s Mark Vuorinen, the latest recipient of the Leslie Bell Prize! 


About Mark Vuorinen

  • Mark is artistic director of Kitchener-Waterloo’s Grand Philharmonic Choir, with whom he has conducted the great choral-orchestral masterpieces, including Britten’s War Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem and the Bach Passions. 
  • He is also assistant professor of music at Conrad Grebel University College (University of Waterloo). There, he oversees the choral program, conducts the University of Waterloo Chamber Choir and teaches courses in conducting.
  • Mark 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. In 2016, he was awarded the Choral Canada Award for Outstanding Thesis or Dissertation for his doctoral research.
  • An advocate for new music, Mark has directed world and Canadian premieres by many composers, including John Burge, Robinson McClellan, Tawnie Olson, Jonathan Dove and James Whitbourn. 


  • The jury was unanimous in their decision, praising Mark as “an impressive musical communicator.” They noted that Mark 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.”

About the Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting

  • The $10,000 Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting is awarded every two years to an emerging professional conductor who is a resident of Ontario and works with a professional, semi-professional or community choir.
  • The prize is made possible by a financial contribution from the Leslie Bell Scholarship Fund and OAC. The scholarship fund, administered by OAC, was established in 1973 by the Leslie Bell Singers and friends of the late Dr. Leslie Bell.
  • The winner was chosen through a nominating and adjudication process managed by the OAC. The jury comprised Linda Beaupré (Elora), David Buley (Sudbury), Gerald Fagan (London), Robert Filion (Ottawa) and Hussein Janmohamed (Toronto).
  • Previous winners include Rachel Rensink-Hoff (2014), Jamie Hillman (2012) and Sarah Morrison (2010). Click here for a full list of past recipients.

About the Nomination and Selection Process

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has instituted a process change for the Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting. As of this year, a jury of music professionals chosen by OAC will be responsible for the nomination and selection of the award recipient. Unsolicited submissions or nominations will not be accepted.