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Aug. 12, 2020 | Wednesday
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1,200 young performers in Niagara for Ontario music competition
This is Alexandre Brillon's sixth time competing at the provincial finals organized by the Ontario Music Festivals Association. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

When he's singing, Queenston teenager Alexandre Brillon says he feels like he can do anything.

"When I sing, I feel like I'm on top of the world,” says Brillon, 18, one of the performers who will be competing this week in the annual provincial finals held by the Ontario Music Festivals Association.

Over 1,200 competitors from across Ontario are coming to the Niagara Region this week. 

This is the first time the annual competition has taken place in Niagara. Performances started Monday and continue through Saturday, June 8, in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

In NOTL, performances will take place at St. Davids-Queenston United Church, Yellow Door Theatre, St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Niagara United Mennonite Church and Bethany Mennonite Church.

The public is welcome to attend. Admission is $2 and is valid for any venue for an entire day. The competitions generally start as early as 9 a.m. and last throughout the day.

Performers, up to 28 years old, will compete in piano, harp, brass, strings, guitar, woodwinds, chamber music, musical theatre and speech arts.

There are 56 competitors coming from Niagara and about six of them are from NOTL, said Lisa Brillon, Alexandre’s mother and president of the provincial organization.

“We’re lucky to live here,” said Brillon, adding the provincials rotate locations every two years, so it returns to NOTL next year. The competition was held in Hamilton last time.

To qualify for the provincials, participants have to score a mark of 85 per cent or higher and be recommended by adjudicators. Only two finalists per level and per discipline from each local music festival can be nominated to perform at the provincial level.

Since some classifications range in sizes, participants may be split into groups. Two finalists from each group will then compete later that day in the so-called “playoffs,” where the final winners will be selected.

Adjudicators will be judging the performance as well as providing a workshop to all competitors, who could win over $39,000 in scholarships. An adjudicator may also choose first-place winners at the national qualifying level to represent Ontario at the National Music Festival Competition, which will take place in Saskatoon this August.

Brillon said it took a year to prepare for the event, which included securing the venues, booking hotels as well as arranging schedules and rehearsals. Over 80 volunteers from across Ontario help run the event and 75 per cent of them are local, she told The Lake Report.

Alexandre, who has competed six times in the provincials, said he hopes to do well and leave the festival on a high note before heading to Sheridan College in Oakville to study musical theatre this fall.

“When I’m performing, it’s less for an award, it’s more for the audience. I want them to have a good time,” he said.

For a full schedule and a list of all the venues, visit