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Announcing the Sheila A. Hellstrom Memorial Award in Voice

The Lunenburg-based Maritime Concert Opera Society has announced a new vocal music award in honour of Lunenburg-born Brigadier-General Sheila Hellstrom, lifelong opera aficionado. The $1500.00 Sheila A. Hellstrom Memorial Prize in Voice will be awarded annually to support the education of classical singers from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador, on the basis of competitive digital auditions.


"We're very excited to launch this new competition and prize for young Atlantic Canadian singers" said MCO Artistic Director Nina Scott-Stoddart. "Since our founding we've made a point of hiring singers born or raised in the Atlantic provinces. We are proud of the number of talented young singers who’ve had their first professional gig with us, and we're delighted to continue supporting their education and careers with this prize".


Candidates must have been born or raised in one of the Atlantic Provinces, and be currently enrolled in any accredited University, College or Conservatory for vocal music at the undergraduate or graduate level. There are no age restrictions. Applications are $25 and must be submitted online, accompanied by a biography and curriculum vitae along with a current photo, video recordings and letters of support from current teachers. Applications must be received by April 30, 2024..

Sheila A. Hellstrom Memorial Award in Voice Details

Amount: $1,500.00 CAD. Awarded annually.

Purpose: To support the further education of an emerging aspiring classical singer from Atlantic Canada.

Eligibility: Limited to singers born or raised in Atlantic Canada (NS, NB, PEI and NL) Must be enrolled in a Music program studying voice/vocal performance at any recognized University, School of Music or Conservatory.  There is no age limit.

Application method:  Online Application form with $25 application fee (non-refundable) submitted by e-transfer to

Application must include:


  • Artistic Statement: Tell us about your links to Atlantic Canada, your current educational experience and your career aspirations (How will the award be used to further your professional development) 

  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae ,including performance history and education.

  • Headshot

  • Audition Recording: (video preferred) of three contrasting pieces. We prefer repertoire from opera or operetta but will accept one musical theatre piece. 

  • Letter(s) of Recommendation from Head of Music School/  Professor/Professional familiar with the applicant’s record of achievement and talent/promise

Deadline: April 30th of each year

Award announced: By June 15th of each year


Brigadier Sheila A. Hellstrom
First female regular force member to achieve the rank of brigadier-general, 1987

Sheila Hellstrom was born on 15 January 1935 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. She graduated from Lunenburg Academy in 1953 and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) University Reserve Training Plan at Mount Allison University the following year. Her long and distinguished career in the Armed Forces featured many highlights: she was flight lieutenant in 1962, she was the first woman to attend the Canadian Forces Staff College in Toronto, and, after rising through the ranks, became the first woman to achieve the rank of brigadier-general.


Beyond her work with the Canadian Armed Forces, Hellstrom worked with NATO and other organizations to help achieve equality for women in the services. She was a life-long patron of the opera, one of her great passions. Throughout her career and life, Hellstrom demonstrated an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. She died on 7 December 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario.



Have questions? Let us know!

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