The HPO has selected two successful candidates set to participate in the 21-22 HPO Composer Fellowship Program. The program designed in collaboration with the Ontario Region of the Canadian Music Centre provides early career composers with a tuition-free training opportunity that connects them with professionals in the orchestral world. Throughout the six months of mentorship from HPO Music Director Gemma New and HPO Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte, the composers will create a new work that will be performed and recorded by the HPO while also expanding their knowledge of how to be successful in the business side of musical composition. 

Joining the HPO for this year’s Composer Fellowship Program are pianist and composer Jesse Plessis, and composer, conductor and arts administrator Maria Eduarda Mendes Martins. Although both participants are early in their career, they each possess a unique musical point of view that influences their composition style, as well as a successful portfolio of performances. The pieces created during their fellowship will be performed at a future Mainstage HPO concert. Maria Eduarda Mendes Martins’ new work will premiere at the Gemma Conducts Mendelssohn concert on March 19, while Jesse Plessis’ new work will premiere at a concert in the Fall of 2022.    

Maria Eduarda Mendes Martins  

Maria Eduarda Mendes Martins is a composer, conductor and arts administrator originally from Brazil who became a Permanent Resident of Canada in 2019, a decision influenced by her deep involvement with the local community and music production scene in Toronto. Her compositions derive from her interest in using abstract and contrasting sounds to produce medieval-inspired melodies through the instrumental languages of our time. She completed a bachelor’s degree in music composition at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) with Celso Loureiro Chaves, and a master’s degree in music composition at the University of Victoria with Dániel Biró and Christopher Butterfield, where she also received orchestral conducting training with Ajtony Csaba. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in music composition (DMA) at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Gary Kulesha. Her works have been recorded by multiple production companies including Ablaze Records, Redshift Music, Musicworks and Urban Arts Berlin Collective. Her works have also been performed by orchestras and Chambers in cities across North America, South America and Europe.  

Jesse Plessis  

Jesse Plessis is a Canadian composer of M√©tis descent born in British Columbia, currently completing a Doctorate in composition at McGill University‚Äôs Schulich School of Music. He has been recognized for his ‚Äúskilled hand at crafting textures that pulse with life,‚ÄĚ (Winnipeg Free Press) and has earned multiple awards for piano and composition alike. His musical trajectory was shaped by many mentors along his way, through his studies with Deanna Oye (piano) and Arlan Schultz (composition) at the University of Lethbridge, and Megumi Masaki and Patrick¬†Carrabr√©¬†(composition). He also studied in masterclasses with Norma Fischer in England and Edith Fischer in Switzerland before completing a doctorate in piano performance at the University de Montr√©al in class with Paul Stewart. He has performed as a pianist on numerous occasions across Canada and Europe while his compositions have been broadcasted on CBC Radio and performed by musicians across Canada.¬†


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About the HPO: For over a century, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra has presented orchestral music and education programs with a mission to enrich the wellbeing of the greater Hamilton region. Music Director Gemma New and the professional musicians of the HPO present dynamic orchestral performances ranging from standard classical repertoire to popular music and world premieres by living composers. As one of Canada’s leading professional orchestras, the HPO has proudly contributed to the shaping of Hamilton’s cultural landscape and continues to uphold values of high calibre, inclusive and accessible orchestral music and education for all. 


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Megan Nourse
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Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra
905.526.1677 x209 


Kyla Lacroix Bardsley
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra
905.526.1677 x211