Grachtenfestival Prize

Every year, the GrachtenfestivalPrijs is awarded to a young musician who excels in his or her field through exceptional musical talent. The winner of the prize wins the title of Artist in Residence. Within the residence, the winner of the GrachtenfestivalPrijs will receive a carte blanche to realize his or her musical dreams during the subsequent Grachtenfestival edition. 

Pianist Nikola Meeuwsen, cellist Anton Mecht Spronk, and clarinettist Gerbrich Meijer have been nominated for the coveted Canal Festival Awards of 2022. The winner will be announced at the Canal Festival Awards on Friday evening August 19. 

The nominees of the Canal Festival Awards 2022. From left to right: Gerbrich Meijer, Anton Mecht Spronk and Nikola Meeuwsen.

Nikola Meeuwsen (2002) is one of the most striking young piano talents in the Netherlands. As a child, Nikola knew he wanted to become a pianist after listening to Horowitz's performance of Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto. Sooner than later his talent was recognised: in 2019 the Concertgebouw awarded him the prestigious Young Talent Award. At an early age Nikola won several competitions, including the Royal Concertgebouw Competition in 2014, and the Steinway Competition in 2012. He has performed as a soloist with the Residentie Orchestra and the Dutch Chamber Orchestra, and has been heard in solo recitals throughout the Netherlands and abroad in Milan, Bologna, Trieste, Faro, and Imola. Nikola has been studying with Marlies van Gent and with Enrico Pace at the prestigious Accademia Pianistica di Imola since 2014. He is an avid player of chamber music and has performed with the Matangi Quartet, the violinist Alexander Kerr and violist Vladimir Mendelssohn and in piano duos with Igor Roma, Anna Fedorova, Thomas Beijer and Enrico Pace.

Anton Mecht Spronk (1994) is considered one of the Netherlands' greatest cello talents. At the age of 19 he won the 1st award, audience award, and the award for the best interpretation of the commissioned composition at the 2014 National Cello Competition, during the Cello Biennale Amsterdam. In 2019 he was awarded the 'Prix du Rotary' at the Verbier Festival and won a 1st prize, the audience prize and then the orchestra prize at the International Mazzacurati Competition in Turin. Last year Anton won the Dutch Classical Talent Award 2021. Anton gives concerts worldwide both as soloist and chamber musician in venues such as the Concertgebouw, Tonhalle Zürich, Carnegie Hall, the Seoul Arts Center and the Berliner Philharmonie. He has been a soloist with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, the Residentie Orkest, the CvA Symphony Orchestra, Neues Zürcher Orchester, Münchener Kammerorchester and the Philharmonie Zuidnederland, among others. Anton received his first cello lessons from his father Frank Spronk and studied successively at the conservatories of The Hague, Amsterdam, Zürich, and Berlin, where he is currently completing his postgraduate 'Konzertexamen' training.

Gerbrich Meijer (1997) is an international chamber musician, soloist, and orchestral musician. She was a successful participant in several international competitions; in 2022 she was chosen as a finalist of the Carl Nielsen International Clarinet Competition and in 2020 she won the London Symphony Keston Max competition. Gerbrich has played at several festivals including the International Schiermonnikoog Chamber Music Festival, as a soloist at the Delft Chamber Music Festival, and previously at the Canal Festival. As a 15-year-old she already made her debut in the small hall of the Concertbuilding and played with Emmy Verhey in Zaltbommel at the Emmy Verhey festival. Gerbrich has given concerts with London Symphony Orchestra, the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, the European Youth Orchestra and the North Netherlands Orchestra. Gerbrich is currently studying at the renowned Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles, having previously graduated with honors from the Royal Conservatory of Copenhagen.


The nominees of the Grachtenfestival Prize 2021 were clarinettist Jelmer de Moed (upper-left), pianist Yang Yang Cai (right) en cellist Alexander Warenberg (lower-left). On August 20, during the Night of the Grachtenfestival Prize.

The Canal Festival Award

Each year three young musicians are nominated for the Canal Festival Awards by a jury composed of renowned musicians, music experts, and the artistic team of the Canal Festival. The jury makes its selection on the basis of instrument mastery and artistic level, vision and stage presence.

Each year, the Canal Festival Award is given to a young musician who stands out in his or her field through exceptional musical talent. The winner of the award receives the coveted title of Artist in Residence. Within the residency, the winner of the Canal Festival Awards is given carte blanche to realize his or her musical dreams during the following edition of the Grachtenfestival. The Grachtenfestival Prize is part of the mission of the Grachtenfestival to present young, talented classical musicians to a wide audience. The young talents are often invited to perform for several years, whereby they are given a stage appropriate to the stage of their career. The Grachtenfestival challenges and supports the musicians in going off the beaten path. For young classical musicians, a nomination for the Grachtenfestival Prize is an important boost to their careers.

The award has been previously won by Alexander Warenberg (cello, 2021) Shin Sihan (violin, 2020), Emmy Storms (violin, 2019), Raoul Steffani (baritone, 2018), Ella van Poucke (cello, 2017), Sophiko Simsive (piano, 2016), Mathieu van Bellen (violin, 2015), Rosanne van Sandwijk (mezzo-soprano, 2014), Remy van Kesteren (harp, 2013), duo Sax & Stix (saxophone and percussion, 2012), Karin Strobos (mezzo-soprano, 2011), Judith van Wanroij (soprano, 2010), duo Izhar Elias and Erik Bosgraaf (guitar and recorder, 2009), Lisa Jacobs (violin, 2008) and Ties Mellema (saxophone, 2007). The GrachtenfestivalPrijs was established on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Grachtenfestival in 2007.