Stephen McHolm is Director of the Academy & Unlimited (Cultural Engagement) of the Verbier Festival. For 12 years before his arrival in Switzerland, McHolm grew the Honens International Piano Competition Foundation into one of Canada’s most respected and widest-reaching international classical music organizations—discovering, nurturing, presenting and promoting the talents of emerging concert artists. He is described as a “rebel and revolutionary” by Calgary’s Avenue Magazine—a testament to his work in building new audiences for classical music and nurturing artists ready for 21st century careers. The Honens artistic and career development programme, together with the Honens recording label, which he founded in 2008, are held up as models for the world’s leading international music competitions and artist development trusts.
Music has been central to McHolm’s life since taking up piano at age five. While studying at the University of Ottawa, he concentrated his research on public and private arts funding models, and hosted and produced a variety of music and public affairs programmes on campus radio. He later studied Arts Administration at Edmonton’s Grant MacEwan College before starting his professional career in the arts with the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA), for which he later served as a Board Director.
In 2012, McHolm was honoured with the Rozsa Award for Excellence in Arts Management—the only prize of its kind in Canada to recognize the development and implementation of outstanding administrative practices in the arts while encouraging artistic innovation. In 2013, he was named an Honorary Fellow of Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music for his contribution to classical music and arts education around the world, joining a distinguished group that includes Measha Brueggergosman, David Foster and Oscar Peterson. In 2014, he received a MacEwan Distinguished Alumni Award. McHolm served for seven years as a Vice-President of the World Federation of International Music Competitions, based in Geneva, and is an active member of several international music networks.