The CCCS is accepting applications for this year's Merit Award competition. The Award helps aspiring instrumentalists, vocalists and musicians further their musical education. We welcome all those who meet our Award criteria to apply and look forward to meeting them during auditions.

More information and the application requirements are detailed below.

Mia Miličević​
Michael Kelemen
Danijela Hajdinjak​
Adam Mezgec​
Andrew Šporčić​
Matija Mathew Pavković​
Julijana Hajdinjak​
Ivica Balaban​
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Merit Award

The CCCS is honoured to sponsor an annual Merit Award of $2,000 to support a student entering or already studying music full time at a post-secondary level. This includes Grade 12 graduates beginning full-time music studies at a college, university or recognized music institute program as well as students who have completed undergraduate studies and are continuing full-time musical studies at the post-graduate level at university.

The Merit Award competition is open to previous CCCS Merit Award applicants and recipients and both Canadian citizens and landed immigrants are welcome to apply. 

This year’s application deadline is April 23, 2023 for studies beginning this same year.

Each year’s Merit Award winner is required to perform as a guest artist at the CCCS’s annual Spring Concert performances and attend the respective dress rehearsal(s) the school year during which they win their award. They are also required to present the Merit Award to the subsequent winner at the following annual Spring Concert series.

For questions after reviewing the following application requirements please contact email:

Application Requirements and Process

Audition Repertoire

Applicants must prepare three selections for audition: one classical piece, one piece of Croatian music and a third piece of their own choice. Applicants must bring their own instrument(s) to in-person auditions, including a keyboard.

Multiple Instruments

Applicants studying various musical instruments may audition two instruments of their choice and must perform two pieces for each instrument. For example, two selections for voice and two selections for piano. One selection of the four auditioned must be from the Croatian repertoire. Applicants must bring their own instruments to in-person auditions.

Memorization & Scores

Memorization is compulsory for all pieces auditioned. One copy of each audition piece must be brought to be shared with judges.


Applicants must supply their own accompanist if one is needed.

Meet Our Past Merit Award Recipients

Mia Miličević

2019 Merit Award Recipient

Began formal piano lessons at age 5.

Member of Croatian Folklore Ensemble Kralj Zvonimir at age 6.

Sang in church children’s choir after beginning voice lessons at age 7.

Taught piano and voice to young children as a teenager.

Created, conducted and accompanied parish’s youth choir as an Iona Catholic SS student.

Merit Award funding helped support 2015-2020 Queen’s University studies. Studied in special lyric soprano voice performance program and graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education.

2023 update: In addition to working as the choir’s Artistic Director, teaches elementary school French immersion full time with the Halton District School Board and Saturdays at a Croatian language school.

Michael Kelemen

2019 Merit Award Recipient

Began classical piano training at a young age.

Joined Croatian National Home Folklore Ensemble as a tamburas and dancer at age 6.

Developed keen interest in musical theatre and dance, studied classical voice, frequent church vocalist.

Completed Grade 10 Piano and Rudiments certificates at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music under Olga Tcherniak.

2018-2020: Earned a diploma in classical piano at Mohawk College and Associate Diploma, the highest academic standing awarded by The Royal Conservatory’s certificate program.

Gives guest performances at CCCS concerts when possible.

Danijela Hajdinjak

2018 Merit Award Recipient

Began composing and playing music at age 5; formal lessons began soon afterwards.

Studied voice at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music while in elementary school.

Performed with high school jazz and concert choirs and played French horn and trombone in wind ensembles.

Taught music students and actively served church and local Croatian community during high school.

Performed with local folklore ensembles, Croatian group Gazde and sang with the Zagreb Radio TV Orchestra at Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre as a teenager.

Awarded first prize in the age 18 and under piano concerto competition at 2018 Peel Festival of Music.

Supported in part by Merit Award, earned a 2018-2022 Bachelor of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Integrated Musical Arts program studying songwriting, recorded music and live performance production.

2022 update: After graduating from Laurier in spring 2022, hopes to return to Laurier to earn a master degree in music while continuing work as a recording artist under the name Dani Kristina.

Adam Mezgec

2017 Merit Award Recipient

Began piano training at age 5.

Participated in Folklore Ensemble Hrvatsko Prelo as a tamburas and dancer as a child.

Graduated from Oakville’s Holy Trinity Roman Catholic SS in 2014 and entered Western University’s music program, studying with Gwen Beamish.

Supported in part by Merit Award, graduated from Western with a Bachelor of Music in piano performance in 2018 and awarded the UWO Gold Medal for the student who achieved the highest graduating average in his/her program.

Worked as a product manager for Steinway & Sons to fund further schooling and attended Toronto’s Harris Institute in 2019 to 2020, completing its Audio Production program, again graduating with the highest average in his program.

2023 update: The choir’s Accompanist and Music Arranger works full-time as a music supervisor at Corus Entertainment’s Toronto animation studio Nelvana, working with composers, lyricists and songwriters to create original music for children’s animated TV series. He teaches piano and performs publicly when he can, especially two of his greatest musical influences, Mozart and Liszt.

Andrew Šporčić

2016 Merit Award Recipient

Displayed natural musical gifts and interest in Croatian folklore as a young child.

Mastered the tamburica and was a member of Folklore Ensemble Hrvatsko Prelo for 9 years.

Taught tamburica to students as a teenager.

Played with Tambura Ensemble Frajeri and was honoured to perform with them for Her Excellency Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, President of Croatia, in 2017.

Has played guitar for many years and composed and arranged many jazz guitar and tambura pieces.

Thanks in part to Merit Award support, graduated from McMaster University with an Honours Bachelor of Music in 2016 with a focus on jazz guitar. Also learned flute, French horn, trumpet, tuba, trombone, saxophone, bassoon and double bass.

2018 completed two-year Bachelor of Education at Western University and immediately hired by the Waterloo District School Board to teach Grade 7 and 8 students.

2022 update: Continues teaching Grade 7 and 8 students in the Waterloo Region DSB, teaching music privately to children at Hrvatsko Prelo and performing with the CCCS when possible.

Matija Mathew Pavković

2015 Merit Award Recipient

Introduced to Croatian folklore and the tamburica as a pre-teen and by age 14, was one of several Canadian-Croatian musicians invited to play with the Croatia Radio and TV Tamburica Orchestra.

Member of folklore ensembles Kralj Zvonimir, Sljeme, Vatroslav Lisinski and Folklore Ensemble Croatia.

Earned Grade 7 piano certificate with honours and an Advanced Rudiments certificate with distinction.

Began playing French horn in Grade 9. Helped organize Grade 12 band performance trip to Croatia, Slovenia and Italy.

Thanks in part to Merit Award, attended Wilfrid Laurier University, on Dean’s List every year and graduated in 2017 with an Honours Bachelor of Music in composition studies.

Played with the Laurier Wind Symphony and served as auxiliary French Horn member of Cambridge Symphony. Several strings, percussion and choral compositions were performed at annual composition concerts. Learned 12 instruments, including several types of tamburica, recorded own composition with Croatian Radio and TV Orchestra and appointed as a music tutor. Wrote a full orchestral work that was performed by Laurier’s orchestra.

2020 completed a double MBA in human resource management at the School of Economics, Zagreb and global management from KEDGE Business School, Bordeaux.

2022 update: Living in Zagreb and working towards a Bachelor of Law at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Founder and president of Crodiaspora and may be reached through

Julijana Hajdinjak

2014 Merit Award Recipient

Began classical piano and vocal training at age 9 and by high school, consistently received music excellence awards.

Performed with Cirque Du Soleil at Microsoft’s 2012 Worldwide Partner Conference, the Rolling Stones’ 50 and Counting tour in 2013 and the Croatian band Gazde.

Won 2013 Public’s Choice Award at the Croatian Cultural Association’s Napredak Competition.

Won first place in 2014 musical theatre performance category at Peel Music Festival.

Thanks in part to Merit Award support, graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) in 2018 with an Honours Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance. WLU activities included composing string quartets, choral compositions, membership in Composers and Improvisers Association, singing with Kitchener-Waterloo Orchestra’s chorus and Laurier Singers Chamber Choir.

Current work focusses on film composition and teaching music from her Mississauga-based music school Fortepiano Music Studio,, which opened in 2018. Select credits include “My Home, My Life” a TVO kids series (2020) and short film “Red Candle” for which she won Best Original Score at the Los Angeles Independent Shorts Awards.

Ivica Balaban

2013 Merit Award Recipient

Tambura training began as a young member of Mississauga’s Croatian Martyrs Parish’s folklore ensemble Sljeme. Gifted rich bass voice soon became apparent.

Arranged Croatian and classical music, taught and played the tamburica in an ensemble as a teenager.

2010-2015 Bachelor of Music and Diploma in Opera at Wilfrid Laurier University, funded in part thanks to Merit Award support, helped further develop talent, creativity and voice. Activities included performing in Opera Laurier’s The Marriage of Figaro, Fauré’s Requiem, Neil Weisensel’s City Workers in Love and Mozart’s Coronation Mass.

Paid performances have included Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin, Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer and Vaughn Williams’s Songs of Travel, singing with Oshawa Opera and studying at Stratford’s Summer Music Vocal Academy with Michael Schade and performing in the title role of Gianni Schicchi at the Berlin Opera Academy.

2022 update: Served as the choir’s tenor and bass sectional leader during the COVID-19 pandemic organizing and helped lead online rehearsals. Continues performing and making guest appearances at CCCS concerts when possible.

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