About the Festivals

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Bella Pugachevsky, visionary founder of the McGill Conservatory Joy of Music Festival, passed away much too soon in September 2008 at the age of 59. We mourn the loss and celebrate the life of an esteemed friend and colleague, a magnificent pedagogue, and a devoted and dedicated teacher who inspired students and colleagues alike to excellence in music and in life.

A native of Kiev, Bella studied piano for 15 years in Kiev and Jitomir, Ukraine. She taught piano at the Special Music School of Kiev and was primary accompanist at the V.S. Kosenko Music School in Jitomir until she immigrated to Canada in 1980. In Montreal, she taught piano at the Préville Arts Centre and joined the McGill Conservatory in 1982. In addition to creating the Joy of Music Festival, Bella worked as a Piano Instructor at the Conservatory for over 25 years and significantly influenced the development of the Conservatory's Piano Area.

Festival objective

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The Joy of Music Festival is a great learning experience in a positive and friendly environment. Its goal is to bring together musicians of all ages to share the joy of music, and to learn not only from highly skilled adjudicators, but also from one another.

The Joy of Music Festival is a public event, open to all. McGill Conservatory students and all music students from greater Montreal are welcome. Performances are grouped by instrument and age category and take place in the presence of an adjudicator. Each participant's program must respect the time limit of his/her category.

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At the end of each category, the adjudicator provides oral and written comments and a certificate to each participant. Students are not ranked 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, but rather, the adjudicator invites several students to perform at the Gala Concert on the last day of the Festival.

How to participate

Students wishing to enter the Festival must complete both pages of the application form, provide the repertoire (scores not required), and pay the application fee before the deadline. Please read all documentation carefully and complete the forms fully.


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Fees to participate in the festival are listed on each application form. Fees to participate in or attend the special events are listed on the events web page.

Performance time limits

The rules and regulations for the festival as well as the performance time limits per age category are included on page two of the application form.


If you would like to volunteer at the Joy of Music Festival, please send us an conservatory.music [at] mcgill.ca (e-mail) indicating which dates and times you are available. Also, please indicate your preferred volunteer function, if any. The greatest need of volunteers is for Saturday.

More information

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact the Conservatory Office (downtown) during office hours: (514) 398-4543.