Etelka Nyilasi’s Bio

A versatile and friendly musician who has enjoyed composing, transcribing, teaching, and playing the violin for as long as she can remember.

Early on

Originally from Hamilton, ON, Canada, Etelka moved to Birmingham, United Kingdom in 2006 where, with the support of the J.Armand Bombardier Internationalist Fellowship scholarship, she completed her Master of Music degree in Composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire, studying under Dr. Joe Cutler and Howard Skempton.

And then

While continuing to live in Birmingham pursuing a career in composing, arranging, teaching and performing, she also took another Master’s degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, studying another fascination of hers, Middle Eastern violin.


Her compositional practice focuses on the expansion of harmonies in
atmospheric contexts, as well as utilizing various styles of folk and
world music materials. Her pieces been performed at various festivals in North America and in Europe, including the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, Ostrava Days, the Dartington International Festival, the St. Magnus Festival and the Edmonton Fringe Festival.  Notable performers that have presented her works include the Penderecki String Quartet, BCMG, Kreisler Ensemble, New Century Players, Rivka Golani, Ensemble In Extensio, and the Composers’ Orchestra.


As a performer, she is currently an active member of the University of Alberta’s MENAME (Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble), the Tarabish Collective. In April 2017, she performed Arabic music for The Maggie Tree‘s theatre production of Heather Raffo’s off-Broadway hit “9 Parts of Desire,” co-winning “Outstanding Score of a Play or Musical” from the Edmonton Stirling Awards. In the past she has performed and recorded Ismaili Sufi musician Karim Gillani, as well as Hamilton Italian-Latino band The Acoustics, whose tracks can often be heard on CBC radio.  She is also a proficient Celtic fiddler, having spent many summers as a young adult studying Cape Breton fiddling, step dancing and bodhran playing at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton.


As a Classical violinist and violist, she especially enjoys playing chamber music.  In the UK she was a member of the Hiley Strung Quartet and the Nero String Quartet, among other groups.  Now based in Edmonton, AB, Canada, she plays violin for Duo d’Amore, the Alberta Symphony Orchestra, the Prince George Symphony Orchestra, and is working with Classical guitarist Marek Orszulik as the Garneau Duo.

Her latest endeavour was playing viola in the Fall 2023 Western Canadian tour of Rocky Mountain High, a John Denver tribute show.


Doctor of Music studies, Composition and Ethnomusicology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, 2012-2015 (incomplete)

Master of Music, Violin Performance, Middle Eastern Music, SOAS, University of London, UK. November 2012

Kodály Diploma in Music Pedagogy, Liszt Academy of Music, Kodály Pedagogical Institute, Hungary. May 2008

Master of Music, Composition, Birmingham City University, Birmingham Conservatoire, UK. October 2007

Honours Bachelor of Music, Composition, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario. April 2006


2017     The Sterling Awards – co-winner, with singer Jenny Boutros, for “Outstanding Score of a Play or Musical” for 9 Parts of Desire (The Maggie Tree in association with Theatre of the New Heart)

2008     Hamilton Music Awards – winner of “Best Instrumentalist of the Year” award for her violin performance on The Acoustics’ album Forever and a Day

2004     Hamilton Music Awards – nominated for “Best Instrumentalist of the Year” and winner of “Best Instrumental Album of the Year” for A Thousand Yesterdays with The Acoustics