Maria Fuller is a rising star in the Canadian classical music scene, and she says it's all an answer to prayer.

A pianist, trumpeter, and now a conductor, she has been wowing audiences since her first days in an orchestra at the age of six. Now, she finds herself in Paris at the La Maestra International Conducting Competition sharing her drive, passion, and skill with the world.

A life-long musician, Fuller did not always have her sights set on conducting. She began her journey on piano and trumpet obtaining master's degrees in piano and operatic coaching before the opportunity to learn the craft of conducting presented itself to her as the answer to a prayer.

Deciding what to do after her third music degree she said “Lord, I just want a break before I do my doctorate… but if my heart is wrong please make a way for me to stay in school”.

Several months later her eventual mentor and teacher Maestro Mark Gibson approached her and asked if she would consider staying at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio for a third master's degree, this time in conducting.

Since she began her studies she has taken the world by storm, currently serving as the Resident Conductor at the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.

Fuller was one of 220 female applicants to the competition in September of 2019. According to La Maestra’s website, the goals of the competition are to “encourage vocational aspiration, to unite the international musical world behind a strong commitment towards women conductors, and to offer the youngest among them the support they didn’t always receive during their training.” She was one of 12 candidates selected to travel to Paris for the competition which was originally scheduled to take place in March.

When we asked Fuller about La Maestra’s decision to highlight female conductors she said “it’s funny, sad, shocking, that such a thing should have to exist," acknowledging that this is a field that has been dominated by men since the beginning of time.

As for the future though, she is hopeful and confident: “I choose to look forward in time where women conductors are prevalent. I am not worried and I think that it is in good hands so long as there are women conductors who are absolutely made for the profession, absolutely impassioned and intelligent, and ready to do this thing because it will be through them that the way will be paved for others to follow suit.”