Martin Vaillancourt was born in a suburb on Long Island, New York, where he grew up learning the violin alongside his three musical sisters. He picked up the instrument around the age of four and hasn’t stopped taking lessons ever since. Vaillancourt attended McGill University, where he was initially enrolled as a cognitive science major. After a year away from classical music, he realized how essential it was to his identity and transferred into the Schulich School of Music, where he pursued a degree in musicology with an interest in orchestral conducting, all while maintaining his studies on the violin with Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal concertmaster Richard Roberts. He took conducting lessons from the director of the McGill Symphony Orchestra, Alexis Hauser, as well as the McGill Contemporary Ensemble director, Guillaume Bourgogne. Vaillancourt participated in numerous conducting masterclasses through McGill University, formed his own ensemble to further enrich his conducting studies, and was even given the opportunity to conduct the McGill Symphony Orchestra in rehearsal during a concert trip to Kingston, Ontario.
Vaillancourt has attended several summer conducting festivals including the International Conducting Workshop and Festival, Pierre Monteux School and Festival, Vienna Summer Music Festival, and the Beyond the Baton Workshop. Recently, he organized a COVID-19 relief benefit concert for the Kinhaven Music School, where he conducted a quintet of some of his closest friends and raised nearly$1,000 USD to help the summer camp. He also has subbed as a violinist for multiple orchestras across Quebec including L’Orchestre Symphonique de Sherbrooke, Pronto Musica, and Orchestre Philharmonique et Choeur des Melomanes. Vaillancourt values approaching music in a holistic manner and enjoys exploring genres he’s unfamiliar with. He also has considerable experience in acting and singing and was music director of one of McGill’s finest a cappella groups, Effusion.