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Azrieli Foundation Announces Major New Competition & $50K Prize for Canadian Composers

At the 2018 Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) Gala Concert last week at Maison symphonique in Montreal, Dr. Sharon Azrieli announced an expansion to the prestigious AMP portfolio – Canada’s largest prizes for music composition.

On behalf of the Azrieli Foundation, Dr. Azrieli unveiled the Azrieli Canadian Prize, a new $50,000 cash award to commission concert works celebrating Canadian music. This will be the third prize to be offered biennially through the Azrieli Music Prizes program and will open for submissions in February 2019.

The winning composer of the Azrieli Canadian Prize will be commissioned to create a new major work specifically for Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and its Music Director, Lorraine Vaillancourt. The new work will receive its world premiere alongside the other Azrieli Music Prizes works at a Gala Concert planned for October 2020. Future rounds of the new Prize will be called for other leading Canadian ensembles and performance groups, specifically to help expand the Canadian music repertoire.

Beyond the cash prize and gala world premiere, the Azrieli Canadian Prize package includes a recording on the Analekta label and related promotional opportunities. The prize-winning composer will also be engaged in an international performance date organized by the Foundation as well as pre-gala education and outreach events. The total prize package is valued at over $200,000 CAD per composer, making it the largest such prize in Canada and among the most lucrative on the world stage.

Dr. Azrieli explains the genesis of this new prize. “We realize that there are still too few opportunities that encourage and support Canadian composers to create and record major concert works. We also want to celebrate Canada in all its facets and legitimize innovative responses to the question, ‘What is Canadian music?’ Given our success with the two other Azrieli Music Prizes, I expect the submissions to the Azrieli Canadian prize will be equally impressive.”

The Azrieli Canadian Prize, which is open exclusively to Canadian composers, will be judged by a pan-Canadian jury. Jury members include:

  • Barbara Croall, who is Odawa First Nations and balances her time composing, performing, and teaching music with work in outdoor education rooted in traditional Anishinaabeg teachings.

  • Mary Ingraham, professor of musicology and director of the Sound Studies Initiative at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, explores the role of sounds and media in cultural preservation and memory.

  • David Pay founded Vancouver’s Music on Main in 2006 with the goal of creating informal, intimate musical experiences. Since then, he’s developed an international reputation as one of today’s leading-edge classical and contemporary music programmers.

  • Ana Sokolovic, a Serbian-born composer, is currently a professor of composition at the University of Montreal. Active in Canada since the mid-1990s, she has written for many of Canada’s orchestras and chamber ensembles, including performances throughout Europe and North America.

  • Andrew Staniland is a multi-award winning composer and performer who is on the faculty at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He has established himself as one of Canada’s most important and innovative musical voices.

Established in 2014 by the Azrieli Foundation, the Azrieli Music Prizes offer opportunities for the discovery, performance, and celebration of excellence in new music. The first two prizes, awarded for the composition of new Jewish music, are now open to the international music community, including Canadians. Works are nominated by individuals and institutions from all nationalities, faiths, backgrounds and affiliations, and submitted to the jury through the biennial open call for scores and proposals.

The inaugural AMP Gala Concert took place in October 2016 with the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal under Maestro Kent Nagano. Last night, Maestro Yoav Talmi was the guest conductor of the McGill Chamber Orchestra at this year’s gala performance, featuring the winning compositions of Kelly-Marie Murphy and Avner Dorman for new Jewish music.

For more information, go to www.azrielifoundation.org.

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Mike Raine is the Senior editor of Canadian Musician.