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New $50,000 Canadian music prize announced

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Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy, front centre, winner of the 2018 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music, takes a bow before the McGill Chamber Orchestra at a gala concert in Montreal on Oct. 15. (Danylo Bobyk Photography photo)

The Azrieli Foundation has launched a $50,000 music prize competition that’s open exclusively to Canadian composers.

Sharon Azrieli announced the expansion of the Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) – already Canada’s most lucrative awards for music composition – at an AMP gala concert held at the Maison symphonique de Montréal on Oct. 15.

The Azrieli Canadian Prize will encourage the creation of concert works that enrich the Canadian musical repertoire. This will be the third prize to be offered biennially through the AMP program and will open for submissions in February.

The winning composer of the Azrieli Canadian Prize will be commissioned by the foundation to create a new major work specifically for Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, a Montreal-based chamber orchestra specializing in contemporary classical music.

The new composition will receive its world premiere alongside the other two winning AMP works at a gala concert planned for October 2020.

Beyond the cash prize and gala world premiere, the Azrieli Canadian Prize package includes a recording on the Analekta label and other promotional benefits.

READ: AZRIELI PRIZE-WINNING MUSIC PREMIERES AT GALA CONCERT

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 award package is valued at over $200,000, making it the largest such prize in Canada and among the richest in the world.

“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?” Azrieli explained.

“Given our success with the two other Azrieli Music Prizes, I expect the submissions to the Azrieli Canadian Prize will be equally impressive.”

Submissions for the Canadian prize will be judged by a pan-Canadian jury, which includes:

  • Barbara Croall, a member of the Odawa First Nation who 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, who explores the role of sounds and media in cultural preservation and memory;
  • David Pay, who founded Vancouver’s Music on Main in 2006, with the goal of creating informal, intimate musical experiences, and developed an international reputation as a classical and contemporary music programmer;
  • Ana Sokolovic, a Serbian-born composer, who’s currently a professor of composition at the Université de Montréal and has written for many of Canada’s orchestras and chamber ensembles and performed throughout Europe and North America; and
  • Andrew Staniland, a multi-award winning composer and performer who is on the faculty at Memorial University in St. John’s, N.L.
Prize winner Kelly-Marie Murphy, third from right, is seen with advisory committee member Barbara Seal, left, juror Ana Sokolovic, Sharon Azrieli, advisory committee chair Joseph Rouleau and Claire Marchand of the Canadian Music Centre. JANICE ARNOLD PHOTO

Established in 2014, the first two prizes – also worth $50,000 plus other incentives – support the creation of orchestral Jewish music and are now open to the international music community, as well as Canadians. Works are nominated by individuals and institutions from all nationalities, faiths, backgrounds and affiliations, and submitted to a jury through a biennial open call for scores and proposals.

The inaugural AMP gala concert took place in 2016, with the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal, under the baton of maestro Kent Nagano.

At the second biennial concert on Oct. 15, maestro Yoav Talmi of Israel was the guest conductor of the McGill Chamber Orchestra and the winning compositions of Kelly-Marie Murphy and Avner Dorman were featured.

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